Bolton to Netanyahu: Preventing Iran From Obtaining Nukes a Top Priority for U.S.

Netanyahu thanks visiting U.S. national security adviser, says Israel salutes Trump's willingness to impose sanctions on Iran

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, August 20, 2018.
Avi Cohen

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday that preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons was a very high priority for the United States.

"It's a question of the highest importance for the U.S. that Iran never get a deliverable nuclear weapons capability," Bolton said, adding: "It's why we've worked with our friends in Europe to convince them of the need to take stronger steps against the Iranian nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs."

Netanyahu said Israel applauds U.S. President Donald Trump's determination to reimpose sanctions on Iran. "I know that that view is shared by all our Arab neighbors, or practically everyone in this region," Netanyahu noted. 

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"I frankly believe that all countries who care about peace and security in the Middle East should follow America's lead and ratchet up the pressure on Iran. Because the greater the pressure on Iran, the greater the chance that the regime will roll back its aggression," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu reiterated his support for the Iranian people, asserting, "In standing up to the regime, we stand with the people of Iran." 

Israel has no better friend than the U.S., Netanyahu continued, adding that the country appreciates the American support. Bolton's visit allows the two nations to coordinate their positions on Iran, Syria, Gaza, as well as on other issues, Netanyahu added.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also met with Bolton in Jerusalem during the latter’s visit on Monday. In their meeting, the two discussed several security issues, among them the risks posed by Iran, Syria and Lebanon as well as the ongoing tensions with Gaza.

Lieberman thanked the U.S. national security adviser for America’s support: “We have a sympathetic president in the White House and a sympathetic administration and that enables us to have a significant maneuvering ability in dealing with our enemies in the north and in the south. Thank you John, you a great contributor to the security of the State of Israel.”

Bolton landed in Israel for a 48-hour trip Sunday evening and met Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem for an official dinner. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer were also in attendance.

Prior to the dinner, Bolton told Netanyahu that of "the great challenges" facing Israel and the U.S., "the Iran nuclear weapons program, the ballistic missile programs are right at the top of the list."

Netanyahu, in turn, praised Bolton as a "tremendous friend of Israel" and a "tremendous champion of the American-Israel alliance." Netanyahu went on to describe U.S. President Donald Trump's decisions to pull out of the "terrible" Iran deal and move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem as "momentous." 

Netanyahu said the most important topic he will discuss with Bolton will be "how to continue to roll back Iran’s aggression in the region and to make sure that they never have nuclear weapons."
 
From Israel Bolton will fly to Geneva, where he is scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev. The fact the Bolton is stopping in Jerusalem before meeting Patrushev could signal that the Trump administration wants to hear Israel's views and positions on Syria before discussing any possible agreement with Russia on the subject.