White House National Security Adviser John Bolton met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday evening, telling the premier that Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs were “right at the top of the list” of challenges facing the United States and the world, The Times of Israel reported. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer also attended the official dinner.
Ahead of meetings with Israeli security officials on Monday, Bolton told Netanyahu that for the U.S. preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities was of “highest importance,” and the rationale behind the withdrawal from the JCPOA earlier in the year. The national security adviser said Washington’s focus was on “rolling back Iran’s aggression” in the Middle East, including in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.
Bolton also explained that the Trump administration was working to convince European allies “of the need to take stronger steps against the Iranian nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.”
Netanyahu agreed with Bolton that the JCPOA was “disastrous” and observed that “the nuclear deal did not block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paved Iran’s path to an entire nuclear arsenal.” The premier added: “By removing the sanctions [the deal] enabled Iran to bring in billions and billions of dollars to its coffers which only fueled Iran’s war machine in Syria, in Lebanon, in Yemen and elsewhere.”
Both men praised the strong relationship between Israel and the U.S. and said ties between the two nations had never been better. Bolton made a point of noting his “privilege and an honor to be here in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital.” The senior White House official was on his first visit to Israel since he replaced H.R. McMaster as Trump’s national security adviser in April.
In an interview with ABC News’ “This Week ” from Israel, Bolton said “I think the president’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal has put a real crimp into the Iranian economy.” Bolton continued: “I think they’re feeling it and their capability for the Quds Force or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to conduct offensive operations in – in the region here and in Yemen as well.”
He stressed that it was not only Iran’s nuclear aspirations that posed a threat to the stability of the region. “I think this is part of the problem with the Iranian regime generally and why it’s such a threat to peace and security not just because of its nuclear program, but because of its military operations and its support for terrorism,” Bolton said. The White House official further noted that Washington, Jerusalem and Moscow share an interest in forcing Iranian troops to withdraw from Syria.
Bolton landed in Israel for a 48-hour trip on Sunday evening, the first stop on a three-country tour taking place this week.
[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube ]