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Transcript: Stephen Hadley on 'FNS'

The following is a transcribed excerpt of 'FOX News Sunday,' May 15, 2005.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on a surprise one-day trip to Iraq urged patience for the new government. Rice praised the political progress that has been made in Iraq and said continued efforts will overcome security problems.

A report today in the London Times says terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was seriously wounded in Iraq recently.

According to a doctor who has since been picked up for questioning, Zarqawi was bleeding heavily when he was treated at a hospital in Ramadi last week. After receiving medical attention for an unspecified wound, Zarqawi's men took him away.

Also in Iraq, a major U.S.-backed offensive ended Saturday. Many of those killed or captured in "Operation Matador" were followers of Zarqawi.

With Iraq, North Korea and the Bolton nomination all on the front burner, we turn now to the president's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley.

Mr. Hadley, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.

STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Nice to be here, Chris.

WALLACE: Let's start with Iraq and the report that Abu Musab al- Zarqawi has been seriously wounded. What do you know about that?

HADLEY: We've seen these reports before. We can't confirm it at this point.

Obviously, Zarqawi is the head of a very lethal network in Iraq that is killing large numbers of Iraqi civilians. The sooner he's out of action, the better. But I can't confirm anything. We don't have any hard evidence at this point.

WALLACE: But apparently, this doctor has been picked up for questioning. Does it seem like credible information?

HADLEY: You can't tell at this point. As I say, we've seen these reports before, we've run them down. The sooner, obviously, Zarqawi's out of action, the better.

WALLACE: How big a difference would it make if Zarqawi were injured or killed?

HADLEY: A pretty significant difference. He is really at the focal point of the network that is responsible for some of the worst violence in Iraq. And we think that it would have an impact on the operational pace of that network, and it would be a substantial contribution to the war on terror.

WALLACE: Whatever the situation with Zarqawi, there has been a surge of violence in Iraq recently. More than 450 Iraqis have been killed since the new government was formed late last month. The pace of attacks has jumped from 30 a day to 75.

Mr. Hadley, what does this tell you about the strength and the strategy of the insurgency?

HADLEY: I think the numbers are in some sense what we've seen for a while. I think what is new is the lethality. Large numbers of people are being killed -- overwhelmingly Iraqis.

I think what we're seeing is a reaction of the terrorists to the progress that is being made on the political sphere. They obviously oppose that progress. It undermines everything they stand for. And I think what you're seeing is a major effort to derail the new government that has recently been put in place.

WALLACE: Well, let's talk about that. Because we have mentioned that U.S. forces have just completed what seems to be a successful offensive out in western Iraq: Operation Matador. But there are reports that U.S. officials like yourself are talking to the Iraqi government, are talking to Prime Minister Jafari and urging him to get tougher with the insurgents to give people a sense of confidence there.

Has the transition to a new government slowed the effort of Iraqi security forces? And what more can they do?

HADLEY: I don't think it has slowed the effort of Iraqi security forces. The training and equipping program goes forward.

Those forces are engaged, conducting operations in the field. But I think the progress on the political process, the standing up of the interim government, the beginning of the process for drafting a constitution will pull Iraqis who may be on the fence into support for the government, would help isolate the terrorists. And that will aid the Iraqi security forces with our support for dealing with the terrorists and bringing down the level of violence.

WALLACE: Let's talk about another hot spot. What is the best intelligence you have at this moment as to whether or not North Korea is preparing for its first test of a nuclear weapon?

HADLEY: We don't know a lot about North Korea. It's a very closed society. It's a very difficult target.

We've seen some evidence that says that they may be preparing for a nuclear test. We have talked to our allies about that.

Obviously, that would be a serious step, and it would require us to consult very closely with our colleagues on the six-party talks for what kind of response we should make.

WALLACE: Let's talk about one of your colleagues in those six- party talks. China this week ruled out either political or economic sanctions to try to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

I want to put up a statement that a top foreign ministry spokesman made this week: "The normal trade flow should not be linked up with the nuclear issue. We oppose trying to address the problem through strong-arm tactics."

Question: Has playing the China card failed? And does the U.S. have any other ideas of how to apply pressure to the North Koreans?

HADLEY: No, we think it has not failed.

The most important thing is that at the senior levels of the governments, Russia, China, the United States, South Korea, and Japan, there is agreement that a nuclear North Korea is unacceptable and we need a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

We have all been sending that same message to North Korea. The six-party talks is a vehicle for sending that message. More, obviously, needs to be done. One of the things...

WALLACE: What do you make, if I may, sir, when China, a top foreign ministry spokesman says, we don't want any part of the kinds of pressure -- I mean, talk is nice, but the kinds of pressure, economic or political incentives that you seem to feel, the U.S. seems to feel you need?

HADLEY: Well, there is a lot of diplomatic pressure that we are placing and that the Chinese are placing.

There have been some statements by lower-level people today. I think the important thing is at the top level of the government, there is agreement there must not be a nuclear North Korea. And there is a strategy that we are moving forward to put pressure on North Korea.

If there is a nuclear test, obviously that will be a defiance by North Korea of every member of the six-party talks, including China. And we think at that point, we will have to have a serious conversation about other steps we can take.

The Japanese are out today already saying that those steps would need to include going to the Security Council and, potentially, sanctions.

So we think this is an ongoing diplomatic process. It is a dynamic process, and we're comfortable that we are all on the same page and the six-party talks continues to be the right forum, bringing together all those with leverage and influence on North Korea and a common commitment that there will not be a nuclear North Korea.

WALLACE: All right. Another hot spot: The Senate foreign relations committee this week sent the nomination of John Bolton as U.N. ambassador to the full senate but without a recommendation for approval. This after Republican Senator George Voinovich delivered a scathing attack on Bolton. Let's look at part of what Senator Voinovich had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

U.S. SENATOR GEORGE VOINOVICH (R-OH): Why in the world would you want to send somebody up to the U.N. that has to be supervised? John Bolton is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Why did Secretary of State Rice tell Voinovich and apparently also Senator Biden that John Bolton would be closely supervised if he were at the U.N.?

HADLEY: Well, all of our diplomatic people report to the secretary of state. In that sense, they're all closely supervised.

Obviously, what John will be doing at the U.N. is very important. It is going to be reviewed at the highest level of, in the U.S. government, as it should be. He works for the secretary of state.

But the president continues to have confidence in John. He believes he's the right person for the job.

And we're confident, we're pleased he's going to get a vote and we're confident that the Senate at the end of the day will agree with the president and John Bolton will be confirmed.

WALLACE: But there seemed to be this sense, both from Voinovich and from Biden -- so both a Republican and a Democrat -- that Secretary Rice was saying we'll keep this guy on a short leash.

HADLEY: I don't think any more than what we normally would do with a senior ambassador dealing with difficult issues.

Obviously, policy guidance comes out of Washington, and there is increasingly good communications between ambassadors and the secretary of state, as they implement that guidance.

So, this is the way the government works.

WALLACE: At least four other Republicans on the committee offered quite tepid support for John Bolton, including the chairman, Richard Lugar. Let's take a look at what he had to say in support of Bolton. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): ... some colleagues, but there is no evidence that he has broken laws, or engaged in serious ethical misconduct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: So the endorsement seemed to be, at least he hasn't broken any laws.

Why do you think that Bolton is having problems with Republicans as well as Democrats?

HADLEY: I think he, in the end of the day, is going to be confirmed by the Senate. You're going to see the Republicans line up and support the president's choice.

Look, John Bolton's been in this business for about 20 years. He's been confirmed by the Senate four times.

If you look over the last week or so, he has received support from former Secretary Baker, former Secretary of State Eagleburger, former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. He has broad support.

This has been -- a lot of charges have been made. He's had an opportunity to answer those charges. It'll go to the floor. And I think you'll see Republicans and some Democrats rallying behind and confirming John Bolton.

WALLACE: Finally, let's talk about the terror alert that had much of Washington scrambling on Wednesday. Has the president said anything about the 47-minute delay in telling him about the red alert while he was riding his bike in Maryland?

HADLEY: The president is satisfied that the proper procedures were followed.

The incident is something we've seen fairly frequently: an aircraft strays into restricted air space. It was over in less than 10 minutes. The people who were with the president, his security detail, his military adviser were aware of the event. And if it had gone on longer, or had been more serious, they would have obviously talked to him about it.

But this was something. It's happened before. It's going to happen again. And it was all over in something less than 10 minutes.

He's comfortable with how the procedures were followed.

WALLACE: He's comfortable?

HADLEY: He is.

WALLACE: But is he at all concerned, just on a human level, of the fact that his wife was hustled out of the White House, taken downstairs to a secure bunker, to be protected against a possible terror attack, and he didn't know anything about it?

HADLEY: Of course he's concerned about it, but that's, of course, why we have the procedures we do, precisely so that, wherever he is, she is taken care of. And she is in a fairly prompt period of time put in a secure location.

That's how the system's supposed to work.

The president, I think, would have been concerned if that hadn't happened.

WALLACE: Well, no, but I'm asking you -- I mean, he was on a bike ride. He wasn't in the middle of a summit meeting. Didn't he ever say afterwards, gee, you know, I'd kind of like to know if my wife is being put into a bunker?

HADLEY: And, as I say, this is something that's happened before. It was over in less than 10 minutes.

You know, this is the kind of thing that happens. This is the world we live in, the post-9/11 world.

WALLACE: And specifically, has the president asked that, if there is another alert -- and clearly, as you say, the chances are there probably will be some at some point -- has the president asked that, if there's another alert, that he will be alerted, he will be informed immediately?

HADLEY: He has wanted to reaffirm that the procedures we follow are maintained, and that, as is the case this time, his detail is informed.

Look, if this had gone on much longer, he obviously would have been informed. But this is an incident that occurred...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: So he hasn't said, I want it different?

HADLEY: So far as I know, he has not directed any changes in the procedures. That's correct.

WALLACE: Both matters major and small, we appreciate you talking with us very much, Mr. Hadley. Thank you for coming in, and please come back again.

HADLEY: Nice to be here.