Bolton: Iran mustn’t mistake US ‘prudence’ for weakness
Tehran warns war will spread across Gulf, endanger US troops
US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that Iran should not “mistake US prudence and discretion for weakness,” after the US abruptly called off military strikes against the Iran in response to the shooting down of an unmanned American surveillance drone.
Bolton’s tough message seemed to be aimed not only at Tehran, but also at reassuring key US allies that the White House remains committed to maintaining pressure on Iran.
Israel, along with Arab countries in the Gulf, considers Iran to be their greatest threat, and Trump’s last-minute about face appears to have raised questions about US willingness to use force against the Islamic Republic.
The downing of the aircraft on Thursday marked a new high in the rising tensions between the United States and Iran in the Persian Gulf.
The Trump administration has vowed to combine a “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions with a buildup of American forces in the region, following the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
President Donald Trump says he backed away from the planned strikes after learning 150 persons would be killed. But Bolton, a longtime Iran hawk, emphasised that the US reserved the right to attack at a later point. He also said a new set of sanctions on Iran are expected to be announced Monday.
“No one has granted them a hunting licence in the Middle East. As President Trump said on Friday our military is rebuilt, new and ready to go,” Bolton said in Jerusalem alongside Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, himself a vocal critic of Iran over the years. “And as he made clear yesterday, referring to his earlier remarks, the President said, ‘I just stopped the strike from going forward at this time,’” Bolton added.
Bolton is visiting Israel for three-way talks with his Israeli and Russian counterparts that are expected to focus on Iranian involvement in conflicts across the region, including in neighbouring Syria.
Israel’s PM has been a vocal critic of Iran over the years, accusing the Islamic Republic of sinister intentions at every opportunity.
But Netanyahu has remained uncharacteristically quiet throughout the current crisis between the US and Iran.
Meanwhile, a senior Iranian military commander said on Sunday, after US President Donald Trump said he would impose further sanctions on the Islamic Republic, that any conflict in the Gulf region may spread uncontrollably and threaten the lives of US troops.
“If a conflict breaks out in the region, no country would be able to manage its scope and timing,” Major General Gholamali Rashid said, according to the semi-official news agency Fars. “The American government must act responsibly to protect the lives of American troops by avoiding misconduct in the region.” — Agencies
NUCLEAR DEADLINE RUNNING OUT
Iran may further scale back compliance with its nuclear deal in two weeks unless European countries shield it from US sanctions through a trade mechanism, the head of Tehran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations said
“If Europeans don’t take measures within the 60-day deadline (announced by Iran in May), we will take new steps,” ISNA quoted Kamal Kharazi, a former foreign minister, as saying.
Meanwhile, Iranian lawmakers chanted “Death to America” during a Parliament session on Sunday after a speaker accused the United States of being the “real world terrorist”
The chants, often repeated since the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the US-backed Shah, came weeks after Trump said in a US television interview: “They (Iranians) haven’t screamed ‘death to America’ lately”