Skip to main content

Bolton 'embarrassed' at low price allegedly offered in assassination plot

Former national security adviser John Bolton said he was embarrassed when he found out $300,000 was being offered to assassinate him
Former US national security advisor John Bolton appears at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, on 30 September 2019 (AFP)

Former US national security adviser John Bolton said he was "embarrassed at the low price" on his head following revelations of an alleged Iranian assassination plot against him.

Bolton, who worked in former US President Donald Trump's administration, was targeted by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) member Shahram Poursafi, who offered to pay $300,000 for his murder, according to the US Justice Department.

"The suspect put a $300,000 price tag on your head," CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer told Bolton on Thursday. "What goes through your mind, ambassador, hearing the details of this plot, as explained today in great detail by the US Justice Department?"

"Well, I was embarrassed at the low price," Bolton responded. "I would have thought it would have been higher. But I guess maybe it was the exchange rate problem or something."

The alleged plot was likely in retaliation for the US killing of top IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq in January 2020, the Justice Department said. 

According to disclosed court documents, Poursafi, working inside Iran, contacted an unknown US resident in October saying he wanted photographs of Bolton.

US accuses Iranian national of plotting to assassinate John Bolton
Read More »

The unknown person then passed the Iranian on to an FBI informant, whom Poursafi asked to kill Bolton and hinted at a large reward for another high-profile murder. 

US court filings also revealed there was a second high-profile target in the alleged Iranian plot with a $1m bounty on their head.

Axios reported that Poursafi allegedly planned to target former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who served as head of the State Department when Soleimani was killed.

The Iranian foreign ministry has rebuked the alleged plot as work of "fiction" and warned "against any action that targets Iranian citizens by resorting to ridiculous accusations". 

News of the attempted assassination against Bolton comes as US President Joe Biden's administration tries to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

Under the accord, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

Washington unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear pact under then-President Donald Trump in 2018. Iran reacted by gradually backtracking on its obligations under the deal, such as uranium enrichment.

Talks in Vienna between the US and Iran have been ongoing for months, with Washington's designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group a major stumbling block in negotiations. 

Bolton has been highly critical of reviving the deal, telling CNN that the White House is showing "weakness" by "begging" Iran to return to the agreement.