Yesterday I sat down with our ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, hours before he addressed the Los Angeles World Affairs Council at the InterContinental Hotel in Century City. Afghan-born Khalilzad, the highest-ranking Muslim in the Bush administration and a name often mentioned as a secretary of state candidate should a Republican win in 2008, was really friendly and opened up on a variety of subjects. In today’s L.A. Daily News, I write about U.S. plans for a third set of sanctions against Iran — NIE or no NIE:
“‘The resolution is being worked on right now as we speak,’ he said, adding that most of the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany met recently to ink a draft.
‘But I think, broadly speaking, there should be a draft before Christmas. That’s our expectation.’
The pending resolution comes in the wake of the National Intelligence Estimate released this week stating that Iran ceased its nuclear weapons program in 2003, which fired up critics of the Bush administration’s assessment of the Iranian threat.
Khalilzad said drafting of the resolution was under way before the release of the NIE report.
‘So we will have to see the impact of the NIE,’ he said. ‘Of course, we will argue that the NIE dealt with the covert, undeclared weapons program, and we saw that the NIE stated the result of pressure in the context of changes in the region. … The Libyans came clean on their program and Iran, fearing possible discovery of their program, stopped or suspended their covert program.’ …”
I saved a couple of questions on press freedom for my journalism site. And the rest of our conversation? You’ll just have to wait for my column!
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