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US Ambassador to the UN Discusses US Position on a wide-range of Issues

The United States has taken over the presidency of the U.N. Security Council for the month of February. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said the main task of the U.N. Security Council is to be more effective in the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and in the global war on terrorism.

Speaking with host Carol Castiel of VOA News Now’s Press Conference USA, Ambassador Bolton said that the issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons program represents an important test case, and the United States strongly backs the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) reporting Iran to the Security Council. But the U.S. envoy warned that the Iranians might “pretend” they are interested in negotiations, while they actually pursue a strategy to acquire nuclear weapons, which is something the United States cannot allow. He also suggested that Iran is trying to intimidate the United States and its allies by convincing people that it is “prepared to act irrationally.”

Ambassador Bolton predicted that much of the Security Council’s work this month would concern matters of peacekeeping. He noted that the United Nations currently operates 18 peacekeeping missions staffed by 80,000 U.N. troops. He questioned the need for so many missions, arguing that the world body is overstretched. But the Ambassador said one of the pressing issues facing the Council is whether to add another mission in an attempt to quell the violence in Sudan’s Darfur region, where “genocide has been occurring.”

Ambassador Bolton said he hopes to use the Council presidency to focus attention on U.N. reform. He predicted that a major event this month would be the release of a report that world leaders ordered at last September’s U.N. summit. The report will review and evaluate all responsibilities given to the United Nations since it was founded 60 years ago. The U.S. envoy said that over the course of its history the world body has grown “like a coral reef,” with no strategic planning and increasing programs, some of which are outmoded and ineffective. He said President Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Rice are “very serious” about U.N. reform. And it’s important that people understand that means “real reform” and not just “cosmetic reform.”

Regarding the choice of the next U.N. Secretary-General, Ambassador Bolton said the most important qualification is that person be capable of running a huge bureaucracy. That will require a “worldwide search” for the best-qualified person. He noted that the United States has never recognized the notion of geographic rotation, although many countries in the world feel that it’s “Asia’s turn.” Ambassador Bolton said he favors Security Council enlargement to reflect a new distribution of power since the Cold War, and the United States believes that Japan deserves to become a permanent