Jun 23, 2019

John Bolton says military action against Iran is still on the table

John Bolton in Israel. Photo: Tsafrir Abayov/AFP/Getty Images

White House national security adviser John Bolton told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a meeting today that President Trump may still order a military strike against Iran. "The president said he just stopped the strike from going forward at this time," Bolton said in a joint press availability with Netanyahu at the top of their meeting.

Why it matters: Israeli officials are concerned with the U.S. response to the latest Iranian actions in the region. Israeli security and intelligence officials think that in order to force Iran to stop its provocations, the U.S. response needs to be stronger. Despite this assessment, Netanyahu refrained from publicly criticizing Trump's decision not to order a military strike and didn't say a word about it in his press remarks with Bolton.

  • Instead, Netanyahu defended Trump's Iran policy and the U.S.' "maximum pressure" campaign. He said that people who criticize Trump and claim "he opened a hornet's nest don't live on this planet." Netanyahu claimed that latest Iranian aggression is a result of the nuclear deal the Obama administration brokered with Iran.

Bolton added during the press availability with Netanyahu that Iran shouldn't mistake U.S. actions up until now as a sign of weakness. "No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East," he stressed. "Sanctions are biting and more will be added — Iran can never have nuclear weapons."

The big picture: Bolton arrived in Jerusalem Saturday to participate in an unprecedented trilateral summit with his Israeli and Russian counterparts — initially set up to discuss Iran's actions in Syria. He told Netanyahu in their meeting that the Trump administration fully supports Israel's actions aimed at pushing Iranian and pro-Iranian forces out of the country.

  • National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said in a statement: "The Trump Administration unequivocally supports Israel's efforts to ensure its self-defense and to roll back the Iranian regime’s and its proxy forces’ influence in the region."
  • Marquis added: "The meeting with Netanyahu re-affirmed the shared United States-Israel priority of confronting Iranian aggression throughout the region by continuing maximum economic pressure and increasing the cost of Iran’s malign activity."

Bolton will have a bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart tomorrow in Jerusalem. He said he will use his talks with Putin's national security adviser to lay the groundwork for the meeting between Trump and the Russian president during the G20 summit in Japan later this week. On Tuesday, Bolton will participate in the US-Russia-Israel trilateral meetings.

Go deeper

Amid racial unrest, a test at the polls

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Eight states plus D.C. are holding primary elections today following a week of intense protests across the country over the brutal police killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: It's the first major test for voting since the national outcry. Concerns over civil unrest and the police — as well as the coronavirus and expanded absentee voting — could reduce the number of voters showing up in person but heighten tensions for those who do.

Axios-Ipsos poll: America’s big racial divide on police, virus

Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Note: ±3.2% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A new Axios-Ipsos poll finds that America has a massive racial gulf on each of our twin calamities — trust in police, and fear of the coronavirus.

  • 77% of whites say they trust local police, compared with just 36% of African Americans — one of many measures of a throbbing racial divide in Week 11 of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, taken the week George Floyd was killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis.
Updated 46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Four police officers were struck by gunfire while standing near a line in St Louis on Monday after a peaceful demonstration, Police Chief John Hayden said early Tuesday. They were all taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He said a small group of people had thrown rocks and fireworks at police officers.