(CNSNews.com) – The Iranian regime on Tuesday welcomed news of National Security Advisor John Bolton’s departure, saying the White House would now be in a position to better understand “the realities in Iran.”
“With the ousting of its biggest proponent of war and economic terrorism, the White House will have fewer obstacles to understanding the realities of Iran,” the IRNA state news agency quoted regime spokesman Ali Rabiee as saying.
Hesamuddin Ashena, a senior advisor to President Hassan Rouhani, tweeted that Bolton’s removal was a sign of the failure of the administration’s policy of “maximum pressure,” in the face of Iranian “resistance.”
“Do not doubt that we can manage the behavior of the United States of America toward Iran and will never back down,” he said. “Iran’s siege will break.”
Bolton is loathed by the Iranian regime for his hawkish views, his firm opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, his public calls in years past for regime change in Tehran, and not least of all his longstanding support for the exiled Iranian National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) opposition group.
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has become fond of railing against a so-called “B Team” – based on the letter B in their names – which he charges has been goading President Trump to war against Iran.
The “B Team,” says Zarif, comprises Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed.
“Today wasn’t a good day for the B Team,” tweeted Iran’s Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Abbas Salehi. “Even more bitter days are awaiting the enemies of Iran.”
But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – no fan of Zarif or Rouhani – said Tuesday foreign governments would be mistaken if they thought Bolton’s exit would usher in “material” changes to Trump’s foreign policy.
“I don’t think any leader around the world should make any assumption that because some one of us departs, that President Trump’s foreign policy will change in a material way,” he told reporters at a White House briefing on new counterterrorism sanctions authorities.
At the same time, however, Pompeo did not rule out the possibility that Trump may meet with Rouhani on the U.N. General Assembly sidelines in New York this month – an idea floated publicly by French President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit last month, when Trump said he was prepared to do so “if the circumstances were correct.”
Asked whether he could foresee such a meeting taking place, Pompeo replied, “Sure,” adding that “the president has made very clear he is prepared to meet with no preconditions.”
(Pompeo acknowledged there were policy areas where he himself did not see eye-to-eye with Bolton, but without elaborating. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, also at the briefing, mentioned that Trump and Bolton had “very different” views on the Iraq war. Bolton, serving as the George W. Bush administration’s top arms control official, was a key advocate of the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.)
The Washington-based National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which advocates engagement with the regime, said Bolton’s departure “may become the best decision” of Trump’s presidency.
“We have long said that the key first step in resolving the crisis with Iran was for Trump to fire Bolton,” NIAC president Jamal Abdi said in a statement. “So long as Bolton was in the administration, he would always be the fox in the henhouse working to sabotage diplomacy.”
Abdi added that Trump should now also “dispense with the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign and halt necessary sanctions to enable talks [with Tehran] to move forward.”
Trump has given no indication of any change of heart on the JCPOA, a 2015 agreement with Tehran which while campaigning for the presidency he derided as one of the worst deals he had ever seen.
He withdrew from the agreement in May last year, a fact he brings up frequently – as he did again on Monday night, when he told supporters at a rally in North Carolina that “to protect America’s security I withdrew the United States from the horrible, one-sided Iran nuclear deal.”
In one of his last tweets before news broke of his departure, Bolton drew attention to the Iranian regime’s “deception,” including most recently its assurance that a supertanker recently released from detention in Gibraltar and pursued legally by the U.S. would not offload its crude oil cargo in Syria.
“Iran denied the Adrian Darya-1 was headed to Syria, then confirmed today its oil was offloaded there,” tweeted Bolton. He added the hashtag “IranWebOfLies.”