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Bolton - Briefing on Sudan, Iran and Other Matters

Briefing on Sudan, Iran and Other Matters

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks to the media following a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
August 30, 2006


Ambassador Bolton: Okay. Why don't we get started? We have concluded our consultations on the resolution, which will expand the mandate of the UN mission in Sudan to cover Darfur. There are a number of comments made, which we and the United Kingdom will be taking into account during the day. But as we said in the Council and repeated at the end of the consultations, it is our intention to put the resolution in blue today and to have a vote tomorrow. We're obviously hoping for unanimous support. We've tried in many respects to take account of the concerns the different Council members have made, but we think it is important to proceed with a vote, and that will be our intention.

Reporter: Ambassador, did anyone object to having this vote tomorrow?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, some governments thought that we should put it off until September, but I think we've taken into account the concerns that have been raised. We're very worried about the humanitarian situation in Darfur, and obviously, each day that you delay adopting the resolution is a day that pushes out the planning and logistical work that has to take place to do two things: First, to bring support to the existing AMIS force, but second, to facilitate the ultimate transition to the UN force that we contemplate. So this is not simply a question of delay for the sake of additional diplomatic negotiations. This has profound operational consequences as well, which is one reason why we think it's important to proceed. Yeah?

Reporter: (Inaudible) is it your view that by passing the resolution you'll be able to start on bolstering AMIS and going ahead with some of the logistical planning stuff, even though Sudan has not agreed to allow the rehatting of the force?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, the fact is that the resolution itself contemplates there will be lots of discussions with the government of Sudan, and nothing in this resolution cuts off those discussions. We've said from the outset that we didn't contemplate that the UN peacekeeping force was going to fight its way into Darfur. We need the assent at least of the government of Sudan for logistical reasons among others. But what we think is important is that the question of consent not hold up the operational steps that need to be taken to get this force deployed as rapidly as possible. Already it's not being deployed with the speed or at the time that we would have most preferred, and we think there comes a point where we just have to say, "We're going to a vote. We're going to proceed. We need to get moving."

Reporter: So what can happen once the resolution is passed, even though Sudan doesn't -

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think there's a chicken-and-an-egg situation here. I think once the resolution is passed, the consent may be forthcoming more rapidly than people think.

Reporter: Well, Ambassador, a follow-up from that question, because there are, as you know, some governments, especially China, who say that you should wait on this until we have the discussion and everything, and then go with the resolution. What do you say to that?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, we have already delayed a good deal. In fact, there's a substantial argument that we've waited longer than we should have in an effort to accommodate these concerns. As I said in the Council this morning, you know, in America there's a saying that for many politicians voting is like standing out in the rain, and I said into every life some rain must fall.

Reporter: I'll ask the same question I asked this morning. Will the blue take the brackets off the numbers or --

Ambassador Bolton: Yeah, the numbers --

Reporter: Are they the same ones now that are in brackets?

Ambassador Bolton: Yes, it'd be the same in the text that was circulated last night. That represents an upper limit to the force. A number of governments, including the United States, obviously have concerns about the budget implications, and we'll be discussing that further as the preparations continue.

Reporter: But you're going to take the brackets out of those numbers for the time being --

Ambassador Bolton: Right, because we have to circulate a text as what it will be in final.

Reporter: And before you leave the microphone, can you tell us whatever procedures you've envisioned on Iran tomorrow?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, on that point, we're still in discussion, and I expect I'll have something for you later on that, perhaps tomorrow.

Reporter: (Inaudible) adopt a resolution tomorrow, and then waiting for the consent of the Sudanese government, time-wise what are you -- what do you envision before you actually are able to if you get the consent and if you don't?

Ambassador Bolton: I don't think I could give you a projection on the impact on timing. I think a whole chain of events will begin once the resolution is adopted. And I think that's one of the compelling reasons to go forward with it. And then we'll see whether the government of Sudan is prepared to step up to its responsibilities, as they have agreed, as was contemplated in the Darfur Peace Agreement, and as the African Union has already previously agreed.

Reporter: For the general public, which doesn't know its UNMIS from its AMIS, on Sudan, first of all, what has this resolution really accomplished? They've seen years of violence, destruction, calls of genocide. What does it do? Removing all the jargon. And number two, on Iran, just -- we may not have access to you. There's reports of uranium enrichment. There's the IAEA report, whether you've seen previews or not of that. Will there be a serious action here, since weeks ago you were saying we're prepared to come in with sanctions? For the general public, which is very curious and has a very busy life and can't keep up with everything?

Ambassador Bolton: On the question of Sudan, the central purpose of this resolution is to extend the mandate of UN peacekeepers to cover Darfur, to pick up the responsibilities that are currently being handled by the African Union and to help implement the Darfur Peace Agreement. We think this critical to mitigating the humanitarian disaster that's occurring in Darfur and we need to do it as soon as possible.

In terms of Iran, we've said repeatedly that we expect that no later than August the 31st, pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1696, that the Iranians will suspend all uranium enrichment-related activity. Now, if they haven't done that by August the 31st, we've also said repeatedly, and the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council in Germany have agreed, that we will come to the Security Council to seek sanctions. That has been our intention for some months; it remains our intention; it will be our intention on September the 1st if the Iranians don't comply with the resolution.

Reporter: Just quickly back on Sudan. One of my colleagues asked another ambassador here this question. What if -- Sudan, who's given no indication of consenting all the way through to this UN force, even your own staff on the ground in Darfur were told about jihad if UN peacekeepers arrived. So what's next? What about the responsibility to protect?

Ambassador Bolton: I think that the resolution entrusts the secretariat with a number of responsibilities -- a lot of tasks, planning, logistical tasks that have to go forward -- and I think those will begin as soon as the resolution is adopted. And at that point we'll see what the rhetoric is and what the real response is from the government of Sudan. And I expect that as they objected to the deployment of UN peacekeepers in the southern part of Sudan right up until the deployment, there may be a pattern here. But that's the whole point of not waiting until there's final consent from them on the deployment, why we need to pass this resolution and then the operational steps will unfold and further discussions will take place.

Reporter: On the issue of Iran, the council has issued this firm August 31st deadline, but then you ask when the deadline actually expires, and everyone sort of thinks that that's a ridiculous notion. I mean, will it be at 12:01 a.m. Tehran time or New York time? What happens when that deadline expires? Is there going to be some little flag that goes up or what?

Ambassador Bolton: At the -- yes, a little flag will go up. No. The --

Reporter: And where, when? Tehran time is about eight hours -- (Inaudible) -- and New York. I mean, it seems somewhat germane, but --

Ambassador Bolton: My experience when I was general counsel of the agency for international development, interpreting time questions like that was -- time takes place -- the effectiveness takes place at the geographical location you're at so that it would be midnight Tehran time. And in terms of what happens afterward, at that point, if they have not suspended all uranium enrichment activities, they will not be in compliance with the resolution. And at that point, the steps that the foreign ministers have agreed upon previously, including the foreign ministers of Russia and China, including with the foreign ministers of Russia and China, we should begin to talk about how to implement those steps.

Reporter: (Inaudible) said that the issue would probably not come to the UN -- that doesn't mean you're not talking elsewhere in the world -- until the middle of September. Do you see that timeline?

Ambassador Bolton: Well, I think what he was referring to was a likely meeting with foreign ministers when the General Assembly convenes, but I expect that we will be talking about what to do well before that. Okay? All right. This will be the last question.

Reporter: Are we going to see something at the IAEA first, do you think, or --

Ambassador Bolton: I'm not sure exactly when the report will be issued, but I'm sure that we'll have something to say when it is issued.

Reporter: (Inaudible)

Ambassador Bolton: All right, Raghida, one more.

Reporter: Thank you. You are somehow indicating that there may be consent by the Sudanese government. Is this due to your bilateral talks that have gone on in Khartoum? Can you share with us some of the reasons why you think that it might be that Sudanese would consent?

Ambassador Bolton: I think it's more a question of putting in motion the steps that need to be taken to accomplish this transition to a UN force, and my expectation, that when it gets down to it, Sudan will not object. Okay. Thank you very much.

Released on August 30, 2006


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