Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bolton: An Israeli strike may be last chance to prevent Iranian nukes

John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., speaking at the Eighth Herzliya Conference, hinted that an Israeli strike of Iran's nuclear sites may be the last resort. Israel National News reports that Bolton also urged the Israeli press to publish details of the September 6 strike against the suspected nuclear facility in Syria.
"We don't know for example exactly what the facility was – whether it was a clone of the Yongbyon reactor; whether it was a uranium enrichment facility; whether it was a storage location for North Korean plutonium or plutonium based weapons....
"We don't know if it was North Korea in effect renting space in Syria to recreate the North Korean program. We don't know if it was a sale of technology or equipment from North Korea directly to Syria and we don't know whether it was a joint venture perhaps between Syria and North Korea working together.... Our governments, however, do know the answers to some of these questions."
Bolton suggested an explanation for why the U.S. might not want these questions answered:
"...this information is being withheld for fear that if it came out that North Korea once again, following its game plan, was engaged in nuclear proliferation contrary to its obligations."

[The Bush administration's preoccupation with keeping the February 2007 agreement with North Korea alive, despite Pyongyang's missing an end-of-the-year deadline to make a full disclosure of its nuclear activities, was made evident again this week. Jay Lefkowitz, the U.S. envoy on North Korean rights, said that the DPRK was not serious about nuclear disarmament and would probably "remain in its present status" when the next U.S. president assumes office in January 2009. That comment brought an angry rebuke from Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State, who said that Lefkowitz "does not know what is going on in the six-party talks, and he certainly has no say on what American policy will be..."]

Bolton argued that the success of the Syrian raid had obvious consequences for Iran:

"Certainly in Teheran you can bet that they took careful notice of what the Israeli Defence Force did. Penetrating Russian supplied radars very similar to the air defenses that Teheran has; using techniques that could be very useful for a long range strike against Iran; this is the kind of operation that the Iranians need to continue to worry about. Because I think with the collapse of American policy, the Israeli strike against the Syrian / North Korea facility is the harbinger of what may be – absent regime change in Teheran – the last resort… Unless you are prepared to see Iran proceed unmolested toward a nuclear weapons capability, which this NIE has given them free rein to do in my judgment, you are coming very close to a decision point in this country of whether you will use military force to stop Iran."


Postscript: Apparently, the Syrians have now built a new structure at the site of the suspected reactor. Google earth still shows a pre-September photograph of the original structure at N 35 42 28, E 39 49 59. Here are the Digital Globe photographs for pre-September 2007, October 2007, and January 2008:

ArmsControlWonk links to the Institute for Science and International Security report here: ISIS

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|| headland, 10:40 PM

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