Sunday, November 16, 2008

John Bolton and Iran’s Development of Nuclear Weapons*


Prof. Paul Eidelberg

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is a man of superlative intellect, political integrity and moral clarity. Germany’s President Angela Merkel told President George W. Bush, “I like your ambassador to the UN more than I like mine…. I understand [him] much better than my own. I’ve been thinking about having your ambassador represent Germany.”

What follows is based very much on Chapter 12 of Bolton’s book Surrender is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad (2007). The chapter is entitled “Iran in the Security Council: The EU-3 Finds New Ways to Give In.” EU-3 stands for Britain, France, and Germany—three members of the European Union. Despite Bolton’s heroic efforts, the EU-3 failed to obtain Security Council resolutions calling for serious sanctions against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, a program that violated the International Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Unfortunately, Bolton was encumbered by Colin Powell, secretary of state during George W. Bush’s first term, and Condoleezza Rice, who succeeded Powell during Bush’s second term. Neither of these secretaries of state possessed an adequate understanding of Iran. Iran is the key player of the “axis of evil.” Iranian control of the oil flowing through the Persian Gulf would make it a superpower if this nation of 70 million people produced nuclear weapons. Imagine how Islamism would skyrocket throughout the world if Iran obtained, through its proxies, control of Jerusalem.

So Bolton provides the following head note of Chapter 12—a quote from—Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said on October 26, 2005:

Our dear imam [Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] ordered that the occupying regime in Jerusalem be wiped off the face of the earth.

This was a very wise statement.

Following Bush’s November 2 victory in the 2004 presidential election, the EU-3 presented a proposal to Iran hoping to obtain Iran’s critical threshold decision to suspend all enrichment of uranium and reprocessing activities involved in producing nuclear weapons.

On November 15, Colin Powell announced he was resigning as secretary of state at the end of Bush’s first term. During a trip to Brazil, however, Powell decided to talk to the Press “about Iran’s efforts to weaponize their nuclear capability and to fit it into warheads …” Powell is reported to have said: “I have seen some information that would suggest they have been actively working on delivery systems … We are talking about information that says [Iran] not only has missiles, but information that suggests they are working hard about how to put the two together.”

“By late December [while carrot trucks were rolling into Tehran] the press reported that Iran continued conversion work at Esfahan.” “Rice started off her tenure as secretary of state [in late January 2004] following a tough line on Iran. By late February, however, she began to wobble.” Fruitless negotiations with Iran inevitably followed. Islamic regimes respect strength, decisiveness, constancy, and despise their opposites.

On October 26, Ahmadinejad reminded the United States exactly what the problem was by saying Israel should be ‘wiped off the map.’” The “problem,” as Bolton clearly saw, was that Tehran was committed to Israel’s annihilation, and this alone made negotiations to curtail Iran’s development of nuclear weapons fruitless.

“On January 10, 2006, the Iranians reverted to form by breaking the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] seals at the Natanz enrichment facility …” Thus, after more than two years of talks with Tehran we had nothing to show for it. “The New York Times called it ‘the climax of a two-and-one-half year campaign by the Bush Administration,’ which ‘also signals the failure … of the two-and-a-half strategy of France, Britain and Germany that was based on the premise that Iran could be coaxed into, giving up its nuclear program.”

Various “carrots and sticks” drafts were drawn up—but none got very far. A New York Times story quoted a former Iranian negotiator Hassan Rouhani:

In a remarkable admission, Mr. Rowhani [sic] suggested … that Iran had used the negotiations with the Europeans to dupe them…. “While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the facility in Isfahan, but we still had a long way to go to complete the project … In fact, by creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work at Isfahan.”

In April 2006, IAEA reported that Iran had enriched uranium to reactor-grade levels. Bolton was so disgusted with the state department’s soft approach that he seriously thought of resigning as the UN ambassador. He writes: “If there were only one phrase I could ban from State’s lexicon, it would be ‘carrots and sticks.’ which is too often a substitute for strategic thinking.” The sticks, never implemented, would have suspended international credit as well as air travel for top Iranians. The standing joke was the motto, “speak softly and carry a big carrot.”

For Bolton, the worst news came on May 30, 2006, when he “learned of the decision that the United States would actually join in direct talks, along with the EU-3, Russia, and China, if Iran were to agree to suspend enrichment.” This display of weakness revolted Bolton.

It was clear to him that Iran was not about to suspend its enrichment activities. Ayatollah Ali Khamenie, Iran’s real el Supremo … said publicly that Iran had no intention of giving up its nuclear program, and Iran denied IAEA inspectors access to the large underground facilities at Natanz, where industrial-scope enrichment could take place.” Condoleezza Rice just wouldn’t look at the reality—the reality of Iran, the reality her president included in the “axis of evil.”

“Ahmadinejad announced on November 14, 2006, that Iran was planning to install sixty thousand centrifuges at Natanz, and that the world was prepared to accept Iran as a nuclear power.”

Bolton concludes:

The entire EU-3 effort was premised on the view that they could handle an ‘axis of evil’ member better than we had handled Iraq. , and that Iran could be talked out of pursuing nuclear weapons. Our support for the EU-3 [hence, for multilateralism] thus perversely enable their [effete] efforts to make us look bad, with the far more dangerous consequence that Iran gained almost four years of additional time to [perfect an indigenous capacity throughout the entire nuclear fuel cycle, leaving us all in a far more vulnerable position than when we started. During 2007, Iran continued its inexorable process of perfecting all of the requisite technologies, toying with the IAEA and its inspectors and the EU-3, despite more Security Council resolutions and more negotiation efforts by the EU-3. Israel’s ambassador Dan Gillerman once described the state of play quite well in a speech to the Security Council, saying that Ahmadinejad was denying the existence of the Holocaust, even while “preparing the next one.” The fact that Iran will never voluntarily give up its nuclear program, and a policy based on the contrary assumption is not just delusional but dangerous. This is the road to the Nuclear Holocaust.”

This seems to be beyond the comprehension of president-elect Barack Obama, who deems it arrogant to refrain from negotiating with evil—with an enemy that proclaims “death to America” and “death to Israel.”

But such maledictions have long been broadcast by the PLO-Palestinian Authority, under Yasser Arafat as well as Mahmoud Abbas. Yet, Israeli prime ministers—Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Ehud Olmert have engaged in negotiations with what upright people—people who have not been corrupted by politics—can only be called evil.

Has diplomatic relations with the PLO brought Israel any good? But then, what can Israel’s next prime minister say if the U.S. establishes diplomatic relations with Iran?
*Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, November 17, 2008.

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