US National Security Adviser John Bolton has warned Iran’s rulers that there will be “hell to pay” if they harm the US, its citizens or allies.
The Trump administration has warned Tehran that there would be “hell to pay” if it continued to “cross” the US and its allies.
The threat was delivered by the national security adviser, John Bolton, a longtime Iran hawk who told an audience of anti-Tehran activists: “The murderous regime and its supporters will face significant consequences if they do not change their behaviour”.
“Let my message today be clear: we are watching, and we will come after you,” Bolton said, according to early excerpts from his speech obtained by the Axios news website.
He added: “If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay.”
Speaking ahead of Mr Trump’s meeting, Mr Bolton also said the United States would be “aggressive and unwavering” in enforcing economic sanctions on Iran that are resuming after Washington withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
He said the United States would not allow the European Union or anyone else to undermine them.
In a statement after a meeting of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and Iran on Monday – the countries still in the deal – the group said they were determined to develop payment mechanisms to continue trade with Iran despite skepticism by many diplomats that this will be possible.
Mr Bolton dismissed the EU plan for a special payments plan to circumvent sanctions and pressed the SWIFT global payments messaging system to rethink dealing with Tehran.
“Banks and financial messaging services such as SWIFT must take a good hard look at their business with Iran and ask themselves whether it is worth the risk,” Bolton said. “SWIFT should follow the example of a growing number of businesses … that reexamined their dealings with the Iranian regime.”
Iran was barred from SWIFT, the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, in 2012, crippling its ability to make international bank transfers crucial to foreign trade. After the 2015 nuclear deal, it was reconnected, but European officials have said they expect the United States to apply pressure on SWIFT to once again cut Iran off.