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Ahmadinejad at U.N.

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 25, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And we get right to our top story. It's day two of the Iranian invasion of New York. Just a short time ago, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reprised his performance as the crazy tyrant with a speech at the United Nations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Iran has moved forward step-by-step, and now our country is recognized as one with the capacity for industrial-scale fuel cycle production for peaceful purposes. And I officially announce that, in our opinion, the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary agency matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: But the Iranian leader was upstaged by his old buddy, Hugo Chavez, who will refuse to come to the General Assembly meeting after the way his brother in terror was treated yesterday at Colombia, but the move did not impress the new French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who stood in front of the body for the first time and declared that, "It is an acceptable to let Iran acquire nuclear weapons."

Earlier in the morning, the Cuban delegation got up and left when President Bush was at the podium. They later issued a statement saying they were protesting just about everything and that all that was missing at Turtle Bay was — today was — you know, works of display sponsored by the Koreans, the North Koreans.

And joining us now, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, FOX News contributor John Bolton is back. Ambassador,you know, one of the questions everybody keeps asking me, and I've looked it up, I don't think I have the right answer, is it possible for the United States to deny the visa to Ahmadinejad when this is a case about Iran?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, I think, under our headquarters agreement with the U.N., we're obligated to let him come in. But we are certainly not obligated to allow him to do anything other than his business at the U.N. So the administration could have stopped the speech at Columbia. I think they just didn't realize what was in store and they let it happen, but that could have been done. He could have been restricted.

HANNITY: You know, Fred Thompson actually said, if he were president, he wouldn't have allowed him in. Mitt Romney said that he should have been indicted while he was here. Are those things that you would have supported if you were the ambassador still?

BOLTON: Well, I certainly respect those views, and I think it goes to the question whether the headquarters agreement, as presently interpreted, doesn't need another look. But as it has been interpreted, I think we did have to let him in. I just would have drawn the line on going to Columbia, certainly drawn the line on going to Ground Zero.

HANNITY: You know, Ambassador, at some point, you tell me if I'm wrong. If General Petraeus is right, and I believe he is, if Iran is supplying the strategy for war for the insurgency, if they're providing military assistance, the weaponry that is killing American soldiers — and that's a proxy war — if that's going on, when will America and must America at some time respond militarily?

BOLTON: Well, I think it's entirely appropriate, and I think, when you combine the support for terrorism, the direct assaults on our troops by Iranian soldiers and their trainees in the pursuit of the nuclear weapons program, this is a very serious matter. That, by the way, is why he should not have been invited to speak at Columbia.

HANNITY: Well, I thought it was disgraceful. Even though Lee Bollinger in the end had some harsh words, I think was to salvage his reputation in light of the controversy that was emerging.

You know, Ambassador, I get a lot of e-mail everyday. I take a lot of calls on the radio. A lot of people contact us here at FOX everyday. And one of the questions, with the U.N.'s history of often being anti-American and anti-Semitic, you know, people are beginning to question whether or not it's in America's best interest to have this body here and whether or not they are impotent as an organization to resolve conflicts around the world. Your thoughts, having been ambassador.

BOLTON: Well, I think the U.N. is very little use to the United States in the major conflicts we face. If you look at, for example, Iran's nuclear weapons programs, the Security Council sanctions have been ineffective. The strong steps we have taken have been largely done by our own Treasury Department.

And I think it's very unlikely we'll get another effective resolution out of the Council on Iran. I think it's very important that French President Sarkozy, as you pointed out earlier, has now come to the fore. But we're late, and our options are constrained. They won't be assisted by the Council.

HANNITY: Let me ask you one very important question, because it's interesting, when you listen to his remarks, he is deceitful. He lies repeatedly. It is not one of the best places on Earth for women. You know, this idea that they don't have homosexuals in Iran [it's] because they're often murdered. We showed video on this program last week of a woman being stoned to death in Iran. Explain the Iran that we really know that the people are suffering under.

BOLTON: Well, I think the economy is in terrible shape because of mismanagement by the mullahs since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. There's enormous dissatisfaction among the young people. This regime is more fragile than people think, which is why I think with a little effective clandestine support from us, the regime might be brought down, which would be the best way to stop them from continuing to seek to acquire nuclear weapons.

KIRSTEN POWERS, GUEST CO-HOST: Ambassador, hi, it's Kirsten Powers. Thanks for being with us.

A lot of people who opposed this speech — I -- you know -- I oppose Columbia for having him come there. I know you did. Obviously, Sean did. But I've heard some people saying today, well, you know, maybe it wasn't so bad, because the world got to see how crazy he was. They got to see him stand up and say that there are no gay people in Iran. Do you think there's any credence to that argument?

BOLTON: Well, I think people are guilty there of the fallacy of mirror imaging. You know, we look at Ahmadinejad and say he's a fruitcake. But from his point of view, this was a propaganda exercise, as was his effort to go to Ground Zero. And the way this will be portrayed back in Iran and in other parts of the Muslim world, I'm sorry to say, is, is [that it] will boost his standing, it will boost his political standing in Iran and elsewhere. And that's what he had in mind. And I think he succeeded at that.

POWERS: Well, how will he use it? I mean, can you play that out a little bit?

BOLTON: Well, look, he came to one of America's most prestigious universities. He talked about how he was a professor, he was out there searching for knowledge. He got a lot of applause -- I don't know who was applauding, but I could hear it watching the speech -- that will be played back in Iran. So he came, and he challenged the United States in one of our great centers of learning. And, you know, he wins just by showing up.

POWERS: Well, there are some people who say they have a very highly educated population there. They'll go on YouTube and they'll see him and they'll see what an idiot he made of himself. Do you think there's any truth to that?

BOLTON: Well, certainly some people will believe that, but by and large I think that he didn't say anything that the people of Iran haven't already heard many times before. And for many others who don't know that Columbia is — probably don't know Columbia is a private university, it was not approved by our government, he challenged us in New York and, as I say, simply by not foaming at the mouth, in that sense, I think he wins. I think we have to understand what he was up to as a propaganda exercise. This was not a search for truth in the academy.

POWERS: Right. Well, I -- and also I think that a lot of it -- you know, alot of people keep saying that, oh, he seems like a kook. He says kooky things, when he's actually a really dangerous person.

And, you know, I was sort of interested to know what you think. Is he really crazy as people say? Or is this just sort of — he says these things to be provocative?

BOLTON: You know, he has a different logic than we do. Hannah Arendt had an excellent insight into what she called the "banality of evil". And in a way, him being on national television for -- while that speech went on and during the Q&A period -- now makes him look, I think, less threatening in some respects than just looking at his words.

POWERS: Right.

BOLTON: So this was a victory for him, I'm afraid to say.

POWERS: Yeah, I mean, that's why I think he comes off as almost goofy in a way, versus a person who's responsible for repressing people, for shutting down newspapers, for shutting down NGOs, that -- you know, that are helping people with social justice.

BOLTON: Well, the one thing we can say is that he did damage his credibility, so maybe now people who understand he's completely wrong by saying there are no homosexuals in Iran won't believe him when he says he's not developing nuclear weapons, either.

POWERS: Right. Now you said earlier that you think it would — he's obviously very weak, and we could potentially bring down the regime. How would that work?

BOLTON: Well, I think if you look at the accumulated animosity inside Iran toward the regime that there's potential there. The question is how long it would take. I don't want to minimize the difficulty. I simply want to point out it is a possible course of action, which, if successful, might have a new government come to the conclusion that they're better off not pursuing nuclear weapons. Because the course this government is on is unmistakably still to acquire that capability, which will dramatically change the region and increase the risk to our friends and allies.

HANNITY: All right, Ambassador, it's always good to see you. Thank you for being with us tonight.

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