US official says Libya provides model for Iran to follow

BALTIMORE (AP) — The restoration of US diplomatic relations with Libya should show Iran that it would receive a warm response from the international community if it abandoned its nuclear programme and its support for terrorist organisations, United Nations Ambassador John Bolton said Friday.

But Bolton said the actions and pronouncements of the Iranian government, particularly under its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left little reason for optimism that it would follow Libya’s lead.

“This is a man who has said the Holocaust never took place, who has said that Israel should be wiped off the map, who last year sponsored a conference with the charming title ‘The World Without the United States,” Bolton said in a speech to the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs.

“This is not the sort of figure that inspires any confidence that an Iran with nuclear weapons would behave in a responsible fashion.” The United States announced on Monday that it would remove Libya from its list of nations that sponsor terrorism and plans to restore diplomatic relations with Muammar Qadhafi’s government. The nations have not had full diplomatic relations since 1980.

“We didn’t seek the overthrow of Colonel Qadhafi’s regime. You don’t have to like it,” Bolton said. “But you can recognise that by abandoning the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, by taking that proliferation threat off the table, and by shifting 180 degrees in their position on terrorism, they’ve come to the point where they merit full diplomatic recognition.” Bolton stressed that President George W. Bush is seeking an economic solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. He said that if Iran ultimately rejects a package of incentives to suspend uranium enrichment — it has already rejected an incomplete incentive package — a Security Council resolution that would lead to economic sanctions is likely.

“I think that the vote at this point would be very substantial in favour of that resolution. We certainly hope that Russia and China would join in with us,” Bolton said.

“If Russia and China are not prepared to join, we will proceed in any event, because we think it’s important that the Security Council make a clear statement of the behaviour that we expect from Iran.” The UN ambassador mocked Iran’s assertions that its nuclear programme is only for peaceful purposes.

“They said they need to do this because, after all, they’re running out of oil and natural gas. Of course, Iran is one of the world’s principal petroleum-exporting countries,” said Bolton, who noted that a Department of Energy study concluded recently that “at its present rate of export and consumption, it will probably run out of oil and natural gas in 300 or 400 years.”

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