Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's Interview with ABC's This Week, on Iran (Excerpts)

February 12, 2006

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, everyone. It is not hot here in the Northeast. We've got our first big snowstorm of the year, but our headliner made it in. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, welcome back to This Week, Madame Secretary.

SECRETARY RICE: Thanks, George. It's nice to be with you.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's begin with Iran. Yesterday, the President of Iran, Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad, kicked up the nuclear confrontation again. He said that Iran was considering withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. What are the consequences of that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, clearly Iran is -- if they do so, would only deepen their own isolation. The really remarkable thing over the last several months is that there is really now a tremendous coalition of countries that are saying exactly the same thing to Iran, a coalition of countries in the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors that has now reported the Iranian dossier to the UN Security Council. All members of the Permanent 5 -- China, the United States, Russia, Great Britain and France -- joined in that consensus. Countries like India are in that consensus.

And so the Iranians now need to step back, look at where they are, see that they're isolated on this issue and return to a state in which they go back and seal the activities that they have begun, get back into good graces with the IAEA and get back into negotiations with those who are prepared to offer them a course for civil nuclear power.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: But they seem so intent on pursuing this peaceful nuclear program, and in the past President Bush has said we simply cannot tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. Can we tolerate an Iran with a nuclear weapon?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, let's make a distinction here. Iran has a path to a peaceful nuclear program. The Russians have given them a proposal. The Europeans gave them a proposal. There are many ways that they could seek a peaceful nuclear program. The question is: Will they be allowed to have technologies that could lead to a nuclear weapon? That's reprocessing and enrichment. And there, nobody trusts them with that because they've been lying to the international community for 18 years.

An Iran with a nuclear weapon would be a threat, a grave threat, to international peace and security. I think everybody understands that.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The London Daily Telegraph reported this morning that strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids on Iran and they quote a Pentagon advisor saying, "This is more than just a standard military contingency assessment. This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months."

Have we moved closer to a military strike in recent months?

SECRETARY RICE: The United States remains dedicated to a diplomatic approach to this. We believe that a diplomatic approach that is as robust as the one that we now anticipate, with Russia and China and others united about this, will give us a way to resolve this problem. The President never takes any of his options off the table. People shouldn't want the President of the United States to take options off the table. But there is a diplomatic solution to this. Now that we are in the Security Council, there are many steps that the Security Council can take, authority that the Security Council has, to help enforce IAEA requirements on Iran.

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