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Remarks on Resignation of Capital Master Plan (CMP) Chief Fritz Reuter, Iran, and Lebanon

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks at a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
May 4, 2006

REPORTER: (inaudible)

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, we are disappointed that he's resigning at this particularly critical time. Of course, the Capital Master Plan has been underway in a sense since 1995. It is a long and complicated process; and we support the plans, we support the idea of the renovations of the building. And we are disappointed that Mr. Reuter has resigned at this critical point. We have heard he has moved on to a very lucrative, or will be moving on to a very lucrative possibility in the private sector, which is certainly something I can understand. But we are disappointed and we will just try and proceed from here.

REPORTER: Is there a perception that the UN, given the difficulties in the Fifth Committee, has trouble holding on to real talent in a case like that? I mean, a very sought after man in the private sector you can't hold on to him at the UN.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I don't doubt there were a lot of frustrations dealing here at the UN, dealing with the 191 member governments, and the decision making process, and the financial differences between the private sector and life in the government or international organizations are evident for everybody to see. So, but from that perspective, we're going to continue to work with the other governments and try and make the next critical decisions here.

REPORTER: Is it time for you to put your talents to something more lucrative?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: No, but when I heard of Mr. Reuter's departure the thought lofted across my mind, I have to say that's probably right.

REPORTER: (inaudible) the U.S. strategy with trying to get the Russians on board with the Iran resolution (inaudible) the Vice President made some very critical comments about Moscow today, and I wondered how that would make the Russians any more amenable to going along with you.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I support the Vice President's comments. And you know the issue here -- the critical issue here is whether Russia and China will accept a resolution under Chapter VII that determines that Iran's nuclear program amounts to a threat to international peace and security. And that it decides in a binding fashion under Chapter VII that Iran has to give up its uranium enrichment, plutonium reprocessing, and heavy water construction activities. If the Russians and the Chinese are prepared to do that then I think there are a lot of possibilities with respect to the resolution itself. We'll have a Perm 5 meeting later today, I'm sure we will be discussing that. I think the fact is, as President Bush said yesterday, all five permanent members are agreed completely on their opposition to Iran achieving nuclear weapons capability. How it goes here, I don't know, we just presented the draft yesterday morning. And I'm sure the Russian delegation went back to Moscow for comments and we'll know later today when we have the Perm 5 meeting what their reaction is.

REPORTER: Does the U.S. feel that Iran is a threat in the region?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Iran is a threat in the region. Iran is a threat to international peace and security worldwide. Not only because of their efforts to acquire longer range and more accurate ballistic missiles, but also because of their consistent financial and other support for Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian and Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups.

REPORTER: That is what the U.S. says to support but there are others in the region that also have the nuclear bomb, why is it important that Iran have to give them up?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, our position in the United States for many years has consistently been that we want a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction and that remains our position.

REPORTER: Does that include Israel?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: That includes all countries in the region. The particular threat posed by Iran at the moment is that it is seeking a violation of its solemn treaty obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to violate that treaty and acquire nuclear weapons.

REPORTER: What will happen if you don't have Russia and China on your side?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: The options are three. They can support us, which is what we hope and what we are going to work for when we sit down in the Perm 5 meetings today and later in the week. They can veto or they can abstain. And if they abstain and there is otherwise a nine-vote majority, then they are acquiescing in the resolution being adopted.

REPORTER: Do you still hope to get it by Monday?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Still hope to get it just as soon as we can.

REPORTER: But before the meeting of the Foreign Ministers?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think that would permit the Ministers to talk about the larger questions. And we are going to try and do it. Whether we are able to or not depends on the reactions of others, which we haven't yet heard. But as I say, we're going to be meeting later today and we'll see what we come up with.

REPORTER: Madeleine Albright says that we need to have a diplomatic way on Iran. We need to make sure that it is not going to go the same way as Iraq. Do you support that?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: The objective we have been seeking, the President's policy, is a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to the problem. And Iran can accomplish that by giving up the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

REPORTER: On a different subject if I may, you said that the U.S. not standing for the Human Rights Council this year would actually give it more leverage in influence. Can you give me a sense what the U.S. is doing now, ahead of the elections, to encourage certain countries to sway others?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, we have had extensive consultations here in New York with the various candidates from the several regional groups who are seeking election to the Human Rights Council. We have demarched in capitals; our embassies have gone in to try to emphasize the importance of getting the best qualified country candidates to be elected. And that work has been intensifying obviously as we've come closer to May 9. So we have been very active both here, Washington, and capitals all around the world.

REPORTER: Just a follow up from that. It seems almost inevitable, according to most analysts, that Cuba, for example will get a seat. Will that be a blow to this next Council?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: You know, there is a lot of speculation about who's going to get elected and who's not. I'd really rather wait until we see the outcome of the elections on May 9, 10, or 11 or whenever the elections are finally concluded. That's one piece of information we don't really have pinned down yet. But I will certainly comment on the composition but I'd rather wait and do it after the elections are concluded.

REPORTER: Ambassador, the resolution said that Iran is threat to peace and security, how come it did not specify specific threats by Iran?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think if you read preambular paragraph 7 carefully, which I would be happy to do with appropriate emphasis. It says, "Concerned by the proliferation risks presented by the Iranian nuclear program, mindful of the threat to international peace and security, and it's responsibilities in this regard." That is a clear statement that it is the program that's the threat to international peace and security. So I think it is a clear albeit in UN language.

REPORTER: (inaudible) but it didn't mention specific threats that Iran made?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Not to specific nations or interests. But I think the pattern of UN Security Council resolutions in the past has been that it makes the broad statement about a threat to international peace and security then says, acting under Chapter VII, decides A, B, and C. And that's exactly the pattern that this resolution follows.

REPORTER: Some of the non-permanent members seem to have a problem with the reference to further measures, would you be prepared to drop that and talk about sanctions in a separate resolution?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, you know, there's no automaticity in this resolution. But I think it's fair to say that this is something that we've contemplated, we've discussed. We've made clear what's going to happen. And the real issue is what Iran does in response -- whether it stops its 20-year clandestine effort to acquire nuclear weapons or whether it persists because the answer here really lies with Iran. And so we, when the resolution is adopted, which we hope will be in the near future, then we'll wait for the Iranian reaction and decide what the next steps are.

REPORTER: Ambassador, forgive me, what grounds do you have for believing the Iranians will change their behavior at this stage?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I have no grounds for thinking that.

REPORTER: (inaudible) why push forward with a resolution then?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: To make it absolutely clear to everyone that we are pursuing a peaceful and diplomatic solution to this, to give Iran yet another chance to reconsider its ill-advised course of conduct.

REPORTER: Have the P5 ambassadors been charged by their respective foreign ministers to conclude negotiations by Monday so that they can focus on other matters, the road ahead?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I would say there's an aspiration to that end, yes, which we're attempting to pursue.

REPORTER: Is it realistic though?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: It's always realistic, whether or not it's doable is a different question.

REPORTER: Mr. Ambassador, Secretary Rice will be here on Monday and she will discuss Iran and also issues on Lebanon. Can we have something on this discussion?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Yes, well, we are continuing very actively discussions about the text of a resolution in light of the Secretary General's most recent report and Terje Roed-Larsen's briefing of the Security Council. I think we're very close to the point of reaching agreement with a number of potential co-sponsors to introduce that resolution. And that is another one we would like to see adopted just as soon as possible within a matter of days I would hope, but hard to predict. It remains a very high priority even despite this other work on Iran and Sudan, which we're also undertaking.

REPORTER: Just to follow up on that, do you have an agreement yet on whether or not you're going to be mentioning (inaudible) in the draft resolution on Lebanon?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, there are still a number of issues we're in consultation with other countries about. And I think, well, of course, the significance of both Iran and Hezbollah is this time Iran is named specifically by the Secretary General and I think that was a major step forward in his reporting. Hezbollah has been the subject of a number of references in this and prior reports by the Secretary General, but how exactly that factors into the resolution we're still discussing.

REPORTER: Is there an agreement amongst the three on mentioning Hezbollah or not yet?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: We're still discussing a number of issues and that's included.

REPORTER: What about China and Russia? ave you talked to them about it -- the question of Hezbollah?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: We've had discussions with them and we're going to continue as we have discussions on all these other things.

REPORTER: (inaudible)

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think what we're going to try and do is reach agreement among the co-sponsors on the resolution and if we can accommodate their concerns and get a unanimous text, we'd certainly like to do that -- work to that end. But you don't need a unanimous text to have it adopted. 1559 of course was itself not a unanimous text.

REPORTER: When are you going to take up next the issue of the draft resolution? Is it waiting until you agree or disagree on the Iran resolution? What is the relationship between the two?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: We have a number of issues we're still trying to work out among the likely co-sponsors. And as I said a moment ago it's a very high priority. We'd like to do it within the next couple of days, but we're having something of a traffic jam here and I've got to try and sort that out. That's one of the things I do when I'm not talking to you ladies and gentlemen. Okay, all right? See you later.

Released on May 4, 2006

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