- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2006

U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton yesterday told Congress that timely reform of the world body is necessary if sanctions against Iran and Sudan are to work better than they did in Iraq.

Mr. Bolton acknowledged that developing nations on Friday defeated an ambitious reform package by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that would have allowed the organization to respond more efficiently and effectively to the demands placed on it.

“It would be one thing if we had encountered indifference or a blase attitude on the part of some member states. This is not the case. What we have encountered is outright intransigence and a large bloc of member states making it clear that they are prepared to fight tooth and nail to block the reform agenda we and many others feel is so important,” he said.

The United Nations is preparing to assume the African Union’s peacekeeping role in Darfur and to respond to Iran’s defiance of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency’s demand that it halt uranium enrichment efforts.

“We start from the proposition that [President Bush’s] efforts at reform at the U.N. are designed to fundamentally change the way the organization operates, to make it possible for the United States and other governments to entrust the United Nations with important responsibilities in international affairs,” Mr. Bolton said yesterday morning.

“It may well be necessary for the U.N. to administer a program, a complex program of sanctions and humanitarian assistance” in Darfur, he added.

“We need an effectively functioning U.N. We need a U.N. that can handle major sanctions programs. We need a U.N. that can carry out relief and development. That’s why the president has laid the emphasis that he has on reforms, so that this question of sanctions and the question of the oil-for-food program are very much on the table right now. And it’s important we understand the implications of the oil-for-food program scandal and what that means for the future.”

Mr. Bolton also said that if the politically divided Security Council cannot agree on censuring Iran for its pursuit of enriched uranium, then the United States could seek to build support for a sanctions regime from Europeans and other allies.

“If for whatever reason the council couldn’t fulfill its responsibilities, then I think it would be incumbent on us, and I’m sure we would press ahead to ask other countries or other groups of countries to impose those sanctions,” he said.

Members of the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, emerging threats and international relations expressed concern that the Bush administration’s now-discredited presentation about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction would make it much more difficult to win support for actions against Iran.

“I would submit to you, Mr. Ambassador, that one of the reasons it’s very difficult for us now to get the support of those countries in the Security Council is their fear that we will later use that Security Council resolution as a justification to use military force, perhaps unilaterally,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat.

Democratic lawmakers peppered Mr. Bolton with questions about his responsibility for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s 2003 presentation before the United Nations and his hand in advancing the Niger yellowcake theory.

Mr. Bolton, the former undersecretary of state for disarmament and nonproliferation affairs, declined to answer questions about whether U.S. troops are in Iran, or whether the administration is angling another unilateral invasion. He also said he did not have time to read “fiction,” such as the articles that say military action is already in the works.

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