Military

Syria, Iran Must Stop Arming Hezbollah, U.S. Says

22 August 2006

A re-armed Hezbollah could cause renewed suffering, Ambassador Bolton warns

United Nations -- Deeply concerned about the fragile peace in Lebanon, the United States has called on Syria and Iran to cut Hezbollah's weapons supply.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said August 22 that in order to have peace in Lebanon, Hezbollah must stop operating as a state within a state, which is now made possible by support from Syria and Iran.  The Security Council must address the situation, he said, or face renewed fighting in the region.

The backing by Damascus and Tehran of Hezbollah "in the form of financing, training, and supply of armaments does not just perpetuate this crisis -- it sustains it.  Cutting off these supply lines, as mandated in [Resolution] 1701, is a matter that can no longer be ignored," Bolton said during a Security Council debate on the Middle East.

"The United States calls upon Iran and Syria to comply immediately with Resolution 1701," the ambassador said.

Resolution 1701, which was passed by the Security Council on August 11, established the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah, expanded the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese army in gaining control of southern Lebanon and imposed a total arms embargo on all weapons going into Lebanon except those for use by the government of Lebanon.  (See related article.)

Bolton warned that it is both "impossible and dangerous" to attempt to address the causes of the recent fighting without dealing with Hezbollah's arms suppliers.

"If the international community applies only a temporary band-aid solution to the problem and allows Hezbollah to regroup and re-arm, then the suffering of the people of Lebanon and Israel may very well intensify in the near future," he said.

Bolton said that the United States is concerned with the attitude of Syria and Iran in this crisis, "states whose leaders have both respectively called for the destruction of Israel in recent days."

Bolton stated that Israel's one military operation since implementation of the cease-fire was directed at arms shipments in the Bekaa Valley headed for Hezbollah from Iran and Syria.  Such arms shipments are prohibited by the embargo established under Resolution 1701.

"All states must comply with their obligation to observe this embargo, which, if not strictly observed, will significantly enhance the risk of further hostilities.  This burden of abiding by the arms embargo, and the world's attention, falls especially on Syria and Iran," the ambassador said.

During his August 21 press conference President Bush said that the United States is considering a new U.N. resolution on UNIFIL's mandate that could include disarming Hezbollah, an issue that was not specifically addressed in Resolution 1701.  (See related article.)

Resolution 1701 specifically says that the council would consider changes and enhancements to an expanded UNIFIL, Bolton said August 21.  "So the question of dealing with Hezbollah -- or whether they deal with themselves by becoming a real political party instead of a terrorist group -- is obviously on the agenda."

For further information, see Middle East and North Africa.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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