With Soleimani gone, Iran more likely to negotiate - US security adviser

"I think the chances of sitting down with the Iranians and getting to a deal have improved significantly," Robert O'Brien told Axios.

Women hold pictures of Iranian Maj.Gen. Qasem Soleimani during a funeral procession and burial in his hometown, Kerman, on Tuesday.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Women hold pictures of Iranian Maj.Gen. Qasem Soleimani during a funeral procession and burial in his hometown, Kerman, on Tuesday.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Following the United States' assassination of IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani, many around the world criticized the move, saying it would worsen relations between the two nations, with some claiming that it would lead to World War III.
In an interview with Axios, White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien expressed the opposite, saying that the strike would deter Iran from further action against the US.
"Soleimani's belief was he could end the maximum pressure campaign by going up an escalation ladder with the US, taking out drones, taking out Saudi refineries, taking ships and that sort of thing," O'Brien explained. "I believe that the Iranians are standing down," he added.
"I think the chances of sitting down with the Iranians and getting to a deal have improved significantly," O'Brien told the American news website.
US President Donald Trump has made claims that there was intelligence that Soleimani was planning attacks against the US and its citizens before he was assassinated and O'Brien made similar claims. He told Axios that Soleimani "was involved in plotting attacks against Americans at the time."
When asked by Axios why the Trump administration publicly took credit for the attack, O'Brien explained, "there weren't too many countries with the capability of undertaking that attack. There was no reason not to own it."
Following Soleimani's killing, a massive funeral took place in his hometown, in which more than 50 people were killed and over 200 were injured in a stampede, causing the burial to be delayed.
Mourners were allegedly shouting "death to America."
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CNN on January 7 that, "this is an act of aggression against Iran, and it amounts to an armed attack against Iran, and we will respond. But we will respond proportionately – not disproportionately... We are not lawless like President Trump."
This was in response to comments from Trump that if Iran were to retaliate, the US had a list of 52 sites it was ready to target, including cultural ones, and that it may respond "in a disproportionate manner."

Reuters contributed to this report.