Iran had never made a strategic decision to give up its nuclear weapons programme, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said today, asserting that Tehran gained economically from the nuclear deal inked during the previous Obama administration.
He said that because of the deal, Iran was able to take advantage of turmoil in the region to advance its interests all across the Middle East, in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Yemen, so that the consequences of being able to sell Iranian oil without restriction on the international market were providing them resources not just for their nuclear programme, not just as the world's central banker of international terrorism, but conventional hostilities across the region as well.
"Iran had never made a strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons. I think it was testing the limits of the deal's provisions, exceeding them in some cases. Its ballistic missile program, which continued essentially unchecked, was proof that what they were seeking was delivery systems for the nuclear weapons," Bolton told CNN.
So, the president has to make a decision where America's national interests lie. And it did not lie in continuing this deal. Now, the consequence of the United States getting out of it is to reimpose all American sanctions as they were before the deal came into effect. And I think what we've seen is that Iran's economic condition is really quite shaky, so that the effect here could be dramatic, he said.
The US, he said, is not going it alone on Iran. We have the support of Israel. We have the support of the Arab oil-producing monarchies and many others. And the consequences of American sanctions go well beyond goods shipped by American companies, because of our technology licenses to many other countries and businesses around the world, Bolton said.
As those sanctions kick in, it will have an even broader effect as well, Bolton said. The issue here is what the Europeans are going to do. If they're going to see that it's not in their interest to stay in the deal; we're going to have to watch what the Iranians do. They'd love to stay in the deal. Why shouldn't they? They got everything they wanted from the Obama administration, he said.
But I think the Europeans will see that it's in their interest, ultimately, to come long with us. I don't know how to explain why people could miss what the president was saying. So at the moment, there's some feeling in Europe that they're really surprised we got out of it, really surprised at the reimposition of strict sanctions, Bolton said.
I think that will sink in. And we'll see what happens then. The president's very clear he wants to discuss the larger threat posed by Iran around the region. And this is what he discussed with President Macron. He's talked about it with Chancellor Merkel. He's talked about it with Prime Minister May, not just Iran's nuclear threat now, the threat in the future, the ballistic missile programs, and the instability that Iran is causing around the region, Bolton said.
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