John R. Bolton: Sudan, Iran & HRC Reform
Remarks on Sudan, Iran, and Human Rights Council Reform
Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks at a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
March 10, 2006
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: No, I was able to listen to the Secretary General. And let me just say first with respect to Sudan, we, I say we, the United States up here, have only fragmentary reports of the results of the African Union's Peace and Security Council meeting. And my colleague on the Council, Ambassador Ikouebe of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, as we sometimes call it, obviously representing the Presidency of the African Union, had only just received the four or five page decision paper from the African Union. And said that he would prefer to comment at greater length on Monday when the Council will meet again to consider the Sudan and he will have had a chance to review the document. Certainly, it's correct to say that, as we understand it, that the Peace and Security Council reaffirmed its decision that there should be a transition to a UN Mission in Darfur. But, I think that before we comment further, that it's important that we, the United States, and all the Council members, also have an opportunity to review exactly what it is the African Union said. And having not had the benefit of reading the decision paper, I am just not prepared at this point to go further and comment on it. It is obviously something we are going to have to study very closely. But our objective remains the swiftest possible transition to a UN force so that we can minimize, to the extent humanly possible, the killing and the displacement of personnel persons that's taking place in Darfur and along the border with Chad. And as I say, without having had the benefit of looking at the paper itself, I just don't want to try and characterize it politically or operationally any more than that at this point. And by saying that I don't mean to tilt one way or the other on it. If you haven't read the document, you can't comment on it sensibly, so I assume in addition to talking about Iran this afternoon, I will be reading that document and consulting with Washington.
REPORTER: What does the Security Council need to authorize a force in Darfur?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, as you know, during the month of February, during the month of the U.S. Presidency, we pushed very hard for a resolution that would follow on from the February 3rd Presidential Statement of the Council that authorized the Secretariat to begin contingency planning to lay out a series of options about mission concepts and force structure and the like. We pressed very hard for it, unsuccessfully, because we essentially had no support from other members of the Council. And the basis, principal basis, that we lacked support was the very strong feeling by other governments, that they wanted to await the first, March 3rd and then March 10th decision of the African Union. Well, we have now had that decision and I think that the next step is to understand that decision. Not for the United States, we were ready two weeks ago to move ahead.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, it was the, an interim step on the way that we think could have helped expedite this. So our position hasn't changed, the issue I think now is what other Council members will read into the AU decision and we will study it closely and consult with them. And that is the best I can say at this point, having not read the thing.
REPORTER: Ambassador, your response to the Secretary General's remarks on the Human Rights Council. Essentially, to say that he believed that the United States would not allow the Human Rights Council to go ahead, despite what appears to be a looming showdown next week when there could be a vote that could open up this text again to further amendments and further discussions. What was your response to what he said?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I met with Jan Eliasson, the President of the General Assembly, at 1:00. We had a discussion of the subject, I explained that my instructions remained what they've been almost since the minute that his text was made public, which is we seek to reopen the text to secure certain amendments, a certain limited number of amendments, our bottom line. That would, if we were successful in obtaining those changes in the text, it would permit us to support it. As of now, we have not found very much support for reopening the text and therefore the prospect of amending the text has not made much progress. But now we have a few more days, we are going to continue to work on it and in hopes that we can modify the text sufficiently so that we can have a new Human Rights Council that really does represent a substantial advance over the discredited Human Rights Commission that we now have.
REPORTER: Mr. Ambassador (inaudible) the result in Iranian crisis at this point in time?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: The way to resolve the Iranian crisis is for Iran to stop its search for nuclear weapons. That is very simple and very straightforward. All they have to do is read the resolutions of the IAEA, the text of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the text of their safeguards agreement with the IAEA, and comply with those documents.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: This is now in the hands of the Security Council.
REPORTER: (inaudible) the U.S. would do to help the African Union get through the transition phase between now and possibly six months if that's indeed the case (inaudible).
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, we have been studying and in fact our military planners have been discussing with others how the transition itself would take place. You're not going to be in a situation where the AMIS Mission exists one day and doesn't exist the next day and then a UN force comes in the day after that. There ought to be ways of efficiently re-hatting some of the AMIS Force, perhaps a large number of the AMIS troops coordinating with the existing UN Mission in Southern Sudan and generally having an efficient and effective transition. That's what we've been considering, that's what we're going to continue to do. And as I say, we've been prepared even in the absence of a completely clear signal to proceed in order to accomplish a lot of the preliminary preparatory work that needs to be done so that the ultimate deployment of or re-hatting of the UN force could proceed expeditiously. We're still prepared to do that and that will be our objective next week.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think the President has indicated that he would like to think of NATO and perhaps others of providing logistical and operational and other kinds of support. And that's one of the reasons why in a sensible but urgent effort to move ahead here, we need to have the planning proceed. I'll just take one or two more and then I've got to go.
REPORTER: How much patience is the U.S. going to have with Iran once the Council does agree on a statement? Is the U.S. looking for a quick timetable to see a response?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, as I said before, I'd rather not get into specifics of what we're seeking. We're going to have discussions this afternoon. I think we'll have further discussions in the full Council next week. I don't. For most of the last fifteen years, I have tried to avoid predicting timing in the Council since whenever I tried to do it before I've always gotten it wrong. I have a completely clean slate on that, I have yet to predict accurately, so I don't think I'll break my string and start now. One more question.
REPORTER: On Iran, everybody talks about, lots of people not just Mr. Annan, are talking about resuming negotiations. What would the basis be if Iran hasn't stopped or suspended its refinement?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think the concept of having continuing consultations among interested countries makes a lot of sense. We're going to be doing consultations here in the Security Council, which has a responsibility under the UN Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security. There may well be other venues and other circumstances in which other consultations can take place but for the rest of today and beginning on Monday morning, I'll be here in New York discussing it in the Security Council.
REPORTER: (Inaudible) Is the United States considering pulling out of the Commission on Human Rights as (inaudible) suggested if the Human Rights Council does not appear in the form you would like.
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I think Senator Frist's op-ed obviously reflects a great deal of thought. He's the Majority Leader in the United States Senate. It's an opinion you have to take seriously. But we have been focused on fixing this text and not addressing what comes next. His well-thought out article addresses that question, which we have made no decision.
Released on March 10, 2006