How the JCPOA Enables Iranian and North Korean Nuclear Programs

Ambassador John Bolton is a Senior Policy Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security:

Frank Gaffney:

Welcome back, I am very pleased to say we are joined by one of the most extraordinary and committed national security practitioners of our time. A principled leader and a courageous proponent of American freedom. He is John Bolton, formerly the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, before that he served in a number of capacities including with Fred Fleitz as the Under Secretary of State. He is the author of Surrender is Not an Option, very much a light motif of the moment in light of what Ambassador Bolton is trying to do to prevent a surrender of sorts by the President of the United States with respect to the ‘Obamabomb’ deal, as I’m fund of calling it. Mr. Ambassador welcome back, it is so good to have you.

Amb. John Bolton:

Very glad to be with you.

Frank Gaffney:

I’m particularly glad because you really have been leading the effort to help the President understand that he has another option besides the one that seems to be being advanced by many of what I call his insubordinates, namely the people who are trying to get him to stay in the Obamabomb deal even if he can’t certify that is it is, as Andy McCarthy points out, not only not being complied with by the Iranians but also not in our national security interest. Tell us a little bit about the lay of the land as you see it and why you think another option is needed 

Amb. John Bolton:

Well it’s really amazing. Only in Washington I think that people could come up with the approach that by all media accounts the President is being urged to adopt. I mean I think there’s some pretty clear lines here looking at the Iran deal. One line is that perhaps General Mattis supports, he thinks the deal is in America’s national security interest so he would certify that to Congress and stay in the deal. Then there’s the deal I hold, you hold, and others, that the deal is not in America’s security interest and therefore we should not certify it and not stay in the deal. Now, these views are obviously opposite of one another but they are at least coherent, and intellectually consistent positions. What the President’s advisors are recommending to him is to say the deal is not in Americas national security interest so we won’t certify it but we will stay in it. What possible logic is there to that? If you were confronted with a deal in the first instance that you were convinced was not in Americas interests, would you enter it to begin with? Of course not. So, we are being distracted by this bright shiny object known as certification when that is not the issue at all. The issue is do you stay in the deal or get out of it? And I think for the safety of not only the United States but our friends and allies like Israel and some of the oil-producing monarchies on the Arabian peninsula, it is critically important to get out of it and recognize this deal is facilitating Iran’s path to nuclear weapons, not barring it.

Frank Gaffney:

Well said of course. Let me ask you about one other piece of this. You have had extensive experience not only at the United Nations and in the bureaucracy of the State Department, but in and out of government for decades John Bolton, when you hear people say, “we will effectively affirm the deal by staying in it and yet we will fix what’s wrong with it through negotiations”, there seems to be an incoherence with that proposition as well, am I missing something?

Amb. John Bolton:

No that’s exactly right. To fix the deal presumably you have to get the Iranians to agree to it. They have zero incentive to do that. The only way that you’d demonstrate why this deal is harmful to the U.S. is get out of it and then with this new reality you created use American economic pressure against the Europeans and others. One of the most insidious parts of this deal is how all the benefits to Iran are front end loaded and all of its responsibilities and obligations are at the backend. And I think we have to put the pressure back on but we are simply going down the road now that allows Iran and I might say North Korea with which it has worked very closely over the last 25 years to precede toward a capacity that could have ICBMS with thermo-nuclear warheads hit targets in the United States in the very near future. In fact, the pace at which North Korea is going should be terribly worrying to everybody, because whatever North Korea has today, Iran will have tomorrow by writing a large enough check.

Frank Gaffney:

And this is a point that is often overlooked. We are very focused on the North Korean threat but I think too few of us are appreciating what you just said which is they are joined at the hip, the North Koreans and Iranians and we will be facing, I don’t know if its tomorrow, it might be this afternoon, but we will be facing a threat from Iran which makes no secret as you know so well Mr. Ambassador, of its determination to bring death to America. Let me ask you about another topic I know you’ve been focusing on as well, and that is this referendum that Iraqi-Kurds voted on last weekend to essentially establish an independent state of their own, the first time the Kurds have ever had one if it comes to pass. A lot of pressure being brought to bear not just by the Iraqis but by the Turks, the Iranians and Syrians to prevent this self-determination from coming to pass. Tell us about your thoughts on where America should be as well as what the future should be for the Kurds.

Amb. John Bolton:

Well, I think you have to look at the me as a whole strategically and the fact is that the country that we used to know as Iraq has collapsed and is not going to be put back together again, I think the country we used to know as Syria will not be put back together again even after ISIS is defeated. This confusion, this collapse and spreading of anarchy will continue and in reality the Iraqi-Kurds have been in-defacto independent for 25 years. And their referendum which overwhelming supported formal independence really just identities what already exists. So I think the U.S.  should not be eager to take the government in Baghdad which is subordinate, a satellite for the ayatollahs of Iran, and extend its influence any further and certainly not over the Kurds. Now Kurdish independence of Iraq caused ripple effects in Turkey, Syria and Iran and there are some serious questions but honestly this is an issue of recognizing reality. It’s not because of a sort of blind adherence to democratic government although that is certainly a positive step for the Kurds, it’s the geopolitical reality that they have created and that there’s nobody big enough for them to turn around. So I think it’s in America’s interest to recognize an independent Kurdistan, I think it’s going to happen anyway and that’s just something that has been cost in the middle east for a whole variety of factors but it is a reality.

Frank Gaffney:

Yeah, a further benefit seems to me that it does in fact create problems for various countries that are already avowedly hostile to us like Iran and Syria, and one that is not yet overtly or at least recognized as such, Turkey. In this regard let me ask you about one other effort of a similar kind in another part of the world. As you now the Catalans of Spain have also had a referendum seeking to allow them self-determination as well. They have confronted very considerable pressure from the Spanish government including violence against their referendum. The European Union isn’t happy about it either. Where do you come down on that position and then again Americas interests therewith.

Amb. John Bolton:

Well there I think American’s interests lay with keeping the Spanish state together. You know with a functioning democratic society as Spain is, one particular region can’t just up and decide it’s going to hold its own referendum without regard of the rest and that makes it different from Iraq, which has seized to function as a national government. All the polls before this referendum indicated that the opponents of succession had a majority and they boycotted the polls so I don’t think the referendum results really reflect the opinion in Catalonia. And I think violence is obviously unfortunate but I think some of the secessionists were happy to provoke it. You know, ultimately I think the proponents of the EU, although they are reluctant to say it out loud, like these secessionist movements, the vast country of Spain, whales, Scotland and the UK, separatist movements in Italy and elsewhere, because if you go from a European union of nations, to a European union of 500 grand duchies, where do you think power will flow? It will flow to bureaucrats in Brussels. So, I think a strong Europe of strong nations is really best for the Europeans, it’s certainly best for the us.

Frank Gaffney:

Unless of course those strong nations are willing to surrender their sovereignty to this European union which is deeply hostile to us it seems to me. So much more on this to talk about, Mr. Ambassador, I hope you come back to us soon and I pray in the meantime the President will have the opportunity to reflect on the Bolton plan for withdrawing from this defective Obamabomb deal, it certainly is the right course it seems to me. Thank you for your service in that regard and so much else. Next up, we will be speaking with Russ Dallen about Venezuela and more. Straight ahead.