[….]Question: …Why does the United Nations allow Iranian President Ahmadinejad to address the U.N. Assembly and then recognize his government when he frequently denies the Holocaust and says it was an elaborate falsehood circulated by Jews and Jewish friendly nations such as the U.S.?
Ambassador Bolton: Well, this, that, that’s because that’s the U.N. is. I mean, this is a, uh, this, this is, it’s not, it’s not, I think most Americans look at Ahmadinejad and the fact he is a Holocaust denier, uh, and say we shouldn’t even let him into the country. But, uh, we have agreed, uh, as a member of the United Nations through what’s called the Headquarters Agreement, obviously it’s headquartered in New York, that, uh, heads of state, foreign ministers, diplomats from any U.N. member who come to the United States to come to New York to do U.N. business will be admitted to the country. We can restrict their other activities, uh, but that’s what it, that’s what it means to, uh, have the U.N. functioning. Uh, and it’s also part of one of the basic premises of the U.N. that I think, uh, it’s, it’s very hard for us to understand, and that’s the so called principle of sovereign equality. Is that every member of the U.N. in the General Assembly is equal to every other member of the U.N. So the United States has one vote in the General Assembly and so does Palau. Uh, and, and you can go on down the list of the hundred and ninety-two member states of the U.N. The way the U.N. functions, uh, is a, is the product of decades of cultural development. Uh, and it is the way that it is and it is extraordinarily difficult to change. What that means to me is that, uh, the U.N. has very limited, uh, functionality. It can do some limited number of things well. Some of the specialized agencies of the U.N. do important humanitarian work, uh, they do important scientific work, they do, uh, work in areas that nobody even thinks about the, like the Universal Postal Union that helps handle the transfer of mail between countries, uh, and which functions with, us, essentially no attention at all. Where the U.N. doesn’t work is in the political decision making area, the field of human rights, the field of international security which should have been, uh, one of its, uh, principal responsibilities, in large part because of this culture that has developed, uh, and that, uh, basically requires treating every country just like it’s every other country. So, Fidel Castro, when he was able, would come and speak at the U.N. During the cold war you’d have dictators from all over the world. Uh, today you have, uh, uh, countries like Iran and North Korea, uh, that use the U.N. and, and, and it’s, uh, and the opportunities that presents just like any other country. Uh, we, we may find this very difficult to accept. We do find it very difficult to accept, but that’s the way the U.N. is. That doesn’t mean it’s a good thing it just means that’s the way the U.N. is and to me it indicates how limited, uh, are the benefits we’re gonna get from a system that is developed that holds those kinds of cultures. [applause]
[….]Question: …Tonight during your discussion you were talking about Iran’s developing nuclear program. I was wondering what the U.N. or the U.S. would do, um, to intervene when the, um, the, Iran’s, um, threatening Israel, um, Israel’s sovereignty? And do you think it would make a difference if Mousavi got elected in the past Iranian, um, election because most of the power lies within the theocracy and, aya, Ayatollah Khamani?
Ambassador Bolton: Well, I, I don’t, I don’t think the election fundamentally would have changed very much. But I think that the fraud that was, uh, so visible in last year’s election, uh, actually helped demonstrate to a lot of Iranians just how, uh, illegitimate, uh, the Islamic Revolution nineteen seventy-nine has become. I think it’s a very unpopular government in many respects. And I wish the United States, both during the Bush administration and the Obama administration, had done more to supply the opposition with support so that when that fraudulent election had occurred, if we had really given them the resources we might have had an opportunity to see the regime overthrown. Uh, that didn’t happen, we didn’t give them adequate support, either in two thousand nine or in the years preceding that. Uh, and so that opportunity has slipped away and I think it will be quite some time before it comes back. The fact is that, uh, because we have engaged in, uh, now nearly eight years of diplomacy with Iran they have used that time to overcome essentially all of the complex scientific and technological obstacles that stand in the way of a nuclear weapons program. They’re very close to having a weapons capability, it’s really a matter for them when they decide they’re gonna do it. Uh, the diplomacy has failed, the sanctions have failed, uh, so I think today, uh, there are really only, uh, two options facing us with respect to Iran’s nuclear weapons. One is, and this is the most likely option, that indeed they do get nuclear weapons and we’ve got to deal with the consequences of a nuclear Iran. The only thing that will stop that is the second option, which is that some outside power uses preemptive force to strike against the nuclear weapons program, uh, and destroy as much of it as, uh, might be possible, thus setting Iran back, two, three, four, maybe more years. That that is in itself not a complete solution to the problem, but two to four years in, in this business is nearly infinity. I think there’s no chance that the Obama administration will use force. I once thought there was a chance that President Bush would use force. That obviously didn’t happen. I’m not even holding my breath on this administration. Which means that the choice, it’s a very [applause], it’s a very, it’s a very unpleasant choice for Israel, is between seeing Iran get nuclear weapons and taking preemptive action. Uh, military force here is a very unattractive, uh, outcome. It’s very risky, uh, there could be enormous, uh, potential consequences, uh, but in Israel’s case, uh, nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran, uh, could bring, uh, a second Holocaust, this time a, a nuclear holocaust. And, uh, I don’t think that’s something that they want to wait and find out about. When Israel has faced, uh, a potential nuclear threat in the past it has not hesitated to act, uh, preemptively. It destroyed, uh, Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor outside of Baghdad in nineteen eighty-one, as I mentioned a few moments ago it destroyed the North Korean reactor in Syria, uh, in September two thousand seven. Uh, so given, given the alternative of a nuclear Iran I think the military option is very much on the table for the Israelis. I don’t know what they’re gonna do but I don’t think they have much time. Both because, uh, that Iran is increasingly close to actually having a nuclear weapons capability and because, uh, at, at some point the Russians may yet deliver the, uh, what we call the S three hundred air defense system, a very sophisticated air defense system that Israel couldn’t penetrate, uh, which would effectively eliminate the Israeli military option.
So, I think we’re very close to a decision by Israel and, uh, and the consequences that will, that will, that will flow from that. [applause]