NEW YORK, March 2: The US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said on Wednesday the way India and Pakistan had obtained nuclear arms was legitimate, in contrast to Iran, which he accused of pursuing atomic weapons in violation of its international undertakings.
While Iran is seeking to ‘conceal development of nuclear weapons under the guise of a legitimate programme’ to generate nuclear power, Mr Bolton said: “India and Pakistan did it legitimately.”
His comments, made in response to an audience question following a speech to a meeting of the World Jewish Congress, appeared to go farther than the administration of President George Bush has previously gone in embracing Islamabad and new Delhi’s nuclear programmes.
They also coincided with the visit by President Bush to India in which Washington offered New Delhi de facto recognition of its nuclear arms programme.
At the same time, the Bush administration is pressing Iran to turn its back on a programme to enrich uranium on its own soil, a plan Tehran insists is intended only to produce electric power but which Washington insists aims to develop nuclear bombs.
Mr Bolton noted that neither India nor Pakistan had signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, intended to contain the spread of atomic arms, while Iran had done so.
“I give them (India and Pakistan) credit at least that what they did was consistent with the obligations they undertook,” Mr Bolton said.
“They never pretended that they had given up the pursuit of nuclear weapons. They never tried to tie what they were doing under a cloak of international legitimacy. They did it openly and they did it legitimately,” he said. —Reuters