US Could Sanction European Countries Over Iran, Bolton says


The administration said it expects its allies will come on board with its Iran policy but doesn't exclude the possibility of punishing them.

The U.S. could sanction European businesses that work with Iran, national security adviser John Bolton told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday.

In a separate interview on CNN's "State of the Union", he said Iran's economic condition is "really quite shaky", so the impact of sanctions "could be dramatic".

Speaking in an interview with CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, Bolton did not rule out sanctioning European entities trading with Iran several days after President Donald Trump pulled the USA out of the Iran nuclear deal. Both Bolton and Pompeo suggested they believed the great powers of Europe might eventually see the light.

The administration says the lifting of sanctions as part of the nuclear pact had allowed Iran to build up its military, with Trump claiming on Saturday that Tehran's defense spending had risen by 40 percent since 2015. "The policy of the administration is to make sure that Iran never gets close to deliverable nuclear weapons", Bolton said on the ABC program "This Week".

While he has committed to remaining in the nuclear agreement, French President Emmanuel Macron floated the idea of a supplemental deal on Iran during a recent visit to Washington.

Trump's decision drew swift criticism from the deal's other signatories, including USA allies in Europe that tried for weeks to persuade Trump to remain on board and said they plan to keep their commitment to the deal. Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China are still signed on to the deal.

"There's a lot we can do to, and we should do it", said Bolton, who at the time was with the American Enterprise Institute think tank.

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Bolton on Sunday reiterated the administration line that the USA wants to work with its partners in new ways to counter a whole range of Iranian activity ― from its nuclear development to its support for forces around the Middle East that often work against American interests.

"They were shifting the balance of power in the Middle East until President Trump got out of this deal".

"I don't know how to explain why people could miss what the president was saying", Bolton said. "I think that will sink in, and we'll see what happens then". But the Trump administration appears to agree with outside critics of the deal who say the Europeans will eventually realize the US market is more important to them ― and give up on the landmark accord. "And I will work closely with the Europeans to try and achieve that".

The E.U. was Iran's largest trade partner until 2012, when the Obama administration cobbled together a massive worldwide sanctions regime on the Islamic Republic ― even bringing along China and Russian Federation ― to force it to make concessions on the nuclear issue.

"My mission that I've been given by President Trump is to work to strike a deal that achieves the outcomes that protect America", he said.

Others were dubious that withdrawing from the nuclear deal would prove effective, particularly since it shattered an global alliance that worked to negotiate the deal with Iran.

On "Fox News Sunday", Pompeo also talked about the US becoming more involved in North Korea in North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un chooses the "right path".