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Condoleezza Rice Interview With Sean Hannity

Interview With Sean Hannity

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
April 13, 2006

(4:15 p.m. EST)

MR. HANNITY: All right. As we roll along, this is the Sean Hannity Show. Thanks for checking in, glad you're with us, and on our newsmaker line is the Secretary of State, soon to be head of the NFL, Condoleezza Rice, is back with us.

SECRETARY RICE: Hi, Sean. How are you?

MR. HANNITY: I'm good. How are you doing?

SECRETARY RICE: Just fine, thank you.

MR. HANNITY: Are you enjoying the new job?

SECRETARY RICE: I am. I have really enjoyed it. I have liked the travel and I like the contact with people, so yes, I have no complaints.

MR. HANNITY: I hear there's a job for Commissioner available.

SECRETARY RICE: I know. You know, Sean, my ship came in and I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave it.

MR. HANNITY: Well, you know, boy, that would be great if we -- I know that's a dream of yours. People that don't know; you're a huge, huge football fan and I hope one day, that dream comes true for you. There is also a dream of a lot of other people that you may run for President one day and I'm sure you haven't given much thought to that.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, no, no. That's one I really don't want. I think the NFL Commissioner maybe one day, but I'm not the sort who runs for office, although I have a lot of respect for people who do.

MR. HANNITY: All right. Let's talk about a few serious issues if we can. You said yesterday that the UN Security Council must consider strong steps to induce Tehran to change course as it relates to their nuclear program. We know that Karl Rove is on record today saying that the Iranian President Ahmadi-Nejad is not a rational human being and he talked at length about how he actually spoke to the United Nations and thought that he had people transfixed to his every word because a halo was over his head.

Do you agree with that assessment?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't know Ahmadi-Nejad. I've never met him and I do know that he says things that are simply not acceptable in polite international company. And whether it's from -- whatever reason he says it, it just shouldn't be said. You can not have a circumstance in which one country is calling for another country to be wiped off the map. And there was universal condemnation of that and there should have been universal condemnation of it, but we have to focus not just on what he's saying. We have to focus on the behavior of the Iranian regime and thus far, every time the international community has said, "Iran, you must do this," Iran has done just the opposite. And that's what I'm focused on.

MR. HANNITY: All right. Let's talk about what strong steps mean.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we can't go to the Security Council and have another presidential statement, Sean. We just can't. We did that and the statement said that after 30 days, we would reassess the situation. Nothing suggests that Iran is doing anything but defying the international community. And I think that means you have to look at the means that are available to the Security Council. You know, the Security Council has the ability to compel a state to act through, for instance, a Chapter 7 resolution.

Now, what that means is that there are enforcement actions. For instance, you could have freezes of assets, political isolation, you could have a number of means to make it very difficult for the Iranians to continue this policy unless they're prepared to face real isolation.

MR. HANNITY: When Ahmadi-Nejad or the Iranian president or Iran states that they want to wipe Israel off the map, that's something we have to believe, that they are serious about that if they say it; correct?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, of course, you have to take it seriously and you take it seriously because also, Iran has always made clear in its policies that they do not recognize the right of Israel to exist and that, in fact, they don't believe that Israel should exist. So, Ahmadi-Nejad said it in a more, perhaps, unvarnished way, but the policy of the Iranian Government has never been to accept Israel's existence.

MR. HANNITY: Joining us on our newsmaker line is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Why is it important that America prepare for a worst-case scenario, and that would be plans for military action against a country like Iran, in light of recent threats?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President of the United States is never going to take his options off the table and I don't really think people should want the President to take his options off the table. The Iranians need to know that the President has options.

Now, as the President said, there's a lot of wild speculation going on around Washington about what is being planned and what isn't being planned and I wanted people to know that we are committed to a diplomatic course. And particularly, if the international community can speak with one voice and speak strongly in the way we were talking about earlier, it's going to get the Iranians' attention. So we're committed to a diplomatic course, but you simply can't be in a situation in which the President starts taking options off the table.

MR. HANNITY: Do you have confidence -- Madame Secretary, Dr. Rice, do you have confidence, after the UN oil-for-food corruption, that the UN is capable of really taking the right stand on Iran?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I do believe that it's possible. We took a strong stand, for instance, on Syria and getting Syria out of Lebanon and Syrian forces left Lebanon. So when the international community acts in a concerted way, it can make a difference and we have examples of that happening.

But this is going to be an issue of credibility for the international community. If the UN Security Council says, "You must do these things and we'll assess in 30 days," and Iran has not only not done those things, but has taken steps that are exactly the opposite of those that are demanded, then the Security Council is going to have to act.

MR. HANNITY: Do you have any doubt that money, finances, financial conflicting interests played a role in the decision of countries like France, Russia and Germany in terms of them not joining with us to the extent they should have in Iraq?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't know the motivations. Let's give people the benefit of the doubt, that they thought for some reason, after all those years, that Saddam Hussein ought to stay in power. Because the one thing that was not going to happen, Saddam Hussein was not going to be removed, except by military force. That was very clear.

So clearly, some who did not want to remove him by military force were content to let him remain there. I'm not going to question their motives as to why that was the case, but the President took a different track, and the right track, which was to finally rid the international community of this dictator who had threatened his neighbors, used chemical weapons. It was time to get rid of him.

MR. HANNITY: Dr. Rice, yesterday, Stephen Rademaker, who is the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, he noted that Iran was planning to build 50,000 centrifuges and then said, "Using those 50,000, that they could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 16 days." Do you agree with that assessment and what's the best guess right now in terms of how many of these centrifuges that Iran has and how fast could they be able to produce 50,000 of them?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that Steve was trying to respond to a question, not offering a U.S. Government assessment. But there are lots of assessments. I used to teach these issues about the fuel cycle. And there are lots of assessments about how many centrifuges spinning at what rate to produce how much material. So I wouldn't get caught up on the specifics here. I think the real issue is, is Iran acquiring the technological know-how to be able to produce centrifuges that can produce, then -- you can use the centrifuges to produce nuclear materials for a bomb.

That's what we have to stay focused on. And the world community does not want them to have that nuclear know-how and that's why nobody wants them to be able to enrich and reprocess on their territory, getting to the place that they can produce what we call a full-scale nuclear plant to be able to do this.

MR. HANNITY: For over four-and-a-half years now, Dr. Rice, America has pretty much been on a war footing. It seems, in some ways, with this -- I would argue the war has very much been politicized in Iraq, it's hurt the President's approval numbers. What's your take on that? Is America getting tired of a war footing?

SECRETARY RICE: I can understand how the American people, looking every day at the television pictures of bombings and violence in Iraq, can wonder what is really going on here and are we going to be successful. But I was just in Iraq and I can tell you, Sean, that when I'm there, I find so encouraging what the Iraqis are doing in terms of their political system and its development, in terms of maturity of their security forces, in terms of their ability to work together on difficult problems.

And yes, it's tough, and any big historical change is always tough and violent. But I'll tell you, when I go there, I see the progress that they've made between when I was there in November and now. And I would just ask the American people to think about the alternative. The alternative is to leave prematurely from Iraq and leave that country to the likes of Zarqawi and al-Qaida and to miss the chance, to miss the opportunity to have a stable and democratic Iraq as an anchor in a different kind of Middle East.

MR. HANNITY: All right. We've got less than 20 seconds. Would you ever consider running for President?

SECRETARY RICE: Sean, I don't want to run for President. I didn't even run for President of my school council.

(Laughter.)

MR. HANNITY: Under no circumstances? You would never consider it?

SECRETARY RICE: I can't see it. I can't see it.

MR. HANNITY: Well, that's a fair answer, all right. You would much rather be the NFL Commissioner, right?

SECRETARY RICE: I would, but that's clearly going to have to wait a while too.

MR. HANNITY: All right. Who's going to win the Super Bowl next year?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, it's too early. Cleveland Browns right now. Everybody's undefeated right now. That's the great thing about this time of year.

MR. HANNITY: All right. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, we always love having you. Thank you for your time.

SECRETARY RICE: Thanks, Sean, great to be with you.

2006/372

Released on April 14, 2006

ENDS


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