Bolton: Iran sanctions having ‘significant effect’ on economy, popular opinion

Bolton: Iran sanctions having ‘significant effect’ on economy, popular opinion
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National security adviser John Bolton on Wednesday said that the Trump administration's recently imposed sanctions on Iran are already "having a significant effect," but warned the country's leadership has yet to change its behavior.

“Let me be clear, the reimposition of the sanctions, we think, is already having a significant effect on Iran’s economy and on, really, popular opinion inside Iran,” Bolton told Reuters during a visit to Israel.

“I think the effects, the economic effects certainly, are even stronger than we anticipated,” Bolton added.

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Bolton disputed on Wednesday that the U.S. is hoping protests and dire economic conditions will lead to regime change in Iran.

“Just to be clear, regime change in Iran is not American policy," he said. "But what we want is massive change in the regime’s behavior."

Bolton indicated that the U.S has not seen such a change thus far, calling Tehran's behavior in the region "belligerent."

The Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran earlier this month after President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative MORE withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May. The sanctions target the country's gold and metal trade, its automotive industry and its purchase of U.S. dollars.

Additional sanctions, including penalties on oil sales, are set to go back into effect in November.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have dated back for decades but spiked after Trump pulled out of the nuclear pact in May.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBill Maher says he's 'glad' David Koch is dead Trump spurs new wave of economic angst by escalating China fight Trump on North Korean projectile launches: Kim 'likes testing missiles' MORE announced last week the creation of an “Iran Action Group” to coordinate the State Department’s Iran policy in the aftermath of the deal.

Trump, meanwhile, said at a press conference late last month that he's willing to meet with Iranian leaders without preconditions.

“It’s good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world. No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet,” Trump said at a joint press conference with the Italian prime minister.