This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 3, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu going "On the Record," the prime minister warning us a nuclear-armed Iran is not only a threat to Israel but to the United States, too.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Prime Minister, nice to see you, sir.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. It's great to be back again.
VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to have you back in the United States.
NETANYAHU: Well, it's nice to be back.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you just spoke to the Iranian BBC, is that correct?
NETANYAHU: The Persian language broadcast of the BBC, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: That's unusual.
NETANYAHU: First time.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did you do it?
NETANYAHU: Because I wanted to say things to the people of Iran. And I said, Look, you were once a great civilization. We once had a great friendship. You know, Cyrus the Great was a great Persian king who enabled the Jewish exiles on the rivers of Babylon to come back to the Holy Land. That's 25 years ago. He said, Go back to the land of Israel, rebuild the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. That's a bond.
We had a great bond through history until the ayatollahs took over. They hijacked the people of Iran's yearning for freedom in 1979, put them in the dark ages. Now they're trying to develop nuclear weapons to eradicate Israel and to dominate with their crazy creed around the world.
And I said to them, You know, we all have a vested interest that they don't get nuclear weapons. Certainly, we in Israel, the people of America, the United States, they understand this would be nuclear terrorism galore. Europeans, Arabs, no one wants to see nuclear weapons.
But you, the people of Iran, don't want nuclear weapons in the hands of this tyranny because it will become immortal, like North Korea. You'll never regain your freedom. You'll be slaves to this journey forever. So you, too, the people of Iran, want to see this regime disarmed from any nuclear weapons capability. That was my message to them.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's sort of fascinating, you going around President Rouhani to speak directly to the Iranian people, much like, actually, the way that things have happened here recently with President Putin going around President Obama and putting an op-ed in The New York Times. Senator John McCain did it in Pravda on line. So we have these world leaders now who are almost bypassing the leaders and speaking to the people.
NETANYAHU: But there's one -- there's one difference, you know? I speak to my own people, and anybody can say anything about me, which they do, by the way because we have a free press, OK? Same thing is true of the United States.
But Rouhani, the Iranian president, comes to the United States, makes a nice song and dance, a lot of smiles, soft words. And he tweets messages -- he tweets messages in New York. When is he going to let the Iranian people tweet messages freely in Iran? They don't let that [happen].
That Persian -- that BBC Persian language interview that I just had, they jam it in Iran! So there's no freedom in Iran. There's no democracy. There's a dark dictatorship that seeks to develop nuclear weapons with mad designs on the United States. They're developing ICBMs. What are they developing these ICBMs, the intercontinental ballistic missiles for? They're not developing it for us. They've got missiles that can reach Israel. They're developing it to reach you!
And those missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles, have only one purpose, a nuclear payload.
So as the Iran president is talking nicely to you, they are developing the weapons and vehicles to strike the United States. They have to stop it. They have to dismantle their program, dismantle their nuclear weapons program. Now, that's not what they are offering. They are offering something entirely different. I don't think we should be hoodwinked.
VAN SUSTEREN: You use the word "hoodwinked." There was a charm offensive by President Rouhani when he spoke before the U.N. "The New York Times" in their editorial seemed to be a little bit smitten with it, although they said basically trust but verify.
NETANYAHU: I say distrust, dismantle, and verify.
VAN SUSTEREN: You do indeed say that in your speech. You have "The New York Times" sort of at least saying this is a change. Then you have the president of the United States for the first time since the revolution in 1979 speaking on the phone with President Rouhani. So you have got the United States a little bit -- almost -- I don't know if "charmed" is the word, but they seem to have softened a little bit towards the Iranians. You have not.
NETANYAHU: No. I spoke to President Obama at great length. I appreciated the fact that on the day of the shutdown he took a few hours to talk about this, because we have a common goal, to make sure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. The shutdown we are looking for is a shutdown of Iran's nuclear weapons program.
The president said that Iran's conciliatory words must be met with meaningful action. What is meaningful action? It's not a partial deal that leaves Iran with the machines and materials to make enough fissile material, enough bomb material to make atomic bombs. It's got to be a complete dismantling, no the partial deals.
In the case of Syria, you didn't come to Assad and say, well, why don't you take 20 percent of your chemical weapons? You said, full deal, full dismantling. That's what should be done here.
And Iran does not need any residual capability for nuclear enrichment, enrichment of uranium. They say, well, we want civilian nuclear energy. OK. Seventeen countries have civilian nuclear energy programs without enrichment. You can have civilian nuclear energy, but the only reason you want enrichment capability is to make nuclear weapons.
The real reason they say we'll make minor concessions but keep the capacity to enrich uranium and convert heavy water because that gives us the bomb. No, that's not when you take sanctions off. Complete dismantling of Iran's nuclear weapons capability, and then and only then we leave the sanctions.
You've got them on the ropes. That economy is about to collapse. You want to knock out Iran's nuclear weapons program peacefully? Keep up the sanctions and go for the full deal, nothing short of it. No partial deals, no enrichment.
VAN SUSTEREN: We spoke in March of 2012, you and I. You said the crippling sanctions affected their economy but not their nuclear program. Then if you fast forward to now you argue passionately that they need all their enrichment capability thrown away, get it out of Iran.
You met with the president on Monday and made a statement about all the enrichment on Tuesday. On Monday in the Oval Office did the president agree there would be no nuclear enrichment in Iran, that that's the position of the United States?
NETANYAHU: We agree we need meaningful actions. It's an interesting question. This is an intellectual exchange. I don't mean a highfalutin level. It's a real exchange where people are seeking the same goal. Let's see how we get it. And I think the U.S. administration and the president are now trying to work out what's the best way to do it.
But the last thing you want to do -- here is the worst thing that can happen because of the so-called charm offensive. With the unchanging goal, that I guarantee you, the unchanging goal of maintaining Iran's nuclear weapons capability, they make some tactical concessions. This is Rouhani's plan. Smiles, make some tactical concessions, keep the bulk of the machine and the materials so they can one day at the time of their choosing rush forward and create enough enriched material, enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in exchange for the lifting of sanctions or even partial lifting of sanctions.
Here's what will happen if you do this. They will maintain the capacity to break forward with nuclear weapons and the sanctions regime could collapse. You remove some of the sanctions, there are enough countries are waiting for this to happen, they will drop the sanctions regime all together.
So what took us years to put in place -- and you know how long I have been talking about this with you and so many others. It took us years to get the international community to put these very strong, crippling sanctions in place. You let them go, and Iran will make concessions that they could reverse in weeks. Who wins out on that? Iran. Who loses? The world, the U.S. Israel, the Arabs, everybody .