Netanyahu expects US to remain 'very, very tough' on Iran despite Bolton ouster

Netanyahu expects US to remain 'very, very tough' on Iran despite Bolton ouster
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE said he expects the Trump administration to remain “very, very tough” on Iran after the departure of hawkish former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Ex-Trump adviser Bolton defends Milley: 'His patriotism is unquestioned' MORE.

Netanyahu cited recent sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard that were declared shortly after the firing was first announced as evidence that the White House will continue its “maximum pressure” campaign on Tehran despite Bolton’s departure.

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“So I am convinced, I have no doubts at all, that in any situation — with talks, without talks — President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE and his administration will be very, very tough with Iran,” Netanyahu told Israeli media outlet Channel 20, according to Reuters.

Bolton was among Washington’s most prominent hawks on Iran, advocating at one point for regime change in Tehran. The Iranian government lauded his departure, urging Washington to shun “warmongers.”

Trump announced Bolton’s firing Tuesday, saying that “his services are no longer needed at the White House” and that “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration.” 

Iran was among the topics on which Trump and Bolton are believed to have disagreed. Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoAmerica needs a new strategy for Pacific Island Countries Harris to hold fundraiser for McAuliffe ahead of Virginia governor's race It's in our interest to turn the page on relations with Suriname MORE said shortly after Bolton’s firing that Trump might meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly this month.

Netanyahu expressed faith in Pompeo and Trump, saying they are the true decisionmakers on foreign policy.

“Look, the one who formally crafted the American policy was Pompeo ... and President Trump of course. But I’m not getting into the personality changes in this administration,” he told Channel 20. 

The Trump administration has taken a hard-line stance on Iran since 2017, withdrawing the U.S. from the Obama-era nuclear deal and slapping a bevy of sanctions on Tehran in an effort to pressure it to negotiate a new deal that expands beyond its nuclear program.

Netanyahu, who is neck-and-neck with two centrist rivals ahead of a national election next week, has campaigned heavily on national security in the final days of the race, promoting ideas such as annexing parts of the West Bank as he seeks to shore up his conservative bona fides and suggest candidates to his left would leave Israel at risk.