Trump, Undercutting Aides, Says He’ll Focus on Iran in UN Meeting

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said Friday that the subject of a United Nations Security Council meeting he’ll chair next week will be Iran, undercutting administration officials who have insisted the topic is a broader effort to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Trump, Undercutting Aides, Says He’ll Focus on Iran in UN Meeting

The distinction is important because if the session is focused on Iran, United Nations rules allow Iran to participate in the meeting. That could set up a dramatic scene with Trump facing off against Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is also planning to travel to New York next week for UN meetings.

“I will Chair the United Nations Security Council meeting on Iran next week!” Trump tweeted.

A meeting narrowly focused on Iran also could isolate the U.S. Other world powers on the committee -- including longtime U.S. allies France and the U.K. -- have denounced Trump’s withdrawal from the international deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

It’s not clear whether Trump’s tweet represents a formal change in topic for the meeting on Wednesday, but the missive underscored what has been continued confusion over its scope.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley originally announced the topic as Iran earlier this month, only to have other officials - including White House press secretary Sarah Sanders - say the session would be focused on the broader theme of non-proliferation.

Trump, Undercutting Aides, Says He’ll Focus on Iran in UN Meeting

Briefing reporters at the UN on Thursday, Haley said of the Wednesday session that “we initially started off with being Iran” but world events “led to a broader conversation. So we will have that conversation on nonproliferation and what we can do as an international community to get that to move forward.”

U.S. diplomats have been circulating documents saying the president intended for the session to be a broader discussion on how to implement and enforce Security Council resolutions restricting the development and use of weapons of mass destruction. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the topic had formally changed again.

In the meeting, Trump is expected to argue to European leaders that the Iran nuclear deal is a failure and that companies in their countries are choosing to leave Iran to maintain ties with the U.S., according to a senior administration official who discussed Trump’s UN plans on the condition of anonymity.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.