John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, says in an interview with U.S. News that despite the Bush administration's continued attachment to a diplomatic solution on nuclear programs in Iran, he favors seeking a change of regimes there.
"My preference is regime change," says Bolton, who is now affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "The regime is more fragile and has less support than people think."
Bolton called military strikes on Iran's nuclear sites "the last resort" and "deeply unattractive," but he nonetheless said that the Bush administration or a future administration may have to confront that choice to prevent Iran from fielding a nuclear arsenal. On regime change, he cited the dissatisfaction with Iran's ruling mullahs among many youth and restiveness in some of the areas populated by ethnic minorities. But he says that even clandestine U.S. support for regime change "may take longer than we have" on the nuclear issue.
Iran is mastering uranium enrichment techniques despite facing technical problems, he adds, and the U.N. Security Council is not likely to direct decisive sanctions against Iran. Consequently, within the Bush administration, he says, "there is frustration, and that's an understatement."