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Profile: John R. Bolton

 
  

Positions that John R. Bolton has held:

  • US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control during the administration of George W. Bush
  • US Ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons


 

Quotes

 
  

Summary, October 2003

   John Bolton claimed that Greg Thielmann had “invited himself” to his daily staff meetings, while Thielmann had told Seymour Hersh he had been assigned the duty. Bolton explained: “This was my meeting with the four assistant secretaries who report to me, in preparation for the Secretary's 8:30 a.m. staff meeting. This was within my family of bureaus. There was no place for INR or anyone else—the Human Resources Bureau or the Office of Foreign Buildings.” [New Yorker, 10/20/03]

Associated Events


 

Relations

 
  

No related entities for this entity.


 

John R. Bolton actively participated in the following events:

 
  

1994      US confrontation with Iran

       Referring to UN headquarters in New York City, John Bolton says: “The Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If it lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.” [USA Today, 3/7/2005]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton
          

January 26, 1998      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publishes a letter to President Clinton urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein because he is a “hazard” to “a significant portion of the world's supply of oil.” In a foretaste of what eventually happens, the letter calls for the US to go to war alone, attacks the United Nations, and says the US should not be “crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.” The letter is signed by many who will later lead the 2003 Iraq war. 10 of the 18 signatories later join the Bush Administration, including (future) Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Undersecretaries of State John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, presidential adviser for the Middle East Elliott Abrams, and Bush's special Iraq envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. [Sunday Herald, 3/16/03 Sources: January 26, 1998 Open Letter to Bill Clinton] Clinton does heavily bomb Iraq in late 1998, but the bombing doesn't last long and its long term effect is the break off of United Nations weapons inspections. [New York Times, 3/22/03]
People and organizations involved: William J. Bennett, Vin Weber, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, William Schneider Jr., Donald Rumsfeld, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Robert B. Zoellick, Peter Rodman, John R. Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, William Kristol, Paula J. Dobriansky, Robert Kagan, Francis Fukuyama, Richard Perle
          

February 19, 1998      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Committee for Peace and Security publishes an open letter to President Bill Clinton outlining a 9-point “comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime.” The letter is signed by a litany of former US government officials known for their neoconservative viewpoints. Several of the signatories are also involved with the Project for the New American Century and had endorsed a similar letter published by that organization the previous month. [CNN, 2/20/98; Committee For Peace and Security, 2/19/98 Sources: February 19, 1998 Open Letter to Bill Clinton]
People and organizations involved: Richard Armitage, Peter Rodman, Roger Robinson, Paul Wolfowitz, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, Robert A. Pastor, Max Singer, Peter Rosenblatt, Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Leon Wienseltier, Caspar Weinberger, Richard V. Allen, Frank Carlucci, Paula J. Dobriansky, William B. Clark, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Stephen Bryen, Richard Burt, Frank Gaffney, Jeffrey Gedmin, Sven F. Kraemer, Gary Schmitt, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Bernard Lewis, Frederick L. Lewis, Jarvis Lynch, Robert C. McFarlane, John R. Bolton, Fred C. Ikle, Stephen Solarz, David Wurmser, Dov S. Zakheim, Donald Rumsfeld, William Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Robert Kagan, Douglas Feith
          

Early 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Shortly after Bush is inaugurated into office, Greg Thielmann, an analyst for the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), is appointed to serve as the intelligence liaison to John Bolton. But Thielmann's intelligence briefings do not support Bolton's assumptions about Iraq, and Thielmann is soon barred from attending the meetings. According to Thielmann: “Bolton seemed to be troubled because INR was not telling him what he wanted to hear. I was intercepted at the door of his office and told, ‘The undersecretary doesn't need you to attend this meeting anymore. The undersecretary wants to keep this in the family.’” [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Greg Thielmann]
People and organizations involved: Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Greg Thielmann, John R. Bolton  Additional Info 
          

Between January 20, 2001 and June 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Undersecretary of State John Bolton and others in the US State Department's arms-control bureau grow increasingly irritated with Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Bustani is attempting to convince Saddam Hussein to sign the chemical weapons convention with hopes of eventually sending chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. But the Bush administration is opposed to these efforts, insisting that Iraq's alleged arsenal of chemical weapons is an issue that needs to be addressed by the UN Security Council, not the OPCW. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005 Sources: A unnamed State Department official who served as a deputy under Bolton, Jose M. Bustani] At some point, someone in the Bush administration suggests removing Bustani. Bolton reportedly “leap[s] on it enthusiastically” and subsequently becomes “very much in charge of the whole campaign” to oust him. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005 Sources: Avis Bohlen] Bustani will later tell the Guardian that he believes the Bush administration does not want Iraq to become a member of the OPCW because it might interfere with the administration's plan to secure a UN resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq. [Guardian, 4/16/2002] Bustani's view is supported by others. Retired Swiss diplomat Heinrich Reimann tells the Associated Press in 2005: “Many believed the US delegation didn't want meddling from outside in the Iraq business—that could be the case.” Similarly, former Bustani aide Bob Rigg, a New Zealander, says in no uncertain terms: “Why did they not want OPCW involved in Iraq? They felt they couldn't rely on OPCW to come up with the findings the US wanted.” A different perpective is offered by Ralph Earle, a veteran US arms negotiator who was part of Bolton's arms-control bureau. According to Earle, his group was unhappy with what they considered Bustani's mismanagement. Bustani “had a big ego,” Earle claims in an interview with the Associated Press. “He did things on his own,” and did not consider the interests of other countries like the US. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton, Bush administration, Jose M. Bustani
          

June 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       John Bolton allegedly telephones Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and, according to Bustani, tries “to interfere, in a menacing tone, in decisions that are the exclusive responsibility of the director-general.” Bolton “tried to order me around,” Bustani later explains in an interview with the Le Monde newspaper of France. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005] Bolton and others in the State Department's arms-control bureau are upset that Bustani is attempting to convince Saddam Hussein to sign the chemical weapons convention with hopes of eventually sending chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad (see Between January 20, 2001 and June 2001).
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton, Jose M. Bustani
          

July 9, 2001      US International Relations

       In New York City, the United States—the world's largest exporter of arms—informs delegates at the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons that it opposes any effort to create broad worldwide controls on the sale of small arms. “We do not support measures that would constrain legal trade and legal manufacturing of small arms and light weapons,” John Bolton, US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, tells the international body. “The vast majority of arms transfers in the world are routine and not problematic. Each member state of the United Nations has the right to manufacture and export arms for purposes of national defense.” But UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette notes that small arms have been the preferred weapons in 46 of 49 major conflicts since 1990, which have resulted in some 4 million deaths, 80 percent of which were women and children. The hundreds of diplomats, gun-control activists and representatives attending the meeting hope to formulate a plan, that although not legally binding, will lead to the development of national systems to regulate arms brokers and exports. Many also support a plan that would require small arms manufacturers to mark the weapons they produce so their movements can be traced. [CNN, 7/10/2001; United States Department of State, 7/9/2001]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton
          

February 2002      US Military

       Referring to a 1978 US pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states (see June 12, 1978), US Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton says in an interview with Arms Control Today, “We are just not into theoretical assertions that other administrations have made.” He explains: “We would do whatever is necessary to defend America's innocent civilian population.... The idea that fine theories of deterrence work against everybody ... has just been disproven by September 11.” [Los Angeles Times, 3/10/2003; The Washington Times, 2/22/2002] Just five years earlier, the Clinton administration had reaffirmed its commitment to the pledge (see April 11, 1995).
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton
          

February 28, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       John Bolton and other US officials fly to Europe and meet with Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). They demand that Bustani quietly resign from his position. Bustani refuses. He later explains to the New York Times, “They said they did not like my management style, but they said they were not prepared to elaborate.” [Associated Press, 6/5/2005; Guardian, 4/16/2002]
People and organizations involved: Jose M. Bustani, Bush administration, John R. Bolton
          

March 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The office of John Bolton, the undersecretary of state for arms control, issues a “white paper” asserting that Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), is seeking an “inappropriate role” in the United States' confrontation with Iraq. The paper is distributed to the member-states of the OPCW. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, John R. Bolton, Mickey Herskowitz
          

April 19, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       John Bolton, US ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), organizes a meeting with American members of the organization's staff. He arrives late, explaining that he was trying to find a replacement for the organization's director-general, Jose Bustani. He says during the meeting that the US has encountered “great difficulty finding people of the right caliber” because no one wants “to be associated with a dying organization.” But the staff had previously been told that the removal of Bustani would help revive the OPCW. Bolton then proceeds to explain that if the replacement is “like Bustani we will say ‘screw the organization. We'll dismantle our [chemical] weapons independently and monitor them ourselves.’” Bolton, referring to the US promise that the directorship would pass to another Latin American, complains that “Latin Americans are so characterized by sheer incompetence that they won't be able to make up their minds.” He tells the staff that “if any of this gets out of this room, I'll kill the person responsible.” [Guardian, 4/23/2002]
People and organizations involved: Jose M. Bustani, John R. Bolton
          

May 6, 2002      US International Relations

       The Bush administration effectively withdraws the US signature from the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a letter to Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton writes: “This is to inform you, in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000. The United States requests that its intention not to become a party, as expressed in this letter, be reflected in the depositary's status lists relating to this treaty.” [New York Times, 5/7/2002; United Nations, n.d. Sources: Letter from US to UN, 5/6/2002] The Bush administration defends its action, contending that the treaty infringes on US sovereignty because under its provisions an international prosecutor answerable to no one could initiate politically motivated or frivolous suits against US troops, military officers or officials. [BBC, 7/13/2002; New York Times, 5/7/2002] Bolton's letter is also intended to relieve the United States of its obligations under the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. That agreement prohibits the signatories of international treaties from taking steps to undermine the treaties they sign, even if they have not ratified them. [New York Times, 5/7/2002]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton, Bush administration, Kofi Annan
          

June 2002      US International Relations

       The Bush administration submits a proposed resolution to the UN Security Council that would grant indefinite immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) (see July 17, 1998) to all UN peacekeeping military personnel who are from nations that do not accept the court's jurisdiction. The proposal appeals to Article 16 of the Rome Statute which stipulates that the UN Security Council can grant deferrals on a temporary, case-by-case basis for nationals accused of war crimes who are from countries not party to the treaty. The US recommends that this provision for conditional immunity be universally pre-applied to all cases involving US military personnel engaged in UN peacekeeping. Immunity would be granted for a period of 12 months—but automatically and unconditionally renewed every year. As such, US troops would effectively be exempt from the jurisdiction of the ICC since it would take a UN Security Council resolution to end the automatic renewals and since the US holds veto power in the council. [New York Times, 7/11/2002; Boston Globe, 5/23/2002; Boston Globe, 7/1/2002; Independent, 7/4/2002] The US proposal is backed by threats that the US will withdraw its troops from international peacekeeping missions, starting with Bosnia (see June 30, 2002), and block funds to those missions as well. [Boston Globe, 5/23/2002; Agence France Presse, 7/10/2002]
People and organizations involved: Kofi Annan, John R. Bolton, Bush administration
          

August 3, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton tells John Humphries of the BBC: “Let there be no mistake... our policy... insists on regime change in Baghdad and that policy will not be altered whether the inspectors go in or not... we are content that at the appropriate moment we will have the requisite degree of international support.” When Humphries asks, “But if you don't have it, and all the indications are that at the moment you won't, then what?” Bolton responds, bluntly: “We will have it Mr. Humphries.” [BBC, 4/29/2005]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton
          

December 11, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John R. Bolton meet with UN Security Council representatives to argue the Bush administration's case for tightening sanctions on Iraq. Several of the 38 changes that are favored by the Bush administration are aimed at preventing Iraq from acquiring new military equipment—equipment that might be used in an attempt to defend itself in the event of a US and British invasion. Among such items are jammers to block satellite-positioning systems, ultra-wide-band radios and broadcast equipment. The US also wants to extend the import restrictions to several medicines that could be used as antidotes to chemical weapons agents, including atropine, pralidoxime and sodium nitrite. [New York Times, 12/12/02]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton
          

2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       John Bolton tells the Associated Press that Jose Bustani, the former director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) who was forced from his position under pressure from Washington (see 2003), had no authority to involve the OPCW in the 2002-2003 conflict over Iraq's alleged arsenal of illicit weapons. Iraq was “completely irrelevant” to Bustani's responsibilities, he insists. But in an interview with the Associated Press in the spring of 2005, Ralph Earle and Avis Bohlen, both of whom worked under Bolton in the State Department's arms-control bureau, will say the opposite. They tell the Associated Press that the enlisting of new treaty members was part of the OPCW chief's job. But they also claim that Bustani should have consulted with Washington beforehand. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005]
People and organizations involved: Ralph Earle, Jose M. Bustani, John R. Bolton, Avis Bohlen
          

February 17, 2003      US confrontation with Iran

       Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tells a visiting delegation of American congressmen, joined by US Undersecretary of State John Bolton, that Iran, Libya and Syria should be stripped of weapons of mass destruction after Iraq. “These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of weapons mass destruction, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve,” Sharon reportedly says. He says Israel considers Iran a security threat, and that the US should have plans for dealing with Iran. Sharon also says that Israel was not involved in the war with Iraq “but the American action is of vital importance.” [Ha'aretz, 2/18/2003]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton
          

Autumn 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton changes the procedures for handling intelligence in the Pentagon so that his office will receive more classified documents. “I found that there was lots of stuff that I wasn't getting and that the INR [State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research] analysts weren't including,” Bolton later recalls in an interview with Seymour Hersh. “I didn't want it filtered. I wanted to see everything—to be fully informed. If that puts someone's nose out of joint, sorry about that.” [New Yorker, 10/27/2003 Sources: John R. Bolton]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton, Bureau of Intelligence and Research
          

November 12, 2003      US confrontation with Iran

       John Bolton, speaking at a dinner for the right-wing publication American Spectator, calls the conclusions of a forthcoming IAEA report (see November 10, 2003) on Iran's nuclear activities “impossible to believe.” The widely leaked report says inspectors have found no evidence that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons. Bolton insists that Iran's “massive and covert ... effort to acquire sensitive nuclear capabilities make sense only as part of a nuclear weapons program.” [US Department of State, 11/12/2003] Responding to Bolton's remarks, IAEA's Director General Mohamed ElBaradei tells Time magazine, “We are not in the business of judging intentions. What we look for are facts and proof, and so far we have no proof of a nuclear-weapons program. The jury is still out.” [Time Europe, 11/24/2003]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed ElBaradei, John R. Bolton
          

February 3, 2004      US confrontation with Iran

       During a visit to Russia, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton tells the Russian daily Kyodo News that Iran is pursuing a secret nuclear weapons development program unbeknownst to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). [Antiatom News, 2/3/2004]
People and organizations involved: International Atomic Energy Agency, John R. Bolton
          

June 24, 2004      US confrontation with Iran

       John R. Bolton, under secretary of state for arms control, tells the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia that Iran is pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. “[Iran's] activities [go] well beyond any conceivable peaceful nuclear program,” he says, stating that no “comparable oil-rich nation has ever engaged, or would be engaged, in this set of activities.” He notes that Iran's uranium reserves account for less than one percent of its vast oil reserves and that its gas reserves are the second largest in the world. [US Department of State, 6/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton
          

March 7, 2005      US confrontation with Iran

       President George Bush selects John Bolton, currently an official in the State Department, to be the US ambassador to the UN. Bolton is a staunch neoconservative with a long record of opposing multilateral efforts. As undersecretary of state for arms control, Bolton opposed a multilateral effort in July 2001 to create broad worldwide controls on the sale of small arms (see ). In February 2002, Bolton made it clear that the Bush administration did not feel bound to the 1978 pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states (see February 2002). Bolton was also a strong advocate of taking unilateral action against Saddam Hussein (see January 26, 1998) and in May 2002, he effectively removed the US signature from the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC) (see ). [USA Today, 3/7/2005]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, John R. Bolton
          

October 15, 2005      US confrontation with Iran

       John Bolton, US ambassador to the UN, accuses Iran of trying for 18 years to develop nuclear weapons while lying about it. Bolton tells the BBC that Iran wants to intimidate the rest of the Middle East and possibly supply terrorists with nuclear weapons. [BBC, 10/15/2005]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton
          

November 8, 2005      US-Cuba (1959-2005)

       For the fourteenth consecutive year, the UN General Assembly, in a record 182 to 4 vote, calls on the US to end its four-decade-old embargo against Cuba (see 1960). Voting against the measure are the US, Israel, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. Micronesia abstains, while El Salvador, Iraq, Morocco, and Nicaragua do not vote. [Associated Press, 11/8/2005; EuroNews, 11/9/2005; CBC News, 11/8/2005] (The Palau Archipelago was administered by the United States as the last UN trust territory until 1994. The Marshall Islands, taken by the US during World War II, became self-governing under US military protection in 1976, achieving free-association status in 1986. The combined population of Palau and the Marshall Islands is less than 80,000.) [The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001-2005 (A); The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001-2005 (B)] Before the vote, speaker after speaker in the General Assembly debate speaks out against the US sanctions [Associated Press, 11/8/2005] , while Ronald Godard, a deputy United States ambassador, asserts that “if the people of Cuba are jobless, hungry, or lack medical care, as Castro admits, it's because of his economic mismanagement.” [New York Times, 11/9/2005] After the votes are tallied up, many delegates in the General Assembly hall reportedly burst into applause. [Associated Press, 11/8/2005] US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, calls the vote “a complete exercise in irrelevancy.” [Associated Press, 11/8/2005]
People and organizations involved: Ronald Godard, UN General Assembly, Israel, United States, John R. Bolton
          

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