This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from Dec. 15, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

BRIT HUME, HOST: Characterize, if you will, how well or badly voting has gone in Iraq today.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: From what we know so far that this has been a historic and triumphant day for the Iraqi people. All of the reports are that they're turning out in large numbers, that Sunnis are turning out in large numbers. The violence has been minimal. There has been some violence, but it's been sporadic and minimal to this point.

Iraqis are going to the polls. I read one story of people going with their children and letting their children dip their fingers in the inkwells to show that they understand the meaning of freedom and democracy.

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HUME: You believe, apparently, that this is going to work. Why do you believe this will work?

RICE: I believe that Iraq is going to be a great nation again because first and foremost: The Iraqi people have shown their commitment to the democratic enterprise, against really great odds. There are posters in Iraq today that say "vote and you will die" from the terrorists. There are threats of intimidation to the Iraqi people. And yet, as they did in January and as they did in October and as they're doing today, they are showing that the desire for freedom burns very deep.

HUME: You sent a reputed tough guy to the U.N. to be the ambassador, to work on reform of the institution. How's it going?

RICE: John Bolton is doing a great job at the U.N. and I think the wisdom of sending somebody there who had worried about U.N. reform is proving itself, because we've got to get U.N. reform. The heads of state met in September at the U.N. They said that we had to have management reforms, simple things like an ethics office, simple things like...

HUME: Do they have one?

RICE: There isn't one that the secretariat can really draw on, at this point. Every institution in the world has an ethics office. You have to have that. You've got to have accountability and transparency into the programs.

HUME: You've tried to get Syria to be helpful. You've tried to get Syria to stop the flow of trouble from across that border. How would you characterize that situation?

RICE: I believe the Syrians are doing what they've always done, which is they do a little bit here or there to try to take the pressure and the heat off — whether it's pressure from the United States, or more recently, pressure from the international community, but they don't really ever take a strategic decision to change their behavior.

And this is not an issue between the United States and Syria. This is an issue in which Syrian behavior and policy is frustrating the ability of the Palestinians to have a peaceful solution, because the Syrians are supporting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad sitting in Damascus that is ordering attacks on Israel that destabilize the Palestinian territories. And that's a problem for Mahmoud Abbas.

The Syrians are frustrating the will of the Lebanese people, in many ways the most brutal ways, by continuing intimidation and — even though nobody knows the full story — by clear links to some of the political assassinations that have taken place in Lebanon.

And finally, the Syrians are frustrating the hopes of the Iraqi people for peace as they have done less than they should to keep these terrorists from coming across their border, who then go and kill innocent Iraqi children and innocent Iraqi schoolteachers.

HUME: Which country is the greater problem for our efforts in the Middle East: Syria or Iran?

RICE: I don't think we have to choose. I think we've got problems on both fronts. I've described the Syria situation. Iran, which is also out of step with the region, probably the greatest state sponsor of terrorism, sponsoring the Palestinian rejectionists, sponsoring Hezbollah activities that are violent, an Iran that is seeking nuclear technologies that could lead to a nuclear weapon and seems unrepentant in caring about the will of the international community that Iran shows that they're not going to seek a nuclear weapon. And that's why the negotiations with the EU-3 have been going nowhere.

I've said before that I believe that sooner or later, if Iran does not respond to this diplomacy, we're going to end up in the Security Council about the Iranian program. It will be at a time of our choosing, but no one is prepared to allow the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon and no one is prepared to let them gain the technological expertise that would leave them in a position to get that nuclear...

HUME: And you believe the Security Council will go there?

RICE: I don't think we're going to have any choice if the Iranians don't demonstrate that they want another way out of this.

HUME: And you don't think they have?

RICE: I certainly haven't seen it to date.

HUME: Thank you very much.

RICE: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be with you.

HUME: My pleasure.

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