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Remarks on Iran, North Korea, and the Middle East

Ambassador John R. Bolton, , U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks at a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
July 12, 2006

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Okay let me just take a minute at the beginning. On the subject of Iran, I think you're all aware of the statement made by the Perm Five foreign ministers, Perm Five plus Germany, in Paris. Obviously we will be consulting here beginning this afternoon to carry out the direction that the foreign ministers have given us because of the disappointing and inadequate response from the government of Iran. The first step will be to make mandatory the suspension of uranium enrichment activities. And as I say we'll be consulting as to how to pick back up where we left off essentially at the end of May. So that's basically all I can say at the moment although we hope to move as quickly as possible, possibly within the next few days, but I think realistically, early next week. We hope to do that fairly expeditiously since the foreign ministers have issued their statement.

REPORTER: On Gaza, where do you stand on?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Before we go to Gaza is there anything else on Iran?

REPORTER: Do you have any text yet on Iran?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: No.

REPORTER: In the statement, particularly the two paragraphs that refer to the agreement of the P-5 + Germany on a mandatory resolution referenced in the second paragraph referencing Article 41, do you see in those two paragraphs a real move and significant moves on the part of China and Russia on the position they held on this whole, sort of the incentive package was presented and where you left off here?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think that when the foreign ministers met in Berlin on the first of June that they closed some of the differences that existed, that we had found in negotiations here in New York. And that's one reason why the foreign ministers' meeting was significant. It was that meeting, of course, that agreed on presenting Iran with a very stark choice. Down one path, they could proceed and have a different relationship with the United States and others, if they chose to suspend their uranium enrichment activities. Down the other path, lay increasing international isolation and increased economic and political pressure from the Security Council and elsewhere. They have, the Iranians have effectively chosen the second path, so I think in that sense the foreign ministers laid the groundwork at their June meeting, and this is now reflected in their statement, and I hope will be reflected here in New York in quick action on that subject.

REPORTER: Ambassador, what's the nature of the consultations this afternoon? Is it P-5 and also you said you expected something early next week but I wasn't sure weather you meant negotiations or a vote early next week?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, we would hope to be able to move to a decision on the resolution early next week. We need to get together and review the specifics of what the ministers have agreed to, but certainly I think they've given a very clear direction and I would hope we could move expeditiously. We do think that we should try to resolve the North Korea question first because of the imminence of the problem caused by the North Korean missile launches. So we'll be talking this afternoon both about Iran and N. Korea, and of course the Middle East situation as well.

REPORTER: On North Korea, you wanted a response in the beginning, a decisive, unified, swift response. It hasn't been decisive, not unified and certainly not swift. How long are you willing to wait? I understand you're waiting for a response.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Are you a critic of the United Nations?

REPORTER: How long are you willing to wait before you present?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think that we've made progress. I'd like to sound optimistic in the sense that China and Russia started from the position that they wanted to repeat the 1998 response to North Korea, which was a press statement, which we found weak and inadequate. They've since moved to a Presidential Statement and now today they've concluded that they're prepared to negotiate on the text of a resolution. We would like to move quickly, as I say, we would be looking to try to reach a decision within a couple of days, but I would just mention again, as I did the other day, it took the Security Council two weeks to respond to the Taepodong 1 launch, so I think we've made-we've closed the gap. The Russians and the Chinese moved a far piece, not quite enough, but we're going to continue to work on it. Linda.

REPORTER: Ambassador, regarding Iran, you said that the first step was to make it mandatory that Iran should stop enriching uranium but do you expect that in this upcoming resolution that would be the single demand without a threat of sanctions?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: No, I think we would make it clear, and this is what we need to go through the consultation process about, that Iran has a limited fixed period of time to do that based on what the ministers have agreed. And then I think the next step if they fail to comply would be to go to economic sanctions, no question about that.

REPORTER: Can you tell us what are the elements of resolution on Iran that you would like to see?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, we were working on it at the end of May. And I think we'll return to it in some form. Obviously the circumstances have changed somewhat, but along the lines of what the ministers indicated what I've said based on what we were looking at then.

REPORTER: Could you tell us what they are though?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: To make the requirement that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment activities mandatory.

REPORTER: And on the Middle East if the current resolution is put to a vote tomorrow as the Qataris have said what will be the American position? Will there be a veto?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, like any prudent ambassador in New York I've requested instructions from Washington. And when I get those instructions I will implement them tomorrow. But it certainly remains our position that there is no need for this resolution and we've expressed that, we've expressed that publicly and we've said so in the negotiations.

REPORTER: What's your response then to the Secretary General's apparent impatience that the Council has yet to take a stand?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: What did he say?

REPORTER: Well, he said it was time for the Council to take a position on this issue and in your highly respected personal opinion what would you think of the resolution now before the Council? You've asked for instructions but clearly you must have your own views on it.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I certainly do which is why I have asked for instructions to make sure that I carry out the policy of the United States Government. No, I will not because I'm waiting for instructions and you'll see them tomorrow if the Qataris put it to a vote. This is after all an issue for member governments to decide and if the sponsors push ahead tomorrow then the Council will take a vote and we'll see what happens. I just have time for one or two more. I want to get somebody who hasn't asked a question yet.

REPORTER: How has the North Korea issue, the splits that you've seen over North Korea, how does that complicate getting back to Iran picking up on a subject that you had splits on before? And then separately, but also linked, do you see that one nation is taking cues from the other on how it moves forward?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think both the question of how the Council handles North Korea and the question of how the Council handles Iran constitute important tests for the Council. And it constitutes another test to see if the Council can do two things simultaneously or in fact given the Middle East situation, three things simultaneously. And I don't know the outcome of that, but I do think that one cannot deny in the case of Iran and North Korea that they are certainly watching each other and they are watching how the Security Council performs. The reason this is an important test of the Security Council is to see whether the Council can handle the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This is not an abstract question, can the Council pass a Resolution about why WMD proliferation is a threat to international peace and security. This is a question of whether the Security Council can handle two concrete cases. Two cases of rogue states that are seeking nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development capabilities that threaten peace and security in their region and peace and security on a worldwide basis. During the Cold War, the Council was basically sidelined. The question now in looking at the threats we confront is whether the Council can act effectively or whether member governments will have to take major responsibility for the protection of their innocent civilian populations outside of the Council.

REPORTER: Does the U.S. support Israeli operations in southern Lebanon?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think that Secretary Rice has made clear that the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers is an act of terrorism. It was an act committed across an international border. Israel clearly has the right to act in self-defense and that appears to be what they are carrying out at the present time. Okay, thank you very much.


Released on July 12, 2006

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