Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bolton Hints at Other Options for Iran

Yahoo News:
The Bush administration is considering other diplomatic and economic options to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons if diplomacy at the United Nations Security Council fails, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said Thursday. READ MORE

"It would be, I think, simply prudent to be looking at other options," Bolton told reporters.

He said the United States could suspend import allowances for Iranian rugs and pistachios, which were relaxed years ago in hopes of stimulating small business in Iran, and consider a crackdown on alleged financial crimes similar to U.S. pursuit of alleged fraud by North Korea. There are steps other governments could take as well, Bolton said, including financial and travel restrictions.

The United States has had no diplomatic and few economic ties with Iran since the 1979 storming of the American Embassy in Tehran.

The United States accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons under the cover of a legitimate civilian energy program, and has long favored using the punitive deterrent powers of the Security Council to bring international pressure to bear on the clerical regime.

The Iran case is now finally before the Security Council but Bolton did not sound confident the strategy will work.

Bolton said the "obvious difficulty" represented by the three-week delay and hefty diplomatic muscle required to win a first, mild rebuke to Iran from the Security Council last month "says something about the difficulty of the road ahead."

Iran allies Russia and China opposed a tougher stance sought by Bolton and European diplomats but eventually signed on to a written demand that Iran comply with previous U.N. nuclear watchdog requirements for its disputed nuclear program. Russia and China are also on record opposing punitive sanctions for Tehran if it does not comply, although U.S. officials say they do not rule out getting some kind of sanctions approved in the future.