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Bolton Briefs JINSA: Iran is the Number One Obstacle to a Stable Middle East

In a May 20 conference call with JINSA leaders, Ambassador John Bolton discussed the meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu this past Monday and the issue of Iran. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, served in government most recently as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2005-2006 and was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security from 2001-2005.

Click here to read Amb. Bolton's full bio

"Although [President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu] have a strong interest in giving the appearance that they work well together and that the relationship is strong," Bolton said, "the views between [them] are widely divergent."

President Obama is on record stating that progress on Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations would help to mitigate the problem of Iran's nuclear ambitions. Bolton went on to explain, however, that Netanyahu made it clear that Iran's support for terrorism and its nuclear threat must be addressed before any talk about the future shape of a Palestinian state. "Neither leader needs to be perceived as in disagreement, but their was no progress on reconciling their fundamental views," Bolton said.

Bolton went on to explain that the outcome of Iran's upcoming election, slated to occur in mid-June, is not consequential. Both the moderates and the hardliners in Iran want to continue with the nuclear program, whether announcing it publicly or not. President Obama, however, still plans to hold a bilateral meeting with the Iranian president sometime after the election.

"The question still remains," Bolton continued, "will Israel use targeted military force against Iran's nuclear facilities?" The risk of misjudging when Iran will develop a nuclear weapon is very risky, and therefore, military action against Iran's nuclear capabilities is a declining option, he explained. And once Iran acquires that nuclear weapon, there will be nothing to stop others from acquiring a small nuclear arsenal – unimaginable in that unstable region.

Bolton continued, "Most of the Obama foreign policy establishment are not as concerned with a nuclear Iran." He said they believe there would always be a way to deter Iran once they acquired nuclear capability and are already considering options that follow this train of thought. An about-face from Bush Administration policy, President Obama believes that simply showing up at the negotiating table will fundamentally change the U.S.-Iran dynamic, Bolton said.

"They don't see the sense of urgency I see," he concluded. The options remain, however - either military action is taken against Iran's nuclear program or Iran develops a nuclear weapon.

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