This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from Jan. 18, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

BRIT HUME, HOST: So, what if Iran defies the rest of the world or much of it and continues its nuclear program? Israel says it won’t tolerate that, and the Bush administration is suggesting it wouldn’t either. So, is there a military answer?

To answer the question, we turn to Fox News military analyst, retired Air Force General Tom McInerney, who thinks there is a possible military option. Welcome, sir.


HUME: So, what would it be?

MCINERNEY: Well, it would be with airpower, and what we would do is attack the nuclear facilities. They’re in primarily 12 different locations, although there are some others that were just recently disclosed. And we would need about 200 to 250 aircraft to do it, plus cruise missiles, about 200 cruise missiles.

HUME: Just looking at a map of this now. They appear to have nuclear financial statements scattered all around the country. This is a little different, I think it’s fair to say, than the case with Iraq a quarter century ago where they had a nuclear reactor and some facilities in a place called Osirak and Israel said they weren’t going to let Saddam Hussein’s government get nuclear power or nuclear weapons. And they went in and bombed the place to the expressed, at least, horror of the rest of the world. I’m sure there was some quiet winking going on. And Iraq’s nuclear program may never have been the same.

MCINERNEY: That’s correct.

HUME: That looks like a simple surgical one-strike or one day’s work. This looks much more complex.

MCINERNEY: It is more complex. You saw there were 12 targets there, and out of that, there’s somewhere like 80 aim points, so you may hit three or five aim points in each target area. But we have the capability with our B-2s, a B-2 can drop up to 80 500-pound bombs.

Or it can drop eight 5,000-pound bombs. The bunker busters. And I was in the Green Zone where Saddam’s palace, and saw where two bunker busters went through but they didn’t get his bunker. We have learned from that.

HUME: Well, when you said they didn’t get his bunker, did they fail to get his bunker because they didn’t go deep enough or fail to get his bunker because they weren’t aiming quite in the right spot?

MCINERNEY: They didn’t go deep enough. They got spot on, but it didn’t penetrate. We have learned from that now. And so, we have techniques and technology that will take them deeper. And some of those are very deep targets. Some of them are not deep targets. But we have -- with the B-2 Stealth.

HUME: So what you’re getting at here is we could hit the above-ground facilities and everybody knows it.


HUME: The question about this has always been whether they have succeeded in hardening the targets over there, and also burying them so deep underground they might be beyond the reach of such bombs. You think not.

MCINERNEY: Correct. I think we can get most of them. In other words, our objective is to put them back at least five years in their development of a nuclear bomb. And with this target array and with our capabilities, we have 18 bases over there. The important thing that I am emphasizing, Brit, is we need an air coalition of the willing. We need Saudi Arabia. We need Jordan, Egypt, United Arab Emirates to be involved.

HUME: Not Israel?

MCINERNEY: Not Israel. Israel is off the chart.

HUME: For political reasons.

MCINERNEY: For political reason. But those countries in that region do not want a nuclear Iran.

HUME: Do you imagine that those countries would join, those Muslim countries would join the United States in an attack on a fellow Muslim country? I realize, you know, it’s not an Arab country, but nonetheless. Can you believe that’s possible?

MCINERNEY: I believe that if we work it right diplomatically, and bring them in to be part of the solution, that if we are stymied diplomatically, that we can get some of them. And that’s very important. In addition to the United Kingdom and maybe even France. The EU-3 has been unsuccessful, so I think those are our initial objectives.

HUME: But France and the EU-3 countries don’t seem ready yet, or at least definitely ready yet to even seek economic sanctions.

MCINERNEY: That’s correct. And so, we’ve got to go through that part of the Kabuki dance, but when it’s finally done and you do decide that we have to go in a military option, I believe we ought to give them the opportunity to be part of that. We have our new F-22 in that is now operational. We have a lot of stealth assets. We’ve got naval aviation with our latest electronic combat. It is, by the way, a pretty significant air defense environment over there. But we can take it down. It’s our strength.

HUME: All right. General McInerney, always good to have you.

Watch "Special Report With Brit Hume" weeknights at 6 p.m. EST.

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