Iran Nuclear NewsIran atomic program called major U.N. test

Iran atomic program called major U.N. test

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AP: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton said Friday he expects Iran’s disputed atomic program to ultimately go before the U.N. Security Council, but acknowledged that doing so wouldn’t necessarily stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions. Associated Press

By ZINIE CHEN SAMPSON

Associated Press Writer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton said Friday he expects Iran’s disputed atomic program to ultimately go before the U.N. Security Council, but acknowledged that doing so wouldn’t necessarily stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions.

“This will be a major test of the Security Council’s effectiveness in the area of nuclear weapons proliferation,” Bolton said. “But if the Security Council can’t deal with a problem like Iran’s nuclear weapons effort, then you have to ask whether it can deal with questions of proliferation at all.”

The United States and several European allies hope the members of the International Atomic Energy Agency will vote at an emergency meeting next week to send Iran before the Security Council, which can impose sanctions or other measures to persuade Tehran’s government to give up developing nuclear capabilities.

“I don’t pretend that taking Iran to the Security Council is the answer,” said Bolton, who appeared at the University of Richmond’s leadership school. “It is a test, but it’s an important test that we’re determined to bring to the council.”

On Jan. 10, Iran removed seals from uranium-enrichment equipment and said it would restart its nuclear program after a 2-year hiatus. It claims it is seeking only to produce nuclear energy, but other nations fear and suspect it is hiding plans to develop nuclear weapons.

Several European nations called for the emergency IAEA meeting in Vienna and proposed a resolution to ask the Security Council to put pressure on Tehran, though they stopped short of calling for sanctions.

Russia, India and China – allies and trading partners of Iran – have been reluctant to endorse Security Council action. All three sit on the IAEA’s board of governors.

Bolton said that the U.S. believes Iran has pursued its nuclear ambitions for more than 20 years, “and to this day (they) continue to conceal things and distort the exact nature of their program.” IAEA investigations over the last three years, however, haven’t confirmed or disproved whether Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The U.S. has been working toward a diplomatic solution, and Bolton has repeatedly stressed the need for the issue to receive the U.N.’s immediate attention, calling it “a classic threat to international peace and security.”

But he wouldn’t rule out that the Bush administration could act on its own to stop Iran, including taking military action.

“The president is very clear that we never take any option off the table,” he said. “And while we are trying to pursue a political/diplomatic course, he’s said again and again that Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable.”

The president, Bolton said, worries about the prospect of a “nuclear holocaust” if Iran is allowed to achieve weapons capability.

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