US raises the issue of tightening Iran sanctions with Russia: Bolton

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US National Security Adviser John Bolton (C) looks on as he arrives to address a press conference following a meeting with his Russian counterpart at the US Mission in Geneva on August 23, 2018. (AFP photo)

US National Security Adviser John Bolton says he has raised the issue of tightening economic sanctions against Iran with the head of Russia’s National Security Council, but provided no details.

Bolton made the remarks at a news conference on Thursday after more than five hours of talks with Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva.

He also said they had discussed a phased withdrawal of Iran’s presence in Syria during the talks. “Our objective is that all Iranian forces return to Iran... And we talked about a variety of ways in which it might be accomplished through a series of steps.”

Bolton, one of the Trump administration’s leading hawks in dealing with Iran, said that following the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the Trump administration’s objective was to “put maximum pressure on the regime” by making sanctions “more extensive and more effective.”

This week, Bolton held talks with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem al-Quds, where he said on Wednesday that Washington is prepared to use sanctions to drive Iranian oil exports down to zero.

He said that what “we want is massive change in the regime’s behavior.”

“We are going to do other things to put pressure on Iran as well, beyond economic sanctions," he added.  

Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six major world powers in May and then signed an executive order earlier this month reimposing many sanctions on Iran to levy "maximum economic pressure" on the Islamic Republic to renegotiate the deal and to end Tehran’s what Washington calls interference in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. Iran denies any meddling in the internal affairs of these countries.

While signing the executive order, Trump repeated his opinion that the international nuclear agreement with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was a "horrible, one-sided deal."

Bolton claimed that the return of American sanctions was having a strong effect on Iran’s economy.

Bolton: I warned Russian envoy against election meddling

Meanwhile, Bolton also said he had warned Moscow against meddling in the US midterm elections in November during talks with Patrushev.

“I made it clear we wouldn’t tolerate (election) meddling in 2018 and that we were prepared to take necessary steps to prevent it from happening,” he said.

Washington has already imposed economic sanctions against Moscow accusing it of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. Both US President Donald Trump and the Kremlin deny the meddling allegations.

In July, Trump called the ongoing investigation into his alleged dealings with Russia during the 2016 election “a big hoax,” saying it’s his predecessor, Barack Obama, who needs to be probed for not taking action against Moscow.

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