The Bush administration wants to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis diplomatically, US Undersecretary of State for nonproliferation John Bolton said. The hardliners in the US administration will not settle for anything less than a regime change, a non-proliferation expert at a US think tank said. The US hardliners do not have a strong case, a former UN weapons inspector in Vienna said, according to a Reuters' dispatch in which Mr. Bolton has been characterized as "hawkish." b>August 24, 2004 - “They (U.S. hard-liners) are not interested in resolving the crisis or changing regime behavior; they want to change the regime,” Joseph Cirincione, head of nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said, according to Reuters.
“Evidence that highlights the Iranian threat is promoted; evidence that explains Iranian behavior is belittled,” he added. His comments came as a reaction to statement made last week by US Undersecretary of State for disarmament John Bolton, whom Reuters characterized as “hawkish.”
“There’s no question that US President Bush wants to resolve the Iranian issue diplomatically,” Bolton said. The US government wants the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report Tehran to the UN Security Council for what it says are violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“The evidence ... points to an Iranian nuclear weapons program,” Bolton told Reuters.
Bolton rejected the suggestion that the US was planning a regime change in Iran by pointing out to the US reliance on the IAEA to investigate Iran’s nuclear program and refer the Islamic government for sanctions to the UN Security Council, if it found Iran in violation of the NPT.
“If that's not a diplomatic initiative, I don't know what is,” Bolton said.
One Vienna-based diplomat expressed concern that hard-liners from the US and some of its allies were conducting a smear campaign against Iran that was similar to what it did to Iraq before the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.
David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) believes Tehran wants to keep the nuclear option open but said the United States had a weak case for its view that Tehran is rushing to complete an atomic bomb.
“They have weak evidence. I think even (the US hard-liners) are worried they don’t have a case,” Albright told Reuters, adding that the US policy of confronting and isolating Iran was “bankrupt” and might push Iran to rush to get the bomb. “The hard-liners in the US could really trigger Iran to race to get a nuclear weapon,” he added.