Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton says Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s overture to begin discussions about Tehran’s foray into the world of nuclear power is just a stalling tactic, which he has used successfully in the past. Bolton also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Thursday that Ahmadinejad knows the West is not going to compromise on Iran’s quest to become a Middle Eastern nuclear power.
“Well, the only thing surprising or interesting is that this didn’t happen several years ago. You know, the Iranians over time have used negotiations to great effect to buy time to advance their nuclear weapons program, to gain legitimacy, as you say, to play the West — and I think he’s prepared to do it again,” Bolton said. “So this is a — from their point of view — this is an excellent opportunity to get the Europeans engaged, slow the momentum of sanctions and buy more time.
“He has no intention of giving up the uranium enrichment activity, has no intention of giving up the nuclear weapons program. He’s happy to try and induce the Obama administration and the Europeans to offer him concessions, to loosen sanctions, to postpone the effective day date of sanctions, to reduce sanctions already in place,” he said. “But there isn’t going to be any compromise on this — and he knows that. That’s the failure of the West, this obsession with getting back to the negotiating table without any clear idea of what even our objectives are once we sit down.”
Van Susteren then asked Bolton about the possible implications of Egypt preventing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s son, Sam, from leaving the country.
Sam LaHood works for one of three U.S.-based nonprofit groups in Cairo that were raided and shut down on Dec. 29 by Egyptian authorities, who accused the groups of using foreign funds to foment unrest.
“I think this is very serious — and not just because it’s a Cabinet secretary’s son, although we care about all of them,” Bolton said. “It’s the implicit threat that by not letting these people leave that they’re going to be subject to arrest for engaging in activities that were approved under the Mubarak government of democracy-building kinds of projects.
“So I think it’s not just the military I would look at here — I think I see the hand of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well,” he continued. “They’re trying to push out Western programs, U.S. in particular, that have helped democracy. And that’s not good — whether the military’s in back of this or the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s a very serious symbol, I think, of problems for the United States in the very near future.
“So I think this is a time for the administration — for now behind the scenes — but to go to the military, to go to the political leaders and say: You better stop this right now, or your entire foreign aid budget from the United States is going to be in jeopardy,” Bolton said. “If we can't draw the line at protecting our own citizens engaged in activities the government of Egypt knew about and approved about before, then we have little or no hope of exerting leverage over Egypt on things like the Camp David accords or the larger issue of peace and stability in the Middle East.”
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