Amb. Bolton: Next US president could end Iran nuclear deal

Former US ambassador reacts to $400 million payment to Iran


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 19, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST:  Paying for prisoners, well, it sure sounds like it.  The State Department now admitting that $400 million payment to Iran was used as leverage for the release of four hostages.  

If that is not enough, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just wrote a letter to President Obama demanding the release of $2 billion in frozen assets.  

None of this is surprising to former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.  

Are we now in a new ransom situation, because there are three more Americans held in Iran and they want $2 billion. Is that the deal that they're proposing?  

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, I think it may even be worse than that.  It could be as many as five Americans.  

But the problem is not the particular terms, but that American hostages are now bargain chips in a way even beyond the wildest expectations of terrorists all over the world, what they can get for them in terms of financing their terrorist activities.  

But that's why this precedent is so bad, quite apart from the fact that both the hostage release and the money were really linked in essence to the nuclear deal.  So it's one more bad consequence of what was already a bad deal.  

VARNEY:  Now, we can't get out of that deal.  We signed it.  But there are at least these constant provocations.  What is the long-term future of that deal?  

BOLTON:  Well, I think we can get out of it.  By the way, nobody signed it.  That's part of the problem.  Nobody ratified it.  It's one of the strangest deals on such a consequential issue I think I have ever seen.  

But, look, a new American president on day one in his inaugural address could say, this deal was a strategic mistake.  In any event, I think the Iranians have been violating it.  We're pulling out of it.  And you can just start all over again.  

I think that's the right thing to do.  It was a mistake when it was agreed.  It's not getting any better with time.  And that Iranian nuclear threat continues to grow.  

VARNEY:  I have got a separate issue to raise with you.  There are reports of tanks and troops, Russian tanks and troops on the Ukrainian border with Crimea.  And I believe Vladimir Putin is in Crimea.  Do you think that there's something about to happen that is going to make a provocative act with 80 days left in this presidency -- well, until the election?  

BOLTON:  Well, I think massing Russian troops along the eastern border is a provocative act, in and of itself.

And I think, at a minimum, it's giving these troops practice for the time when they may have to do it in reality.  It's telling the government of Ukraine, you are no match for us.  It's reminding the Europeans that Russia still has that clout.  And it may be the opening scene of a gambit by Putin to see much more he can get.  

You have put your finger on something important here.  In the remaining months of the Obama administration, every one of our adversaries around the world, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, you name it, that has an agenda to advance against us is going to consider taking advantage of the last days of the Obama administration.  

They don't know who will be elected, but know they have got a weak and feckless president in there now.  What better time to move?

VARNEY:  Well, that's high anxiety time.  And provocative act could come at any time in the next 80 days, right, sir?

BOLTON:  Or in the transition period after the election, before the inauguration.  

I don't think Putin wants hostilities, particularly not with the United States, but he has seen over the past seven-and-a-half years when you advance against the United States, you meet no resistance.  So he may well try and see how far he can get before somebody notices.  

VARNEY:  Mr. Ambassador, John Bolton, thank you very much for joining us, sir.  Appreciate it.  Thank you.  

BOLTON:  Thank you, Stuart.  


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