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Former US Ambassador to UN Skeptical Over Latest Vote on Iran

A former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says only regime change will cause Iran to halt its nuclear program. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington, Ambassador John Bolton spoke one day after the U.N. Security council voted to impose new sanctions on Tehran for refusing to stop enriching uranium.

John Bolton says the Security Council resolution is a "useful" measure but will not, by itself, force Iran to shelve its nuclear ambitions.

"Iran has made it clear they are going to continue to pursue their 20-year-long effort to get nuclear weapons," he said. "I think they have shown their determination to resist the Security Council, and there is no sign that these resolutions are making them back away from that."

The former ambassador spoke on CNN's Late Edition program. The Security Council resolution, which was approved unanimously, bans Iranian arms sales and freezes the assets of people and organizations tied to the country's nuclear program. It follows another resolution, approved in December, which banned countries from supplying materials and technology to Iran that could be used to further the country's nuclear and missile development programs.

Tehran scoffed at the December measure, and reacted similarly to the most recent resolution. Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that suspension of nuclear activities "is neither an option nor a solution."

Meanwhile, the European Union's top foreign policy official, Javier Solana, has expressed hope for a resumption of talks with Iran aimed at a negotiated settlement of the nuclear impasse.

But Ambassador Bolton says he is skeptical that any amount of diplomatic pressure will convince Iran to change course.

"We need to accelerate a lot of things that are already underway: keeping Iran out of international financial markets more fully, denying them materials and technology they need to complete their effort to gain mastery over the nuclear fuel cycle," he said. "But I think, ultimately, the only thing that will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons is regime change in Tehran. This regime has shown zero evidence that it has changed its strategic decision. And, to date, the pressure that has been applied to them has not moved them an inch."

Bolton added that the United States must be prepared to deal military with Iran, but that it is the Iranian people who should bring about a change in their government.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, and that the international community has no right to interfere. The United States, the European Union and others have long-suspected Tehran aims to build a nuclear-weapons arsenal.

Tensions between Iran and the West flared over Tehran's detention of 15 British naval personnel Friday. Iran says the detainees entered Iranian waters while inspecting a merchant ship in a Persian Gulf waterway. Britain is demanding their immediate release.