Bolton: 'It's Possible' U.S. Will Punish European Companies That Keep Doing Business With Iran

By Susan Jones | May 14, 2018 | 6:08am EDT
(Photo: White House)

( - National Security Adviser John Bolton, appearing on various Sunday talk shows, said "it's possible" that the U.S. will punish European companies that continue to do business with Iran.

"Is the United States going to sanction European companies that do business with Iran?" CNN's Jake Tapper asked National Security Adviser John Bolton on Sunday.

"I think the issue here is what the Europeans are going to do, if they're going to see that it's not in their interest to stay in the deal," Bolton responded. "We're going to have to watch what the Iranians do. They'd love to stay in the deal. Why shouldn't they? They got everything they wanted from the Obama administration.

"But I think the Europeans will see that it's in their interest, ultimately, to come long with us."

Tapper noted that some European diplomats insist they're going to stick with the Iran deal that Trump pulled out of last week.

"And they may try to do so," Bolton agreed. "I think at the moment, there's some feeling in Europe that they're really surprised we got out of it, really surprised at the reimposition of strict sanctions.

"I think that will sink in. And we'll see what happens then. The president's very clear he wants to discuss the larger threat posed by Iran around the region. And this is what he discussed with President Macron. He's talked about it with Chancellor Merkel. He's talked about it with Prime Minister May, not just Iran's nuclear threat now, the threat in the future, the ballistic missile programs, and the instability that Iran is causing around the region."

"Right," Tapper said. "But with all due respect, I didn't get an answer to the question. Is the U.S. going to impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran?" Tapper asked again.

"I think I did give the answer," Bolton said. "The answer is, it's possible. It depends on the conduct of other governments."

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, meanwhile, is visiting China, Russia and members of the European Union in Belgium this week to urge them to stay in the nuclear deal.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Bolton wondered, "Why would any business, why would the shareholders of any business want to do business with the world's central banker of international terrorism?"

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