This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, September 25, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: From Ramallah and clamping down on Yasser Arafat to Iraq and promising retaliation for any Scud missile attacks, Israel is acting tough and talking tough, which would make things potentially very tough for President Bush, pondering an attack on Iraq as we speak. With us now, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Mr. Barak good to have you. All right, we just had a couple of guests saying Iran could be the next stop. What do you think of that?
EHUD BARAK, FMR. ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I think you can't hit them simultaneously. So you have to make a choice, one at a time. It should be Iraq first. It doesn't make sense to do it any other way. In Iran we see in the last several years a positive process simmering under the surface, and that might change direction once Saddam Hussein is removed. It cannot be assured. But that's the only kind of decision that could be made with common sense.
CAVUTO: The president still says that Iran is part of that axis of evil.
BARAK: He's right.
CAVUTO: He's right?
BARAK: Yes, he's fully right. There is a nuclear military effort in Iran to do missiles. They sponsor terror. They are still sponsoring terror. But at the same time you see the response from within the people. It's much more open society than Iraq is. And there is a real struggle for dominance that takes place within Iran and could, under certain circumstances, develop into the right directions, especially if they see within half a generation twice the American people risking the lives of Americans to destroy a major rival.
CAVUTO: Let me ask you this, sir. We have had many in this country, including a guy who ran for president, Al Gore, criticizing the president's rush to attack Iraq, essentially saying that maybe we have to get the U.N. more in line with us. Others have echoed similar sentiments, Jimmy Carter, the former president, one of them. What do you make of the "go slower" approach?
BARAK: I don't think that it's proper for me to intervene in the political aspect of it, but...
CAVUTO: Well, they are.
BARAK: ... in Israel, we tried when it comes to struggle against terror or struggle for national interests to put politics aside, try really to judge reality. I believe that those who propose to wait might find themselves contributing to a major mistake. No one knows how close Saddam Hussein is to a crude nuclear device. And it was only a crude nuclear device that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And few doubt that once he will have one, if under highly extreme situation, he might really use it. So once he has a nuclear Iraq, it will be a totally different ballgame. You can't wait under this situation, there is an urgent need to act against him.
CAVUTO: OK. Most people in this country apparently agree with you. When they've been polled on this subject they say, "Yes. Go after Iraq sooner rather than later." But it is causing -- I know you don't like to step in the middle of these political fights in the United States -- but it is causing a great deal of debate in this country. Earlier today Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader of this country, criticized the president for politicizing it. I just want you to listen to this.
Tom Daschle earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: I don't think this president or any president ought to make the charge that Democrats don't care about national security, not when they've fought in wars, not when they've fought side-by-side with Republicans and independents in keeping this country free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: What do you think of that?
BARAK: I`m confident that Americans of all types of political positions are devoted the same way to the liberty, freedom and the very values of the Western civilization. .
CAVUTO: Do you think that what he is saying is that he thinks the president is politicizing this?
BARAK: Look, look, I don't think that's proper for me to comment on this, but I can tell you that in the eyes of the rest of the world, this is a fortress of fighting spirit for liberty and freedom on both sides of the political map. And I'm confident...
CAVUTO: And you have this happen in your country all the time, right?
BARAK: ... that once you move on from talking to action... when the time is right, you will find not just the American people, but many in the world behind you. You won't be alone.
CAVUTO: All right. Ariel Sharon, the other day, said that if Scud missiles launched from Iraq into Israel, unlike 11 years ago, he'd respond.
BARAK: I believe that he said the right thing. We feel now that Saddam Hussein has just a residual capacity, operational capacity to launch missiles. He has very few missiles. He might be tempted to use them with non-conventional warheads, unlike the case 11 years ago, when he's cornered. And we have to prepare. We already deployed our anti-ballistic missile systems...
CAVUTO: But the U.S. doesn't want to you respond; right?
BARAK: I fully understand it, I hope we won't be in a need to respond. We already vaccinated 15,000 people, to have enough serum to vaccinate.
CAVUTO: So you're prepared for the worst?
BARAK: We are trying to prepare and I'm confident that the American military operational planners are giving a lot of thought about what could be done on the operational level in order to avoid a successful launching toward Israel, not to need this anti-ballistic missile to be launched and... to minimize the risk that Israel will have to respond.
CAVUTO: Real quickly, this crackdown on Arafat's Ramallah compound, is there much value in that any more? Is he much of a threat to you one way or the other?
BARAK: I think that Arafat finished his historic call when he missed the opportunity last when Clinton and myself, the proposals...
CAVUTO: Right. Camp David, right?
BARAK: ... to accomplish an agreement. I don't think that he's that important. I think that we have to stand firm. We have to struggle against terror, both Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Arafat, since he's the responsibility, the leader of Palestinian Authority. But it should not be focused on him personally. He's not that important.
CAVUTO: All right. Ehud Barak, the former Prime Minister of Israel, always good seeing you, sir, thank you very much.
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