Defense

Bolton Turns Up Anti-Iran Rhetoric In Speech: ‘We Will Come After You’

REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
  • National Security Advisor John Bolton escalated the Trump administration’s war of words with Iran in an address at the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) conference on Tuesday.
  • Bolton, one of the administration’s foremost Iran hawks, warned of “serious consequences” if the Islamic regime does not change its behavior.
  • Bolton’s speech comes as Washington’s European allies are working with Tehran to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and skirt U.S. sanctions on companies that do business in Iran.

National Security Advisor John Bolton escalated the Trump administration’s war of words with Iran during a speech on Tuesday, delivering a stark warning that “the days of impunity for Tehran and its enablers are over.”

“The murderous regime and its supporters will face significant consequences if they do not change their behavior,” Bolton said in his speech at the United Against Nuclear Iran conference in New York. “Let my message today be clear: We are watching, and we will come after you.”

Bolton’s speech follows President Donald Trump’s address to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday morning. In it, Trump reiterated his disdain for the “horrible” Iran nuclear deal and accused Tehran of furthering destructive wars in Syria and Yemen.

“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction,” Trump said. “They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. (RELATED: Bolton: US Troop Staying In Syria Aa Long As Iran’s Forces Are ‘Outside Iranian Borders’)

“Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond,” he added, before calling on world leaders to back Washington’s diplomatic and economic isolation of the Islamic Republic.

Trump came into office with hawkish views on Iran, but the administration’s position has become even more confrontational since Bolton became national security advisor in April. The following month, Trump followed through on his threat to pull the U.S. out of the 2015 nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions that had been lifted as part of the agreement.

Bolton has long seen Iran as one of America’s top national security threats, dating back to his tenure as a senior State Department official in the George W. Bush administration. He has advocated U.S. intervention to depose Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, most recently in a July 2017 address to members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq, an exile group that seeks the violent overthrow of the Islamic regime.

“The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” he said. “The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself.”

Bolton echoed those comments with an ultimatum to the Iranian regime in his speech Tuesday.

“If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay,” he said.

Bolton’s reference to “our allies” could include Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which all consider Iran to be their most dangerous regional adversary and cheered U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal. Washington’s treaty allies Britain, France and Germany, on the other hand, are largely aligned on the question of preserving the nuclear agreement and maintaining economic ties with Tehran.

On Monday night, the European Union, China and Russia announced they had agreed to establish a special financial channel that will allow them to continue trading with Iran while avoiding U.S. sanctions.

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