- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 19, 2006


Iran could defuse international concerns over its nuclear program by following the example of Libya, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said in an interview published yesterday.

Libya renounced its weapons of mass destruction programs in 2004, thawing Washington-Tripoli ties after 24 years of isolation and sanctions.

Asked whether the dispute over Iran’s nuclear ambitions could be resolved through diplomacy, John R. Bolton told Time magazine: “Sure. I never would have guessed that Libya was prepared to make the calculation that they were safer giving up the pursuit of nuclear weapons than continuing to go after them, and yet they did” give them up.

“And that led to substantial progress in the relationship between Libya and the United States. If Libya can do it, Iran can do it too.”

Mr. Bolton added: “That’s why I say the decision ultimately is largely in their hands.”

The board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations, has reported Iran to the Security Council over its nuclear program, a step that Washington had long sought.

Tehran insists its nuclear research is designed solely to generate electricity, but Western governments suspect the oil-rich nation is secretly seeking to build atomic weapons.

Iran has resumed small-scale uranium enrichment and refused international demands to suspend all enrichment activities.

Mr. Bolton, known for his blunt manner of speaking, said Iran will face greater international pressure if it failed to change its stance.

“The administration has believed for over three years that the Iranian nuclear weapons program should have been referred to the Security Council because the program constitutes a threat to international peace and security,” Mr. Bolton said.

“And now that it’s [at the U.N. headquarters] in New York, we have the ability and we should — if the Iranians don’t change their policy — increase the pressure on them to give up the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

Mr. Bolton also was asked about the humanitarian crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Although acknowledging the situation constituted “genocide,” he expressed caution about any U.S. military action.

“You could end up with a lot of dead military people and not save a single civilian. I don’t think that’s a sign of success,” Mr. Bolton said.

On Friday, President Bush called for increasing the number of peacekeeping troops in Darfur, with a greater role for NATO.

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