The US would only remove sanctions from Iran after a comprehensive deal was reached on its nuclear program, National Security Adviser John Bolton told Radio Free Europe on Tuesday.
He spoke just one day after President Donald Trump spoke of a possible meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Such a high-level event has not occurred since before the Iranian revolution.
Rouhani appeared to douse cold water on the possibility of such a meeting, when he said that such face-to-face talk could only occur after US sanctions were lifted.
“Regarding the US – unless the US lifts the sanctions and strikes a line over the wrongful path they selected, we will witness no positive development.”
Bolton said that Washington would not just lift the sanctions to bring Iran to the table.
“The idea that Iran would receive some tangible economic benefit merely for stopping doing things it should not have been doing in the first place is just a non-starter. If there is a comprehensive deal, then of course the sanctions will come off at that point,” Bolton said.
“When the regime in Iran is ready to talk about that, then there will be a meeting,” he said.
Bolton added that the American position on Iran has not changed and would not be changed if Trump sat down with Rouhani.
“Talking with them, for President Trump, does not imply changing your position,” he said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that the US remained committed to preventing a nuclear Iran in an interview he gave to FOX59 WXIN and CBS4 WTTV.
The US wants to, “ensure that the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, the revolutionary regime in Iran, doesn’t conduct terror around the world, and we continue to work towards that. We don’t want them to get a nuclear weapon,” Pompeo said.
When the Iranian leadership changes its stance on this, “there’ll be a new solution; there’ll be a new understanding and set of agreements,” he said. “We hope that that comes sooner rather than later. It would be in the best interests of the world for that to happen – and most importantly, it would create security for the American people. That’s our mission and it’s our aim.”
He added in an interview for ABC WRTV that, “In the end, the Islamic Republic of Iran has got to make a decision. President Trump has said he’ll meet with them. They’ve got to make a decision about whether they are intent on developing a nuclear weapons program and a missile program, and continuing to conduct terror in places like the United States and Europe.”
In 2015, the US and five other world powers – Russia, China, Great Britain, France and Germany – signed a deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, that would curb Iran’s nuclear ability.
Israel opposed the deal, arguing that it left Iran with the ability to produce nuclear weapons and did not deal with its ballistic missiles program. It also argued that the lifting of sanctions which accompanied the deal provided Iran with funds to invest in regional and global terror.
The Trump administration pulled out of the deal and reimposed sanctions, which have had a crippling effect on the Iranian economy, particularly on its oil exports.