Iran should not mistake “prudence and discretion for weakness” by the United States in a decision not to retaliate for the shooting down of an American drone last week, national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday.
Bolton spoke to reporters before a meeting with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
“Neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness,” Bolton said during the briefing. “No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East.”
One day after the drone was shot over a disputed part of the Strait of Hormu, President Donald Trump on Friday said he called off an attack 10 minutes ahead of time on three military sites because he thought there would be too many deaths for a proportionate response.
On Sunday, Trump clarified his comments about his decision, posting on Twitter: “I never called the strike against Iran ‘BACK,’ as people are incorrectly reporting, I just stopped it from going forward at this time!”
Iran and the United States disputing where the $123 million unmanned aircraft was flying. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said the drone was shot down after it penetrated Iranian airspace in Homozgan province, Iran’s state-run Press TV reported. But the United States Central Command insisted the drone was flying over international waters.
On Saturday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Iran will not allow American intrusion into its territory.
“Regardless of any decision they make, we will not allow the Islamic Republic’s territory to be violated,” Mousavi told Tasnim News Agency.
Mousavi added that Iran is not seeking war, but is prepared to handle confrontation.
Bolton has been in favor of striking Iran but Trump has taken a more measured tone.
Trump’s adviser arrived in Israel on Saturday to attend a tripartite meeting Tuesday of the national security advisers of the United States, Israel and Russia.
“The mere fact that such a high-level meeting is taking place between the great powers – the United States of America and Russia — here in Israel I think is unprecedented,” Netanyahu said. “It speaks loudly about the nature of Israel’s standing among the nations, and in this case among two of the greatest nations on earth.”
Bolton described how Iran is part of rising threats to international peace and security in the world
“Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons; its threats to exceed the limits set in the failed nuclear deal in the coming days; its continuing buildup of menacing Quds Force capabilities in Syria and Iraq; its supply of sophisticated drones, missiles and other advanced weapons to hostile surrogate forces in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Afghanistan; and continued threat and acts of aggression against Israel, our allies in the Arabian Gulf and against U.S. personal and assets across the Middle East, are not signs of a nation seeking peace,” Bolton said.
Bolton said he agrees with Trump that Iran will “never” be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.
“As President Trump said on Friday, our military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go — by far the best in the world,” Bolton told reporters. “Sanctions are biting, and more were added last night. Iran can never have nuclear weapons, not against the USA, not against the world.”
On Monday the Trump administration announced the deployment of 1,000 additional troops and extra military resources to the Middle East.
Appearing with Bolton, Netanyahu said “I was pleased to hear President Trump make clear yesterday that pressure will continue, and that pressure will increase.”
Israel has supported Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal, which brought the regime sanctions relief and substantial cash payments.
“The supporters of the Iran deal argued that the infusion of massive cash into Iran’s economy would moderate Iran,” Netanyahu said. “They argued that Iran would become inward-focused, would start nation-building. And in fact, the very opposite is happening.
“Iran used those hundreds of billions of dollars to fund empire building, not nation building,” he continued.
He noted the Islamic Republic is “devouring one state after the other.”
Netanyahu said he believes Iran wants to establish military bases in Syria as well as provide sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah and others.
“Likewise, our Arab neighbors say exactly the same thing. They saw Iran’s aggression and Iran’s increased support from terror groups that threaten them, from the Shiite militias in Iraq to the Houthis in Yemen,” he said.