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Iran remains a 'grave' world threat: Bolton

John Bolton told the Senate panel Thursday that the urgency posed by Tehran's atomic program is undiminished.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Jul 27, 2006
US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton on Thursday said Washington remains focused on the "grave and direct" threat posed by Iran's nuclear program, despite the distraction created by the recent crisis in the Middle East.

"While the crisis in the Middle East is, of course, a priority at the moment, we are ... currently involved in intense negotiations on the subject of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons," Bolton told the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, shortly before the UN Security Council announced it would delay taking up the issue of Iran's nuclear program.

"We have expended considerable diplomatic efforts through a variety of venues to try to persuade Iran that its pursuit of nuclear weapons makes it less, not more secure," he said at a hearing on extending his tenure as UN ambassador.

"Iran has consistently rebuffed those efforts, most recently just last week in Paris, which led to the collective decision of the P-5 Foreign Ministers, plus Germany, that it is now time for the Security Council to take action," said Bolton.

His comments came as six major powers on Thursday postponed a meeting on Iran's nuclear program, with diplomats linking it to the UN Security Council's failure to pass a statement on the deaths of four UN peacekeepers this week.

No official reason was given for the postponement of the meeting by the five UN Security Council permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and United States -- and Germany to discuss a resolution against Iran.

Bolton told the Senate panel Thursday that the urgency posed by Tehran's atomic program is undiminished.

"Iran's unrelenting pursuit of nuclear weapons poses a grave and direct threat to international peace and security. In tandem with their pursuit of even longer-range ballistic missiles, we must treat the threat they pose to our friends and allies in the region and beyond with the utmost gravity," Bolton told lawmakers.

"This is particularly clear in light of the inflammatory rhetoric of Iran's leader, who is recklessly calling for Israel to be 'wiped off the map' and even questions the tragic events of the Holocaust," he said.

"The discussions are still ongoing," Bolton added, "but I am hopeful that the Council will recognize the threat Iran's program poses to international peace and security and take appropriate action."

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