Bolton, Iran hawk, sympathetic to Kurds, influential in Trump administration

Far more riding on Trump nuclear deal decision than fate of Iran

Sanctions on European companies that do business with Iran after the us withdrawal from the nuclear deal are "possible", White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday. "It depends on the behavior of other governments".

"With prices moving close to $US80 a barrel and with a great opportunity presented to Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation to regain market share without crashing the oil price, we think there is a good chance the current OPEC+ deal will end by the end of 2018, if not before". "He tasked me in my first couple weeks to work with Europeans to try and do it [strike a deal] although the work had been ongoing before I arrived at the State Department, and at no time were we able to reach an agreement", he continued.

This is particularly seeing as Trump has decided abruptly to withdraw from a nuclear deal with Iran that lifted long-standing economic sanctions on Iran in 2015 in return for Iran dismantling aspects of its nuclear weapons program, although this is also true that this is something Trump previously suggested he might pursue this during election campaigning.

China, France, Russia, Britain, Germany and Iran all remain in the nuclear accord that placed controls on Iran's nuclear programme and led to a relaxation of economic sanctions against Iran and companies doing business there.

Oil has extended a rally this month to the highest level in more than three years as Trump's decision to walk away from the Iranian nuclear accord fueled tensions in the energy-rich Middle East and raised concerns over supply disruptions.

The exit drew swift criticism from the deal's other signatories, including USA allies in Europe who had tried for weeks to persuade Trump to remain on board and said they plan to keep their commitment to the deal.

In her latest comments on Iran and sanctions, Chancellor Merkel said: "It is in our interest to have a strong transatlantic relationship".

Bolton did not rule out sanctions on European countries that do business with Iran.

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Both Le Maire and Germany's finance minister Olaf Scholz had spoken to their USA counterpart Steven Mnuchin, urging him to consider exemptions or delays for companies already present in the country.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said transatlantic ties had been gradually damaged by shifts in U.S. policy. On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump in a telephone call that he was anxious about stability in the Middle East, according to Macron's office.

White House National Security adviser John Bolton said it was possible European companies that continue to do business with Iran were at the risk of facing sanctions from the United States.

Historic deal on Iran's nuclear program from 2015 provides for the removal of sanctions against Iran in exchange for limiting its capabilities PS enrichment and storage of nuclear materials.

Asked whether or not European countries could face such sanctions, Bolton responded: "It's possible".

Germany's minister for economic affairs, Peter Altmaier, said on Sunday that Berlin would try to "persuade the United States government to change its behavior". "Indeed, I would argue that they thought they could act with impunity", he said.

"That's what we are going to do and I will be hard at it with the Europeans in the next several days", said the top United States diplomat.

Bolton said Europe was still digesting Trump's May 8 move.

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