Radical Islamist terrorist groups are the top cross-border threat to the United States and its interests abroad, White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Thursday as he presented a U.S. counterterrorism strategy that also focuses on Iran.
“Radical Islamist terrorist groups represent the pre-eminent transnational terrorist threat to the United States and to the United States’ interests abroad,” Bolton told reporters, saying the United States also faced threats from Iran, which he called “the world’s central banker of international terrorism since 1979.”
Bolton, an advocate of President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and of imposing maximum pressure on Tehran, said the administration’s aim is to force all importers of Iranian crude to cut their purchases to zero.
The United States plans to impose new sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector on Nov. 4 with the aim of stopping Tehran’s involvement in conflicts in Syria and Iraq and bringing the Islamic Republic to the negotiating table for its ballistic missile program.
“It’s our objective that there be no waivers from the sanctions that exports of Iranian oil and gas and condensates drops to zero. I’m not saying we’re necessarily going to achieve that but no one should be operating under any illusions what the objective is,” Bolton said.
“You can look at the possibility of reductions leading to zero, it doesn’t have to happen immediately perhaps.”
Bolton is a hawk on Iran and believes the reimposition of sanctions is already heaping pressure on Iran’s leaders.
In describing armed Islamist militants on Thursday, Bolton also used the term “radical Islamic,” contradicting a stance taken by former President Barack Obama who argued that using that language would conflate the world’s peaceful Muslims with terrorists.