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Former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton on a possible Israeli strike

Story Transcript

PEPE ESCOBAR, SENIOR ANALYST: Ambassador Bolton, what should be done about Iran in the event of a McCain presidency? Obama and Biden are saying, “Okay, we’ll talk to the Ayatollahs, but with certain preconditions.” But McCain’s saying no, no dialogue.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: Well, actually, Senator Obama has said that he would speak without preconditions. And the fact is that negotiations have been the policy we’ve been pursuing for the last five years. Everybody knows the EU3—Britain, France, and Germany—have effectively been surrogates for the United States in these five years of negotiation, and the only consequence of five years of negotiation is that Iran is five years closer to achieving a nuclear weapons capability.

ESCOBAR: But the NIE says they—.

BOLTON: Look, the NIE has been effectively repudiated by the intelligence community. It’s as dramatic a reversal as I’ve ever seen. I don’t think there’s any doubt in most people’s minds that Iran continues to pursue a nuclear-weapons capability, and I fear that they have achieved all of the scientific and technical knowledge that they need to have a deliverable nuclear weapon. So we’re at a very critical point in dealing with Iran, and our options are quite limited.

ESCOBAR: What would be the right policy in case McCain is elected?

BOLTON: Well, I think you have to look back at the mistakes that have been made in the past and try and correct them, and if there’s any possibility of the use of force by Israel before the next president takes office, which I think is a possibility, that’s something you have to take into account as well. But an Iran with nuclear weapons would be a dramatically different situation in the Middle East, a threat to the United States, worldwide, a threat to our friends and allies, and something that would pose a very grave threat to international peace and security.


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John Bolton served as the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006. From 2001 to 2005, he was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.