February 16, 2017
Bolton Says Iran Deal 'One Heartbeat Away from Disappearing'
By Jenna Lifhits
The Trump administration's early responses to illicit Iranian activities signal to Tehran that the nuclear deal is on life support, a former top diplomat said Thursday.
Tensions between the Trump administration and Iran escalated after the country conducted a ballistic missile launch in late January. Trump officials condemned the test-fire as a violation of United Nations resolutions, warned Tehran that it was "on notice," and imposed two dozen sanctions on entities linked to the country's ballistic missile program and support for terrorism.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said that the administration's initial moves send a message to Tehran that the nuclear deal is on the verge of collapse.
"I don't think it was accidental or just on the spur of the moment that Mike Flynn made the comment about Iran being 'on notice,'" Bolton said. "Let me give you my interpretation of what 'on notice' means. I think it means that the [nuclear deal] is about one heartbeat away from disappearing."
"This is a one-day agreement that we're renewing day-by-day, and it's that close to disappearing entirely," he said.
Speaking during an event hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and United Against Nuclear Iran, Bolton said that the deal could collapse if Iran backs out in response to punitive measures.
"If we designate the Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, which should have happened about 10 years ago, maybe the Iranians will throw up their arms and say, 'It's an outrage, we're withdrawing from the agreement,'" he said.
The Trump administration is reportedly considering designating Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. The IRGC is a powerful government institution with sway over the Iranian economy and politics. The IRGC's overseas arm, known as the Quds Force, is already designated as such.
Still, Bolton, who was considered for the position of secretary of state, said he would prefer the United States to break with the deal first.
"I would've ripped it up in the early days of the administration. The deal was a strategic mistake for the United States and it's not getting any better with age," he said. "A clear, unambiguous political statement that the deal is unacceptable would have been the strongest way to go, but we're getting very close to that point as it is."
On the campaign trail, Trump described the nuclear agreement as the worst deal ever negotiated and said he would tear it up. Trump administration officials have since moderated those statements, vowing to enforce the deal and crack down on non-nuclear illicit Iranian activities.