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Bolton downplays past views on regime change

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National security adviser John Bolton on Sunday downplayed his past support for regime change as the Trump administration takes a more aggressive approach toward Iran. 

Bolton, who is considered a proponent of regime change, was pressed on two Sunday morning shows about whether he is encouraging President Trump to push for a new government in Iran as the White House seeks to curb regional conflict.

“That is not the policy of the administration. The policy of the administration is to make sure Iran never gets close to deliverable nuclear action,” Bolton said on ABC’s “This Week.”


On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Bolton distanced himself from past comments as a Fox News contributor and elsewhere in which he advocated for regime change in Iran, Syria and Libya.

“I’ve written and said a lot of things when I was a complete free agent. I certainly stand by what I said at the time, but those were my opinions then,” Bolton said.

“The circumstance I’m in now is I’m national security adviser to president. I’m not the national security decision-maker,” he continued.

When asked whether he’d advocate for pre-emptive military strikes against Iran, Bolton reiterated that he’s an adviser to the president and would not make the final decision.

He added that we would not speculate on steps that might lead to a military strike.

Trump announced the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last week, despite pleas from European allies to remain in the agreement. 

The 2015 deal offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. The White House has said the U.S. will put those sanctions back into place. 

European leaders vowed in the wake of the announcement that they would remain in the pact.

In the wake of Trump’s announcement, Iranian and Israeli forces exchanged missile fire.

The White House has condemned Iran for provoking conflict in the region, something it argued the nuclear deal did not address.

–Luis Sanchez contributed to this report.

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