Bolton in a China Shop

For more than a year, representatives of 35 member states have been preparing a draft "outcome document" for the "high-level event" (HLE) involving heads of state that will immediately precede this month’s 60th session of the UN General Assembly.

If anyone thought John Bolton – our ambassador to the United Nations for the next year, sans Senate confirmation – had been kicked upstairs where he couldn’t do more harm internationally, think again.

Bolton immediately dashed off letters [.pdf] to each UN member state conveying last minute amendments to the draft outcome document on (a) poverty, hunger, and disease (b) counterterrorism, (c) genocide/ethnic cleansing, (d) secretariat management reform, (e) establishment of a peacebuilding commission, and (f) disarmament and nonproliferation.

The Bolton "amendments" to the draft outcome document consist of additions and deletions – mostly deletions – having little chance of being accepted.

For example, the draft outcome document called on all member states to "pursue and intensify negotiations with a view to advancing [nuclear] disarmament and strengthening the international [nuclear] nonproliferation regime."

Bolton agreed that the proliferation of "weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems" and "the possibility that terrorists might acquire such weapons" continues to be the preeminent threat to international peace and security. But Bolton deleted all that about pursuing nuke disarmament and strengthening international nonproliferation regimes.

Nor does Bolton agree with the other delegates that "progress in disarmament and nonproliferation is essential to strengthening international peace and security." In fact, Bolton wants to strike the term "disarmament" almost every place it appears in the HLE draft document – just as his minions prevented any discussion at the 2005 Review Conference on the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons of our "unequivocal undertaking" at the 2000 RevCon "to accomplish the total elimination" of our nuclear arsenal.

Nor is Bolton willing to allow the other delegates to reiterate their "firm commitment to the NPT and its three pillars; disarmament, nonproliferation, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy." Bolton refuses to honor Iran’s "inalienable right" under the NPT to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, much less honor our commitment to implement "13 practical steps" to nuke disarmament.

Nor will Bolton agree to a call by the other delegates to "maintain a moratorium on nuclear test explosions, pending entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty." Nor is Bolton receptive to a call by the other delegates to "sign and ratify the treaty."

Nor is Bolton willing to "support and continue to work toward the establishment of effectively verifiable nuclear-free zones," especially in the Middle East, which would require Israel to give up its nukes.

Nor to reaffirm our commitment made pursuant to Security Council Resolution 984 to provide assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the treaty – such as Iran – that we won’t nuke them.

Nor to "take action" to "prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery" only within a "multilateral framework." Bolton insists on the right not only to take unilateral action, but to take such action against "the possibility that terrorists might acquire such weapons."

Nor to "respect the full rights of states that meet their nonproliferation obligations under the NPT to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including through access to markets for nuclear fuel and related services."

Nor to agree to "the commencement, without delay, of negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty" or for "effective measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space."

Finally, Bolton urges all the HLE delegates – as he urged all delegates to the 2005 NPT RevCon – to endorse the Bush-Bolton Proliferation Security Initiative and its Statement of Interdiction Principles.

In general, Bolton believes the HLE draft final document is "overly prescriptive, repetitive, and unfocused, reflecting little that promotes reform of the United Nations."

In particular, it "emphasizes ‘disarmament’ when the true threat to international security stems from proliferation. It does not include issues of contemporary importance such as the Proliferation Security Initiative."

It "attempts to purport agreement" on various issues that have not been resolved here or in other venues, including "aspects of the NPT that did not achieve consensus" at the 2005 RevCon.

Consensus was not achieved on those issues at the 2005 RevCon largely because Bolton’s minions wouldn’t allow those issues to even be mentioned, much less debated.

Because of Bolton, the 2005 RevCon was an unmitigated disaster. It is beginning to look like – because of Bolton – the high-level event will be a disaster, too.

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.