Bolton Warns Economic Sanctions Possible for Business With Iran

(Bloomberg) —
iran sanctions, John Bolton
National Security Adviser John Bolton (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

European countries and companies that continue to do business with Iran could face U.S. sanctions, National Security Adviser John Bolton said Sunday.

Part of the flaw with the Iran deal that President Donald Trump rejected was it enticed Europe and the U.S. into economic relations with Iran that would work against holding the country accountable for violations of the agreement, Bolton said.

“Why would any business, why would the shareholders of any business, want to do business with the world’s central banker of international terrorism?” Bolton said on ABC.

Trump on May 8 announced his intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, calling the multilateral pact “defective at its core” and unable to fully prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The announcement triggered U.S. plans to reimpose sanctions on the Islamic Republic within roughly three to six months.

The exit drew swift criticism from the deal’s other signatories, including U.S. allies in Europe who’d tried for weeks to convince Trump to remain on board and said they plan to keep their commitment to the deal.

Speaking on Fox News, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said withdrawing from the 2015 accord wasn’t aimed at Europeans, but he didn’t rule out the U.S. imposing sanctions on entities that continue to do business with Iran, even as efforts continue to strike a new deal.

“I am hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world from Iranian bad behavior,” Pompeo said.

Changing the regime in Iran is “not the policy of the administration,” Bolton said on ABC. In a separate interview on CNN, he said Iran’s economic condition is “really quite shaky,” so the impact of sanctions “could be dramatic.”

“The consequences of American sanctions go well beyond goods shipped by American companies,” Bolton said. “Because of our technology licenses to many other countries and businesses around the world, as those sanctions kick in, it will have an even broader effect as well.”

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said while the Iran deal was “a flawed agreement” because of a lack of unfettered inspections and other problems, leaving the deal isolates the U.S. and Trump should have extended it for at least another six months to work with allies.

“We could have pushed the Europeans a lot harder, to work with us,” Gates said on CBS. “And then in six months, basically, if they hadn’t done that, then you would be in a much stronger position. But as it is now, at least for the time being, we’re the country that’s isolated.”

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