Iranian presence in Syria on tap for key US, Russia meeting

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

Sanctions that the U.S. reimposed on Iran have been more effective than expected, though regime change there is not part of Washington's policy, President Donald Trump's national security adviser said on Wednesday.

The comments came after United States National Security Adviser John Bolton, during a visit to Israel on Wednesday, said that USA sanctions are having a strong effect on Iran's economy and popular opinion.

The two failed to release a joint statement due to disagreements on the subject of election meddling, which was raised several times during the meeting, says Bolton.

U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser says the reimposition of economic sanctions against Iran has had a "profound effect", and the administration wants to go further than the measures in place before the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Bolton, speaking to Reuters while on a visit to Israel, said usa contacts with Russian Federation did not include any understanding over a push by Damascus's forces against the rebels in Idlib.

The Trump advisor also said he had warned Moscow against meddling in the U.S. midterm elections in November.

"Regime change in Iran is not American policy but what we want is massive change in the regime's behaviour", Mr Bolton said during a visit to Jerusalem, adding that Tehran's activity in the Middle East is threatening. "I just spoke to him literally a few minutes ago and we have performed here in exactly the way I think the two leaders would have expected us to".

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President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. He added, "America is turning up the pressure and we want the United Kingdom by our side".

The United States, France and Britain on Tuesday, August 21, threatened to respond if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons in its offensive to retake Idlib province. Bolton added that any agreement would be ultimately up to the parties themselves and not something forced by the United States.

"I made it clear that we wouldn't tolerate meddling in 2018 and that we were prepared to take necessary steps to prevent it from happening", Bolton told reporters.

Bolton cautioned that "people who are accused of having violated the sanctions could be indicted", alluding to a possible follow-up of the US indictments of 12 Russian officials as part of an investigation by USA special counsel Robert Mueller.

"They [Iran] know what we expect and when they are ready to conform to that there's opportunity for settlement", Bolton said.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian operatives targeted the presidential campaign in 2016 with a hacking and social-media disinformation campaign to try to tilt the election in Trump's favor and that they were likely to do so again in the November midterm vote.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, said that reactivating the terms of the Moscow Treaty - which contained no monitoring or verification provisions for caps on numbers of deployed strategic weapons - would be a poor substitute for New Start.

"Of course not", Bolton said.