Knight Ridder Newspapers: The U.N. Security Council’s impending showdown over Iran’s nuclear ambitions is a critical test of the effectiveness of the world body, United Nations Ambassador John R. Bolton said yesterday.
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Iran given April 28 deadline to cease its nuclear program
WASHINGTON – The U.N. Security Council’s impending showdown over Iran’s nuclear ambitions is a critical test of the effectiveness of the world body, United Nations Ambassador John R. Bolton said yesterday.
“If the Security Council can’t deal with that threat, then you have to ask yourself what utility the Security Council would be in dealing with terrorism and weapons of mass destruction,” Bolton said at a midday appearance before the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.
The United States and its allies claim Iran is developing a nuclear bomb under cover of a peaceful civilian nuclear power program. The 15-member Security Council has given Iran a deadline of April 28 to stop uranium enrichment, a key step in the process.
Bolton said the Bush administration was committed to resolving the crisis diplomatically. But he noted that the president had not ruled out military action.
“We have to ask ourselves at sometime, if our efforts fail, will we allow Iran to get nuclear weapons?” Bolton said. “Now, I believe the president is very serious when he says it’s unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons. If it’s unacceptable, that means it’s unacceptable.”
Bolton said the issue can be resolved diplomatically if Iran followed Libya’s example and renounced its nuclear ambitions. But he said the United States would not engage in talks with Iran because Tehran had already rejected “generous” offers from Russian and European negotiators to halt nuclear fuel research.
“We have nothing to say to them,” he said in a morning meeting with The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board.
Bolton, a long-standing U.N. critic whom Bush made his interim appointee last year after failing to win Senate confirmation, cast the Iran controversy in the context of efforts to force the United Nations to reform.
The blunt ambassador – his reputation for abrasiveness was one reason his appointment was stalled in the Senate-said the world body maintains a strong anti-Western sentiment that reinforces resistance to reform efforts.
“You all need to come to New York for 30 days, be a part of my mission, and just listen to what goes on there,” he told the editorial writers.
Bolton said he feared that a group of developing nations, bent on protecting U.N. patronage jobs, is about to undermine Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposed U.N. management overhaul. The organization called the Group of 77 on Wednesday demanded studies on the effects of the reform measures.
“The G77 are about to tank this entire reform package on the ground that they’re somehow tilted toward the West
. . . things like, you know, better procurement systems, better auditing systems, more modern personnel systems, the introduction of information technologies.”
Likewise, Bolton expressed frustration with Russia and China for blocking efforts for more than a year to get the Security Council to impose sanctions against Sudan for human rights abuses in the Darfur region.
“When 13 months go by and the Security Council doesn’t do anything, it’s reasonable to ask why anybody should believe anything the Security Council says about anything else,” he told the Inquirer writers.
Bolton intends to offer a Security Council resolution next week that would sanction four Sudanese individuals responsible for atrocities in Darfur.
The big test will be Iran, which Bolton characterized as the single biggest threat to international peace and security in the world today.