This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 17, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, "dangerous and short-sighted." That is how Senator Jon Kyl describes an announcement today, that announcement about the missiles by President Obama, the president, of course, reversing what President George W. Bush had done. Here it is.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.
SEN. JON KYL, R - ARIZ.: Thank you, Greta. Good to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Big news today. The president's decided to scrap the long-range missile defense in Eastern Europe.
KYL: Bad idea.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
KYL: Primarily because of the message that it sends to all of the political players in the region, and frankly, around the world. It tells the Russians if they play hardball with us, we'll cave. It tells our allies that we're not a very trustworthy partner. It tells actors in the Middle East, who are trying to decide whether they throw their lot in with the Iranians or with the Americans that maybe they ought to throw it in with the Iranians.
So it sends a very bad signal. Now, it also diminishes our capability to defend ourselves against ballistic missile attack, coincidentally, because we would be taking out the system that might help the United States and potentially substituting a system that could only protect Europe.
VAN SUSTEREN: Was President Bush's idea behind this to protect from Iranian long-range missiles?
KYL: It was to protect the United States from Iranian long-range missiles and also have the capability of protecting Europe from whatever kind of missiles Iran might have.
VAN SUSTEREN: As I understand it, Secretary Gates and President Obama say that the technology in Iran is so far behind in terms of these long- range ballistic missiles that this is not the wisest use of our resources and they're more concerned with the shorter-range missiles.
KYL: Well, there is reason to be concerned about the shorter-range missiles. Iran has a lot of them, and that's never been in doubt. But because of the long lead times of probably in the neighborhood of five years to deploy the kind of ground-based interceptor that would protect United States, as well as the radars that are necessary -- and they would have been put in the Czech Republic -- you have to begin making those decisions today.
And I have not seen any new intelligence that says that in five or six years, the Iranians will not be significantly down the road in terms of this capability. In fact, the AP reported just today out of Vienna that the IAEA, the international organization monitoring Iran's nuclear capability, pronounces them to have a nuclear capability and far advanced in the development of the missiles to deliver them.
VAN SUSTEREN: One of the other issues, besides whether or not it was prudent, whether we're ready (ph), whether the technology is there in Iran, and sort of the technological issues about the missile shield, is the issue of whether we're doing this to please the Russians and whether or not we're getting anything in return. What's your thought on that? Is that a consideration, or do you think the president's not considering that?
KYL: No, it's a huge consideration. I'm sure the president did consider that. In fact, in our briefings today, the administration officials noted that one of he benefits of this would be a potentially better relationship with the Russians. The question is, Did we think we'd get some quid pro quo? They're certainly not apparent right now. They've been very unhelpful in dealing with Iran, for example.
Now, will we see some change in their behavior in the next several months as a result of this? I doubt it. It's always possible. But I think the more difficult situation is the message that this sends to people that because Russia complained about U.S. putting this defense equipment in a fellow NATO country, a country that was under -- was under the jurisdiction of the Soviet Union just a few short years ago -- they complain about that, and the United States backs off of doing that. That is a horrible message to our friends and those that have to deal with on a serious basis alike.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is it possible that we've extracted some sort of quid pro quo that we don't know about? For instance, that if Russia -- if we do this, Russia will help us with Iran, Russia will help us with Afghanistan. I mean, could there be a deal we just don't know about?
KYL: It's possible. I doubt it. Again, Russia has asserted that it has a right to be involved in its "near abroad," places like Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, and that the United States needs to stay out of there. Now, these are NATO colleagues of ours, Poland and the Czech Republic, and if we backed off of putting weaponry into those countries because Russia has objected because it doesn't like our weaponry that close to Russia, that sends a very bad signal.
VAN SUSTEREN: Should we be checking in with the Czech Republic and also with Poland and see how they've received this news?
KYL: We should -- well, yes, you should check with them. We certainly should have been talking to them before we made the decision. They were notified of the decision about the same time we were. We should have been having negotiations with them and letting them in on the discussion, rather than just notifying them of what we decided to do.
VAN SUSTEREN: When did you get tipped off that this has happened? Before it happens or do you get from us?
KYL: Well, there were a flurry of phone calls made this morning to places like Poland and the Czech Republic and to members of Congress, all explaining what was done.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you actually -- did you get a call from the White House?
KYL: I got a call from administration officials.
VAN SUSTEREN: About what time did you get yours?
KYL: First thing this morning.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir.
KYL: Thank you.
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