In an interview with BBC, CIA chief John Brennan warned President-elect Donald Trump against scrapping the nuclear deal with Iran, among other things.
During his campaign, Trump had described the deal with Iran as a disaster, and had pledged to “dismantle” the accord. Republican Mike Pompeo, who has been chosen to head the CIA after Brennan, has also supported the President-elect’s stance, tweeting earlier this month, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”
The outgoing CIA head, however, advised Trump against breaking the accord, calling it the “height of folly”. “I think it would be disastrous, it really would: for one administration to tear up an agreement that a previous administration made would be almost unprecedented,” he told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He said that scrapping the deal could encourage other countries to develop nuclear weapons as well, and possibly lead to an arms race in the Middle East.
Brennan also cautioned Trump against “Russian promises” saying, “I think President Trump and the new administration need to be wary of Russian promises.” He hoped for better relations between Moscow and Washington, but didn’t favour getting too close.
Brennan re-iterated concerns over Russian hackers influencing the US elections by releasing classified information, and said that he had been in touch with his opposite numbers in Russia, and had warned them that such actions would provoke repercussions. However, he said that the United States must not “stoop to their level”, and that there were other ways to counter the hacking.
He also blamed Moscow and President Bashar al-Assad’s government for the bloodshed in Syria.
During the interview, which was a first for the British media with a director of the CIA, Brennan also cautioned the new administration to be very careful about the language that it used. “The new team needs to be disciplined in the language that they use, the messages that they send, because if they are not disciplined, their language will be exploited by the terrorists and extremist organizations as a way to portray the United States and the government as being anti-Islamic, and we are not,” he said.
Addressing Trump’s views on interrogation techniques involving torture, such as waterboarding, he said that the CIA had faced a lot of flak and “some body blows” because of it. He claimed that the bringing back of such techniques would be rejected by a majority of CIA officers.