By Jubin Katiraie
The United States will continue to increase pressure on the Iranian regime until Tehran abandons its pursuit of nuclear weapons and cease their violent activities in the Middle East, White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Monday.
In a speech to the Christians United for Israel summit in Washington, Bolton said: “We will continue to increase the pressure on the Iranian regime until it abandons its nuclear weapons program and ends its violent activities across the Middle East, including conducting and supporting terrorism around the world.”
Bolton said that the US’s maximum-pressure approach to Iran was damaging the rogue nation’s economy.
US Vice President Mike Pence also addressed the summit and said that Iran’s recent breaches of the 2015 nuclear deal, as well as recent attacks on oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf region, were just some of Iran's "malign" activities, but he vowed that the US would "never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon".
Pence said: “Iran should not confuse American restraint with a lack of American resolve. We hope for the best, but the United States of America and our military are prepared to protect our interests and protect our personnel and our citizens in the region.”
Over the weekend, Iran threatened that it would again breach the nuclear deal by increasing uranium purity to 4.5%, after recently increasing their stockpile of low-enriched uranium to above 300 kgs. Both of these breaches have been confirmed by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said earlier on Monday that Iran may consider increasing enrichment purity to 20% or higher, which should worry nuclear non-proliferation experts because that’s only a short step from weapons-grade uranium.
Iranian Foreign Ministry representative Abbas Mousavi set a new 60-day deadline for the remaining signatories to save the nuclear deal, which means helping Iran evade US sanctions, but he did not seem hopeful.
This should not be surprising given the international response these breaches caused. Britain and France both warned Iran not to renege on the deal, while Trump said Iran should “be careful”.
Trump said on Sunday: “Iran better be careful, because you enrich for one reason and I won’t tell you what the reason is, but it’s no good.”
Late last month, Trump called off air strikes at the last minute, after learning that it would cause casualties, and launched a cyber-attack on Iran's missile systems instead. This was in response to Iran’s downing of a US drone.