Updated Aug 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Bolton says negotiating with Iran "encourages terrorist activities" in U.S.

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton during a forum  at the Page Auditorium on the campus of Duke University on February 17, 2020 in Durham, North Carolina.
Former national security adviser John Bolton during a forum at Duke University in Durham, N.C., in 2020. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton told CNN Wednesday the Biden administration shouldn't negotiate with Iranian officials on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal as it drives actions like making him an assassination target.

Driving the news: The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that a member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had been indicted over an alleged plot to kill Bolton. DOJ officials told former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he was also an assassination target, per Axios' Mike Allen.

The big picture: President Biden said last month he couldn't "wait forever" for Iran to respond to its proposal to resurrect the nuclear agreement and officials have been meeting in Vienna this month to discuss the matter.

  • European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted on Monday that a "final text" aimed at reviving the deal had been written after the talks between U.S., Iran and EU officials.
  • In charges unsealed Wednesday against Shahram Poursafi, also known as Mehdi Rezayi, he's accused of being involved in a plot to pay $300,000 to have Bolton killed in the U.S.

What they're saying: "It's a big mistake for the administration to continue to show weakness to Iran by begging to get back in the 2015 nuclear deal," Bolton said on CNN's "Situation Room."

  • "It encourages Tehran to engage in just these kinds of terrorist activities," he added.
  • The hawkish neoconservative told host Wolf Blitzer that it's "quite correct to say many other Americans are in the targets of this regime."

The other side: A State Department spokesperson said that the Biden administration "has been clear that it will ensure Iran never acquires" a nuclear weapon.

  • "We believe diplomacy is the best path to achieving that goal" and would continue to pursue negotiations for as long as officials believe it is in U.S. national security interests to do so, the spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday.
  • "At the same time, the Biden Administration has not and will not waiver in protecting and defending all Americans against threats of violence and terrorism.  We will continue to bring to bear the full resources of the U.S. Government to protect Americans.
"As the Secretary reinforced today, 'Our message to Iran is clear: we will not tolerate threats of violence against Americans — and that certainly includes former government officials. Any attack would be met with severe consequences.'"
— Excerpt from State Department statement

Of note: Bolton also posted his thanks on Twitter to the DOJ after it announced the charges against Poursafi:

A screenshot of John Bolton's Twitter post thanking the DOJ after charges were laid in an alleged Iranian plot to kill him.
Photo: John Bolton/Twitter

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from the State Department.

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