Bolton: Ideal Time for Israel to Act in Its Own Security Interests

YERUSHALAYIM -
Then-National Security Adviser John Bolton meets Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Yerushalayim, in 2019. (Chaim Zach/GPO)

Former United States National Security Advisor John Bolton was interviewed on Army Radio on Tuesday. Topics ranged from Israel’s national security, uncertainty over future U.S. leadership in the upcoming elections and recent explosions reported in key Iranian sites.

“The next few months is an optimal time for Israel to act in its own national security interests,” he said, in light of his assessment that President Trump “is motivated much more by domestic American politics … Which is why if it turns out he is re-elected in November, we don’t really know what he’s going to do – once he’s freed from electoral constraints. … People concerned about the Middle East should worry about what happens in his second term.”

As for recent explosions reported at Iranian nuclear sites, including the highly publicized explosion at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, Bolton expressed support for the attacks while not claiming knowledge of who committed them, but questioned whether they made significant damage to the Iranian nuclear program.

“The damage that we can see above ground to a building that was a manufacturing facility for their most sophisticated centrifuge appears to be considerable, but we don’t know what’s going on in the centrifuge halls below, so I wouldn’t be completely optimistic about whether this is setting the program back or not. … It’s still important to do, and to show the Ayatollahs that somebody can get even into their most sensitive locations,” said Bolton.

The interviewer noted that in Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened, he alleges that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner blocked calls from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other foreign leaders, as well as prevailing upon President Trump on occasion not to meet with the Iranian foreign minister. Bolton added to this that: “I think it’s always a danger with family members in senior positions. This was a particularly important issue; I saw it that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should be heard on it. It’s people who don’t have long experience in these complex questions buffing or acting on different motivations. I saw it as a very serious mistake… [Netanyahu] was enough of a politician not to oppose the idea publicly, but like much of the world, he wondered why Kushner thought he would succeed where the likes of Kissinger had failed.”

As for his choice for the next president, Bolton noted: “I’m not advocating the election of Joe Biden. For me in November, I’m going to write in the name of a third person, it’s not a happy election for me.”