US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton spoke at a media breakfast at the offices of Americans for Tax Reform November 13.
Bolton answered a range of questions concerning Iraq, Iran, prospects of reform at the UN, and nuclear proliferation.
Concerning nuclear proliferation to rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran, Bolton cautioned that time was running out and said, “time is on the side of the proliferators.”
The present set of incentives offered to North Korea to give up their nuclear ambitions by the Bush administration look a lot like the incentives given by the Clinton administration, which produced no results except to supply the North Koreans with material help and legitimacy in the eyes of the world, Bolton said.
Concerning Iran, the United States has largely stood aside while the EU offers incentive packages with the same lack of results. Bolton said that the criminal regimes of North Korea and Iran had been offered plenty of carrots, but no meaningful penalties for non-compliance with demands that they give up their quest to acquire nuclear weapons. Paraphrasing Teddy Roosevelt, Bolton said the motto of the negotiators seems to be, “Speak softly and carry a big carrot.”
Asked about the possibility of a “no-name nuke” falling into the hands of terrorists who would use it against the US, Bolton said that the possibility is very real: Iran is the international finance house of terrorism, North Korea is a criminal regime that will sell anything to anybody for hard cash, and nuclear Pakistan may fall into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists.
Bolton said that the only defense is prevention, keeping criminal regimes from getting nuclear weapons in the first place, and that that means adopting a policy of pre-emption. Unfortunately he said, not even all Republicans are on board with that and the Bush administration has shown signs of wavering lately.
Asked about preventive measures, Bolton outlined a series of options including: bombing the Iranian nuclear facilities, invasion, and regime change.
Bolton said that regime change was the long-term solution, citing the example of South Africa which gave up its nuclear weapons program after the fall of the apartheid regime and the establishment of democracy. He stressed that regime change by military action should be the very last resort, but that if we continue to delay taking meaningful action, we may be approaching that final resort quicker than we like.