White House correspondent analysis on Trump's Iran speech
Nathan King

Editor's note: Nathan King is CGTN's White House correspondent. King has covered international affairs from datelines around the globe for nearly two decades. Here are his reflections on President Trump's speech on Iran.

Decoding presidential addresses, especially in the age of Trump, is a perilous business but beyond the usual anti-Iran rhetoric we heard from the U.S. president, my first take is that the speech was as conciliatory as could be expected.

In the first minute of a 10-minute speech, Trump stressed that Iran appears to be standing down and that is good for the U.S. and the world. It was an early statement of de-escalation. 

Trump also stressed there had been no casualties. That will help calm the U.S. mood especially among the hawks in Congress.

Trump's announcement of economic sanctions, while pondering other measures, is as soft a response as could be expected.

Trump's statement that Iran will never be allowed a nuclear weapon is a warning to Tehran not to enrich uranium above 20% which could allow it to produce a nuclear weapon within months rather than the current year or more.  

Trump stressed that the nuclear deal, the JCPOA, is dead and called on other signatories to abandon it, but he offered new talks that he said would help Iran prosper. Trump is not closing the door on diplomacy (this was essentially where the U.S. was heading before it pulled out of JCPOA in 2018).

The call on NATO to take a bigger role in the Middle East is purely a Trump trope, but could also be a hint that the U.S. would like more burden sharing and perhaps reduced U.S. troop levels, which would reduce tensions with Iran in Iraq.


To me, Trump stressing common ground with Iran in the fight against ISIL and the potential to work with Iran over other issues was an incredible statement from Trump. In my opinion, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others who appear bent on pushing Iran to the point of collapse obviously lost the argument post-assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

The response from Tehran is now keenly awaited, as well as from the other signatories of the JCPOA and regional players like Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel.