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After Bolton, U.S. Still Pursuing 'Maximum Pressure' Against Iran


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin answer questions during a briefing on terrorism financing at the White House Sept. 10, 2019, in Washington.
WASHINGTON, Sept 12 (Reuters) -

The United States is still pursuing its campaign of "maximum pressure" against Iran, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday, even after President Donald Trump parted ways with his hard-line national security adviser John Bolton.

Mnuchin, in an interview with CNBC, also said that there is no current plan for Trump to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month, although he reiterated that Trump is open to meeting with Rouhani with no preconditions.

Trump's remaining national security team is "executing on a maximum pressure strategy against Iran," Mnuchin said.

"There's no question it's working," added Mnuchin, whose department plays a key role in carrying out U.S. policy toward Iran through the imposition of economic sanctions.

Observers had been looking for any signals from Washington on possible changes in policy toward Iran after Bolton left his post abruptly on Tuesday. Amid numerous policy disagreements, Trump said he fired Bolton, while Bolton said he resigned.

Iran, which had singled out Bolton for criticism for his hawkish views, has denounced as "economic terrorism" the increasingly strict U.S. sanctions imposed after Trump last year pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers including the United States.

Sanctions against Iran have been effective and could help pressure Iran and its leaders to negotiate with Trump, Mnuchin added.

"We have cut off their money, and that's the reason why, if they do come back to the negotiation table, they're coming back," Mnuchin said, adding that the U.S. strategy toward Iran is similar to the one the Republican president is taking toward trade talks with China.

"If the president can get the right deal that he's talked about, we'll negotiate with Iran. If not, we'll continue the maximum pressure campaign," Mnuchin added.

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