Bolton: US sanctions ‘possible’ on European firms over Iran

Bolton arrives for Trump-Merkel joint news conference at the White House in Washington.

:: White House National Security adviser John Bolton on Sunday said US sanctions on European companies that do business with Iran were possible, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he remained hopeful Washington and its allies could strike a new nuclear deal with Tehran.

Bolton’s comments, in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union, struck a more hawkish note than Pompeo’s, who was interviewed on “Fox News Sunday.”

“It’s possible. It depends on the conduct of other governments,” Bolton told CNN when asked whether the United States might impose sanctions on European companies that continue to business with Iran.

Pompeo said he was “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.”

US President Donald Trump’s pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal has upset Washington’s European allies, cast uncertainty over global oil supplies and raised the risk of conflict in the Middle East.

So far, China, France, Russia, the UK, EU and Iran are remaining in the accord, minus the United States.

In a tweet on Sunday, Trump wrote: “Remember how badly Iran was behaving with the Iran Deal in place. They were trying to take over the Middle East by whatever means necessary. Now, that will not happen!”

On Saturday too Trump had tweeted: “Iran’s Military Budget is up more than 40% since the Obama negotiated Nuclear Deal was reached…just another indicator that it was all a big lie. But not anymore!”

“I think the Europeans will see that it’s in their interest ultimately to come along with us,” Bolton said when pressed on whether there could be American economic sanctions on European firms.

Bolton said Europe was still digesting the May 8 move by Trump that has the United States dropping out of the 2015 agreement with Tehran. In so doing, Trump said US economic sanctions on Iran would be reimposed.

“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.

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