Media Matters intern Danny Orland contributed to this report.
Fox News contributor John Bolton suggested the Obama administration might be willing to let Iran have a nuclear weapons program in exchange for a peace settlement in Syria. But President Obama has made it clear that his policy is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and he has signed strong sanctions against Iran.
Bolton Claims Obama Might Allow Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program
Bolton Says He’s “Afraid The Obama Administration Would Make [A] Deal” To Allow Iranians To Keep Their Nuclear Program. On the June 1 edition of America’s Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer discussed developments in Syria with Bolton. Responding to Hemmer’s question about the role of Iran in negotiations over a Syrian ceasefire, Bolton claimed:
BOLTON: Well, what I fear is that Iran — you know, we’re talking about the place where chess was invented. Keeping its regime in power is the king. Its nuclear weapons program is the queen. What does that make [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad? A knight, a bishop — a pawn, more likely. And what I fear is that Iran in extremis may say, OK, look, you can have Assad, we want legitimacy for our nuclear program. And I’m afraid the Obama administration would make that deal. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/1/12]
Bolton Again Says He “Fear[s] That The Obama Administration” Would Negotiate Deal Allowing Iran To Keep Nuclear Weapons Program. During the July 10 edition of Happening Now, Bolton discussed the situation in Syria with co-host Jenna Lee:
BOLTON: Well, this is a nightmare scenario, but one I’m afraid the Obama administration is very susceptible to. If Iran really believed that Assad could not maintain power, I could see them being very willing to trade a pawn, meaning Assad, to save their queen, meaning their nuclear weapons program. And I very much fear that the Obama team would look at that as a worthwhile deal. It would make it look like progress in Syria, and it would push the nuclear issue for Iran past the election. So, that would be a terrible deal from the U.S. perspective, but one that I fear the president might fall for. [Fox News, Happening Now, 7/10/12]
But Obama Has Stated That His Policy Is To Prevent Iran From Getting Nuclear Weapons …
Obama: “My Policy Is Prevention Of Iran Obtaining Nuclear Weapons. And … When I Say All Options Are At The Table, I Mean It.” From Obama’s March 5 joint remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
OBAMA: [W]e all know that it’s unacceptable from Israel’s perspective to have a country with a nuclear weapon that has called for the destruction of Israel. But as I emphasized yesterday, it is profoundly in the United States’ interest as well to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We do not want to see a nuclear arms race in one of the most volatile regions in the world. We do not want the possibility of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorists. And we do not want a regime that has been a state sponsor of terrorism being able to feel that it can act even more aggressively or with impunity as a consequence of its nuclear power.
That’s why we have worked so diligently to set up the most crippling sanctions ever with respect to Iran. We do believe that there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue, but ultimately the Iranians’ regime has to make a decision to move in that direction, a decision that they have not made thus far.
And as I emphasized, even as we will continue on the diplomatic front, we will continue to tighten pressure when it comes to sanctions, I reserve all options, and my policy here is not going to be one of containment. My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. And as I indicated yesterday in my speech, when I say all options are at the table, I mean it. [WhiteHouse.gov, 3/5/12]
Obama: I Have “Said That We Would Use All Elements Of American Power To Pressure Iran And Prevent It From Acquiring A Nuclear Weapon.” During his March 4 remarks at the AIPAC policy conference, Obama said that a “nuclear-armed Iran” is “counter to the national security interest of the United States,” adding:
OBAMA: And that is why, four years ago, I made a commitment to the American people, and said that we would use all elements of American power to pressure Iran and prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And that is what we have done. [WhiteHouse.gov, 3/4/12]
Obama In 2008 Said He Would Take No Options “Off The Table” To Deter Iran From Nuclear Weapons Program. From a July 24, 2008, New York Times article about then-Senator Obama’s trip to Israel:
In Sderot, Mr. Obama held a news conference against a backdrop of spent rockets and munitions outside. ”The state of Israel faces determined enemies who seek its destruction,” Mr. Obama said. ”But it also has a friend and ally in the United States that will always stand by the people of Israel.”
He issued a warning to Iran, saying that, ”A nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat and the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” He said no options were ”off the table” in dealing with a nuclear threat from Iran but that the country should be offered ”big carrots” as well as ”big sticks.” The Bush administration and others have said Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, although Iran’s leaders insist it is for peaceful purposes. [The New York Times, 7/24/08]
… And Signed Strong Sanctions Against Iran Over Its Nuclear Program
Obama Signed A Bill Imposing Strong Sanctions Against Iran In Attempt To Halt Nuclear Weapons Development. From a July 2, 2010, CBSNews.com article:
President Obama has signed a bill imposing tough new sanctions against Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program.
The bill Mr. Obama signed Thursday evening in an East Room ceremony targets exports of gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran. It bans U.S. banks from doing business with foreign banks providing services to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
The administration hopes the new unilateral sanctions, combined with ones approved last month in the U.N. Security Council, will yield results even though previous regimens failed to halt Iran’s activities that could lead to nuclear weapons development. The U.N. sanctions target the Revolutionary Guard, ballistic missiles and nuclear-related investments.
As lawmakers looked on, Mr. Obama called the new law the “toughest sanctions against Iran ever passed by the United States Congress.” [CBSNews.com, 7/2/10]
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