It is “possible” the U.S. may impose sanctions on European companies that keep doing business with Iran, national security adviser John Bolton warned Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
President Donald Trump frustrated key European allies when he withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal last week and signed an order reimposing sanctions on Iran that had been in place prior to the deal.
Although the deal’s other members emphasized their commitment to remaining in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the U.S. threatened to impose sanctions on any companies enabling Iran by doing business with the country.
“Is the U.S. going to impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran?” CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked Bolton.
Bolton replied, “The answer is, it’s possible. It depends on the conduct of other governments,” adding that he believes “they may try to [stay in the deal], in part because I think, despite President Trump’s complete consistency in opposition to the deal … many people, including, apparently, former Secretary of State John Kerry, thought that we never would get out of it.”
Kerry — former President Barack Obama’s chief negotiator in the talks with Iran — recently sought to salvage the deal and undermine Trump’s authority by meeting with Iran’s foreign minister prior to the chief executive’s withdrawal announcement.
But Bolton predicted that the Europeans, especially the United Kingdom, France and Germany, eventually “will see that it’s in their interests to come along with us” by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal with the U.S. and reimposing the strict economic sanctions against Iran that were relaxed as a result of the deal.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump decided to withdraw the U.S. from the controversial Obama-era agreement because Iran chose to “act with impunity” and renege on the deal’s full conditions.
Pompeo said also that it was “ludicrous” for anyone to blame the heightened tensions between Iran and Israel on Trump’s announcement. After Iran targeted Israeli soldiers following Trump’s withdrawal, Israel retaliated by unleashing a missile strike on Iranian bases in Syria.
“To suggest that Iran feels less constrained than they did when, during the JCPOA, they fired missiles into an airport where Americans travel each day in Riyadh? They’ve now fired missiles into Israel,” Pompeo said.
“To suggest that somehow the withdrawal from the JCPOA is driving the Iranian conduct that has taken place during the JCPOA in Yemen, the rise in Hezbollah, all of those things took place during the JCPOA. Indeed, I would argue that they thought they could act with impunity,” he said.
Pompeo noted that Iran “watched Europe put exactly zero sanctions on their missile program” while the JCPOA was being observed by the U.S.
“I think [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani and [Iranian Foreign Minister Javad] Zarif need to explain why it’s the case that, while this agreement was in place, Iran continued its march across the Middle East,” Pompeo added.