Iran has called the U.S. decision to appoint former UN Ambassador John Bolton as national-security adviser “a matter of shame” and a sign that Washington hopes to overthrow the government in Tehran.
The semiofficial Fars news agency quoted a top official on March 25 as saying for an "apparent superpower, it is a matter of shame that its national-security adviser receives wages from a terrorist group."
The report said Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the country's Supreme National Security Council, was referring to Bolton attending a 2017 meeting of the Iranian opposition People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), an exiled dissident group that backs the overthrow of Iran's leadership.
Also on March 25, Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, a spokesman for the influential parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, told the semiofficial ISNA news agency that Bolton's appointment, as well as that of former CIA chief Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, "proves that the final U.S. purpose is overthrowing [the Iranian government]."
Hosseini's allegation went a step further than what other Iranian parliamentarians had said about Bolton's appointment. Several MPs expressed concern that recent changes in the U.S. administration are either an indication of President Donald Trump’s resolve to drop the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers) or pressing Iran to accept a thorough revision of the agreement
But Hosseini alleged that the United States will use the MEK group to attempt to overthrow the theocratic regime in Tehran.
Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for Bolton, on March 25 said Bolton "doesn't respond to propaganda from a government long included on the United States' list of state sponsors of terrorism."
In Paris, MEK spokesman Shahin Ghobadi said that the suggestion that his group "has funded Ambassador Bolton or any other American officials is simply a lie and is a mere joke."
President’s Hassan Rouhani and his administration have not officially reacted to Mike Pompeo replacing Rex Tillerson as U.S. Foreign Secretary and John Bolton’s appointment as president Trump’s National Security Adviser.
Bolton in the past has advocated regime change in Iran and is vehemently opposed to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which provided Tehran with sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
In a July speech to the MEK in Paris in July, Bolton expressed hopes that Iran's government would be overthrown "by 2019."
U.S. President Donald Trump on March 22 announced that Bolton would take over from H.R. McMaster as national-security adviser beginning on April 9.
Bolton, 69, has long been a hawkish voice on foreign policy for the Republican Party. He has advocated for preemptive military strikes against North Korea and military strikes on Iran.
He served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
His views on Iran are in line with the U.S. president, who has adopted a tough stance against Tehran since taking office in January 2017.
Trump has repeatedly denounced the 2015 nuclear deal and in January said the accord must be "fixed" by May 12 or Washington will withdraw.
Meanwhile, a former Israeli defense minister on March 25 said Bolton once tried to persuade him to strike Iran.
"I knew John Bolton since he was United States ambassador to the United Nations," Shaul Mofaz, who served as defense minister from 2002-06, told a conference in Tel Aviv.
"He tried to convince me that Israel needs to attack Iran," Mofaz said, according to the Ynet news site.
"I don't think this was smart, not on the side of the Americans today and not on the side of anyone until the threat is real," Mofaz said of a potential attack on Iran.