10 September 2004

United States, G8 Partners Work on Common Iran Strategy in Geneva

Range of nonproliferation issues focus of two days of talks

By Wendy Lubetkin
Washington File Staff Writer

Geneva -- John Bolton, under secretary of state for arms control and international security, says Group of Eight (G8) members are in complete agreement that Iran must be prevented from acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability.

Bolton said that the United States, France, Britain and Germany have made progress over the past several days toward narrowing their differences on how best to achieve that goal.

The United States believes the clandestine Iranian nuclear program constitutes a "threat to international peace and security" and should be put "at center stage, in the world spotlight, in the forum of the [U.N.] Security Council," Bolton said September 10 at a press conference in Geneva where he had just concluded two days of discussions with G8 and other countries on a range of nonproliferation issues.

He said he thought the "international dynamic would change dramatically if Iran were at center stage in New York."

Bolton said the talks at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva were partly an effort to "close the tactical gap" between the United States and Britain, France and Germany in advance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors meeting during the week of September 13-17, during which the issue of Iran's nuclear program is scheduled for consideration.

"We have not completely closed the tactical gap, but I think discussions will continue over the weekend and then into next week, and we will see what we are able to do," Bolton said. "The overall objective of insuring that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons capabilities is not at issue. All of us are agreed on that."

Bolton said that he would travel to Israel for further consultations before returning to Washington.

When asked about South Korea's revelations that it has conducted nuclear experiments, Bolton said the United States could not take a formal position until it knew all the facts; but he vowed that the United States would "not allow a double standard in terms of how we treat violations of safeguards agreements."

Bolton said he expected the IAEA would begin to work on the issue, most likely with a short verbal report on what had been learned to date about South Korea's experiment in Uranium enrichment.

"We are not setting an arbitrary deadline; if it takes longer we are prepared for that. But it would not be unreasonable to ask for a written report that lays out the facts and circumstances in more detail than we currently know by the November board meeting, which takes place at the end of that month."

He said it is the view of the G8 that the IAEA should continue its investigation and report to the board by the meeting later this month.

"I think the South Koreans have shown cooperation. They've brought this issue forward to the IAEA and have been cooperating with the IAEA," he said.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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