According to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, the Biden administration is willing to wait until an investigation is complete before taking actions such as sanctions against the Iranian regime.
“Nothing to do with any diplomatic efforts”
Biden is hoping to renegotiate a nuclear deal with Iran and is reportedly giving Iraqi officials some time to complete a probe into the two rocket attacks announced earlier this week.
In his remarks on Tuesday, however, Kirby denied that the current administration’s position on the Iraqi attacks is tied to those ongoing negotiations.
“This has nothing to do with any diplomatic efforts that may or may not be happening,” he insisted. “It has to do with trying to make sure we judge accountability the right way, and that’s what the secretary wants to give our Iraqi partners the time and space to do.”
He referenced Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recent conversation with his Iraqi counterpart following the Feb. 15 attacks during which he offered U.S. assistance. Kirby added that he did not know whether the offer was accepted or what it might entail.
Additional attacks in Erbil and near the U.S. embassy on Monday raise new questions about Iran’s possible involvement. Kirby acknowledged that the strikes bore the same hallmarks as previous Iran-backed militia attacks against American targets.
“I can’t speak to the previous administration”
“We’ve seen these kinds of attacks before, rocket attacks in particular, and historically, they have been perpetrated by Shia-backed militia, using similar weapons and similar tactics,” he explained.
Shying away from specific details regarding forensics, he added: “Broadly speaking, we have seen that many of these attacks have used Iranian-made, Iranian-supply weaponry.”
As for whether Biden’s plan to defer to Iraqi investigators in determining responsibility for the attacks represented a departure from the Trump administration, Kirby avoided a declarative assessment.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t speak to the previous administration and how they handled things.”
Of course, given Trump’s tough stance — including an airstrike that took down Iran’s most powerful general — seems to indicate that he would not have taken the latest attacks lying down. In fact, Iran’s recent aggression could very well be part of a plan to test America’s will under a new leader, which could spark an escalation in hostilities if the Biden administration fails to adequately respond.