Bolton says Biden approach to Iran encouraging threats to US officials
Former national security adviser John Bolton on Wednesday slammed the Biden administration for negotiating with Iran on a new nuclear deal after it was revealed he was targeted in an Iranian assassination attempt, saying attempts to “appease” Tehran are encouraging threats against U.S. officials.
Bolton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on the “Situation Room” that because the nature of the Iranian regime “drives it to this kind of action,” President Biden should not be trying to revive a 2015 deal that limited Iran’s nuclear abilities in exchange for easing U.S. sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation.
“It’s a big mistake for the administration to continue to show weakness to Iran by begging to get back in the 2015 nuclear deal,” said Bolton, who has long been hawkish on Iran. “It encourages Tehran to engage in just these kinds of terrorist activities.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Biden said the president “has been clear that he will ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.”
“He believes diplomacy is the best path to achieving that goal,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “At the same time, the Biden Administration has not and will not waiver in protecting and defending all Americans against threats of violence and terrorism. We will continue to bring to bear the full resources of the U.S. Government to protect Americans.”
The Justice Department on Wednesday charged an Iranian nationalist and member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) with planning to hire someone to kill Bolton.
The Justice Department said Shahram Poursafi began plotting the attack in October, likely to retaliate against Bolton for a January 2020 U.S. drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force.
Poursafi was planning to pay up to $300,000 for someone to kill Bolton in Maryland or Washington, D.C., according to the Justice Department, and was in contact with a U.S. resident whom he asked to kill Bolton. The resident is listed as a confidential source in department documents.
Poursafi was also offering a $1 million bounty to kill another unknown person, which Axios reported was former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who also served under Trump.
Earlier this month, police thwarted what they said was an attempted assassination of a prominent Iranian journalist in New York City, which she blamed on Tehran.
The Biden administration has engaged in indirect negotiations with Tehran for months in an effort to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which former President Trump scrapped in 2018.
Negotiations increasingly seem to be stalled. Biden said last month that the U.S. will not “wait forever” to revive a new nuclear deal
Bolton resigned from the Trump administration in 2019 and was not involved with the drone strike on Soleimani, but he has long encouraged a more aggressive posture against Iran. He also served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President George W. Bush.
On Wednesday, Bolton said the JCPOA was a “mistake” and has not “gotten any better with age,” urging the administration to drop the talks.
“The administration has been on its knees in Vienna, [Austria], begging to get back into the deal, which sends signals of weakness,” Bolton said.
“If this doesn’t show anything about Iran’s willingness to try and intimidate its adversaries, I don’t know what else to say.”
Updated at 4:21 p.m.