(CNSNews.com) – Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, one of several reported contenders to be secretary of state in the Trump administration, said Monday it is important for the next president to rescind the Iran nuclear deal soon after taking office.
Referring to an agreement which President-elect Donald Trump has described as one of the worst he has seen, Bolton told Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs it was “important for Donald Trump, once inaugurated, to move very quickly in the early days of his presidency to abrogate this deal.”
“We’ve got to send a clear political signal that it’s a strategic mistake,” he said.
Some critics of the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have suggested that Trump, rather than abandon the agreement, should insist on rock-solid compliance by Iran, saying that may in itself cause it to unravel.
Bolton’s expressed views are more uncompromising.
He said Monday night that companies need to be warned that any business transactions they enter into with Iran following the easing of sanctions under the JCPOA could be at risk.
“This is an urgent, urgent matter. When the ayatollahs get nuclear weapons – they’re the biggest financer of terrorism around the world. What if they give a terrorist group a nuclear weapon?” he asked. “This is extremely dangerous – for us, for Israel, and others.”
The Obama administration contends that the deal it negotiated with Iran and five other countries has made the world a safer place, by cutting off the various pathways Iran has to developing a nuclear weapons capability.
Critics counter that concessions in the deal, including allowing the regime to keep much of its nuclear infrastructure intact, could facilitate Iran becoming a nuclear threshold state once JCPOA sunset provisions expire, after 10-15 years. They are also concerned about how Iran will use the billions of dollars gained from the deal.
Asked by Dobbs about President Obama’s approach to the nuclear deal, Bolton replied, “His world view is completely backwards. He thinks that if we only could convince the ayatollahs that America’s not a threat to them, they’ll say ‘oh my goodness, we don’t need nuclear weapons,’ and sweetness and light will break out. It’s a basic misconception.”
Bolton is regarded by detractors as a “hardliner” and a “hawk” – labels which he appears at times to relish rather than reject.
He held posts in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, before serving as undersecretary for arms control and international security during President George W. Bush’s first term.
As a longstanding critic of the U.N., Bolton’s nomination in 2005 as ambassador to the world body stunned his critics. After the U.S. Senate failed to confirm the nomination Bush appointed him to the post during a congressional recess.
At the time Susan Rice – then a Brookings Institution scholar, later to hold the same post at the U.N. under Obama – wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that Bush had “shocked even his most cynical critics by nominating the combative neoconservative John Bolton to one of our most complex and sensitive diplomatic posts.”
While Bolton frustrated U.N. engagement advocates and multilateralists, many Americans critical of the U.N. felt he was the ideal representative at a time when U.N. reform was badly needed, and as Iran and North Korea continued to defy the international community with their nuclear activities and other destabilizing behavior.
When Bolton’s recess appointment was due to expire towards the end of 2006, critics in the Senate declined to approve his nomination, and he returned to his position as a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
A frequent guest on Fox News programs, he remains a sharp critic of Obama’s foreign policy.
Others believed to be in contention for the post currently held by John Kerry include former New York City mayor Rudi Giuliani and 2012 Republican presidential contender and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker’s name has also been mentioned.
Of the four, only Giuliani was named as having been one of a group of “national leaders” who held separate meetings over two days with Trump and Vice president-elect Mike Pence over the weekend.
An official readout of Sunday’s meetings said that Trump and Pence conversed with Giuliani “about restoring America’s prominence in the world, ongoing national security issues and threats at various hotspots on a global basis.”
Giuliani does not have extensive foreign policy experience, but his leadership in New York City in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks won him praise and burnished his national security credentials. He would later serve on the bipartisan Iraq Study Group formed by the U.S. Congress in 2006.
Romney, a former venture capitalist, also has little foreign policy experience. During his 2012 presidential campaign a trip to Britain, Israel and Poland was felt by many to have hurt rather than helped his image.
Romney harshly criticized Trump during the 2016 campaign and his emergence as a possible contender for the high-profile cabinet position came as a surprise to many.