Bolton: U.S.'s highest priority is Iran never getting nuclear capabilities

Bolton began his brief comments by saying it was a “privilege and honor to be in Jerusalem, Israel's capital,” to which Netanyahu joked: “Say that again.”

Bolton: U.S.'s highest priority is Iran never getting nuclear weapons, August 20, 2018 (GPO)
The United States is working with European countries to convince them of the need to take stronger steps against the Iranian nuclear weapons program, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said Monday.
“I think it is of the highest importance for the United States that Iran never get nuclear weapons capabilities,” Bolton said at the Prime Minister’s Office prior to a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his second meeting since arriving in Israel on Sunday.
“This is why President Trump withdrew from the wretched Iran nuclear deal,” he said. “This is why he has imposed economic sanctions. This is why we are working with our friends in Europe to convince them of the need to take stronger steps against Iranian nuclear weapons.”
This is also, Bolton added, the reason why the US “continuously [worries] about Iran’s role as the central banker for international terrorism, this is why we worry about Iran’s belligerent military activity in Iran, in Syria, with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and in Yemen.”
Bolton, who is in Israel through Wednesday on his first visit to the country since taking office in April, said all of the regional threats he mentioned were also “global threats that pose a risk of international terrorism, especially terrorists’ possible use of weapons of mass destruction.”
Bolton, a longtime fervent supporter of Israel and a vocal critic of the Iranian nuclear deal, said the alliance between Israel and the US has never been stronger.
US President Donald Trump, Bolton said, has made the alliance “a cornerstone of his foreign policy,” just as Netanyahu has made it a cornerstone of Israel’s policy. He said it was “very important and helpful for the United States” to have in-depth, extended conversations with Netanyahu and his senior advisers.
Bolton began his brief comments by saying it was a “privilege and honor to be in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital,” to which Netanyahu joked: “Say that again.”
“Israel’s capital,” Bolton repeated, adding that he looked forward to visiting the new US Embassy in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu welcomed Bolton by saying that Israel has no better friend and ally than the US, and that the US has no better friend and ally than Israel.
In reference to Trump’s constant criticism of NATO countries for not spending enough of their own gross national product for their defense needs and relying on the US, Netanyahu said that Israel was a “peculiar kind of ally.”
“We’ve consistently increased our defense spending,” he said. “We insist on defending ourselves by ourselves and appreciate all manner of American support, but we believe that the alliance is the alliance of the strong and like-minded, and we share America’s values of freedom and liberty.”
Netanyahu said that under Trump the US-Israel alliance is stronger than ever, and that Bolton’s visit gives the two countries the opportunity to “align our policies even more closely on Iran, on Syria, on Gaza and on the many challenges that face both our countries in this region.”
He thanked Trump for withdrawing from the “terrible deal with Iran,” saying this was “nothing less than a hinge of history.” He also applauded the Trump administration’s “determination to re-impose tough sanctions on Iran and those doing business with Iran. I know that that view is shared by all our Arab neighbors, or practically everyone in this region.”
Netanyahu said all countries who care about Middle East peace and security should follow the US, and “ratchet up the pressure on Iran, because the greater the pressure on Iran, the greater the chance that the regime will roll back its aggression.”
The prime minister also thanked the US for its unequivocal support for Israel in international forums.
“We hear it every day, on the podiums in the White House, in the State Department, at the United Nations,” he said. “This is deeply, deeply appreciated, and deeply valued.”
Following his meeting with Netanyahu, Bolton met with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who said that in addition to Iran, Syria and Lebanon, they also spoke about Gaza.
“We have a supportive president in the White House and a supportive administration, and that allows us significant maneuverability against our enemies from the North and the South,” Liberman said. “Thank you John – you have made a great contribution to the security of the State of Israel.”