WASHINGTON – John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Bush administration, called on President Trump to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran deal “entirely” regardless of how European allies such as Germany might react.
Bolton said the deal should have been eliminated on the day of Trump’s inauguration. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today that the administration is still reviewing the matter and “no decisions have been made.”
“To me, there is simply no argument about continuing this Iran deal, period. And it’s not just a question of the president not certifying next month. He should withdraw from the deal entirely,” Bolton said Monday at the Endowment for Middle East Truth’s annual 9/11 Memorial Seminar on Capitol Hill. “There is a new theory out that we won’t certify but we’ll stay in the deal. Now, you know, one shoe off and one shoe on may appeal to your 3-year-old at home, but that’s not the way you conduct American foreign policy.”
The ambassador said the administration “should cut and cut clean from this, as Paul Laxalt once said, get out of this deal and then do what we need to do with our friends to protect the United States against the threat of Iran’s use of nuclear weapons or its use of nuclear weapons for blackmail and extortion for countries in the region and around the world.”
“This proliferation threat is real,” he added. “Those of us who are baby boomers lived through the days of duck-and-cover drills in our elementary schools against the threat of a Soviet nuclear salvo. It maybe that North Korea and Iran don’t have that yet, but who wants to return to those happy days?”
“If we don’t deal with this nuclear threat, the overall terrorist threat around the world will be magnified beyond calculation and the terrible risk to the United States and our friends is that the next 9/11 will be nuclear – that, we have to avoid.”
Bolton said U.S. allies would “adapt” to the “new reality” created by the U.S. withdrawing from the Iran deal.
“In fact, they know as well as we do there wouldn’t be a deal if Obama hadn’t insisted on it. And it’s a little-known fact in the proliferation world the French are actually quite close to a sound position, the kind that probably the people in this room would advocate — so they’ll shed a few tears for the economic deals French companies might not make but they’ll know, in fact, that it’s better,” he said. “Germany is a little bit more of a problem. I think the Brits will come around. Russia and China, maybe not so much.”
Bolton described former President Obama and the Iranians as “crafty” for attempting to tie the U.S. and the Europeans into an “economic network” that would make it “unattractive” to get out of the deal.
“That shouldn’t dissuade us from making the correct decision here because the nuclear threat is obviously much more important than a few dollars of profit,” he said.
Bolton said dealing with North Korea is “not a separate problem” from Iran. He expressed concern that Iran is hiding its “illicit activities” far from Israeli intelligence.
“I have no doubt that North Korea and Iran have cooperated on their ballistic missile programs for 25 years, if not more, and I feel certain that the evidence is there that they have cooperated on the nuclear weapons programs as well,” he said.
“The day may come when history will show that much of Iran’s program is now under a mountain in North Korea, which is why dealing with North Korea is not a separate problem from dealing with Iran: they are essentially the same problem, and from a proliferation perspective I think that’s clear,” he added.