U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton on Sunday said that Iran should not “mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness,” when the US abruptly called off military strikes on Iran after the latter shot down an unmanned American spy surveillance drone.
Bolton's message directly indicated that it was not only aimed at Tehran but also assured key US allies that the White House has maintained its pressure on Iran. Israel and Arab nations in the Gulf have always considered Iran as a formidable threat. Trump's last-minute decision to call off the airstrikes have raised questions on US potential to use force against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Thursday's incidence of downing of a drone came as a new development amidst rising tensions between the United States and Iran in the Persian Gulf. Trump administration has vowed to inflict "maximum pressure" by putting economic sanctions along with an increase of American forces in the region. This has happened after the US withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and other world powers in May 2018.
On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed the United States’ “interventionist military presence” for fanning the flames. He was quoted by the official Iran news agency.
“The region is very sensitive and security of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman waterways is important to many countries. We expect international bodies to show proper reaction to the invasion move,” Rouhani said about the downing of the U.S. drone.
President Donald Trump says he backed away from the planned strikes after learning 150 people would have been killed. But Bolton, a longtime Iran hawk, emphasized that the US reserved the right to attack at a later point. Bolton also said a new set of sanctions on Iran are expected to be announced Monday.
“No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East. As President Trump said on Friday our military is rebuilt, new and ready to go,” Bolton said in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a known vocal critic of Iran over the years.
“And as he made clear yesterday, referring to his earlier remarks, the president said, ‘I just stopped the strike from going forward at this time,’” Bolton added.
Bolton is visiting Israel for three-way talks with his Israeli and Russian counterparts that are expected to focus on Iranian involvement in conflicts across the region, including in neighboring Syria. Netanyahu has been a vocal critic of Iran for years accusing the Islamic Republic of sinister intentions at every opportunity.
Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister said Bolton was trying to force the U.S. into a conflict with Iran. Javad Zarif tweeted that the presidential adviser was “moments away from trapping” Trump into a “war,” before the U.S. president called off the strikes against Iran.
On June 20, the friction between the two nations intensified after Iranian forces shot down a US surveillance drone. However, Tehran maintained that military equipment violated their airspace and that they had warned the US twice before shooting down, while the US stood on the ground by saying that the drone was above international waters, and Trump called it a 'very bad mistake' by Iran.