In response to growing confusion and burning questions among most European nations, National Security Advisor John Bolton told CNN on Sunday that U.S. sanctions on European businesses doing business with Iran are “possible,” and that it “depends on the conduct of other governments.”
“I think the Europeans will see that it’s in their interest ultimately to come along with us,” Bolton added – noting that Europe was still digesting the May 8 US exit from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in which President Trump said U.S. sanctions on Iran would be reimposed.
Of note, China, France, Russia, the UK, EU and Iran still remain in the accord. Reuters notes that the pullout from nuclear deal has upset Washington’s European allies, cast uncertainty over global oil supplies and raised the risk of conflict in the Middle East.
“I think at the moment there’s some feeling in Europe – they’re really surprised we got out of it, really surprised at the reimposition of strict sanctions. I think that will sink in; we’ll see what happens then,” Bolton said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered a more optimistic take, alluding to a new nuclear deal and saying he’s “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, not just their nuclear program, but their missiles and their malign behavior as well.”
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Meanwhile, former Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to be secretly meeting with Iranian officials to discuss the fallout of the nuclear deal, which Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) called a violation of the Logan Act.
On Saturday, Kerry was spotted dining with several Iranian regime officials in Paris. Former senior advisor to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, Jason Osborne, tweeted “So John Kerry just left a meeting @ L’Avenue in Paris w/3 Iranians. A friend was sitting next to their table and heard JK blasting @realDonaldTrump. The Iranians had a 5 person security detail and left in diplomatic vehicles. Is he FARA registered?”
One of the officials, the man with the overstarched collar, was identified as Kamal Kharzai – Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from August 1997 until 2005.
North Korea Denuclearization
Separately, appearing on ABC’s This Week, Bolton said “We’re prepared to open trade and investment with North Korea as soon as we can,” however before any benefits flow, “we want to see the denuclearization process so completely underway that it’s irreversible.”
Bolton’s comments come ahead of a historic June 12 summit between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, set to be held in Singapore. It will mark the first time a sitting US president has met with the leader of North Korea.
Kim is expected to seek swift relief from severe economic sanctions in exchange for steps to shut down its nuclear program. The U.S. has insisted that Pyongyang completely abandon its nuclear program before easing its “maximum pressure campaign” of sanctions and diplomatic isolation. –Bloomberg
“He sees the chance of a breakthrough, but I don’t think he has stars in his eyes over this,” Bolton said of Trump.
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Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Fox News Sunday that US private sector capital would be available for North Korea to use on infrastructure projects but only if “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” occurs. Pompeo’s comments echo those he made on Friday, when he said that the North Korean people will have a brighter, more prosperous future if an agreement is reached.
“If North Korea takes bold action to quickly denuclearize, the United States is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends,” he said, adding that “Private sector Americans, not the U.S. taxpayer” would go into North Korea to “help build out the energy grid, to work with them to develop infrastructure. All the things that the North Korean people need.”
North Korea said it would dismantle its [already collapsed] nuclear test site and invite foreign journalists to observe. Kim Jong Un also freed three U.S. citizens who had been imprisoned in the country, who Secretary of State Pompeo flew home last week.