ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — U.S. President Donald Trump’s nationwide safety adviser warned Iran on Wednesday that any assaults within the Persian Gulf will draw a “very robust response” from the U.S., taking a hard-line method with Tehran after his boss solely two days earlier stated America wasn’t “seeking to damage Iran in any respect.”
John Bolton’s feedback are the most recent amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran which were enjoying out within the Center East.
Bolton spoke to journalists in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which solely days earlier noticed former Protection Secretary Jim Mattis warn there that “unilateralism won’t work” in confronting the Islamic Republic.
The duelling approaches spotlight the divide over Iran inside American politics. The U.S. has accused Tehran of being behind a string of incidents this month, together with the alleged sabotage of oil tankers off the Emirati coast, a rocket strike close to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and a coordinated drone assault on Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi rebels.
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On Wednesday, Bolton advised journalists that there had been a beforehand unknown try and assault the Saudi oil port of Yanbu as properly, which he additionally blamed on Iran. He described Tehran’s determination to again away from its 2015 atomic take care of world powers as proof it sought nuclear weapons, despite the fact that it got here a 12 months after America unilaterally withdrew from the unravelling settlement.
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Bolton careworn the U.S. had not seen any additional Iranian assaults within the time since, one thing he attributed to the current navy deployments — America just lately despatched an plane service and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf. However he warned the U.S. would strike again if once more attacked.
“The purpose is to make it very clear to Iran and its surrogates that these sorts of motion danger a really robust response from the USA,” Bolton threatened, with out elaborating.
Bolton spoke earlier than talks with Abu Dhabi’s highly effective crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He declined to have his remarks recorded by journalists.
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A longtime Iran hawk, Bolton blamed Tehran for the current incidents, at one level saying it was “virtually definitely” Iran that planted explosives on the 4 oil tankers off the UAE coast. He declined to supply any proof for his claims.
“Who else would you suppose is doing it?” Bolton requested at one level when pressed. “Anyone from Nepal?”
Iran’s Overseas Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has repeatedly criticized Bolton as a warmonger. Abbas Mousavi, a spokesman for Iran’s Overseas Ministry, stated later Wednesday Bolton’s remarks have been a “ridiculous accusation.”
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Individually in Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani stated that the “street just isn’t closed” in the case of talks with the U.S. — if America returns to the nuclear deal. Nonetheless, the comparatively reasonable Rouhani faces growing criticism from hard-liners and Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over the collapsing accord.
In the meantime, appearing U.S. Protection Secretary Patrick Shanahan stated some 900 troops coming to the Mideast over the perceived Iran risk to strengthen the tens of 1000’s already within the area could be positioned in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. One other 600 connected to a Patriot missile battery have had their deployment within the area prolonged.
“The Iranian risk to our forces within the area stays,” Shanahan stated.
Talking in Abu Dhabi, Bolton linked the rocket hearth in Baghdad, the alleged sabotage of the ships and the drone assault by Yemen’s rebels, describing them as a response from Iran and its proxies.
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“I believe it’s essential that the management in Iran to know that we all know,” Bolton stated. He then introduced up what he stated may very well be a thought of a fourth, beforehand unknown assault.
“There additionally had been an assault, an unsuccessful assault, on the Saudi port of Yanbu a few days earlier than the assault on the tankers,” he stated, with out elaborating.
Saudi officers didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark about Bolton’s declare on Yanbu, which is the terminus, or finish level, of the dominion’s East-West Pipeline. The Houthis have already focused two pumping stations on that pipeline throughout a coordinated drone assault.
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Bolton additionally stated the U.S. would increase American navy installations and people of its allies within the area.
The White Home stated Wednesday that Bolton will meet along with his counterparts from Israel and Russia subsequent month in Jerusalem to debate regional safety points. White Home press secretary Sarah Sanders didn’t disclose additional particulars about Bolton’s deliberate assembly with Israeli nationwide safety adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian safety council.
Earlier this month, on the primary anniversary of Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Tehran introduced it could start to again away from the settlement.
The accord noticed Iran restrict its enrichment of uranium in change for the lifting of financial sanctions. Trump pulled out of the accord as he stated it didn’t go far sufficient in limiting the Iranian nuclear program, nor did it handle Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Bolton stated that with out extra nuclear energy crops, it made no sense for Iran to stockpile extra low-enriched uranium because it now plans to do. However the U.S. additionally earlier minimize off Iran’s capacity to promote its uranium to Russia in change for unprocessed yellow-cake uranium.
Iran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to supply higher phrases to the unravelling nuclear deal, in any other case it is going to resume enrichment nearer to weapons stage. Bolton declined to say what the U.S. would do in response to that.
“There’s no motive for them to do any of that until that’s a part of an effort to scale back the breakout time to provide nuclear weapons,” Bolton stated. “That’s a really severe situation in the event that they proceed to try this.”
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Bolton’s journey to the UAE comes simply days after Trump in Tokyo appeared to welcome negotiations with Iran.
“We’re not searching for regime change — I simply need to make that clear,” Trump stated. “We’re searching for no nuclear weapons.”
However Bolton himself, for years earlier than changing into nationwide safety adviser, referred to as for overthrowing Iran’s authorities in interviews and in paid talking engagement earlier than an Iranian exile group.
“I don’t again away from any of it. These are positions I took as a non-public citizen,” Bolton stated when requested about his prior remarks. “Proper now I’m a authorities official. I counsel the president. I’m the nationwide safety adviser, not the nation safety decision-maker. It’s as much as him to make these choices.”
He additionally dismissed experiences that he confronted criticism from Trump over his hard-line stance with what he described as an previous proverb: “The canines bark and the caravan strikes on.”
Related Press writers Nasser Karimi and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.