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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Washington File

16 April 2003

Transcript: State's Bolton Says Iraq a Lesson for Syria, Libya, Iran

(Radio Sawa Interview with Under Secretary John Bolton) (1890)
"The United States is very concerned that states seeking to acquire
weapons of mass destruction give up that quest, and that they live
within the commitments that they've made in such things as the nuclear
non-proliferation treaty, the chemical weapons convention, and the
biological weapons convention," said the State Department's John
Bolton in an interview with Radio Sawa.
Bolton, the under secretary of state for arms control and
international security affairs, said the United States intends to
exert "a maximum diplomatic effort" to persuade "states like Syria,
Libya and Iran among others to give up their pursuit of nuclear,
chemical, and biological weapons and long range ballistic missile
delivery systems."
The elimination of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq holds a lesson, he
said: "We are hoping that the elimination of the dictatorial regime of
Saddam Hussein and the elimination of all of Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction would be important lessons to other countries in the
region, particularly Syria, Libya and Iran, that the cost of their
pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is potentially quite high."
"We want a peaceful resolution to all of these issues," he added, "but
the determination of the United States, especially after September 11,
to keep these incredibly dangerous weapons out of the hands of very
dangerous people should not be underestimated."
He said that among the countries "that are closest to acquiring or
actually have nuclear weapons, clearly North Korea and Iran are the
two highest on our list."
Asked where Iran's nuclear program stands, Bolton replied that
international observers from the International Atomic Energy Agency
"who saw just a small part of the Iranian program were impressed and
surprised at how sophisticated and advanced it is, which shows that
the Iranian nuclear weapons effort is really very very far along."
He said the United States has "pressed the Russians for some time to
end all of the assistance that's been going to the clandestine Iranian
nuclear weapons program."
Bolton said Libya is "pursuing chemical, biological, and nuclear
weapons and ballistic missile systems that would make it still a grave
threat to its neighbors both in North Africa and across the
Mediterranean Sea, and indeed worldwide possibly."
Asked to respond to suggestions that there be a nuclear-free zone in
the Middle East, Bolton said "the question of how to get to a state
where there are no nuclear weapons is obviously something that's
complex, and that we are pursuing. We adhere to the non-proliferation
treaty which has only five legitimate nuclear weapons states, and that
remains our position."
Following is the State Department transcript of the interview:
(begin transcript)
Department of State
Washington, D.C.
April 5, 2003
RADIO SAWA INTERVIEW WITH JOHN BOLTON, UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR
ARMS CONTROL AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS
Sawa-1: Please can you outline the non-proliferation policy of the
United States in the Middle East after disarming Iraq?
Bolton: The United States is very concerned that states seeking to
acquire weapons of mass destruction give up that quest, and that they
live within the commitments that they've made in such things such as
the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the chemical weapons convention,
and the biological weapons convention. So we are hoping that the
example of Iraq divested of its weapons of mass destruction would be
persuasive to a number of other states in the Middle East, and we
certainly intend to exert a maximum diplomatic effort to persuade
other states like Syria, Libya and Iran among others to give up their
pursuit of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and long range
ballistic missile delivery systems.
Sawa-2: Do you have any concern that Iraqi scientists, know- how and
production materials would pass along to neighboring countries?
Bolton: I think there is a risk from a variety of programs, Iraq being
one, that the intellectual capital that scientists and others have
developed would find its way to other rogue regimes and that's
something that we're very concerned about in the period immediately
after hostilities in Iraq end. It's something that we and other
coalition partners have already been thinking about and working about
to try to minimize that outcome.
Sawa-3: What countries after Iraq pose the greatest threat in terms of
weapons of mass destruction?
Bolton: In terms of countries that are closest to acquiring or
actually have nuclear weapons, clearly North Korea and Iran are the
two highest on our list. They're in two different parts of the world
and they're at different stages in their nuclear weapons program. But
there's no doubt that in the aftermath of the Iraq conflict that Iran
and North Korea will be on the top of our list of priorities. But
there are other countries that already have substantial chemical and
biological weapons capabilities that also worry us greatly.
Sawa-4: What message does the Iraqi operation send to such countries?
Bolton: I think it sends a message that when the President of the
United States says that all options are open in his determination to
rid countries of weapons of mass destruction, that he is serious about
it. And no one wants to repeat what has happened in Iraq, and we are
hoping that the elimination of the dictatorial regime of Saddam
Hussein and the elimination of all of Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction would be important lessons to other countries in the
region particularly Syria, Libya and Iran, that the cost of their
pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is potentially quite high. We
want a peaceful resolution to all of these issues, but the
determination of the United States, especially after September 11, to
keep these incredibly dangerous weapons out of the hands of very
dangerous people should not be underestimated.
Sawa-5: Can you sense any change in Libya's attempt to get WMD since
the international community has gone its way and suspended sanctions?
Bolton: Our evidence is very convincing that since the Security
Council suspended sanctions because of Pan Am 103, that the government
of Libya has substantially increased its efforts to acquire weapons of
mass destruction, so that at the very time the government of Libya has
been seeking to put the terrorist destruction of Pan Am 103 behind it,
it's nonetheless pursuing chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons
and ballistic missile systems that would make it still a grave threat
to its neighbors both in North Africa and across the Mediterranean
Sea, and indeed worldwide possibly. So this remains something,
whatever the outcome, which we hope will evolve in the Pan Am 103
matter. Libya's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is still very,
very troubling to the United States.
Sawa-6: Do you believe that Libya is well on its way to have a nuclear
bomb?
Bolton: Well, I don't want to get into the specifics, but we do know
that there is no question but since the suspension of the UN
sanctions, that Libya's procurement activities and a lot of its
activities in the nuclear program have been increased.
Sawa-7: Where does Iran's nuclear program stand?
Bolton: Well, in the wake of the visit recently of the Director
General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, we now know in a
public way that Iran has a very sophisticated nuclear fuel cycle
program. They've got the capacity to enrich uranium up to weapons
grade levels and a whole range of other activities in the nuclear fuel
cycle that could give them fusion materials to build nuclear weapons
in a very short period of time. I think that the outside observers who
saw just a small part of the Iranian program were impressed and
surprised at how sophisticated and advanced it is, which shows that
the Iranian nuclear weapons effort is really very, very far along.
Sawa-8: What are we asking Russia now to do regarding Iran and its
nuclear program?
Bolton: Well, we have pressed the Russians for some time to end all of
the assistance that's been going to the clandestine Iranian nuclear
weapons program, and the recent revelations about Iran combined with
North Korea's withdrawal from the non-proliferation treaty show how
easy it is to get around the international non-proliferation regime.
So we have asked Russia to consider not delivering fuel to the Bushehr
reactor until Iran has verifiably given up its pursuit of nuclear
weapons. We think that when a country is so obviously pursuing nuclear
weapons that peaceful nuclear cooperation that otherwise would be
unexceptional is something that really should not go forward.
Sawa-9: Has the United Nations been effective on the issue of
non-proliferation of WMD?
Bolton: Well, I think the answer is that over the years countries have
been willing to sign non-proliferation agreements and arms control
treaties and then violate them; and that is the sort of non-compliance
that has troubled us very greatly and that we've raised in a number of
international forums. I think there's a heavy burden on the United
Nations to show that it can be effective in this area and to show that
statements, documents, declarations, resolutions and treaties that
come out of the UN system in fact are observed by everybody who signs
up to them. If they're not, then obviously the entire UN system will
be less effective.
Sawa-10: Can you assess the work of Mohamed AlBaradei, director of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)?
Bolton: Well, we support the Director General and his work. The IAEA
is a very important international agency. It has a very important
mandate. We support it with our assessed contributions and substantial
voluntary financial contributions as well, and we want to make it
stronger. We'd like to see it more effective. We think changes have
been made in the past few years, but as with any international
organization there could be substantial additional improvements as
well.
Sawa-11: Do we have a specific plan to locate Iraq's chemical and
biological agents after the end of the war?
Bolton: We have a very detailed plan to try to locate Iraq's weapons
of mass destruction storage areas, chemical agents, biological agents,
warheads, production facilities, the files and records of the weapons
programs, so that these can be exposed to the world so that everybody
can see the extent of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and also so
that we can begin the process of destroying them finally; so when a
new Iraqi government comes into power, representatives of all the
elements of Iraqi society committed to not pursuing weapons of mass
destruction, that we will be able to say that in fact Iraq is
completely free of such weapons and therefore should be a full
participant again in the international economy and political scene.
Sawa-12: What do you say to people and countries who are calling for a
nuclear free zone in the Middle East?
Bolton: Well, I think the question of how to get to a state where
there are no nuclear weapons is obviously something that's complex,
and that we are pursuing. We adhere to the non-proliferation treaty
which has only five legitimate nuclear weapons states, and that
remains our position.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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