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'New kids on block' may boost Iran nuke program

The Obama administration says it is prepared to engage in direct talks with the Iranian government over nuclear weapons, but former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told WND the move is naive and will only give credibility and legitimacy to the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.

“I’m very worried with the new Secretary of State John Kerry and with a potential new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel that these new kids on the block are going to say, ‘We can do better than everybody’s done before,” Bolton said. “‘We know how to deal with the Iranian leadership and we’re going to negotiate something on the nuclear weapons program.’

“You can always reach agreement with an adversary by giving away your position. I’m just worried that in their desire to be able to say, ‘See, we had a success. We cut a deal,’ that in effect we’ll legitimize the Iranian nuclear weapons program and give them the capability to proceed unimpeded toward their long-sought objective of deliverable nuclear weapons,” said Bolton, who warned an active nuclear program in Iran would be a direct threat to Israel, the region and the entire world if the nukes get in the hands of terrorist groups.

The concerns about Hagel’s views on Iran have been well-documented, but Bolton also dreads the type of approach Kerry will take on this as well.

“He has a record of naivete and faith in negotiations that’s almost theological, and unfortunately, not assertive and protective of American interests,” Bolton said. “I’m very worried that as bad as the first term was, the second term may be even worse.”

Bolton dealt with the Iranian nuclear ambitions during his time at the United Nations and has direct knowledge of how the regime would approach direct talks with the U.S.

“They’re very patient. They have a long-term view. They’ve clearly got some things they’d like to have. They’d like to see some of the economic sanctions eased. They’d like assurances that their nuclear program is not going to be attacked, and they want to buy time so they can continue to work on that program,” said Bolton, who notes that the Iranians have “taken us to the cleaners” in all previous negotiations.

Bolton is also dubious of the official Obama policy against containment and dedicated only to preventing a nuclear weapons program in Iran. He has a hard time believing Obama will stick to this policy when it matters most.

“Everybody always says all options are on the table, meaning the possibility of military force by the United States, but I don’t think anybody seriously believes that will happen, certainly they don’t in Israel and I fear, even more importantly, they don’t worry about it in Tehran,” Bolton said.

The crisis in Egypt also has Bolton’s attention, as massive protests continue over the constitutional power grab from President Mohammad Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood allies. The protests have been met with brutal responses from authorities, and those crackdowns have prompted even more demonstrations. In addition, the Egyptian economy remains stagnant, due in part to rapidly dwindling tourism revenues. Bolton believes this gives Morsi a very weak grip on power.

“A variety of factors have contributed to chaos in the streets, and it’s not at all clear how this is going to sort out or whether the military will have to step in. In all events, we can see that Morsi has not abandoned his ideology. Even as we speak, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is visiting Cairo,” said Bolton, adding that Ahmadinejad is the first Iranian leader to do so since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

Bolton also provided additional insight into last week’s reported Israeli airstrikes against a Syrian convoy headed to the Lebanese border.

“The best information we have at this point is that it was an attack on a convoy taking advanced air defense systems into Lebanon,” Bolton said. “I think the reason those systems were moving to Lebanon really has more to do with Iran than it does to do with Syria.

“I think they were intended to go to areas controlled by the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon because I think at some point we’re going to see another confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel as we did in the 2006 war,” Bolton said.

He believes moving weaponry into Lebanon could be designed to launch a quick counter-strike if Israel attacks the Iranian nuclear program or to engage Israel so as to prevent it from attacking Iran.