US hawk warns Iran threat must be eliminated
Friday October 10, 2003
An American official warned yesterday that the potential threat posed by Iran's nuclear programme had to be "eliminated" and predicted Tehran would try to "throw sand" in the eyes of the world to avoid a confrontation at the UN.
John Bolton, deputy under secretary of state for arms control, who is regarded as the state department's chief hawk, was speaking to journalists in London where he reaffirmed the Bush administration's notion of "rogue states" which threatened US interests.
Top of the list were Iran and North Korea, he said. "There is awareness of the threat posed by Iran and consensus that threat has to be eliminated," he said referring to the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr.
Iran "will try and throw sand in our eyes" mixing cooperation and obfuscation "to conceal as much as they can, to delay and to avoid having the issue referred to the security council," said Mr Bolton.
The UN international atomic energy agency has given Iran until October 31 to prove it does not have a nuclear weapons programme. Mohammad Khatami, the Iranian president, said on Wednesday that Tehran would offer whatever cooperation was needed to show its nuclear programme was to produce electricity.
Mr Bolton yesterday questioned the need for Iran to produce nuclear power, given the size of its natural gas and oil reserves. He said the existing non-proliferation treaty needed to be strengthened to deal with Iran which, he speculated, could have a nuclear weapons capability "probably towards the end of the decade".
He said North Korea was being dealt with by multilateral talks conducted by China, and that Pakistan had denied trading in nuclear materials with North Korea. "We take them at their word," he said. Asked about Israel's nuclear weapons capability, he replied: "The issue for the US is what poses a threat to the US."
On Iraq, Mr Bolton said "the purpose of military action was to eliminate the regime ... The real security risk was the regime". He implied it was not weapons of mass destruction that was the issue but whose hands they were in.
Mr Bolton described the "level of cooperation" from Syria - which Washington accuses of manufacturing chemical weapons and harbouring terrorists - as "not satisfactory".
He did not specify what action the US might take against Iran and Syria beyond pointing out that the US already imposes sanctions against Iran and that Congress was poised to adopt a law applying them to Syria.
He said Libya, a country with which Britain is now developing closer ties, had "increased efforts to acquire biological, chemical, and nuclear, weapons".
Mr Bolton was in London for meetings on US plans to intercept ships and aircraft suspected of trafficking weapons of mass destruction. http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,12858,1060030,00.html