National security adviser John Bolton on Sunday carefully doubled down on President Donald Trump’s threat that European countries could be sanctioned by the United States if they continue to be involved with Iran.
“It’s possible,“ Bolton said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Bolton’s statement came as he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to amplify the reasons behind the Trump administration’s deal to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement and explain how it will work, given that the international community, other than Israel and some Arab nations, has not jumped on board with the president. Both Bolton and Pompeo suggested they believed the great powers of Europe might eventually see the light.
Trump on Tuesday said he was going to reimpose sanctions on Iran — dealing a blow to what he called the “decaying and rotten” Iran nuclear deal. Those sanctions could involve secondary sanctions, which would penalize countries whose companies continue to trade with Iran. “Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States,” the president said.
After Trump‘s announcement, the leaders of France, Germany and Britain said in a joint statement that they remain committed to preserving the Iran deal and urged the U.S. “to ensure that the structures of the [deal] can remain intact, and to avoid taking action which obstructs its full implementation by all other parties to the deal.” China and Russia also have affirmed support for the deal, which was designed to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons.
“I think the Europeans will see that it’s in their interest ultimately to come along with this,” Bolton said to Jake Tapper.
Despite the lack of support from other world powers, Bolton said he thought the U.S. sanctions would make a dent in and of themselves. “We’ve seen is that Iran’s economic condition is really quite shaky, so that they effect here could be dramatic,” he told Tapper.
Bolton went on to say that despite Trump‘s consistency in terms of saying he was going to get out of deal: “Many people ... thought we would never get out of it.”
“I don’t know how to explain why people could miss what the president was saying,” Bolton said. “So I think at the moment there is some feeling in Europe that they’re really surprised that we got out of it and really surprised at the imposition of strict sanctions. I think that will sink in, and we’ll see what happens then.“
Also Sunday morning, Pompeo said that withdrawal from the deal wasn’t aimed at Europeans — that the Trump administration will continue to work with our allies to fix the deal.
“I am hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world from Iranian bad behavior, not just their nuclear program, but there missiles and their malign behavior as well,” Pompeo said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And I will work closely with the Europeans to try and achieve that.“
When pressed whether the U.S. is prepared to go against companies from our allies, Pompeo said the sanctions in place are “very clear about what the requirements are.“
“My mission that I've been given by President Trump is to work to strike a deal that achieves the outcomes that protect America,” he said. “That's what we are going to do, and I will be hard at it with the Europeans in the next several days.“
Others were dubious that withdrawing from the nuclear deal would prove effective, particularly since it shattered an international alliance that worked to negotiate the deal with Iran.
“I don’t believe we will ever be able to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again,“ James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, said on “Fareed Zakaria’s GPS.”
On “Fox News Sunday,” Pompeo also talked about the U.S. becoming more involved in North Korea in North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un chooses the “right path.”
He said that more Americans from the private sector to help build the energy grid and to work with them to develop infrastructure.
“All the things that the North Korean people need, the capacity for American agriculture to support North Korea so they can eat meat and have healthy lives, Pompeo said. “Those are the kinds of things that if we get what it is the president has demanded, the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea that the American people will offer in spades.“