John Bolton: Israel should act in its own national security interests

"People concerned about the Middle East should worry about what happens in [Trump's] second term," Bolton told Army Radio.

United States President Donald Trump pictured next to Former United States National Security Advisor John Bolton. (photo credit: REUTERS)
United States President Donald Trump pictured next to Former United States National Security Advisor John Bolton.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former United States National Security Advisor John Bolton spoke with Army Radio host Efi Triger on Tuesday to discuss Israel's national security, the upcoming United States elections as well as the recent explosions reported at key Iranian government sites.
Within the interview, Bolton noted that "the next few months is an optimal time for Israel to act in its own national security interests," considering the uncertainty of future US leadership with the upcoming elections in November. He added that if US President Donald Trump is voted back into office, and freed from "electoral constraints," that the Middle East should then prepare for a major shift.
With regard to the recent explosions reported at several Iranian sites, including the highly publicized explosion at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, Bolton said that he does not claim to have any "peculiar knowledge" as to how these events transpired, however, he notes if these were planned attacks that they seem to be attacking Iran's nuclear program.
The reports on Natanz show that a massive explosion ripped apart a key building that is thought to have had key centrifuges in it. The attack apparently happened at around 2:00 in the morning on July 2, which corresponds with someone on the ground who allegedly heard an explosion.
Bolton added that if there is a motive, whoever is behind the targeted attacks - whether it be dissidents or foreign actors - they have his full support.
"It's still important to do, and to show the Ayatollahs that somebody can get even into their most sensitive locations," said Bolton.
Triger then pointed to reports that these explosions have set back the Iranian nuclear program by at least a year and a half, if not two years.
"We can make that judgement, I mean the damage that we can see above ground to a building that was a manufacturing facility for their most sophisticated centrifuge appears to be considerable," Bolton told Triger. "But we don't know what's going on in the centrifuge halls below, so I wouldn't be completely optimistic about whether this is setting the program back or not."
The building affected by the July 2 explosion was allegedly the above ground portion of a larger area where new centrifuges are “balanced before they are put into operations.” Iran is known for building underground facilities that obscure or protect their activities, including at missile and nuclear sites.
Triger argued that considering Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal in 2018, in addition to the pressure he has put on Iran since and the accompanying tensions that have surmounted between the two countries over the past few years - whether it be playing military chicken on the Persian Gulf, placing economic sanctions on the Iranian economy with a "maximum pressure" mentality or the killing of former IRGC general Qasem Soleimani - it has given the Ayatollahs the inclination to "invigor" the uranium enrichment program, which perhaps gives them the ability to "compile a nuclear bomb in a few months."
"I don't agree with that myself, [Trump] is motivated much more by domestic American politics," Bolton said. "Which is why if it turns out he is re-elected in November, we don't really know what he's going to do - once he's freed from electoral constraints."
"People concerned about the Middle East should worry about what happens in his second term."
Triger then brought up a point from Bolton's book, The Room Where It Happened, where Bolton alleged that Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner "blocked calls from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu" as well as other foreign leaders, additionally persuading the president on occasion to avoid meeting with the Iranian foreign minister - asking Bolton to explain Kushner's behavior on this matter.
"I think it shows the danger when you have somebody who is not in a regular organization getting involved like that, I think it's always a danger with family members in senior positions. This was a particularly important issue, I saw it that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be heard on it. It's people who don't have long experience in these complex questions buffing or acting on different motivations. I saw it as a very serious mistake."
Bolton wrote in his book, The Room Where It Happened, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed doubt about Jared Kushner’s ability to head the peace plan, according to quotes from the book published on CNN and the Wall Street Journal. Bolton reportedly talked to Netanyahu before joining Trump’s administration.
Bolton wrote that Netanyahu “was dubious about assigning the task of bringing an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Kushner, whose family Netanyahu had known for many years.”
He added that, “[Netanyahu] was enough of a politician not to oppose the idea publicly, but like much of the world, he wondered why Kushner thought he would succeed where the likes of Kissinger had failed.”
Triger then urged Bolton to challenge the notion that Trump administration "was the best thing to happen to Israel," which Bolton already categorically denied in his book.
"I'm not advocating the election for Joe Biden. For me in November I'm going to write in the name of a third person, it's not a happy election for me," Bolton said.
He noted with the uncertainty, as stated above, that "the next few months are an optimal time for Israel to act in its own national security interests."
Seth J Frantzman and Tobias Siegel contributed to this report.