U.S. sanctions and other pressure are meant to bring Iran to negotiations, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Tuesday.
"They’ll either get the point or ... we will simply enhance the maximum pressure campaign further,” Bolton told reporters in Jerusalem after a trilateral meeting with his Russian and Israeli counterparts, Nikolai Patrushev and Meir Ben-Shabbat.
"It will be, I think, the combination of sanctions and other pressure that does bring Iran to the table," he said.
On Monday, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his office and eight senior commanders of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The fresh sanctions came days after Iran shot down a U.S. reconnaissance drone, which Tehran says violated its airspace while Washington maintains it was in international waters over the Strait of Hormuz, an important shipping route.
Bolton said U.S. President Donald Trump held "the door open for real negotiations, to completely and verifiably eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons program, its pursuit of ballistic missile delivery systems, its support of international terrorism and its other maligning behavior worldwide".
The U.S. adviser described the threat of nuclear Iran as "very real".
"We see continuing evidence, growing evidence of Iran's violations of not just the nuclear deal," he said. "Iran itself has threatened to blow through some of the key limits in the nuclear deal."
When asked if Washington would consider lifting sanctions on Iran to encourage it to return to negotiations, Bolton said Tehran had given no indications it was prepared to alter its behavior.
He, however, said the U.S. policy does not include regime change in Iran.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday U.S. sanctions on Khamenei shut "the doors of diplomacy" between Tehran and Washington.
Tensions have been rising between the U.S. and Iran since May 2018, when Washington unilaterally withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the EU.
The U.S. has since embarked upon a diplomatic and economic campaign to put pressure on Iran in order to renegotiate the agreement, as well as other Iranian activities Washington considers to be "destabilizing".
As part of its campaign, the U.S. has re-imposed sanctions on exports of Iranian crude oil, which have nosedived the Iranian economy.