National Security Adviser John Bolton said the Trump administration's economic pressure campaign on Iran is already working, saying Monday the country's elites are anxious and the reimposed sanctions regime shows U.S. determination to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program.
President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May and imposed the first wave of sanctions against Iran on Monday, targeting its gold, coal, steel and aluminum trades. The Free Beacon reported the Trump administration has warned European countries against conducting any new business with the Islamic Republic, saying otherwise their banking systems will be subjected to harsh financial penalties.
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"We've really already seen some of the implications," Bolton said on Fox News. "The pressure on the Iranian economy is significant. The value of its currency is going through the floor. We've seen public reporting of massive flights of capital out of Iran. The elites are getting nervous. We continue to see demonstrations and riots in cities and towns all around Iran showing the dissatisfaction the people feel because of the strained economy."
"More sanctions come back in in another 90 days, but this is an indication of how strongly we feel that the Iranian nuclear weapons program, its ballistic missile program, its support for terrorism, its belligerent activity in the Middle East have to stop," he added.
Bolton said the Trump administration's policy is not regime change, but rather to put "unprecedented pressure" on Iran to change its behavior.
"We are not going to allow Iran to get nuclear weapons," he said.
Iranians have taken to the streets for the last week in anger over the ruling regime's economic mismanagement, including its massive spending on the military and financial support for the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah and the Palestinians.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced support on Sunday for Iranians who are angry with their government and are facing violent repression.
We are deeply concerned about reports of Iranian regime’s violence against unarmed citizens. U.S. supports Iranian people’s right to protest against the regime’s corruption & oppression without fear of reprisal. We call on the regime in #Iran to respect its people’s human rights.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) August 6, 2018
Bolton said the protests were not a response to American sanctions, but rather to the economic deprivation and religious intolerance of the Ayatollahs.
Fox News host Bill Hemmer asked Bolton what Iran could do to satisfy the U.S. at this point.
"They could take up the president's offer to negotiate with them, to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs fully and really verifiably, not under the onerous terms of the Iran nuclear deal, which really are not satisfactory," Bolton said. "To stop their support for international terrorism, to give up their military activities in the region. You know, this is a complete package. The president has spoken to numerous European leaders about this. If Iran were really serious, they'd come to the table. We'll find out whether they are or not."
Bolton described Trump as "very serious" about meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the country's leaders, as he said he would do without preconditions last week.
The national security advisor said Tehran turned down Trump's offer.
"They flatly turned him down, and I think that's an indication they're not serious about stopping their malign behavior," Bolton said. "I think this regime is dedicated to getting deliverable nuclear weapons. They have been for 25 years."
Iranian lawmakers summoned Rouhani last week to appear before Parliament and discuss his handling of the country's continued economic struggles.