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EDITIONS
Friday, 20 June, 2003, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Iran nuclear installations
John Bolton
Iran is fast becoming the centre of unwanted attention from the international community. Pro democracy protests continue in Tehran while across Europe, Iranian supporters of the People's Mujahideen Group have been setting themselves on fire - in Paris one woman died of her injuries.

The focus of the West's governments, however, is sharply on Iran's nuclear programme and US pressure via the International Atomic Energy Authority for increased inspections.

Iran insists it's only getting ready to generate electricity, the US says it's planning to create a new generation of nuclear weapons.

The Under Secretary for Arms Control and Security at the US State Department, John Bolton, flew in to London. Kirsty Wark met him at the American Embassy and began by asking him what he made of the Iranian response so far.


JOHN BOLTON:
I think the Iranians have demonstrated a pattern over the years of withholding information, concealing their activities in the nuclear field, all of which is consistent with trying to hide a clandestine nuclear weapons programme. The real issue here is not technical violations of the safeguards agreement or the non-proliferation treaty, important though those are. The fact is the Iranians are pursuing nuclear weapons. That makes them a danger to the region and the world as a whole. So today's chairman's summary at the IAEA is an important first step in the IAEA's decision- making progress, but we are much more concerned about what is actually going on inside Iran.

WARK:
What evidence do you have that they are pursuing weapons of mass destruction?

BOLTON:
The Iranians have activities throughout the nuclear fuel cycle. They have a heavy water production facility, that can only be used for a heavy water-reactor, which is a fast way to breed plutonium. They're mining uranium. They only have one nuclear power plant. The Russians are going to supply all of the fuel, so there is no reason to be engaged in any of the rest of this activity.

WARK:
But what if they do sign up to the statement and allow the additional protocols - what then? If they allow that access, what will you do?

BOLTON:
I think if they truly sign and fully implement the additional protocol and give the IAEA inspectors complete, unimpeded access, we will simply see further proof that they are pursuing nuclear weapons.

WARK:
And then?

BOLTON:
Then I think it would be up to the IAEA board to refer the matter to the Security Council and for the United States, the other nuclear weapons states, to take action.

WARK:
What kind of action?

BOLTON:
I think some of the things we are doing right now, to deny the Iranians access to the technology they need throughout their nuclear fuel cycle, and to alert people that they are pursuing nuclear weapons.

WARK:
So, just to be quite clear about this, no matter whether or not the Iranians allow additional access and additional inspections, as far as you are concerned, if those inspections yield nothing, they are still on the axis of evil?

BOLTON:
The information we have, about which we have a high degree of confidence is that the Iranians are pursuing nuclear weapons. And I might say they are also pursuing a vigorous programme in ballistic missiles, increasing the range that they have, in making themselves a broader and broader problem.

WARK:
So is there a possibility that you would take military action in Iran if necessary?

BOLTON:
No. The obvious intent here is to get a peaceful solution to the problem, but the problem is the Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

WARK:
But do you rule out military intervention?

BOLTON:
We are nowhere close to even considering that. But all options are obviously on the table, as the President has said repeatedly, and there must be, to provide a strong deterrent to those who might otherwise seek nuclear weapons.

WARK:
But when you use language like, "they definitely have weapons of mass destruction"...

BOLTON:
No I said "they're definitely pursuing a nuclear weapons programme". We judge at this point they don't have the weapons, but they are actively pursuing them.

WARK:
But if in your judgement, in the United States' judgement, they continue this pursuit, and show no signs of agreeing to your demands, and if indeed you think they are going to still be supplied with the parts for this programme, how do you stop them?

BOLTON:
Well, one thing that we have already begun, based on the President's speech in Krakow, Poland on May 31st, the Proliferation Security Initiative, is to begin to interdict shipments of components for a nuclear weapons programme at sea, in the air and on land. We are working on that right now. We had a meeting in Madrid last week with ten other countries, all of which signed up to the idea of going after weapons of mass destruction shipments in international commerce.

WARK:
You can see how to some people this sounds belligerent, it sounds as if you are preparing the ground for possible military intervention?

BOLTON:
Well, I think the first thing you have to keep in mind is that nuclear weapons are very dangerous. And countries that possess nuclear weapons and countries that possess ballistic missiles have the ability to blackmail the rest of us and work their will in a way that we simply cannot find acceptable. The choice in this case is for Iran. Iran can adhere to its international treaty obligations and give up the pursuit of nuclear weapons, then it would be accepted back into the international community.

WARK:
Is the American goal regime change in Iran?

BOLTON:
The American goal on what I work on is the elimination of Iran's nuclear weapons programme. I think the President has spoken very eloquently to the importance of true democracy coming to Iran, of having the people having a real chance to live in freedom. What I'm concerned about, and what I'm focused on, and what the IAEA today took a very important step toward, is stopping the Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

WARK:
But if in the end, and it may be a very long way down the road, then military action was considered, in Iraq at the moment, America is losing at least a soldier a day. There is no sign of soldiers coming home. Is there an appetite for continuing in Iraq, never mind the possibility of starting a further military campaign in Iran?

BOLTON:
I think in Iraq our objective is quite clear. That is to turn responsibility for governing the country over to Iraqis as soon as possible. It was never our intention to have a long occupation. We are not an imperialist power. What we were after was the elimination of Saddam Hussein's regime, and the elimination of Iraq's WMD programme. We are well on the way on both of those. The burden is on us to give authority back to the Iraqi people. But we start from a very low base, decades of Ba'ath Party totalitarianism. So it's not for want of desiring to get authority back into the hands of the Iraqi people that this is taking longer than we expected, but we are working as best as we can under the circumstances.

WARK:
But briefly would there be an appetite for further military intervention by Americans in another country?

BOLTON:
Americans don't have an appetite for any military intervention. What we seek though is the elimination of weapons programmes that threaten us and our friends and allies.

WARK:
John Bolton, thank you very much ind

This transcript was produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Kirsty Wark
spoke to John Bolton, the Under Secretary Arms Control at the US State Department.
Links to more Archive stories are at the foot of the page.


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