US national security adviser backs up Trump tweet theats to Iran

John Bolton said that Iran, ‘will pay a price few countries have ever paid’

US national security adviser John Bolton has reaffirmed threats from President Trump’s recent tweets towards Iran Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

US national security adviser John Bolton has reaffirmed threats from President Trump’s recent tweets towards Iran Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

 

Donald Trump plans to make Iran pay a price few countries have ever paid before, according to the US national security adviser, John Bolton, who doubled down on a late-night tweet in which the US president threatened Tehran.

Bolton’s statement was designed to show that Trump’s unexpectedly belligerent tweet was not a random act, or empty bluster but part of a considered move by the US administration to step up the economic, political and psychological pressure on Iran.

Iran dismissed the US president’s threats as psychological warfare designed to appeal to his electoral base ahead of the mid-term elections.

But Bolton, a well-known hawk on Iran, told reporters in Washington: “I spoke to the president over the last several days, and President Trump told me that if Iran does anything all to the negative, they will pay a price few countries have ever paid.”

The hostile rhetoric between Washington and Tehran escalated after the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, told the US that it shouldn’t “play with the lion’s tail”.

Late on Sunday, Trump posted a tweet in capital letters warning Rouhani of “unprecedented consequences”.

His attack sent the Iranian national currency into a tailspin when trading opened on Monday, exacerbating months-old fluctuations that have prompted protests in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar.

The rial, which has been rapidly depreciating against the dollar after Trump pulled the US out of the nuclear deal in May, hit a fresh all-time low. On Monday, £1 bought 92,000 rials on the black market, though many exchange bureaux had stopped trading.

Trumps’s tone was criticised in Europe which is already in sharp disagreement with Trump over his decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal.

European leaders says there is no evidence that Iran is in breach of the deal, but they are struggling to find credible ways to protect businesses still trading in Iran from the threatened effect of US secondary sanctions. The first banking sanctions are due to come into force in three weeks.

Some European diplomats said Trump’s attacks were only reducing the chances of reform inside Iran, including the hopes of persuading Iran to change its behaviour in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

The British prime minister, Theresa May, will be warned today that Iranian threats to respond to US sanctions could provoke Iran into closing the Strait of Hormuz – cutting off European access to Middle East energy supplies.

The emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, due to meet May in Downing Street today, has warned that US sanctions could provoke Iran into closing the Strait of Hormuz – cutting off European access to Middle East energy supplies. Roughly 20per cent of the UK’s liquefied natural gas comes from Qatar.

In the speech on Sunday that triggered Trump’s bellicose late night tweet, Rouhani said: “Mr Trump! We are the honest men who throughout history guaranteed the safety of the nation’s waterways. Do not play with the lion’s tail – it will bring regret.” – Guardian