'Israel will have to stop Iran'

At Herzliya Conference, Bolton says NIE report will render US a mere "bystander" on Iran conflict.

steinitz 224.88 (photo credit: Yotam Fromm / Courtesy Herzliya Conference)
steinitz 224.88
(photo credit: Yotam Fromm / Courtesy Herzliya Conference)
"The questions come to Israel, whether it will use military force to stop Iran," former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said Tuesday. Speaking at the eighth Herzliya Conference, in a special session devoted to the Iranian nuclear race, Bolton said: "The United States used to have a policy on Iran and recently there was a new push to create a new policy [sic] but sadly, due to the direction American policy is going, it seems that for the next few years the United States will be a bystander to the process." "It's close to zero percent chance that the Bush administration will authorize military action against Iran before leaving office. At the same time in Teheran, they took careful notice of how Israel got into Syria and began preparing for such an action against Iran. Without American policy backing anti-Iran action, Israel should be willing to see itself as a possible last resort." "No one should be under any illusions about the US's part [in] the Iranian situation in the coming year," he added. In related news, Bolton spoke at length about the Israeli strike in Syria on September 6, 2007, which was reported in detail only in the foreign media. He criticized sharply the Israeli government's decision to censor information regarding the strike. "Why wouldn't the government of Israel want to take the credit for a stunningly successful military strike?" he asked. "Our governments ... know the details and I wonder if that censorship and classification of information is necessary. "I don't understand the reason for strong Israeli censorship in the news. The Syrian and North Korea governments know the whole truth and the USA and Israeli Governments know part of the truth. It's the citizens of all four countries who don't. "Due to its government censorship the people of Israel can know what it feels like to be a citizen of north Korea," Bolton remarked. Bolton continued to describe how North Korea, once it succeeded in being removed from the US list of terror-sponsoring countries, would become a major player in the Middle East arms race. "The proliferation of nuclear weapons in the middle east will start with North Korea. It counterfeits money, sells narcotics, and it will do anything for hard money," he said. He added that Iranian-North Korean cooperation was "getting more intensive." Also speaking at the session, former chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and Likud MK Yuval Steinitz blasted the American National Intelligence Estimate, calling it "the most bizarre report I have ever read." Steinitz said the report, issued jointly at the end of 2007 by several American intelligence agencies, "seriously harmed the struggle to contain Iran. The report gave Russia and China a pretext to soften their stand towards Iran and therefore created great damage, despite being essentially unfounded." "The report was given to the White House and relevant agencies unannounced, so there is a certain problem regarding [the American] democracy," he added. The report stated that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, but by neglecting to explain why Iran halted its program, the report failed to advise of the right course of action, Steinitz asserted. The NIE, he said, reasoned that the fact Iran halted its program in 2003 proved that sanctions and other diplomatic efforts were working, "but one must remember that in 2003 the US began its campaign in Iraq, and it's most natural to think that military pressure, that is, the fact that the US went to war in Iraq, is what caused, [Iranian] policy makers to change their mind. But the report doesn't say this, because this would hint that the US needs to impose a military ultimatum [on Iran.]"