Richard Nephew, who served as the lead sanctions expert for the US team negotiating with Iran, is of the opinion that “Bolton and Pompeo are both much more hawkish.”
Richard Nephew adds “they presumably will back aggressive use of US power — including possibly military force — to deal with what the US government believes to be threats to the United States. They will also back the decisions of US allies to do the same thing.”
The fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University says “I doubt actually that Bolton would have accepted any agreement with Iran that did not involve its complete capitulation.”
He says that JCPOA future is very limited.
Donald Trump recently made changes to the cabinet and changed his security and foreign policy team somewhat. Mike Pompeo replaced Rex Tillerson and Gina Haspel became head of the CIA and John Bolton replaced McMaster. What was the reason for these changes?
On at least one level, these changes are not terribly surprising. Trump has had a bad relationship with Tillerson and McMaster and these are important posts. In any normal Administration, no one would be surprised or even very alarmed by these changes.
For this Administration and with respect to these officials, however, these changes are bad signs of what is to come. Trump has already said that he replaced Tillerson over the nuclear agreement with Iran and it is plausible that McMaster was fired for the same reason. This suggests that Trump intends to take a different course of action than letting diplomacy continue with any amount of good faith.
How will these changes affect the foreign policy of the Trump government? Which US foreign policy domains will be more affected by these changes?
Without question. Tillerson and McMaster were more establishment figures, believing in diplomacy, engagement and other similar tools equally with military force, sanctions and those types of tools.
Bolton and Pompeo are both much more hawkish. They presumably will back aggressive use of US power — including possibly military force — to deal with what the US government believes to be threats to the United States. They will also back the decisions of U.S. allies to do the same thing.
This could affect a range of policies, from North Korea to Syria to the Iran nuclear agreement.
With the Pompeo and John Bolton’s approach, how do you assess the future of this agreement?
I think its future is very limited. Pompeo and Bolton have never thought the agreement was worth doing and believed that, at a minimum, more concessions from Iran could have been obtained. But, I doubt actually that Bolton would have accepted any agreement with Iran that did not involve its complete capitulation.
John Bolton has recently announced that Iran’s nuclear deal is not amendable and will not be reformed through US-European talks. Some believe that Bolton’s choice is for more scoring about nuclear deal. What is your assessment?
Well, my assessment is that Bolton will attempt to close down the diplomatic process by declaring it has failed. Bolton has persuaded Trump to take a hard line on this issue since at least September and I do not expect that will change any time soon.
First published in our partner Mehr News Agency