Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) practically accuses John Bolton of undermining American national security by failing to aggressively help secure the elimination in Russia of “about 70 tons of weapons-grade plutonium.”
This is the most overt comment yet from a Republican who has problems with John Bolton’s competence and appropriateness as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
I am pleased to say that Pete Domenici ranks highly in our evolving Leadership League roster.
Here’s the key excerpt from the Albuquerque Journal article:
Domenici, in an interview last week, said he and U.N. ambassador-designate John Bolton have clashed over Bolton’s role in helping the U.S. and Russia secure nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union.
“He’s not my favorite State Department person,” Domenici said of Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control. “I am lukewarm about this appointment.”
Domenici said Bolton has failed to finalize a Plutonium Disposition Agreement with Russia that could lead to the elimination of about 70 tons of weapons-grade plutonium.
Domenici, along with Sen. Richard Lugar, Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has tried for years to help secure the former Soviet Union’s plutonium stockpiles.
Bolton, undersecretary for arms control during the president’s first term, has reportedly been stymied by a U.S.-Russian dispute over liability protection if there were an accident or sabotage at a Russian facility.
“I’ve been upset because it’s been delayed and I’ve questioned him on it,” Domenici said.
This isn’t the first time Domenici has publicly voiced his irritation with Bolton. In June 2004, Domenici told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Bolton wasn’t up to the job.
“I’ve been amazed that the leadership of the United States and Russia cannot resolve this issue,” Domenici said in testimony to the committee. “Failure to resolve the issue is simply not consistent with the urgency that the administration has attached to nuclear proliferation.”
“Mr. John Bolton, who has been assigned to negotiate this, has a very heavy responsibility,” Domenici said. “I hate to say that I am not sure to this point that he’s up to it.”
If you feel up to it, call Pete Domenici’s office and leave a message for the Senator — or his Chief of Staff, Steve Bell — and thank him for the seriousness and leadership he is bringing to this debate about John Bolton.
(202) 224-6621. Be nice — and give them credit.
— Steve Clemons