Bolton: ‘This Was the Best Speech of the Trump Presidency’

“This was the best speech of the Trump presidency, in my view. I think he was as clear and direct as it’s possible to be.”

“I think it’s safe to say, in the entire history of the United Nations, there has never been a more straightforward criticism of the behavior, the unacceptable behavior of other member states.”

“I think these are about as clear an indication a president can make that he is not going to live with the kind of half-measures and compromises that frankly for 25 years, have marked American policy and led us to the present desperate situation where both of these countries [Iran and North Korea] are on the verge of getting deliverable nuclear weapons.”

“My favorite thing came at the end and may be the most shocking thing he said in the context of the United Nations. Talking about Venezuela, he said ‘this is not a case of socialism being poorly implemented. It’s a case of socialism being implemented exactly in the way the theory tells us.’ There are a lot of people in the UN who have never heard anything like that from an American president.”

“I think this was an outstanding speech, and I think it will serve the president very well.”


Bolton on North Korea: We’re at a very perilous point

“We should never accept a North Korea with nuclear weapons.”

“The consensus is forming; the establishment foreign policy says we’re just going to have to learn to live with them. I reject that.”

“Listen to the way that North Korea talks. They don’t have the capability to hit us yet, but when they do, maybe they will act that way. I think we are at a very perilous point.”

“To impose pain on China, we have to be willing to bear pain too. It’s a big economy over there, and we’ve got to put the pressure on in a big way. You can believe that the American financial institutions in New York won’t accept that.”

“Are you willing to live with a nuclear capable North Korea that can hit any target in the United States it wants, and use that capability to blackmail us? To force our troops out of Korea? To Force our troops out of Japan? To force our troop out of Guam? If you don’t want to live under that threat than I think you’ve got to consider the military option.”


Iran deal devotees try in vain to save a sinking ship

This article appeared in The Hill on September 11, 2017. Click here to view the original article.

By John Bolton
September 11, 2017

Supporters of Barack Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear agreement have, over the past two years, tried almost everything to sustain it.

Nonetheless, weaknesses in its terms, structure, implementation and basic strategic fallacy — i.e., that Iran’s international behavior would “moderate” once it was adopted — are all increasingly apparent. For the deal’s acolytes, however, continuing U.S. adherence has become a near-theological imperative.

At the most basic level, the agreement’s adherents ignore how ambiguous and badly worded it is, allowing Iran enormous latitude to continue advancing its nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs without being even “technically” in violation.

The adherents ignore Iran’s actual violations (exceeding limits on uranium enrichment, heavy-water production and advanced-centrifuge capacity, among others). Having first argued strenuously there were no violations, they now plead that the violations are “not significant.”

The adherents ignore the “truth-that-dare-not-speak-its-name”: America does not know with confidence where all of Tehran’s nuclear and missile work is being done.

Unfortunately, both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and our national intelligence assets are likely missing significant Iranian facilities (perhaps operated jointly in North Korea) that continue to pursue threatening activities.

The adherents ignore statements by Iran’s leaders (always worth taking with many grains of salt, to be sure) that Iran could restart full uranium enrichment within five days of discarding the deal’s limitations; that reconstructing the Arak nuclear reactor, intended as a plutonium production facility, is easily done because the required “disabling” steps turn out to be not so disabling; and more.

The fact is that Iran’s negotiating “concessions” were always trivial and easily reversible.

The adherents ignore Iran’s ongoing belligerent behavior in the Middle East, including constructing an Iranian “arc of control” once ISIS is defeated in Iraq and Syria, giving Tehran’s military forces a strategic highway from Iran through Shia-dominated Iraq, into Assad’s Syria and then Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon. Israel and our Arab friends clearly see this danger.

The adherents ignore Iran’s continued efforts to threaten and harass U.S. forces deployed in the Persian Gulf region, even as we wrongly pursue Obama’s strategy to empower Baghdad’s Tehran-dominated government in the war against ISIS.

Such blindness is not a strategic option. The Obama agreement’s geopolitical errors, its conceptual fallacies, its textual weaknesses and its operational dangers are now all too palpable. This is a time for action, not equivocation.

Heedless to reality, however, deal supporters are now reduced to a maladroit ploy. The White House, they say, should refuse to certify next month under the Corker-Cardin legislation that the pact is “vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

However, rather than acknowledging candidly that an agreement contrary to our interests should be abrogated, they urge the administration to “fix” problems they spent years denying even existed.

President Trump should reject this “one-shoe-on, one-shoe-off” approach. It is unbecoming and unpresidential at best, dangerously confusing at worst, since it fails to address squarely the risks inherent in allowing the Obama deal’s rapidly crumbling legitimacy to retain any force or effect.

Staying in a bad agreement sends confusing signals to the Europeans, who are confused enough already on this issue, about how America intends to address the Iran threat. Similarly, it shows weakness and indecisiveness to Russia and China at precisely the point when President Trump should project clear-eyed resolve.

While some say we should first deal with North Korea’s more imminent threat, postponing action on Iran, so doing ignores the inextricable relationship between the two, both operationally and in global perceptions.

Just as misguided is the idea that, by not certifying, President Trump could hand over the Iran deal’s fate to Congress. The Constitution’s framers would be appalled by such a notion. Decisive presidents do not wittingly cede their constitutional responsibility to Congress, particularly when existential questions of national security are at stake.

As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Number 70, only the Executive possesses the “decision, activity, secrecy and dispatch” necessary to make critical foreign-policy choices. And Senate Democrats would prove Hamilton right by filibustering any effort to gut the deal legislatively.

Deal advocates next argue we should “strictly enforce” its provisions, but this is delusional. The deal is poorly negotiated and vaguely worded. For example, Obama failed to demand baseline inspection of the Iran program’s military dimensions before inking the deal, and the IAEA is now routinely denied access to regime military facilities.

Trying belatedly to “strictly enforce” such a deal is like trying to nail jelly to a wall. The saying that “Iran has never won a war, and never lost a negotiation” surely applies with full force here.

Nor is it possible to “fix” the deal. A conceivably acceptable Iran agreement would require truly intrusive international inspections, as far as imaginable from those permitted under Obama’s deal. Iran (like North Korea or any authoritarian society) could simply not accept the kind of international presence required to prove compliance. So doing would undermine the regime itself. Fixing the deal is out of the question.

The president need not wait until October, when his presidency’s third Corker-Cardin certification decision is due. As required every 120 days, he must decide this week whether to continue waiving oil- and banking-related sanctions suspended under the Iran deal. Trump granted such a waiver in May, but he should not do so again.

September brings us two telling anniversaries. One, the tragedy of 9/11, reminds us what happens when America lets down its guard, even inadvertently, to international threats. The other, Sep. 6, marked the 10th anniversary of Israel’s successful strike against a nuclear reactor in Syria being built by North Koreans, quite possibly with Iranian financing.

A deliverable nuclear-weapons capability in the hands of Tehran’s ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards, religious extremists supported by a fascist military, could make another 9/11 far deadlier than the first. This is not the time to light candles to Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, but to snuff them out.


16 years later: Lessons put into practice?

This article appeared in The Pittsburgh Tribune Review on September 10, 2017. Click here to view the original article.

By John Bolton
September 10, 2017

Tomorrow marks the 16th anniversary of al-Qaida’s 9/11 attacks. We learned much that tragic day, at enormous human and material cost. Perilously, however, America has already forgotten many of Sept. 11’s lessons.

The radical Islamicist ideology manifested that day has neither receded nor “moderated” as many naive Westerners predicted. Neither has the ideology’s hatred for America or its inclination to conduct terrorist attacks. Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution brought radical Islam to the contemporary world’s attention, and it is no less malevolent today than when it seized our Tehran embassy, holding U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days.

The Taliban, which provided al-Qaida sanctuary to prepare the 9/11 attacks, threaten to retake control in Afghanistan. Al-Qaida persists and may even be growing worldwide.

While ISIS’s caliphate in Syria and Iraq will not survive much longer, countries across North Africa and the Middle East (“MENA”) have destabilized or fractured entirely. Syria and Iraq have ceased to exist functionally, and Libya, Somalia and Yemen have descended into chaos. Pakistan, an unstable nuclear-weapons state, could fall to radicals under many easily predictable scenarios.

The terrorist threat is compounded by nuclear proliferation. Pakistan has scores of nuclear weapons, and Iran’s program continues unhindered. North Korea has now conducted its sixth, and likely thermonuclear, nuclear test, and its ballistic missiles are near to being able to hit targets across the continental United States. Pyongyang leads the rogue’s gallery of would-be nuclear powers, and is perfectly capable of selling its technologies and weapons to anyone with hard currency.

During Barack Obama’s presidency, he ignored these growing threats and disparaged those who warned against them. His legacy is terrorist attacks throughout Europe and America, and a blindness to the threat that encouraged Europe to accept a huge influx of economic migrants from the MENA region, whose numbers included potentially thousands of already-committed terrorists.


Obama also ignored North Korea, affording it one of an aspiring proliferator’s most precious assets: time. Time is what a would-be nuclear state needs to master the complex scientific and technological problems it must overcome to create nuclear weapons.

And, in a dangerous unforced error that could be considered perfidious if it weren’t so foolish, Obama entered the 2015 Vienna nuclear and missile deal that has legitimized Tehran’s terrorist government, released well over a hundred billion dollars of frozen assets, and dissolved international economic sanctions. Iran has responded by extending its presence in the Middle East as ISIS had receded, to the point where it now has tens of thousands of troops in Syria and is building missile factories there and in Lebanon.

Before 2009, publishers would have immediately dismissed novelists who brought them such a plainly unrealistic plot. Today, however, it qualifies as history, not fantasy. This is the agonizing legacy the Trump administration inherited, compounded by widespread feelings among the American people that we have once again sacrificed American lives and treasure overseas for precious little in return.

These feelings are understandable, but it would be dangerous to succumb to them. We didn’t ask for the responsibility of stopping nuclear proliferation or terrorism, but we are nonetheless ultimately the most at risk from both these threats.

And as we knew during the Cold War, but seem to have forgotten since it ended, our surrounding oceans do not insulate us from the risk of long-distance nuclear attacks. We face the choice of fighting the terrorists on our borders or inside America itself, or fighting them where they seek to plot our demise, in the barren mountains of Afghanistan, in the MENA deserts, and elsewhere.

Nor can we shelter behind a robust national missile-defense capability, hoping simply to shoot down missiles from the likes of North Korea and Iran before they hit their targets. We do not have a robust national missile defense capability, thanks yet again to Barack Obama’s drastic budget cuts.

President Trump appreciates that nuclear proliferation and radical Islamic terrorism are existential threats for the United States and its allies. During the 2016 campaign, he repeatedly stressed his view that others should play a larger role in defeating these dangerous forces, bearing their fair share of the burden. But candidate Trump also unambiguously (and entirely correctly) called for restoring our depleted military capabilities because he saw that American safety depended fundamentally on American strength.

Sept. 11 should be more than just a few moments of silence to remember the Twin Towers falling, the burning Pentagon and the inspiring heroism of regular Americans in bringing down United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. We should also seriously consider today’s global threats. Those who made America an exceptional country did so by confronting reality and overcoming it, not by ignoring it.


What ‘News Gathering’ Looks Like at the New York Times

This article appeared on The National Review on September 8, 2017. Click here to view the original article.

By John Bolton
September 8, 2017

Allegations of leftist bias in the media are often difficult to prove because of the lack of hard evidence that a reporter has already made up his or her mind before a story runs. One can examine the resulting story itself, but having clear indications of bias in the reporter is obviously more probative.

Well, here we have it, reprinted below: an email sent from a New York Times reporter to the media adviser to the PAC I established to support Senate and House candidates who favor a strong U.S. foreign policy. The questions, perhaps in response to an article I wrote on the North Korean threat, are utterly one-sided, simplistic, incorporate factually incorrect assertions, and signal that the story is all but written. There is clearly no basis to try to engage such a “reporter” in reasoned dialogue.

Some might wonder at publishing the questions in this way, but there is no indication that the “reporter” asked for confidentiality of any sort. Maybe the rules should apply to them as well. Welcome to the world of pre-emptive strikes.

There may well be writers at the Times worth talking to, but he is not one of them.

From: Gardiner Harris <[redacted]>
Date: September 7, 2017 at 6:41:53 PM EDT
To: [redacted] Subject: Saw the ambassador’s piece on North Korea

He said he favours a military option. I’m probably going to write about this. A couple of questions:

1. How many deaths are acceptable losses in such an endeavour to get rid of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities? 100,000? A million? Ten million?
2. How many deaths does the ambassador expect?
3. Why now? South Korea and Japan have been living under this threat for a decade. Do we attack only to prevent the North’s capacity to hit the US?
4. If yes to above, why would the South agree with this strategy? They have to sacrifice potentially millions of their citizens lives so the US does not have to live with the risks they’ve faced for years? Thanks.

Gardiner Harris
State Department Correspondent
The New York Times


FDR’s ‘rattlesnake’ rule & the North Korean threat

This article appeared in The NY Post on September 6, 2017. Click here to view the original article.

By John Bolton
September 6, 2017

“When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him.” By these words in a Sept. 11, 1941, fireside chat, Franklin Roosevelt authorized US warships to fire first against Nazi naval vessels, which he called “the rattlesnakes of the Atlantic.”

Roosevelt’s order applied whenever German or Italian ships entered “waters of self-defense” necessary to protect the US, including those surrounding US outposts on Greenland and Iceland.

Uttered 60 years to the day before 9/11, and less than three months before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt’s words still resonate. North Korea’s sixth nuclear test last weekend, along with its significantly increased ballistic-missile testing, establishes that Pyongyang is perilously close to being able to hit targets across the continental United States with nuclear warheads, perhaps thermonuclear ones.

The Nazi threat to US shipping, both normal commercial traffic and war supplies destined for Great Britain, was undeniably significant, and the Axis powers’ broader totalitarian threat was existential. Nonetheless, right up to Dec. 7, 1941, many American leaders urged caution to avoid provoking the Axis and thereby risking broader conflict. Pearl Harbor followed.

In his chat, Roosevelt observed that others had “refused to look the Nazi danger squarely in the eye until it actually had them by the throat.” We shouldn’t commit that mistake today. North Korea’s behavior, and its lasting desire to conquer the South, have created the present crisis.

Letting Kim Jong-un’s bizarre regime “have America by the throat,” subjecting us and our allies to perpetual nuclear extortion, is not an acceptable outcome.

We have endured 25 years of US diplomatic failure, with endless rounds of negotiations, presenting North Korea with the choice between economic incentives or sanctions. During this time, which certainly constitutes “not looking the danger squarely in the eye,” North Korea has repeatedly breached commitments to abandon its nuclear-weapons program, often made in return for handsome compensation.

Nonetheless, we hear echoes from Roosevelt’s day that “there is no acceptable military option” when it comes to Pyongyang. This means, as Susan Rice said recently, “we can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea,” as we did with the Soviets in Cold War days. The US should not accept such counsels of despair, based on dangerously facile and wildly inaccurate historical analogies.

Why accept a future of unending nuclear blackmail by Pyongyang, whose governing logic is hardly that of Cold War Moscow, and which would entail not that era’s essentially bipolar standoff, but a far-more-dangerous world of nuclear multipolarity?

If Washington lets Kim retain his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, his regime will happily sell these materials and technologies to Iran, other rogue states or terrorist groups for the right price. This is another key difference from the Cold War; Moscow was substantially more worried about nuclear proliferation than Pyongyang now is.

It would be, as Roosevelt understood, “inexcusable folly” to ignore North Korea’s pattern of behavior over the last quarter century: “We Americans are now face to face not with abstract theories but with cruel, relentless facts.” For America in 1941, hope of sheltering behind the oceans was fast disappearing, forcing Roosevelt to extend our maritime defense perimeter effectively across the Atlantic to Europe.

In the age of ICBMs, there’s no “perimeter”; we are at risk in agonizingly short time frames of a missile’s flight launched anywhere, whether from North Korea or Iran. It is completely unacceptable to say we must await a first strike by Pyongyang before we will resort to military force. Roosevelt dismissed such arguments peremptorily: “Let us not say: ‘We will only defend ourselves if the torpedo succeeds in getting home, or if the crew and passengers are drowned.’ ”

The remaining diplomatic options are few, and the time to exercise them dwindling fast. Convincing China that its national interests would be enhanced by reunifying the two Koreas, thus ending what Beijing itself believes is a threat to peace and security in northeast Asia, remains possible. Unfortunately, this is increasingly hard to accomplish before North Korea becomes a fully mature nuclear-weapons state.

We’re moving rapidly to the point where Roosevelt said squarely, “It is the time for prevention of attack.” George W. Bush spoke equally directly in 2002: “Our security will require all Americans to be . . . ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives.” The alternative is potentially global proliferation of nuclear weapons, with the attendant risks lasting beyond our power to calculate.


The Danger of a Jihadist Pakistan

Careless U.S. pressure could push the country’s nukes into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. China can be helpful.

This article appeared in The Wall Street Journal on August 29, 2017. Click here to view the original article.

By John Bolton
August 29, 2017

Almost certainly, the war in Afghanistan will be won or lost in Pakistan. President Trump’s announcement last week that he will send more U.S. troops—some sources say another 4,000—to Afghanistan represents a change in tactics from President Obama’s policy. But the ultimate objective is still opaque, and even once the specifics are articulated, what may ultimately matter more is the still-undeveloped “South Asia policy” promised by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

That means dealing with Pakistan. Islamabad has provided financial and military aid, including privileged sanctuaries, to the Taliban, the Haqqani network, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Islamic State, al Qaeda and other malefactors, allowing them not just to survive but flourish. President Trump rightly says this must stop and is encouraging Pakistan’s principal adversary, India, to increase its economic assistance to Afghanistan.

But the task isn’t so straightforward. The Bush and Obama administrations also criticized Pakistan’s support for terrorists, without effect. Putting too much pressure on Pakistan risks further destabilizing the already volatile country, tipping it into the hands of domestic radical Islamicists, who grow stronger by the day.

Peter Tomsen, a former State Department regional expert, once described Pakistan as the only government he knew consisting simultaneously of arsonists and firefighters—often the same people, depending on the situation. Pakistan has teetered on the edge of collapse ever since it was created in the 1947 partition of British India. Its civilian governments have too often been corrupt, incompetent or both. The ouster last month of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif —he stepped down after the Supreme Court disqualified him for not having been “honest”—is no reassurance. If anything, it shows the judiciary’s excessive politicization, which further weakens constitutional governance.

Islamabad’s military, sometimes called the country’s “steel skeleton,” is equally problematic. It recalls the old remark about Prussia: Whereas other countries have armies, Pakistan’s army has a country. The military is also becoming increasingly radicalized, with Islamicists already in control of its intelligence services and now working their way through the ranks of the combat branches.

In this unstable environment, blunt pressure by the U.S.—and, by inference, India—could backfire. Just as America must stay engaged in Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban and other terrorists from retaking control, it is also imperative to keep Islamabad from falling under the sway of radical Islamicists. Hence the danger of inadvertently strengthening their hand by supplying a convenient narrative of overt U.S. dominion. Such a blunder might help Pakistan’s radicals seize power even as the U.S. battles terrorists in Afghanistan.

Remember that Pakistan has been a nuclear state for nearly two decades. The gravest threat is that its arsenal of nuclear warheads, perhaps up to 100 of them, would fall into radical hands. The U.S. would instantly face many times the dangers posed by nuclear Iran or North Korea.

If American pressure were enough to compel Pakistan to act decisively against the terrorists within its borders, that would have happened long ago. What President Trump needs is a China component to his nascent South Asia policy, holding Beijing accountable for the misdeeds that helped create the current strategic dangers.


Abrogating the Iran Deal: The Way Forward

To download this plan as a PDF, please click here now.

I Background:

The Trump Administration is required to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with the July 2015 nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – JCPOA), and that this agreement is in the national security interest of the United States.1 While a comprehensive Iranian policy review is currently underway, America’s Iran policy should not be frozen. The JCPOA is a threat to U.S. national security interests, growing more serious by the day. If the President decides to abrogate the JCPOA, a comprehensive plan must be developed and executed to build domestic and international support for the new policy.

Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, the President must certify every 90 days:

(i) Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement, including all related technical or additional agreements;
(ii) Iran has not committed a material breach with respect to the agreement or, if Iran has committed a material breach, Iran has cured the material breach;
(iii) Iran has not taken any action, including covert activities, that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons program; and
(iv) Suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the agreement is—
       (I) appropriate and proportionate to the specific and verifiable measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program; and
       (II) vital to the national security interests of the United States.

U.S. leadership here is critical, especially through a diplomatic and public education effort to explain a decision not to certify and to abrogate the JCPOA. Like any global campaign, it must be persuasive, thorough and accurate. Opponents, particularly those who participated in drafting and implementing the JCPOA, will argue strongly against such a decision, contending that it is reckless, ill-advised and will have negative economic and security consequences.

Accordingly, we must explain the grave threat to the US and our allies, particularly Israel. The JCPOA’s vague and ambiguous wording; its manifest imbalance in Iran’s direction; Iran’s significant violations; and its continued, indeed, increasingly, unacceptable conduct at the strategic level internationally demonstrate convincingly that the JCPOA is not in the national security interests of the United States. We can bolster the case for abrogation by providing new, declassified information on Iran’s unacceptable behavior around the world.

But as with prior Presidential decisions, such as withdrawing from the 1972 ABM Treaty, a new “reality” will be created. We will need to assure the international community that the U.S. decision will in fact enhance international peace and security, unlike the JCPOA, the provisions of which shield Iran’s ongoing efforts to develop deliverable nuclear weapons. The Administration should announce that it is abrogating the JCPOA due to significant Iranian violations, Iran’s unacceptable international conduct more broadly, and because the JCPOA threatens American national-security interests.

The Administration’s explanation in a “white paper” should stress the many dangerous concessions made to reach this deal, such as allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium; allowing Iran to operate a heavy-water reactor; and allowing Iran to operate and develop advanced centrifuges while the JCPOA is in effect. Utterly inadequate verification and enforcement mechanisms and Iran’s refusal to allow inspections of military sites also provide important reasons for the Administration’s decision.

Even the previous Administration knew the JCPOA was so disadvantageous to the United States that it feared to submit the agreement for Senate ratification. Moreover, key American allies in the Middle East directly affected by this agreement, especially Israel and the Gulf states, did not have their legitimate interests adequately taken into account. The explanation must also demonstrate the linkage between Iran and North Korea.

We must also highlight Iran’s unacceptable behavior such as its role as the world’s central banker for international terrorism, including its directions and control over Hezbollah and its actions in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The reasons Ronald Reagan named Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1984 remain fully applicable today.

II Campaign Plan Components

There are four basic elements to the development and implementation of the campaign plan to decertify and abrogate the Iran nuclear deal:

1. Early, quiet consultations with key players such as the U.K., France, Germany, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, to tell them we are going to abrogate the deal based on outright violations and other unacceptable Iranian behavior, and seek their input.

2. Prepare the documented strategic case for withdrawal through a detailed white paper (including declassified intelligence as appropriate) explaining why the deal is harmful to U.S. national interests, how Iran has violated it, and why Iran’s behavior more broadly has only worsened since the deal was agreed.

3. A greatly expanded diplomatic campaign should immediately follow the announcement, especially in Europe and the Middle East, and we should ensure continued emphasis on the Iran threat as a top diplomatic and strategic priority.

4. Develop and execute Congressional and public diplomacy efforts to build domestic and foreign support.

III Execution Concepts and Tactics

1. Early, quiet consultations with key players

It is critical that a worldwide effort be initiated to inform our allies, partners, and others about Iran’s unacceptable behavior. While this effort could well leak to the press, it is nonetheless critical that we inform and consult with our allies and partners at the earliest possible moment, and, where appropriate, build into our effort their concerns and suggestions.

This quiet effort will articulate the nature and details of the violations, the type of relationship the US foresees in the future, thereby laying the foundation for imposing new sanctions barring the transfer of nuclear and missile technology or dual use technology to Iran. With Israel and selected others, we will discuss military options. With others in the Gulf region, we can also discuss means to address their concerns from Iran’s menacing behavior

The advance consultations could begin with private calls by the President, followed by more extensive discussions in capitals by senior Administration envoys. Promptly elaborating a comprehensive tactical diplomatic plan should be a high priority.

2. Prepare the documented strategic case

The White House, coordinating all other relevant Federal agencies, must forcefully articulate the strong case regarding U.S. national security interests. The effort should produce a “white paper” that will be the starting point for the diplomatic and domestic discussion of the Administration decision to abrogate the JCPOA, and why Iran must be denied access to nuclear technology indefinitely. The white paper should be an unclassified, written statement of the Administration’s case, prepared faultlessly, with scrupulous attention to accuracy and candor. It should not be limited to the inadequacies of the JCPOA as written, or Iran’s violations, but cover the entire range of Iran’s continuing unacceptable international behavior.

Although the white paper will not be issued until the announcement of the decision to abrogate the JCPOA, initiating work on drafting the document is the highest priority, and its completion will dictate the timing of the abrogation announcement.

A thorough review and declassification strategy, including both U.S. and foreign intelligence in our possession should be initiated to ensure that the public has as much information as possible about Iranian behavior that is currently classified, consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods. We should be prepared to “name names” and expose the underbelly of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard business activities and how they are central to the efforts that undermine American and allied national interests. In particular, we should consider declassifying information related to activities such as the Iran-North Korea partnership, and how they undermine fundamental interests of our allies and partners.

3. Greatly expanded diplomatic campaign post-announcement

The Administration, through the NSC process, should develop a tactical plan that uses all available diplomatic tools to build support for our decision, including what actions we recommend other countries to take. But America must provide the leadership. It will take substantial time and effort and will require a “full court press” by U.S. embassies worldwide and officials in Washington to drive the process forward. We should ensure that U.S. officials fully understand the decision, and its finality, to help ensure the most positive impact with their interlocutors.

Our embassies worldwide should demarche their host governments with talking points (tailored as may be necessary) and data to explain and justify abrogating JCPOA. We will need parallel efforts at the United Nations and other appropriate multilateral organizations. Our embassies should not limit themselves to delivering the demarche, however, but should undertake extensive public diplomacy as well.

After explaining and justifying the decision to abrogate the deal, the next objective should be to recreate a new counter-proliferation coalition to replace the one squandered by the previous Administration, including our European allies, Israel, and the Gulf states. In that regard, we should solicit suggestions for imposing new sanctions on Iran and other measures in response to its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs, sponsorship of terrorism and generally belligerent behavior, including its meddling in Iraq and Syria.

Russia and China obviously warrant careful attention in the post-announcement campaign. They could be informed just prior to the public announcement as a courtesy, but should not be part of the pre-announcement diplomatic effort described above. We should welcome their full engagement to eliminate these threats, but we will move ahead with or without them.

Iran is not likely to seek further negotiations once the JCPOA is abrogated, but the Administration may wish to consider rhetorically leaving that possibility open in order to demonstrate Iran’s actual underlying intention to develop deliverable nuclear weapons, an intention that has never flagged.

In preparation for the diplomatic campaign, the NSC interagency process should review U.S. foreign assistance programs as they might assist our efforts. The DNI should prepare a comprehensive, worldwide list of companies and activities that aid Iran’s terrorist activities.

4. Develop and execute Congressional and public diplomacy efforts

The Administration should have a Capitol Hill plan to inform Members of Congress already concerned about Iran, and develop momentum for imposing broad sanctions against Iran, far more comprehensive than the pinprick sanctions favored under prior Administrations. Strong congressional support will be critical. We should be prepared to link Iranian behavior around the world, including its relationship with North Korea, and its terrorist activities. And we should demonstrate the linkage between Iranian behavior and missile proliferation as part of the overall effort that justifies a national security determination that US interests would not be furthered with the JCPOA.

Unilateral US sanctions should be imposed outside the framework of Security Council Resolution 2231 so that Iran’s defenders cannot water them down; multilateral sanctions from others who support us can follow quickly.

The Administration should also encourage discussions in Congress and in public debate for further steps that might be taken to go beyond the abrogation decision. These further steps, advanced for discussion purposes and to stimulate debate should collectively demonstrate our resolve to limit Iran’s malicious activities and global adventurism. Some would relate directly to Iran; others would protect our allies and partners more broadly from the nuclear proliferation and terrorist threats, such as providing F-35s to Israel or THAAD resources to Japan. Other actions could include:

  • End all landing, docking rights for all Iranian aircraft and ships at key allied ports;
  • End all visas for Iranians, including so called “scholarly,” student, sports or other exchanges;
  • Demand payment w/set deadline on outstanding US federal court judgments against Iran for terrorism, including 9/11;
  • Announce U.S. support for the democratic Iranian opposition
  • Expedite delivery of bunker-buster bombs;
  • Announce U.S. support for Kurdish national aspirations, including Kurds in Iran, Iraq and Syria
  • Provide assistance to Balochis, Khuzestan Arabs, Kurds, others – also to internal resistance among labor unions, students, women’s groups
  • Actively organize opposition to Iranian political objectives in the UN

IV Conclusion

This effort should be the Administration’s highest diplomatic priority, commanding all necessary time, attention and resources. We can no longer wait to eliminate the threat posed by Iran. The Administration’s justification of its decision will demonstrate to the world that we understand the threat to our civilization; we must act and encourage others to meet their responsibilities as well.


North Korea gearing up for sixth nuclear test?

Former U.S Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton on reports that North Korea fired a missile over Japan:

“This is how North Korea behaves when it does not yet have the confirmed capability to drop nuclear warheads on targets across the United States.”

“If you don’t like their behavior now, just imagine how it will be if the outcome of the present crisis is that we leave North Korea with its continuing ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, as the Trump administration is doing.”

“For all those who say there’s no possibility of ever using military force against North Korea think again.”

“If we leave North Korea continuing down this road they will have the capability to use nuclear blackmail and the threat of nuclear weapons to force U.S. forces out of South Korea, out of Japan, to threaten the American homeland.”

“This is very serious. We’re talking about leaving this rogue regime with the world’s most destructive capability. I don’t think we should sit still for that.”


Amb. Bolton: Afghanistan will be won or lost in Pakistan

Former U.S Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton says Trumps plan is a dramatic change from the Obama administration:

“This is a dramatic change from the Obama administration, and that’s the most important thing.”

“Much of what the President said is exactly right. He’s not going to have artificial time limits. He’s not going to negotiate with the Taliban until they have been sufficiently beaten back.”

“Afghanistan will be won or lost in Pakistan.”

“Pakistan is a nuclear power and to see them tip into terrorist control themselves would give us North Korea or Iran on steroids.”

“One word missing from the President’s speech was “China.” China made both North Korea and Pakistan nuclear powers.”


Ambassador John Bolton, a diplomat and a lawyer, has spent many years in public service. He served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in 2005-2006. He was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security from 2001 to 2005. In the Reagan Administration, he was an Assistant Attorney General.