National security adviser John Bolton told FBN's Maria Bartiromo on Monday that they had an "enormous" impact on Iran's economy, driving them into a depression.
"We've already seen the consequences in Iran," Bolton told FOX Business Network's Maria Bartiromo. "The rial, the currency, has declined by 70 percent since the sanctions, inflation has quadrupled." The country is in recession. "
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR OF THE UNITED STATES: Glad to be here.
BARTIROMO: So tell me the teeth on these sanctions. What is it going to do with Iran?
BOLTON: Well, I think the sanctions in the aggregate are already having an enormous effect on Iran. You know, when the president announced we were withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal in May of this year, we were not going to wait for the sanctions actually to take effect. They've pulled out. They've cut back many ways, and I think we've already seen the consequences in Iran. The rial, the currency's declined about 70 percent since the sanctions, inflation has quadrupled, the country is in recession. You're seeing riots and demonstrations all around the country just provoked by ordinary citizens. So I think this is going to cut into Iran's ability to continue their nuclear program, the financed terrorism, and to engage in military activity around the Middle East, and I think we're seeing that.
BARTIROMO: Now it's over, and it's over. The editorial board has written an e-mail from Iran. Are they Japan, South Korea, China, and India?
BOLTON: Well, I think those are going to be announced today. Look, the president's policy here is maximum pressure, and I think it means maximum pressure is maximum pressure. The aim is to drive Iranian oil exports to zero. I think that's critical over an extended period of time.
But let's be clear, we're going to have that even beyond this. Obama is in 2015. More are coming and even more important, maybe, we are actually going to be very strict, very tightly enforced ,
Iran, right now, is in the escape and evasion mode. They're going to try and get around the sanctions, we're determined to prevent that.
BARTIROMO: I know you're going to announce later today that country specifically and exemptions, but why the waivers? Why put some in a category of having others and others not?
BOLTON: Yes, look, I think we said for a long time, zero should mean zero. But some countries, for the last three or four years, had to be able to buy oil from Iran needs some time to get down to zero.
These are not permanent, no way, we're going to squeeze Iran hard. As the British say, to make – to squeeze them until the pips (ph) squeak.
BOLTON: And we're going to do everything we can. They're choice and the mullahs (ph) in Tehran either change their behavior dramatically or face economic disaster.
BARTIROMO: This weekend I spoke to Prince Al-Waleed of Saudi Arabia, telling us the importance of the relationship with the one-of-a-kind stability in the region.
BOLTON: Look, we've had a deep and important relationship with Saudi Arabia since Franklin Roosevelt. It is a cornerstone of our policy in the Middle East and we want to get to the bottom of what happened to Khashoggi, there's no question about it. It's unacceptable behavior but the relationship is foundational to the United States and we're going to try everything through it.
The other oil producing monarchies in the Gulf region are going to depend on that. Israel sees Saudi Arabia as an important and stabilizing factor in the struggle for what is really happening in Iran, we want Saudi on our side.
BARTIROMO: Energy Secretary Perry writes this in "The Wall Street Journal," the op-ed titled "The World Can Live Without Iranian Oil."
So, did America's new role as this energy powerhouse factor into this decision? Maybe the U.S. is at a level in terms of its own production, we do not need Middle Eastern oil from Iran anyway.
BOLTON: Yes. Well, Rick Perry and the Energy Department have done a fantastic job since the President pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal to other countries, to get their production up, to make it up Iran. We've rampaged up our own production in America. I think we can get to a point.
BARTIROMO: So, let me get back to Saudi Arabia and the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. The sons of Khashoggi did an interview with their father recently.
As I mentioned, Prince Al-Waleed, yesterday with me on "Sunday morning futures" in an exclusive interview, here's what he said about that investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE AL-WALEED BIN TATAL, PRINCE IN SAUDI ARABIA: I think some people tell you that they have committed suicide ,
Saudi (ph) (inaudible) publically through a program to have made public as soon as possible. So, I believe the Saudi companies want 100 vindictive and exonerated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARTIROMO: Investor, I realize the relationship with the Saudis is critical, very important in this neighborhood, if you want, but is it NBS to lead? I mean one year ago we were there in Riyadh, he told me in an interview with the world, he wants to modernize Saudi Arabia. Two weeks later he imprisons all of these ministers, Prince Al-Waleed included, and then a month ago we learn this horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Is he the guy?
BOLTON: Look, we have heard from the King and the Crown very strongly in a number of conversations directly with President Trump that they have no involvement with this and that they are both committed to getting to the bottom of it. That's what they've said to us and they're taking that word.
BARTIROMO: Iran's behavior and / or warrants further sanctions?
BOLTON: No, this is the critical phase we're in now. As I say, escape and evasion by Iran. They are going to try and infiltrate the banking systems of other countries. They are going to try and use front companies and cut-outs to evade the sanctions. They're going to do all kinds of things.
This is what I would say to American companies and any foreign companies that would like to do business in the United States, and I would say they are interested in their investors and their independent directors on their boards of directors In a transaction that's the word Iran is associated with it, it's like a fire bell in the night. Not only does the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Justice Department's criminal investigators are going to be all over this. They've already got a number of important cases against Iran sanctions violators. I think they're going to put – make this a big priority. There's a lot of risk for any company that comes anywhere close to Iran.
BARTIROMO: So you're willing to go as far as sanctioning European companies, if they're doing business with Iran.
BOLTON: If they violate our sanctions, but I tell you even
BOLTON: – European businesses have spoken with their feet. They're out of Iran. That's one of the reasons why the Iranian economy is tanking right now, and we're going to ramp this up. That's what Trump means when he says maximum pressure.
BARTIROMO: Should we expect retaliation from Iran?
BOTLON: Well, I think they're going to make some very hard decisions. You know, if they change their behavior, the president said they are happy to engage in the whole range of their behavior – support for terrorism, ballistic missiles, conventional military activity in Yemen and Iraq and Syria. We're ready to do that. They need to change their behavior.
BARTIROMO: Let me turn to the caravan headed toward the U.S. Mexico has started receiving people from the migrant caravan as well. there are barbed wire on the southern border. From a national security perspective, how should we look at this caravan and the need to put it barbed wire up already?
BOLTON: Well look, this caravan that we're talking about, and some of that are being made a political effort to make a point about the United States. You know, there are groups and latin america groups around the world that talk about a borderless society, that people can come into any country they want any time they want. We should have a philosophical discussion about that. That's not the American view. I personally think there is more or less immigration into the United States, but controlled and legal immigration that we get to decide. And control the southern borders, not just an immigration issue alone. It's a national security question. Human trafficking, drug trafficking, the risk of weapons of mass destruction and terrorists coming across the border. I think this is something people are right about, and I think President Trump's got the answer for them.
BARTIROMO: Ambassador, I want to end where we started and that is on Iran. There is a report on Friday that China is opposed to Iran, and this is the beginning of a new trade deal with President Xi about when he sees him at the G20. Truth?
BOLTON: I think there's a lot of possibility. I think the American production of oil and gas and the potential for export is enormous. It's a strategic alternative to buying Russian oil and gas. Could be a strategic alternative in the future east as well. You are here: chinese banks that are stopping clearing Iranian financial transactions because they would rather do business in the United States. The same is true for many other Chinese businesses. The reach of American economic power is enormous, and that's what the president's using here.
So how significant would that be in the middle of this fight with China over the theft of intellectual property? And this sounds like a big deal.
BOLTON: Chinese president Xi Jinping looks at the G20 meeting in Argentina at the end of this month. The president's used the trade weapon in ways that have never been used before. I think he's caught the Chinese off balance. They say, "woah, to American president who does not act like a well-bred doormat when we trample all over WTO rules." So I think the president's really changed the dynamic with China. We'll see what happens here.