Introduction

Ambassador John Bolton is currently serving as the 27th United States National Security Advisor. Previously, Bolton served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006, and is a former senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), senior advisor for Freedom Capital Investment Management as well as a commentator for Fox News, and of counsel in the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis. This interview covers the history of Iran’s nuclear program, the IRGC, and affiliated organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, and Al-Qaeda in the context of recent history in the Middle East and US relations.

According to a recent US military study, Iran recently “became the tenth country in the world to develop a nuclear weapon. Though less powerful in terms of kilowatts compared with other nuclear powers, [Iran] now possesses a small number of tactical nuclear weapons.”

Interview with John Bolton | Washington D.C. 

Well during the 1950s in the Eisenhower administration there was a lot of optimism that, uh, atomic energy would provide peaceful electrical generating power for much of the rest of the world so under what was called the Atoms for Peace Program the United States fostered the growth of the nuclear industry around the world. What was not fully appreciated at the time was that as nuclear technology spread so too did the risk of nuclear proliferation.  But in the case of Iran, the Shah’s nuclear program we believe was peaceful during the time that it was undertaken.  The real shift came after the Islamic revolution of 1979.  Sometime during the mid to late 1980s, we believe that the Ayatollahs began a nuclear weapons program in a very serious way looking to find ways to get enriched uranium or plutonium reprocessed from the spent fuel of nuclear reactors to develop into a nuclear weapon.  The United States was concerned about this during the ‘80s and ‘90s but really did not have much visibility into what exactly the Iranian regime was up to.  We became more concerned as evidence came to light of the proliferation network of Dr. A. Q. Khan, sometimes called the father of the Pakistani nuclear weapons program.  Khan was a real proliferation entrepreneur.  He had stolen uranium enrichment technology from Eurenco, the European enrichment company, he used to develop Pakistan’s uranium enrichment capability, and he sold it to rogue states around the world.  

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