Bloomberg: Bolton fired over opposition to Trump possibly easing Iran sanctions

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was said to be in favor of easing sanctions as a way of setting the stage for U.S.-Iran talks.

By World Israel News Staff 

The prospect of easing U.S. sanctions on Iran was apparently too hard for John Bolton to accept when the issue was discussed at the White House on Monday, reports Bloomberg, and the next day, President Donald Trump tweeted that Bolton had been fired as his national security adviser.

The president “discussed easing sanctions on Iran to help secure a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later this month, prompting then-National Security Advisor John Bolton to argue forcefully against such a step, according to three people familiar with the matter,” says the news outlet.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was said to be in favor of taking such a move as a way of setting the stage for U.S.-Iran talks. Rouhani and other top Iranian figures have demanded the removal of U.S. sanctions as a condition for negotiations to take place.

The plan that appears to be under consideration is a Trump-Rouhani summit meeting on the sidelines of the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in New York later in September.

Bloomberg cites its sources as saying that preparations are underway to hold the meeting between the U.S. and Iranian presidents sometime during the week of September 23.

Read  Biden receives bipartisan call for tougher stance, added sanctions on Iran

One scenario, it said, would be that Trump joins a meeting between Rouhani and France’s President Emmanuel Macron. The French leader has been at the forefront of trying to ease current tensions with Iran.

In late August, Macron tried to arrange a meeting between Trump and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a G7 summit which was taking place in France. Zarif accepted the invitation to come to the venue of the summit but did not meet with the U.S. president.

At the center of a U.S.-Iranian negotiation would be the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, including the Obama administration. Trump pulled out of the deal in May 2018.

In addition to greater safeguards against the development of an Iranian military nuclear program, Washington, along with the Israeli government, wants to address the issue of Iranian entrenchment in the region, an issue which was also expected to be coming up in a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Sochi, Russia.

Israeli officials are concerned about Bolton’s departure because he was seen in Jerusalem as a protector against Trump’s temptation to make headlines with a high-stakes meeting with Rouhani and, in the process, reverse his hardline policy toward the Islamic Republic and start making concessions.

Read  Iran describes talks with IAEA chief as ‘positive’

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu played down his concern over a U.S.-Iran summit, saying that “Trump would be tougher and more clear-thinking than [the U.S.] was before.”

However, with Bolton’s departure, “there is less confidence that the U.S. president will stay away from making far-reaching concessions,” a source in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office told World Israel News.

Bolton’s dismissal was a recognition by the Trump administration that its policy toward Iran has been a “failure,” according to a top Rouhani aide.

“The firing of Bolton after a not-so-long period shows that even the hawkish U.S. government has come to the conclusion that the age of warmongering and intimidation is over,” Rouhani’s Chief of Staff Mahmoud Vaezi said, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.