Bolton threatens seizure
of rogue states' WMD

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Undersecretary of State John Bolton warned that the United States plans to use such 'robust' measures as seizure to halt the WMD programs of Syria and other states he deemed as rogues. Such states, he said, includes Cuba, Iran, Libya and North Korea.

In an address Tuesday to the Fletcher Conference in Washington, Bolton said the United States and its allies have been steadily preparing for the interception of WMD and missile shipments to Syria and other Middle East states. He said U.S. allies, under the auspices of the Proliferation Security Initiative, have been training in naval interdiction exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and other areas.

"Rogue states such as Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya and Cuba, whose pursuit of weapons of mass destruction makes them hostile to U.S. interests, will learn that their covert programs will not escape either detection or consequences," Bolton said. "While we will pursue diplomatic solutions whenever possible, the United States and its allies are also willing to deploy more robust techniques, such as the interdiction and seizure of illicit goods."

"If rogue states are not willing to follow the logic of nonproliferation norms, they must be prepared to face the logic of adverse consequences," Bolton continued. "It is why we repeatedly caution that no option is off the table."

Bolton is regarded as the most powerful member of the Bush administration in the U.S. effort to stop WMD and missile proliferation. His assessments on the WMD programs in Syria and other countries have often clashed with those of his State Department colleagues.

Last month, the CIA released a report that said Syria has been seeking foreign assistance to establish a solid-propellant rocket motor development and production capability. The report said Syria has developed the extended-range Scud D and possibly other variants with assistance from North Korea and Iran.

The CIA also said Syria was found to have been seeking chemical weapons expertise from foreign sources in the first half of 2003. The report said Damascus has stockpiled sarin and has tried to develop more toxic and persistent nerve agents.

The undersecretary said Iran plans to continue its development of a nuclear weapons program despite an agreement with International Atomic Energy Agency to sign the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Bolton said Teheran has already backtracked from pledges to the IAEA to end Iran's uranium enrichment program.

The IAEA resolution on Iran passed on Nov. 26 provides the Islamic republic with its last chance to avoid international censure, Bolton said.

Citing an Article 12C of the IAEA statute, Bolton said "one more transgression by Iran will mean that the IAEA is obligated to report Iran's noncompliance to the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations."

The State Department official did not rule out U.S. action outside the IAEA to stop Iran's nuclear program. On Dec. 16, the United States will host the fifth operational meeting of the PSI, which includes Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain. The meeting will bring together legal experts to explore the authority of nations to stop shipments of WMD and missiles.

[On Wednesday, China, a leading missile and WMD supplier to Iran and Syria, released a so-called white paper on nonproliferation that detailed Beijing's policy in stopping the export of missiles as well as components for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The report cited efforts by a range of government agencies and came days before the scheduled visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to the United States.]

"The real issue now is whether the [IAEA] board of governors will remain together in its insistence that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is illegitimate, or whether Iranian efforts to split the board through economic incentives and aggressive propaganda will succeed," Bolton said. "For our part, the United States will continue its efforts to prevent the transfer of sensitive nuclear and ballistic missile technology to Iran, from whatever source, and will monitor the situation there with great care."

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