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John Bolton says he's 'embarrassed' that an Iranian Revolutionary Guard member offered the 'low price' of just $300,000 to assassinate him

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/11/2022 bmetzger@insider.com (Bryan Metzger,John Haltiwanger)
Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton in Minsk, Belarus on August 29, 2019. Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images © Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton in Minsk, Belarus on August 29, 2019. Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images
  • The DOJ announced Wednesday that John Bolton was the target of an assassination plot.
  • Bolton says he was "embarrassed" by the "low price" that the Iranian official offered for his murder.
  • While Shahram Poursafi offered just $300,000 for Bolton, they offered $1 million for Mike Pompeo.

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Wednesday that he was "embarrassed" that an Iranian military official only offered $300,000 for his assassination.

The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that Shahram Poursafi, a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), had offered the bounty "likely in retaliation" for the January 2020 killing of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC's Quds Force and a powerful figure within the country.

Bolton served under former President Donald Trump before being fired in September 2019.

"Well, I was embarrassed at the low price. I thought it would have been higher," he quipped in an appearance on CNN Wednesday evening. "Maybe it was an exchange rate problem or something."

He went on to say that he had "long had a general understanding of what the threat was," but was not aware of the specifics of the plot.

He also indicated that he was not aware of another plot against former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who had a much higher bounty of $1 million for his murder, per an Axios report — but said he wasn't surprised. The Justice Department declined to comment when contacted by Insider over the report on Pompeo. 

"I think there are a substantial number of people who are vulnerable to these Iranian efforts," he said.

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Throughout his long career in Washington, Bolton has garnered a reputation as a foreign policy hawk. He's considered an architect of the 2003 Iraq invasion, and has habitually made the case for regime change in Iran. 

Bolton played an instrumental role in former President Donald Trump's controversial decision to withdraw the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, a move that raised tensions between Washington and Tehran to historic heights. The Obama era agreement was designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. After withdrawing from the agreement, Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran as part of a "maximum pressure" strategy championed by Bolton. 

Trump's decision to order the drone strike against Soleimani in early 2020 exacerbated the already tense state of affairs, and raised concerns that the US and Iran were on the brink of war. Both countries ultimately moved away from a broader conflict, but the dynamic between Washington and Tehran remains contentious. 

President Joe Biden has sought to revive the 2015 nuclear deal — an Obama era agreement — but indirect talks to restore the pact have so far failed to yield an agreement. During a visit to Israel last month, Biden said the US would use force as a "last resort" to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. 

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