John Bolton, President Trump's national security adviser and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., spoke with FNC's Laura Ingraham Tuesday night to discuss the U.S. withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Look, the fact is the deal has been flawed from the beginning. I think the president laid that case out in his statement today. He gave the Europeans and others a chance to fix it. It was not doable because the flaws go right to the foundations of the deal.
So, he did what he clearly advertised he was going to do as far back as the 2016 campaign, pulled the United States out of the deal. Why? Because it's in our security interest to get out of this flawed deal.
INGRAHAM: John Kerry today explained why he was doing his own little version of -- talking to Iran.
JOHN KERRY, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Until today, until this afternoon, the policy of the United States of America was to be in the Iran agreement. Until today, our nation remained one of the guiding forces within that agreement and only today did the policy change.
My conversations with these people have been normal conversations that I assure you every former secretary of state has with leaders of other countries and all I did was suggest to them, you guys really ought to try to keep the agreement.
BOLTON: Look, John Kerry's objective was to get a deal. So, it's not surprising John Kerry's objective today was to keep the deal. It's the wrong objective.
The objective should be to prevent Iran from getting deliverable nuclear weapons. The deal not only didn't accomplish that objective. In many ways it facilitated Iran's efforts.
So, what President Trump did by pulling out of the deal is get back to what the real objective should be, stopping this dangerous regime from threatening us and our friends around the world with nuclear weapons.
INGRAHAM: John Brennan, another good pal of yours, the former CIA director, he said this about how the whole development with the Iran deal could affect our conversation with North Korea. Let's watch.
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I can understand how it helps in any way the ongoing discussions with North Korea and the efforts to try to denuclearize the peninsula. It totally undercuts the credibility of America's word.
BOLTON: Well, as on so many other things, Director Brennan is flatly wrong. In fact, he’s 180 degrees in the wrong direction.
As President Trump said, this sends North Korea signal that we’re not in these discussions with Kim Jong-un just to have a deal. We are in them to denuclearize North Korea. So, it's an indication of how serious President Trump is.
As he said, when he says he's going to do something, he carries through on it.
INGRAHAM: Iran today said they are going to continue to try to abide by the terms of the deal, working with Russia, China, France and beyond. What do you -- how do you respond to that?
BOLTON: Look, I think Iran has demonstrated in so many ways it couldn't care less about the restrictions of this deal. What it wants are the economic advantages that Obama and Kerry gave to them. So, of course, it will try and keep those. But we’ll see.
I think their real performance is going to put them in a position where our European friends have got to come along and put sanctions back on and to do what we've already begun to an extent, we’re going to do even more tomorrow, work with the Europeans and others not only on nuclear issue but on Iran's ballistic missile development, its continuing support for terrorism and its military activities that jeopardize our friends like Israel and the Arab states in the region.
INGRAHAM: Samantha Powers, of course, former U.N. ambassador for Obama, tweeted this about what this deal and leaving it did:
"Trump has demolished America's credibility and paved the way for Iran to restart its nuclear program. Trump has done the unthinkable: isolated the U.S. and rally the world around Iran. The cost of using military force has only increased."
Basically, she's arguing that we could be getting closer to a war with Iran because of what you guys did today.
BOLTON: Once again, it's exactly the opposite. This deal didn't stop the nuclear weapons program. That's part of the problem.
INGRAHAM: But they did get inspection. They did have some inspection of sites they got to choose, correct?
BOLTON: Yes, there are no real inspections here. I mean, again --
INGRAH: Were there inspections before the deal of any type that were useful?
BOLTON: There were, but they weren’t adequate, and they are certainly not adequate on the critical issue here of Iran's military activities before now and continuing.
We saw from what the Israelis released, although the data went back some years, Iran clearly had a weapons program. We don't know the full extent of it today. And by allowing this deal to continue, we were simply giving Iran more time to get closer to nuclear weapons.
INGRAHAM: The former U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, said essentially today: A month-long effort by the U.S. closest allies to persuade President Trump to stick to the deal has failed. The failure not only dooms the deal itself but also shows that when it comes to U.S. foreign policies, policy, allies no longer count.
Is that the message that Macron -- he comes and he has a great state dinner, Theresa May stops by, you know, we have -- of course, we had the German chancellor in town, Angela Merkel, and they feel like they are second-class citizens here. America is going to go her own way.
BOLTON: Yes. I mean, that statement was just completely the opposite of what the president's view is and it's why we’re going to continue to work with the allies to do something effective about Iran's malign influence in the Middle East and not paper it over and pretend that we've actually stopped them.
INGRAHAM: The president's way of making decisions is fascinating. He likes a lot of inputs even though he campaigned against the Iran deal, repeatedly saying it's the worst deal ever. When did he finally decide to leave the Iran deal?
BOLTON: Well, I think just before the speech really.
INGRAHAM: Before the speech?
BOLTON: The process you've described is accurate. For people who don't understand how the president considers these things, he doesn't make spur of the moment decisions. He has listened to everybody who wanted to talk to him, up to and including over the weekend with Prime Minister May of Great Britain. He gave every one of them a chance to try and fix the deal and, unfortunately, they didn't come close because the deal itself is inherently flawed.
Iran should not have uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing capabilities. That's what we’re going to ask of North Korea. That's what we ought to be thinking of.
INGRAHAM: So, what can you tell us about Pompeo's trip to North Korea?
I mean, we see Kim Jong-un was walking on the beach today with the Chinese leader. This is all tangled up in U.S. trade policy too, and the Lighthizer and company didn't, you know, get any real progress that we know of him with China last week on their big trip. We need China to help with North Korea, are they an honest broker?
And tell us what's going on here.
BOLTON: Well, there’s a lot -- a lot of parts in motion and Secretary Pompeo should be arriving in North Korea right now. He's there to talk about the preparations for the Kim Jong-un summit with President Trump. We’re going to pursue this as aggressively as the president pursues any negotiation and see if we can't reach a historic deal on the --
INGRAHAM: We’re going to get these hostages back that we should've gotten back a long time ago?
BOLTON: You know, the president said quite some time ago, I’ve repeated it, we want these people released. They shouldn’t be human bargain.
INGRAH: Should it be part of a deal?
BOLTON: It should happen before the deal.
INGRAHAM: OK. So, is that going to be you are going to let these people free or this is off? Is that -- is that where we are going?
BOLTON: No, Mike Pompeo was on the peninsula now. We’ll see how this comes out. Keep your fingers crossed overnight, but let's not keep -- let’s not miss the question as well of what the meeting with Kim Jong-un itself is going to produce.