Bolton : What's being done about Iran's growing threat?
WASHINGTON -- Israel has earned the reputation for taking preemptive actions when its national security is at stake.
But an outspoken former senior U.S. official said Israel would not attack Iran's nuclear facilities in an effort to prevent Teheran from achieving weapons capability.
The former official, who in mid-2008 predicted an Israeli strike, said he and his colleagues have been startled by the confusion within the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
"One thing I did not count on was the complete internal confusion within the Israeli political system," former U.S. envoy to the United Nations, John Bolton, said. "They have exceeded even mine and the most closest observers' wildest expectations."
Bolton, for years regarded as one of Israel's closest friends in the Bush administration, said the Olmert government has suspended all strategic decisions despite the Jewish state being the primary target of Iran. Bolton cited Israeli parliamentary elections in February 2009.
"With an election coming in early February, I could see that and other decisions being postponed for political reasons," Bolton told the American Enterprise Institute on Dec. 2. "I think there is now nothing essentially between Iran and nuclear weapons."
But the worldwide economic crisis is impacting much more harshly in countries like Iran and China than in the United States and could disrupt the mullahs' diplomatic and nuclear strategy.
Bolton said the White House has failed to stop Iran's race toward nuclear weapons, expected to be completed in 2009.
"The Israelis destroyed the Syrian reactor [in September 2007]," Bolton, now a senior fellow at AEI, said. "The risk is that the Iranians replicated these facilities in other places that we or the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] doesn't know. That's why the military option is decreasing by the day. I don't think the military option is attractive at all. But it is much more unattractive for an Iran with nuclear weapons."
Bolton, deeming sanctions a failure, said Iran would not be stopped in efforts to achieve nuclear weapons capability. He said Teheran's priority was to design a nuclear bomb that could fit into the warhead of a ballistic missile.
"Iran is going to get nuclear weapons," Bolton said. "That's where we are. It's very distressing to me and should be to all of us. I worked on this sucker for eight straight years. We have completely failed. We have lost this race."
Clearly a man without nuance, class, style or the diplomatic niceties designed to hide from us and each other what we all know to be true. The exact opposite of what the State Dept represents.
Diplomacy is a failure
Continuance will guarantee a nuclear Iran
Israel is a mess
Our administration has failed
Bolton, in an assessment echoed by Defense Department officials, said Iran could
become a major nuclear proliferator such as North Korea, and provide weapons and fissile material to insurgency groups sponsored by Teheran. He said Iran's key goal would be to assemble enough nuclear weapons to ensure second-strike capability.
"Once Iran gets the ability to make fuel for a bomb, they could transfer this to other people," Bolton said. "Using terrorists to deliver a weapon on target is much more problematic for us than delivery by a ballistic missile."
Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, agreed that the administration failed to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. Milhollin, who asserted that Iran would produce sufficient uranium for three nuclear weapons by the end of 2009, said Bush did little more than employ rhetoric against the mullah regime in Teheran.
"The use of the [Iranian] nuclear weapon, if they get one, will be political primarily," Milhollin said. "You can't ignore the danger of a small nuclear arsenal in the hands of somebody who can't be deterred."