This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 20, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Could our worst fear soon be a reality? A newly declassified Pentagon report says with sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States by 2015. Now, what should we do? Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton joins us live.
Ambassador, any suggestion, if, indeed, that is true that they could send this ICBM to the United States by 2015 -- which, incidentally, they didn't say that they could arm it with a nuclear weapon, but that's another issue.
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Right. Well, I wouldn't necessarily think that 2015 is a long way away. This is an estimate. Iran can have breakthroughs. It might get more assistance from overseas than has been projected here. So I don't think you can say, Oh, great, five years, plenty of time. It could well be less than that.
But I think the main point is that the Obama administration's decision last year to cancel the missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic has set back very dramatically the time in which the U.S. would be able to defend itself against an Iranian ballistic missile capability. It's not an issue whether we need that defense today or whether the Iranians are capable of launching today, it's the trajectories down the road of what their missile program is doing and what our missile defense capabilities are. And under this projection today, even if you take 2015 as the operable date, they will have a missile capability, and we will not have a missile defense capability in response.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, it seems to me there's really a limited universe of options. There is negotiation. And let's face that that has failed. We had that sort of dog and pony show about enriching uranium and taking some of it and moving it to Russia. We all -- and we had that discussion last fall. The Iranians have not been particularly interested in talking to the Obama administration.
Another option, which is very unattractive to people, is a military one. We can do it, Israel can do it, or we can do it in conjunction with allies. Or the -- or the other option I think most people would prefer would be sanctions. But then it raises the question, how do we get China to really care about the sanctions? Because if they don't go along, we got a big leak in the sanctions and those are ineffective. So now what?
BOLTON: Well, I think with respect to ballistic missiles, there's no international support whatever for additional sanctions. The Obama administration is straining to get another Security Council resolution that will marginally tighten the existing sanctions regime because of Iran's nuclear weapons program. So when you see how limited their success is on that front, you can begin to understand why there's little or no support for doing something about ballistic missiles.
So I think this is a very serious problem, but I think that's why we have to focus on what's in the nosecone of these missiles. That's what's really critical, and that's where the nuclear weapons program takes center stage.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it seems that the linchpin to the solution that's most attractive has to do with China. How do we get China to have the same level and care and concern and fear and caution that we have?
BOLTON: Well, ideally, the Chinese would realize it's in their own interest to help prevent nuclear proliferation around the world. But honestly, having dealt with them for a long time on this subject, they just simply don't give it the same priority we do. Moreover...
VAN SUSTEREN: So how do we get the -- how do we get them to have the same priority? How do we convince them that it's more important than they think it is?
BOLTON: I don't think they see it as as much of a threat to their interests as we do. I don't think they see -- they don't -- number one, don't have as many allies around the world to protect as we do. And their stakes in Iran are very different from ours. The Chinese interest there is in locking up as much oil and natural gas as they can. And to them, while they may not want Iran to have nuclear weapons, it's an incidental. It's an irritant, but it's not a real problem, like it is for us and our friends and allies in the region, like Israel and the Persian Gulf Arab states.
VAN SUSTEREN: Can China torpedo any chance of having effective sanctions, so that if they're not on board, we can forget sanctions as being any option?
BOLTON: Oh, absolutely. And I think people need to understand everything that China has said for the past six months is consistent with what they've done for about the past three or four years. They don't believe in sanctions against Iran. They will work in the negotiations behind the scenes to water the sanctions down.
So that's why even if there is a fourth sanctions resolution -- and I think there probably will be -- it will be very weak because China and Russia -- let's not forget the Russians -- really don't fundamentally want to impose the kind of pain on Iran that would be necessary to get Iran to give up its weapons program.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, thank you, sir.
BOLTON: Thank you.
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