Transcript: Pressuring Iran

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," March 15, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Here we go again: A House panel overwhelmingly approving legislation today to tighten sanctions against Iran. The legislation could cut off all U.S. aid to any country or company doing business with that nation. So, why does the White House think it's a bad idea?

Well, the Bush administration wants to U.N. Security Council to deal with Iran's nuclear threat. It fears this new bill may hurt efforts to reach a worldwide consensus on Iran. Will it?

With us now, Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who introduced the bill; also, Republican Ron Paul of Texas, one of just three members of the House International Committee voting against it.

Folks, good to have you.

Congresswoman, to you first. Why do you think this is necessary?

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, R-FLA.: Well, there are only certain toolboxes that are available to us.

We can use military action. We can use diplomacy. And we can use sanctions against rogue regimes. And, certainly, Iran deserves to be in that category of rogue regime. It's a pariah state. President Bush had called it one of the axis of evil.

And it's trying to do all it can to have nuclear weapons. That produces a danger, not only to the Iranian people, to the region, but also a national security threat to the United States.

Now, we are not going to go to war with Iran. So, that military option is probably off the table. Diplomacy, you have seen what has been taking place. We have been at this diplomatic maneuver for many, many months and many, many years, all to no avail. They have even built up their nuclear infrastructure. So, that leads us to the third tool in our toolbox, which is sanctions. And that's why my Iran support act has the bipartisan sponsorship of over 350 members of Congress.

CAVUTO: But not this next guy. Congressman Paul, you don't like it. Why not?

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS: I don't like it, because I think this is similar to a bill we passed in 1998 called the Iraq Liberation Act.

At that time, I predicted it would lead to war. This is a tough statement. And even those who testified in our committee on this bill said that this really means regime change. It's tough. There are sanctions.

Sanctions are, in a way, an aggressive action. It is an act of war. Sanctions did not work in Iraq. You know, we have messed up Afghanistan. Eighty percent of that country is controlled by drug dealers. We have a civil war going on in Iraq, and we are wondering how we get out. And now we are taking on Iran.

This is going to cost a lot of money. And I don't see any benefits. I think the president does need some room for a little bit of negotiation. Hopefully, he will work something out. But this bill emphasizes the use of force and authoritarianism. And, force, to me, is sanctions. I do not believe that this is in our best interest one way.

CAVUTO: Congresswoman, you know, there is this effort to try to deal through the U.N. We have been criticized in the past for being a little cavalier. The president wants to try to make the U.N. stick — they have got France with us right now — that, maybe, if it does, it would do more than anything you can do with this bill. What do you say?

ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, I think that if we have to hope and pray that the U.N. will be effective in Iran, as effective as they have been with the Oil-for-Food scandal, as effective as they have been with dealing with so many of the international hot spots, I think we should all start praying now.

I think that this bill is not going to be the legislative fix, but it certainly will go a long way to telling those countries that they have got to stop what they are doing. And what they are doing is that they are investing in the infrastructure of the nuclear power of Iran.


CAVUTO: But Congresswoman, just give the U.N. a little bit more time — you are saying, no, they are a joke? Is that it, pretty much?

ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, you know, we had, in the audience today, when we marked up the bill, some of the hostages of the Iran crisis who were held in captivity, U.S. citizens, over 444 days, by the Iranian regime.

This is the same Iranian theocrats who have ruled that country for a long time. And we have been in negotiations with that regime for many years for decades.

CAVUTO: So, Congressman Paul, what do you think of that? We have tried to deal with these guys. They are not very responsive. They have a long history of not being responsive.

PAUL: Well, I think that's all blown out of proportion. This is an elected leader.

There has been no proof of any violations of any rules or regulations. There is no evidence that he's developing a nuclear bomb. This is a lot of scare tactics, the same kind of stuff that was thrown at Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, all of these things.

This is the same thing that is going on once again. But I do not see one way that Iran is a threat to us. Instead of depending on the United Nations, which, hopefully, they could help us, but we should look after our national security. Iran poses no threat to our national security.

CAVUTO: Would our national security be threatened if Iran had the bomb?

PAUL: Could it be any worse than 30,000 nuclear missiles faced us down in the Cold War against the Soviets? Did we feel like we had to have regime change in the Cold War? Didn't we use containment? And we can't contain Iran? I mean, it's absurd to get so frightened and hysterical.

CAVUTO: But if you have an Iran where they really are run by a nut, I mean, would that worry you?

PAUL: Well, would he be more nuts than Stalin? No.


PAUL: I mean, what do we do with Pakistan and India? We reward them for defying convention. We give them more money and more technology. It makes no sense now to take on Iran.

CAVUTO: I wish we had more time, Congresswoman. I want to thank you both.

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