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Remarks on the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General's Report

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks at a Security Council stakeout
New York City
April 28, 2006

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: We've had a chance to review Director General El Baradei's report, a relatively brief report. But I think it's clear that Iran has done nothing to comply with existing IAEA Board Resolutions or the request contained in the Security Council Presidential Statement that it suspend all enrichment-related activities, come into full compliance with the additional protocol and take a number of additional steps to show that in fact Iran's nuclear program is for purely civil, peaceful purposes, as they contend. I think, if anything, the IAEA report shows that Iran has accelerated its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, although, of course, the report doesn't make any conclusions in the regard. I think we can say now the United States is ready to take action in the Security Council to move to a resolution. Our feeling being that it should be a Chapter 7 resolution making mandatory for Iran the existing requirements of the IAEA resolutions, and particularly the resolution the Board passed in February. We've had some preliminary consultations on the subject of the resolution this week. We will, obviously, have additional consultations now that the report is out. There'll be meetings at other levels among the permanent members and other interested parties. But our hope would be to proceed in consultations in the council and in capitals early next week to move quickly. We are concerned about the continued work that Iran is doing to acquire nuclear weapons capability. We do think there's a sense of urgency here. And we hope that we can get Council action just as soon as possible. With that, maybe I'll stop and take a few questions.

REPORTER: Ambassador, do you believe -- the Security Council gave Iran 30 days the first time. How much more time are you prepared or do you want the Council to give Iran this time around?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: We've been discussing a very short turnaround period for compliance with the resolution. But as with many things in the Security Council, it will require discussions with the other members. But our view is it should be a very short period.

REPORTER: The Chinese ambassador was here just a few minutes ago and essentially said, in no uncertain terms, that China would not want a Chapter 7 resolution. How are you going to bridge the differences with China, and presumably Russia, over Chapter 7?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think that it's always important once you've got an actual text of a resolution or elements of a resolution that Security Council members can discuss and debate back and forth; when you get concrete, perspectives sometimes change. So I don't really want to speculate on what China's position may or may not be, or anybody else's position. We think there's a need to move forward. We're certainly hoping for unanimity among the five permanent members and the council as a whole. But unanimity or not, we're prepared to move forward.

REPORTER: Sir, you've talked quite often about the credibility of the UN., and it seems that...

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: And so has Secretary Rice recently.

REPORTER: Yes, and Rice has, as well. But that seems to work in your favor when they do what you want them to. But you violated the U.N. Charter when you went to war against Iraq, and you consistently lied to us about the reasons that we went to war. And this war was drawn up in Herzliya, Israel, in 1996 with the Project for a New American Century. And, you know, why do you have credibility other than that you've just got the biggest guns?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Can I ask what media outlet you're from?

REPORTER: Muslims Weekly.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I see. We did not violate the U.N. Charter in the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. And that plan was not drawn up at Herzliya at the Project for a New American Century.

REPORTER: (inaudible)

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Okay, well, then perhaps you can refer them to somebody.

REPORTER: When you make the case for the Chapter 7 resolution, which requires threats to peace, what is the case you will make?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think that the evidence of Iran's efforts to acquire a nuclear weapons, its extensive program to achieve a ballistic missile capability of longer and longer range and greater accuracy, constitutes a classic threat to international peace and security, especially when combined with Iran's long status as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. The purpose of acting under Chapter 7 is to invoke the mandatory compliance features of Chapter 7, which, as a resolution of the Security Council under Chapter 7, would be binding on all U.N. members.Therefore, it's not a matter of discretion for Iran. They have to comply or the Security Council is free to take other steps.

REPORTER: Sir, is the United States prepared to go down the road of diplomacy (inaudible)?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I believe this lady's asking a question.

REPORTER: How long is the United States prepared to go down the road of diplomacy with Iran?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: We have said for several years now that our priority is to achieve a resolution of the Iranian nuclear weapons program through peaceful and diplomatic means. That's why the United States has made this case in the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency for over three years now -- over three years now -- and why we are pursuing resolutions in the Security Council, the body charged by the U.N. Charter with the maintenance of international peace and security. So I think that's clear evidence of our intention of getting this resolved diplomatically.

REPORTER: Ambassador, Iran has already said that it would defy a Chapter 7 resolution because it would consider it illegitimate. Iran does not consider itself a threat to international peace and security. So is Iran set on a collision course with the Security Council right now?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think this remains entirely in Iran's hands. Its behavior recently indicates it's threatening to withdraw from the Non- Proliferation Treaty. It's obviously indicating it doesn't intend to comply with the U.N. Charter. That's the kind of behavior that shows why Iran is as isolated as it is and why its behavior amounts to a threat to international peace and security. So each of these statements that Iran makes simply enhances the evidence in support of our case that this matter belongs in the Security Council.

REPORTER: Could you comment on...

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Can I just ask -- I mean, I'm happy to answer your questions, but you the press have -- if you want one person to stand here and ask all the questions, it's really up to you. I'll recognize this gentleman.

REPORTER: Mr. Ambassador, thank you. What measures do you think Iran should face under this new resolution? And is it too early to start talking about a military option, or would you ever rule out a military option?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: The intention -- at least our starting position on this resolution that we're going to consider now, is it's very simple, very straightforward. It will simply make mandatory the obligations already imposed on Iran by previously existing IAEA resolutions. In other words, what we're doing is invoking the mandatory provisions of Chapter 7. And this resolution itself will not dictate or foreshadow future action. That really puts the ball back in Iran's court. And it's up to them whether they will honor their obligations under the U.N. Charter, honor their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and honor their obligations under a mandatory Chapter 7 resolution.

REPORTER: In terms of timetable, next Wednesday the Congo, the new president, tentatively slated in Wednesday after your Tuesday meetings in Paris -- or the delegation's Tuesday meetings in Paris, is that realistic in terms of thinking about when this might come up before the Security Council?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I have a rule, which I sometimes break, that I never predict the timing of Security Council action. And every time I break the rule, I'm wrong. So I'm going to try and stick with the rule, at least for 24 hours, and not predict on timing. But what I can say, quite seriously, is that we view Iran's continued defiance of the IAEA and of the Security Council presidential statement as a matter of urgency, and we hope to proceed just as expeditiously as we can.

REPORTER: Before the action taken, what's the Iranian government supposed to do? And if you have message to Iran government about the ElBaradei report?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: My message would be to the people of Iran -- since the government does not seem to want to hear, my message to the people of Iran would be, "It is not in your national self-interest to pursue a nuclear weapons capability." We have no quarrel with the people of Iran. We do have a quarrel with a government that is seeking, in violation of treaty obligations, to acquire nuclear weapons and the ballistic missile capability to deliver them. So Iran holds the key to this in its own hand. It can prevent the Council from going further by giving up the pursuit of nuclear weapons, as other countries have done.

REPORTER: Mr. Ambassador, the Chinese, they still insist that the Security Council is not the right place to discuss this issue. And if they're still stopping any of the Americans' effort to take any action, are you going to consider any action out of the Security Council, like (inaudible) sanction on the Iranian government or anything out of the Security Council?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, you know, the government of China did vote in the IAEA Board of Governors in February to refer the Iranian nuclear weapons program to the Security Council. That's not an action that we think displaces the International Atomic Energy Agency. Indeed, our view has consistently been that the Security Council should work to strengthen the hand of the IAEA. And we think that the IAEA will have an important role in the resolution of the Iranian program. But it's precisely because of the Security Council's ability to take mandatory steps and to take other steps, if necessary, to ensure compliance with its resolutions, that it's entirely proper for the matter to be here in the Security Council.

REPORTER: (Inaudible).

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, there's a meeting of the Quartet scheduled for next week, and I don't know whether all of the final arrangements have been made, but I think this is a matter of high priority to my Secretary of State and I think to the other Permanent Members so if there's the occasion to have a meeting, I think that could be quite useful.

REPORTER: Ambassador, Ambassador Wang said that moving the Chapter 7, that would take it out of the realm of diplomacy. I assume you disagree, that Chapter 7 is part of diplomacy?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: A Chapter 7 resolution would be adopted by the Security Council and I think what we do here in the Security Council is diplomacy. The point, and there's no question about this in our mind, is to enhance international pressure on Iran to show just how isolated they are, to show just how unacceptable is their pursuit of nuclear weapons. There's still time for the government of Iran to reverse the strategic policy that it's pursuing in trying to acquire nuclear weapons. We're prepared to continue to work in the Council, but certainly not for an unlimited period of time. A resolution under Chapter 7 that makes Iran's obligations mandatory will be a clear signal to Iran of its continuing isolation.

REPORTER: Can Iran ever be isolated whilst they still have trading partners?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think they clearly can and I think that's one of the reasons that if they choose not to come into compliance, we will look at additional steps, including targeted sanctions. But there's no doubt that ultimately Iran could resolve this problem, have a different relationship with the rest of the world, if it shows to give up nuclear weapons.

REPORTER: Just to double check on the issue of the Quartet meeting...are you saying that there will be a meeting of Foreign Ministers at the same time of the Quartet meeting, which will also discuss the issue of Iran. And if that's the case, will there be Foreign Ministers other than just the Foreign Ministers who are members of the Quartet to come and talk about that and will there by any vote at that Foreign Minister meeting on an Iran resolution.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I don't think there's a question of a vote at Foreign Minister's meeting. I think it's a question of discussion and I think the point was there would be coincidence of a number of Foreign Ministers being in New York about that time and it might be a good opportunity to have a meeting.

Let me go to this gentleman here, who I asked the question before, not you Mr. Bone, but you've already asked one.

REPORTER: Could there be a vote before the May 9th meeting, is the follow up?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I want the gentleman here with the grey shirt...

REPORTER: I know we're all obsessed about the current events here, but I'd like to ask a historical question because analysts and the Iranians themselves brought this up. You mentioned the Iranian people and they say that the Iranian people... the U.S. has a credibility problem with the Iranian people, since you talk about brining democracy there. Now, they have a long memory, since 1953 the U.S. and Britain overthrew an Iranian democracy to install a monarchy, which then was overthrown in '79 by the Islamic government that we're all stuck with right now. Had that never happened, would we be here today talking about this?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: That is a question of deep historical significance on which I believe the United States Government probably has no position. I have views, but I think I'll not express them.

REPORTER: Ambassador, the IAEA report says that there's no evidence that Iran is pursing nuclear weapons, just evidence of non-compliance. What makes you so sure that they are pursuing nuclear weapons?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think it's clear from the scope and the extent of the Iranian nuclear program that they're trying to achieve mastery over the entire nuclear fuel cycle indigenously. Their contention that this is purely for peaceful, civil purposes is simply not born out by the facts. And I would note that the report itself contains a paragraph on the question of fabrication of uranium metal. Now while there are some research purposes for having uranium metal, the principal reason to form and fabricate uranium metal is the formation of nuclear warheads. And the documentation that Iran has, as it is revealed in the report, about the techniques needed for the shaping of uranium metal is consistent with a warhead related purpose. That is in addition to what we know about their ballistic missile program and the potential that has for mating nuclear warheads with a delivery capability. The fact that Iran threatens to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is another piece of evidence that their program's not peaceful, if it's a peaceful program they could stay within the Treaty. The whole range of these activities that are only explainable over time, by their intention to seek nuclear weapons, such as the continued obstruction of IAEA efforts to get compliance. This report is filled with examples where the Iranians have repeatedly refused to cooperate with the IAEA. And the previous reports of the Director-General document extensive efforts to obstruct IAEA inspectors and to cover up and destroy evidence that would demonstrate the weapons related purposes of the program. Let me just take one or two more.

REPORTER: You said you were prepared to work in the Council, but not for an unlimited period of time. At what point do you begin to doubt the efficacy of this forum?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I'm not going to speculate about what might be down the road. Our immediate task here in the Council is clear, and that is to produce a resolution under Chapter 7 making the IAEA resolutions mandatory. The United States thinks the Council is ready to proceed. We're ready to proceed; we're ready to move expeditiously. And what comes after that is largely in Iran's hands.

REPORTER: (inaudible) is that the kind of sanctions you're looking at?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: We've been looking at targeted sanctions. We've talked about that before, restricting individuals, restricting trade in dual use and other sensitive items. There are a variety of other items that could be undertaken within or without the Security Council. But I think at this point speculating about that obscures the central point that I think today's report emphasizes, which is that even after 30 days, a 30 day grace period, the government of Iran is still pursuing uranium enrichment on behalf of their nuclear weapons program. That's the takeaway we have. Thank you very much.

Released on April 28, 2006

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