Iran Should Be Sanctioned, U.S. Envoy Bolton Says

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations - By not suspending its uranium enrichment activities, Iran is defying the international community and should be sanctioned, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said August 31.

Bolton said that an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report to the Security Council "is ample evidence" of Iran's defiance of the demands made by both groups on its nuclear enrichment program.

On July 31, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1696 demanding that Iran suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development.  If Iran refused, the council warned it would consider economic sanctions. (See related article.)

In a five-page report to the council on August 31, IAEA said that Iran had not suspended its enrichment related activities nor addressed long-standing verification issues with the agency.

"The report is short and to the point and concludes that after all these years of trying, the IAEA is still unable to confirm the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program," Bolton said.  "In the language of the IAEA that is a red flag.  That says that the Iranian program contains much that we should be worried about … and underlines our concern that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons."

Iran has not suspended its enrichment activities, but is accelerating them, the ambassador stressed.  Iran "is building another 164-centrifuge cascade which will begin operations within the next month and all the research activities, including the introduction of uranium hexafluoride into the centrifuge cascade, continues as recently as this past week."

"The bottom line," the ambassador said, is that Iran is defying the international community by not suspending its uranium enrichment activities and continues to pursue a nuclear weapons capability in violation of its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The Security Council will not take any action until after European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana meets with Iran's nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, in early September, Bolton said.  Afterward, consultations will take place in New York and elsewhere.

"We're certainly ready to proceed here in New York when we are given the instructions to do so," he said.

Bolton refused to discuss what type of sanctions the United States might seek.

Questioned about whether China and Russia, two of the council's five permanent members with veto power, would agree to impose economic sanctions on Iran, Bolton warned journalists "not to jump to the conclusion that they won't follow through on the word that they have given." He referred to commitments previously made by Russia and China’s foreign ministers.

In June, the five permanent Security Council members - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States - along with Germany (the P5+1) offered Iran a package of incentives and penalties to persuade it to abandon its controversial uranium enrichment program. The P5+1 issued a statement at that time that if Iran continued to reject the generous offer that France, Germany and the United Kingdom (EU3) were making on behalf of the six countries and failed to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, then the group would return to the Security Council and seek economic sanctions.


The IAEA report shows a continuing pattern of obstructionism, lack of cooperation and failure to allow IAEA inspectors to do the basic work needed to prove the Iranian program is peaceful, Bolton said.

"The activities Iran undertakes is simply inexplicable if their real purpose is a peaceful nuclear power program," he said.

Iran is trying to perfect the technology that will allow it to take the uranium U-235 isotope from its natural level of occurrence, which is about 0.1 percent in all uranium, and enrich it to levels reaching weapons grade, which contains 90 percent or more of the U-235 isotope, he said.

"The method they are using is a complex technology with a lot of ways it can break down before you achieve a capability to produce at mass production level," Bolton said.

The ambassador also said that Iran is experimenting with casting and forming uranium metal, which is used only by the most advanced nuclear programs in the world.

"The only real use for uranium metal is a nuclear weapon," he said. "Why is Iran experimenting with small quantities of uranium metal?  Why are they reluctant to allow the IAEA to make copies of documents?"


At the State Department August 31, spokesman Sean McCormack said Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns is traveling to Berlin for talks with European allies on the sanctions against Iran that would be contained in the Security Council resolution.

“[W]e're going to be pushing hard immediately for the Security Council to act,” McCormack said.

The State Department spokesman said he expected that in the meantime, Germany, France and the United Kingdom will have “continuing diplomatic contact with the Iranian government,” and that the Iranian government can still meet the Security Council’s conditions to avoid sanctions.

“I would expect that diplomatic process would take some time. Now … if during this period of time the Iranian government says we will and have met the conditions laid out for us, meaning suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing-related activities, and that is verified, then … suspension of those activities means suspension in the Security Council in terms of the P5+1 plus one and the Security Council acting and seeking sanctions,” he said.

Iran is being asked to meet those conditions in order to realize negotiations in which the incentives package offered by the international community can be discussed, he said.

However, McCormack added that Iran “has given zero indication to this point that that's what they intend to do.”