John Bolton, target in alleged Iran assassination plot, urges U.S. to stop nuclear deal talks

John Bolton called on the Biden administration to halt negotiations with Iran after federal indictments were revealed for an alleged plot to assassinate a former Trump adviser. Bolton said others are also being targeted and asked to work to remove the US from power.

“I think it’s important for people to understand this conspiracy, this attempt to kill me … and I’m certainly not alone in this, they’re going after a lot of people, not just former government employees, but average citizens — that shows the true nature of the regime,” Bolton said. told Yahoo News in an interview on Thursday.

The Department of Justice unsealed it on Wednesday Charges against a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Court documents describe a brazen murder-for-hire plot to kill the former national security adviser to avenge the death of Iran’s top military general, Qasem Soleimani. This comes after the Biden administration and Iranian officials It was recently discussed in Vienna to potentially revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran nuclear deal.

The US withdrew from the deal in 2018 under the Trump administration but is now trying to reopen it.

A flag with the image of senior Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani is displayed by Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon during a ceremony marking the first anniversary of his assassination. (Azeez Taher/Reuters)

“I will not reopen the nuclear talks,” Bolton said. “In my view, going back into the treaty is a huge strategic mistake for the United States. So what will I do to end the discussion. I don’t think you will be able to establish peace and security in the Middle East as long as Tehran is in power. So my policy is to remove this regime.”

He said this could be done by taking advantage of factionalism and rivalry among the regime’s military and leadership.

“I think the way to isolate the regime at the very top, especially by finding those potentially disaffected military officers, and communicating with them very carefully, with careful planning, I think you can bring it down,” he told Yahoo News. “It won’t happen overnight. … takes time. is difficult It is very dangerous.”

The White House did not respond to Yahoo News’ request for comment on Bolton’s call for the US to topple the Iranian regime.

Bolton said it was the only way and blasted the Biden administration for focusing entirely on restoring the 2015 deal.

The FBI wanted a poster of Shahram Porsafi, also known as Mehdi Rezai, of Tehran, Iran.

The FBI wanted a poster of Shahram Porsafi, also known as Mehdi Rezai, of Tehran, Iran, who is accused of plotting to kill former President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton. (FBI/Handout via Reuters)

Bolton described the administration’s efforts to revive the deal as “the holy grail for them” and said it would take something “extraordinary” for the administration to stop its efforts.

“I know a lot of people who are involved in this in the administration, they’re pursuing it with religious zeal,” Bolton said.

Yahoo News reported On Wednesday, an unnamed second target identified as a former senior Trump administration official is former Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. A source close to Pompeo said the Justice Department contacted the former secretary of state last week to inform him of the plot and allegations.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani denied the allegations in a statement, calling them “fantasy”. According to Israeli news outlet i24NEWS.

“The Islamic Republic warns against any actions that target Iranian citizens by resorting to ridiculous accusations,” Kanani said.

John Bolton, left, and Mike Pompeo

John Bolton, National Security Adviser, left, and Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, in 2018. (Getty Images via Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

According to the indictment, the death of Major General Qassem Soleimani led to the plot against Bolton. In January 2020, the Trump administration launched a drone strike that killed Soleimani while he was on a tour of Iraq. Since then, the regime in Tehran has threatened to retaliate against those it deems responsible, and has issued numerous threats and initiated legal action against American officials.

Bolton left the Trump White House before Soleimani’s death, but his hardline views on Iran and other past actions have been attributed to Iran’s desire to kill him.

An intelligence report Acquired by Yahoo News last month It said the Iranian regime is waging a multi-pronged campaign – threats of lethal action, international legal maneuvers, and the issuance of Iranian arrest warrants and sanctions – against select US officials to avenge the death of IRGC-QF Commander Soleimani in January 2020. Creating a threat at home and abroad for Iran, which it blames for the assassination.

IRGC-QF stands for Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, an elite division of Iran’s military.

According to the report, Tehran has “consistently identified former President Donald Trump, former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and former CENTCOM commander General Kenneth McKenzie as priority targets of retaliation” since January 2021.

John Bolton

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks at Duke University in North Carolina, February 2020. (Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images)

Yahoo News reported this earlier Concerns about retaliation attacks Soleimani’s death prompted Congress to give Secretary of State Pompeo and others $15 million in security against officials involved in the strike against him.

“I think in the White House, their brains are divided,” Bolton told Yahoo News on Thursday. “Here, you have a nuclear problem here, you have a terrorism problem. They are not divided in Iran. And unfortunately, Iran is the enemy that threatens us. So… at the ideological level in the White House they can distinguish between nuclear programs and attacks on Americans on American soil. They don’t see it that way in Tehran. “

Four former officials targeted by Iran told Yahoo News they are frustrated by the Biden administration’s continued efforts to negotiate with a government that actively seeks the assassination of other former US officials. Two of the former officials told Yahoo News that they supported the nuclear deal but urged the administration to halt JCPOA talks until Iran stops trying to kill officials on US soil.

The nuclear deal is not a good deal but it is better than nothing, said a former official who said he supported the Biden administration’s efforts to revive the 2015 deal. But the person said talks should only resume if Iran promises to stop trying to kill American officials on American soil. The person requested anonymity for the safety of family members.

Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, center

Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, center, during a meeting with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Tehran in 2016. (Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

“The real concern for all of us is not what Iran is doing, but what America is not doing,” said Rob Greenaway, former senior director for Middle Eastern and North African affairs at the National Security Council.

Greenway said the White House should take immediate steps to respond to threats against former officials. Greenway is one of the former US officials sanctioned by Iran; Iran requested Interpol to issue a red alert notice on officials including Greenway, currently an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute.

“I will protect all government officials against whom there are active Iranian threats. Not all of those threatened by Iran have government-issued personal security details,” Greenaway said.

The White House did not respond to questions from Yahoo News about providing security for the additional officers.

He also said that “we will recommend suspending active negotiations with Iran until we receive compelling and verifiable assurances, publicly and privately, to cease all efforts to target American citizens, including former government officials.” Greenway told Yahoo News.

A White House spokesperson told Yahoo News that the Biden administration will continue to pursue JCPOA talks as long as it believes it is in “America’s national security interest.”

Joe Biden in Saudi Arabia

President Biden at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia after the Arab Summit on July 16, 2022. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

“President Biden has made it clear that he will ensure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. They believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve that goal,” said a spokesperson. “At the same time, the Biden administration has not and will not relent in protecting and protecting all Americans from the threats of violence and terrorism. We will continue to bring the full resources of the US government to bear to protect the American people.”

Asked how the U.S. should respond to these threats, Bolton opposed the Iran nuclear deal and said he did not believe there would be peace and security in the Middle East as long as the current regime in Tehran existed. is in power. Bolton called for the Biden administration to be ousted from power, but demurred when asked if he had tried to do the same when he served in the Trump administration.

“I think so [the regime is] Much more vulnerable than people think. I think there is a lot of discontent across the country. The government has the weapons – that’s the problem. People don’t have weapons. So it is a difficult situation, but no one should think that this regime is solid. It certainly isn’t.

The plot described in court records shows the world what Iran is capable of, he said.

“It’s an inside view of their soul. And this is a confirmation [that] They can make several commitments regarding their nuclear weapons program. [and] There is no intention to honor them.”

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