Former President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said the Biden administration is making a “stunning mistake” in pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran.
Bolton, a longtime Iran hawk, claimed that Iran’s deal would make it a “better partner” for Russia and pose a threat to not only the Middle East, but the world as well.
“I think the immediate effect will obviously be the thawing of billions of dollars of Iranian assets that will come back under their control, with their discretion to spend it on their nuclear program, their support of international terrorism in the Middle East. and beyond,” Bolton told CNBC’s Dan Murphy. “It really is a stunning mistake by the Biden administration.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last year, the signatories to the original pact embarked on the first of what would become many rounds of negotiations in Vienna to revive the deal since the US withdrew from it in 2018 under the Trump administration.
Under the 2015 agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, Iran would have dismantled much of its nuclear program and allowed more international inspections in return for the easing of economic sanctions.
A closer relationship between Iran and Russia
Bolton also warned that lifting sanctions could lead to Iran forging closer ties with Russia.
“I think it makes sense that a richer, stronger Iran, freed from international sanctions, will grow closer to Russia… Helping Iran free from economic sanctions will make it a better partner for Russia.”
Bolton noted that Russia and China have an existing “entente” and that a three-way partnership between Russia, China and Iran would have global implications.
“China is providing economic aid to the Russians directly and indirectly, out of concern about the sanctions against Ukraine. I think China would expect Russia to do the same if it decided to go after Taiwan,” the former US national security adviser said.
The Chinese embassy in Singapore did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“In the Middle East, where they have overlapping interests, their preferred partner is Iran. So it’s kind of a three-way arrangement that I think has global implications.”
Impact on the Middle East
Bolton also claimed that a deal with Iran would harm key US allies in the Middle East.
“The United States’ allies most concerned about Iran are… the Arab Gulf states and Israel,” he said. “And those are the countries that, I’m afraid, the US is selling out here by not taking into account the ultimate goals of the Iranian regime to gain hegemony over the Middle East.”
In June, the White House emphasized its determination to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.
“We think a diplomatic agreement is the best way to do that. We think a mutual return to the JCPOA is in the best interest of the United States and our partners,” current National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters. “And there’s a deal on the table with Iran, and it’s up to Iran to decide whether it wants to take it.”
Bolton’s comments come on the heels of Tuesday’s escalated protests in Iraq, following strong Shia Islamist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced his resignation from politics.
“What is going on in Baghdad now should reinforce our determination not to go back to the Iran nuclear deal, not to do anything that would make the regime in Tehran stronger, but to work with our Arab friends and our Israeli friends to try this threat, which is the real source of the instability we see in Baghdad.”