The FINANCIAL — Iran has criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint former UN Ambassador John Bolton as national-security adviser, with a senior official saying that it is shameful and is a sign that Washington hopes to overthrow the government in Tehran.
A spokesman for Bolton dismissed such remarks as “propaganda.”
Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, made a reference to Bolton having attended a 2017 meeting of Iranian opposition People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), an exiled dissident group that backs the overthrow of Iran’s leadership.
The semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Shamkhani as saying on March 25 that for an “apparent superpower, it is a matter of shame that its national-security adviser receives wages from a terrorist group.”
The report did not indicate that he provided any evidence of his claim, and MEK denied that it has funded Bolton or any other U.S. official, according to RFE/RL.
Also on March 25, Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, a spokesman for the influential parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, told the semiofficial ISNA news agency that Bolton’s appointment, as well as that of former CIA chief Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, “proves that the final U.S. purpose is overthrowing [the Iranian government].”
Hosseini alleged that the United States will use the MEK to attempt to overthrow the theocratic regime in Tehran. He did not provide evidence.
Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for Bolton, on March 25 said that Bolton “doesn’t respond to propaganda from a government long included on the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism.”
In Paris, MEK spokesman Shahin Ghobadi said that the suggestion that his group “has funded Ambassador Bolton or any other American officials is simply a lie and is a mere joke.”
Bolton in the past has advocated for regime change in Iran and is vehemently opposed to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which provided Tehran with sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
In a July speech to the MEK in Paris in July, Bolton expressed hopes that Iran’s government would be overthrown “by 2019.”
Trump announced on March 22 that Bolton would take over from H.R. McMaster as national-security adviser beginning on April 9.
Bolton, 69, has long been a hawkish voice on foreign policy for the Republican Party. He has advocated for preemptive military strikes against North Korea and military strikes on Iran.
He served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush.
His views on Iran appear to be in line with those of Trump, who has adopted a tough stance against Tehran since taking office in January 2017.
Trump has repeatedly denounced the 2015 nuclear deal and in January said the accord must be “fixed” by May 12 or Washington will withdraw.
Meanwhile, a former Israeli defense minister on March 25 said Bolton once tried to persuade him to strike Iran.
“I knew John Bolton since he was United States ambassador to the United Nations,” Shaul Mofaz, who served as defense minister from 2002-06, told a conference in Tel Aviv.
“He tried to convince me that Israel needs to attack Iran,” Mofaz said, according to the Ynet news site.
“I don’t think this was smart, not on the side of the Americans today and not on the side of anyone until the threat is real,” Mofaz said of a potential attack on Iran.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, Fars, and ISNA