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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 September 2007, 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK
Foreign Affairs
On Sunday 30 September Andrew Marr interviewed John Bolton, US Envoy to United Nations

Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

John Bolton
John Bolton, US Envoy to United Nations

ANDREW MARR: Welcome Mr Bolton.

JOHN BOLTON: Glad to be here.

ANDREW MARR: What is this envoy going to be able to achieve if anything do you think?

JOHN BOLTON: Well I think it's very unclear that he will be able to achieve anything. I have a lot of respect for Ibrahim Gambari personally but he's in a very difficult position because the Security Council is divided.

The real issue is not what Gambari can do but what China's going to do.

ANDREW MARR: And so far the Chinese have blocked any coherent, meaningful international action.

JOHN BOLTON: That's true. When, when we tried to get Burma on the Security Council Agenda last year China voted against it because it was procedural, there was no veto.

But they didn't even want the Council to discuss it. And I don't see any real indication that view has changed.

ANDREW MARR: Does that mean that as China becomes more and more important in the world the UN Security Council becomes less and less effective?

JOHN BOLTON: Well it's hard to say less and less effective from where it's at now.

But I think there's a real problem if you look at North Korea, if you look at Iran, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. China and Russia have played obstructive roles in the Council.

And if that continues then indeed the Council will not be able to address problems like proliferation of terrorism.

ANDREW MARR: You've got a bit of perspective now you've stepped back for a while. What do you think the future holds for the Security Council, for the UN and how do you think countries like Britain and America should respond?

JOHN BOLTON: Well I think as long as the Security Council reflects the world as it is you're going to have limits on what it's able to do. In the case of Iran specifically I don't think there's any chance that the Council's going to restrain the Mullahs from their continued pursuit of nuclear weapons.

And I think what that means for the US, for Britain, for France, hopefully for Europe is that we'll have to go outside the Security Council if we want to do anything to stop Iran from actually achieving nuclear weapons capability.

ANDREW MARR: And what does that mean "going outside"? What do you think in practical terms will have to happen?

JOHN BOLTON: Well certainly at a minimum Europe needs to put real sanctions in place. You know the negotiations that have gone on show many Europeans want sanctions without pain.

That doesn't happen. I think that diplomacy itself has gone on too long. The European efforts have failed. Iran is more than four years closer to achieving nuclear weapons and we're quite likely to have to use more ... more robust means to, to stop them.

ANDREW MARR: Which means military means ultimately?

JOHN BOLTON: Well I think the first choice would be regime change in Tehran. I would view the use of military force as a last resort. But life is about choices.

The choices between an Iran with nuclear weapons or the use of military force. I think you have to look at military force. Not happily, but to avoid the other alternatives.

ANDREW MARR: I mean some people watching will shiver when they hear that sort of language thinking of what happened in Iraq.

JOHN BOLTON: I think it's a very different circumstance. The means that would be necessary to break Iran's control over the nuclear fuel cycle are very different from what was necessary to over throw Saddam Hussein. As I say, I don't view this as an attractive option. But I view an Iran with nuclear weapons as even less attractive.

ANDREW MARR: Let me ask you about Iraq because quite a few voices in Washington looking at what is happening in the south of the country - and looking forward we're expecting yet more British troop withdrawals to be announced next week by Gordon Brown - have effectively said that the British in Southern Iraq have been defeated and are, are scuttling if you like, pulling out. Is that your view?

JOHN BOLTON: That's not my view. Bu I do think it's a mistake for Britain to pull more troops out more rapidly. The surge strategy is the only coherent strategy there is. A precipitous withdrawal of the coalition all or in part is simply going to strengthen Iran in the region.

I do think there's a lot to be said for telling the Iraqis the burden is now on you to decide whether you're going to have a political culture and a civil society. We're not going to be there forever. But I think you have to look beyond Iraq.

I really think Iran is the larger challenge. And if they see themselves not with restraints by Britain, the United States and others they'll behave accordingly. And that has to be bad news.

ANDREW MARR: And what happens in your view to the region if Iran does get the bomb?

JOHN BOLTON: Well if you like oil at eighty dollars a barrel now or forty pounds or whatever it is, imagine what the price will be when Iran gets nuclear weapons. Imagine the impact on the Arab states in the region. They're already the world's central banker of terrorism funding Hamas and Hezbollah. All of that's just going to get a lot worse.

ANDREW MARR: And so the future for countries like Saudi Arabia and so on depends upon stopping that happening?

JOHN BOLTON: I think that is a critical point we've reached on whether Iran's going to get nuclear weapons. And that's why I think the question of the use of force as unattractive as it may be, has to be on the table right now. Iran has been pushing out effectively.

Nobody's been pushing back. When fifteen British sailors and Marines were captured the response was softly soflty. Iran understood that message and sent your prisoners back with Ahmadinejad telling Tony Blair this is an Easter present. Don't prosecute them for violating Iranian national space. I mean that's outrageous.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah. Yeah. Well we'll be hearing, people here will be hearing more from you at the Global Strategy Forum discussion later on today. But for now Ambassador Bolton thank you very much indeed for joining us.

JOHN BOLTON: Thank you.


NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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