Sunday, June 11, 2006

John Bolton: Regime change could remove Iran's nuclear threat

Financial Times: Time is running out for the diplomatic effort to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme and Washington has no intention of striking a comprehensive "grand bargain" with Tehran, the US's ambassador to the United Nations has warned. Speaking to the Financial Times, John Bolton made clear many of his reservations about the current outreach to Iran, which Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, has persuaded President George W. Bush to endorse. Referring to a report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog that Iran has stepped up uranium enrichment - a process that can create both nuclear fueland weapons grade material - Mr Bolton said: "They've got both feet on the accelerator, which is why we have a sense of urgency that these diplomatic efforts can't continue indefinitely . . . Each day that goes by gives Iran more time to continue to perfect its efforts for mass production."

He said US security guarantees for Iran were "not on the table", and argued instead that regime change could remove a nuclear threat: "Our experience has been that when there is a dramatic change in the life of a country, that's the most likely point at which they give up nuclear weapons." He added: "I think there will certainly be discussion of the question at the G8 summit" on July 15-17, by which time he said Iran had to make its response to the offer known.

"Some people thought for three years they [Iran] wanted to do a deal and there's no deal out there, at least no deal that they've adhered to," he said. "Maybe the deal that they want is the best of both worlds." Mr Bolton also voiced doubts International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors would be able to prove Iran's programme was purely peaceful and said sanctions against Iran if it declined the offer were "a step in the process".