U.S.: Iran to 'Throw Sand in Our Eyes' on N-Arms
October 09, 2003
LONDON -- A senior U.S. official predicted on Thursday Iran will seek to "throw sand" in the world's eyes to prevent a showdown over an October 31 deadline for Tehran to dispel international suspicion of its nuclear ambitions.
"I think what will happen prior to October 31st is the Iranians will cooperate a little bit and the issue will be, 'Did they cooperate enough?"' U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton told reporters in London, speaking about the deadline set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"They will try and throw sand in our eyes and use a modest level of cooperation to hide some level of obfuscation and lack of cooperation, to conceal as much as they can, to delay, to fight for time, and to avoid having the issue referred to the (U.N.) Security Council," he added.
In a tough resolution last month, the IAEA gave Iran until October 31 to dispel doubts about its atomic ambitions and is demanding rigorous inspections of suspect sites. Washington is urging strong U.N. measures against Tehran, whom it suspects of secretly developing nuclear weapons.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami insisted on Wednesday Tehran would provide whatever cooperation was needed to prove its nuclear program is solely geared to producing electricity -- the latest such assurance from the Islamic Republic.
Bolton predicted that if unchecked, Iran could have nuclear weapons capability "toward the end of the decade," though some people theorize it could be much sooner, he said.
"The risk of outward Iranian proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to other countries in the region is also a risk we take very seriously," he added.
Asked why Washington did not take a similar line on Israel's nuclear program, Bolton said: "The issue for the U.S. is what poses a threat to us and to our allies...We are not platonic guardians, we are representing American interests."
He was in London for a conference on a hotly debated U.S. plan to intercept ships and planes that may be trafficking weapons of mass destruction.
The Proliferation Security Initiative has won support from 10 other nations, helping ease diplomatic tensions over the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq and the subsequent failure to find weapons of mass destruction there.
Bolton said deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein may well have got rid of his weapons.
"In the short term we don't entirely know what Saddam may have done with the weapons of mass destruction. They may have been moved out of Iraq years ago -- it's possible," he said.
Saddam may also have ordered them destroyed, he added, "in which case it was a bad mistake not to keep records."
The existence of about 1,000 nuclear scientists whom Saddam dubbed his "nuclear Mujahideen" (holy warriors) demonstrated Baghdad's dangerous intentions, Bolton added. http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=politicsNews&storyID=3585720
The Irani delay is Iraqi delay redux.
Our people seem prepared to dismiss delay and insist on unfettered inspections.
With the Irani history of sponsoring terrorism nothing less than total transparency is acceptable.
It cannot hide behind the UN, the EU, France or Joe Biden.
We are no longer amused.