John Bolton threatens allies with sanctions over Iran, as U.S. ties with Europe erode

"I think the Europeans will see that it's in their interest ultimately to go along with us."

National Security Adviser John Bolton on the grounds of the White House on May 9, 2018. CREDIT: Mark Wilson
National Security Adviser John Bolton on the grounds of the White House on May 9, 2018. CREDIT: Mark Wilson

Washington’s European allies could face U.S. sanctions if they fail to get on board with the Trump administration’s efforts to isolate Iran economically, national security adviser John Bolton warned on Sunday.

Trump last week unilaterally pulled the United States out of a 2015 international accord that extended to Iran sanctions relief and access to foreign markets, in exchange for Tehran’s agreement to limit its nuclear enrichment program.

European nations had engaged in a months-long campaign to try to convince Trump to remain in the deal, culminating in visits to Washington last month by French President Emmanuel Macron  and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the end, their entreaties were rejected.

Since then, Washington has adopted an increasingly bellicose posture toward Iran, and has said that it envisions a raft of tough new economic sanctions against Tehran. So far, the other parties to the accord — China, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and Iran — have remained in the deal.

Trump late Sunday continued his aggressive language towards Iran, this time on Twitter.

Bolton told CNN’s State of the Union program earlier in the day that he believes a number of European countries “will see that it’s in their interest ultimately to go along with us.”


He expanded on those comments in an interview with ABC’s This Week program, telling interviewer Martha Raddatz that when he made his announcement shredding the deal, Trump made clear that “countries that continue to deal with Iran could face US sanctions.”

Bolton added: “Europeans are going to face the effective US sanctions — already are, really — because much of what they would like to sell to Iran involves US technology, for which the licenses will not be available.”

The comments by Trump and by his chief national security aide underscored the degree to which relations between Europe and the United States have eroded in the 16 months since he took office.

The German magazine Der Spiegel this week depicted the depths to which relations has sunk, with a cover illustration showing Trump — depicted as a middle finger — flipping off America’s longstanding allies, and a caption reading “Goodbye, Europe!”

Credit: Der Spiegel
Credit: Der Spiegel

An editorial in the magazine read lamented that the once rock-solid postwar alliance between the United States and Europe has been badly damaged.

“The West as we once knew it no longer exists,” read the article in the German weekly.

“It is impossible to overstate what Trump has dismantled in the last 16 months. Europe has lost its protective power. It has lost its guarantor of joint values and has lost the global political influence that it was only able to exert because the US stood by its side.”