This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 10, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: You were quite critical today about the agreed framework from 1994. Tell us why.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, first of all, may I say that I wasn't doing anything but responding to attacks that were made on the president of the United States, accusing him of being responsible for this international crisis of the utmost seriousness that we're in now.
Incredibly, as the president is trying to unite the nation and the world to impose sanctions against the rogue state of North Korea, the Democrats and Mrs. Clinton attacked the president of the United States and accused him of being responsible, when the fact is that it is a failure of the Clinton administration policies that I was heavily involved in at the time that have caused us to be in the situation we're in today.
I find it hard to understand why the president should be attacked at a time when we need to unite the people of this country behind the president, as he goes to the United Nations to seek sanctions on the North Koreans.
COLMES: Senator, if we, on the left or some Democrats, feel that certain policies may have led to this, and we choose to speak out about it, is that not the American way, to have this open debate about how we got to where we are and how policies, perhaps, should be different, in many people's view?
MCCAIN: I think you make a legitimate point, Alan, but right now at this point where they've just tested apparently a nuclear weapon, and we need to show the strongest front at the United Nations — it's not going to be easy to get Russia and China to sign onto these sanctions, which are going to be very tough, if we can get them through.
And should we be attacking the president at this particular moment in time? I don't think so.
And I felt that I should react to those because in 1993 and 1994 I spoke against this framework agreement. I wrote against it, I debated the State Department guy about it, and I knew, because it was not transparent and it was not enforceable, that it would fail.
And, if I might add, Alan, we gave them millions in food, millions in oil, which the food, by the way, they diverted to their own army. Meanwhile, their people kept starving. And they were supposed to give the rods and the Yongbyon reactor to a third nation. They did not. They were supposed to not enrich uranium, which they did. And every step of the way, we gave them another carrot and no stick.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Senator, you're absolutely right in the case that we gave North Korea the money, the technology for the light-water reactors. We gave them the fuel, over a billion dollars. And the only thing that the Clinton administration extracted was a promise from a dictator that he wouldn't use this, you know, for evil purposes here. In retrospect, isn't it ridiculously naive to think that he would abide by this?
MCCAIN: Well, Sean, it's not very often that I say "I told you so," but at the time I've got op-eds that I could send you that I wrote saying that this is not enforceable, that you can't trust the word of these people. And they were supposed to take these rods, fuel rods, out of their reactor, called Yongbyon reactor, and transfer them to a third country. They were supposed to pledge not to enrich uranium. They continued to do that.
And the thing that's so horrible about all of this is they took this money, they took this food, they did it to maintain their army, meanwhile maintaining a gulag that was so horrible and oppressive that it's hard to describe. Stalin would blush at the cruelty that was inflicted on these people while we were helping them.
HANNITY: Absolutely. You know, I guess if I have one great regret for this country, Senator, in the last five years, it is how everything has been politicized.
You mentioned earlier: Hillary Clinton immediately, in the middle of a crisis — we need to get U.N. support — her instantaneous reaction is to attack the president. Harry Reid demanded an investigation. We have Senator Kennedy calling the president a liar, saying he concocted an entire war for political benefit. John Kerry says our troops are terrorizing women and children in the dark of night in Iraq.
I've never said anything like it, what your colleagues are doing while we're at war. You know, at what point — you know, is there any end to this or this just goes on forever?
MCCAIN: I don't know, and I do believe that, as Alan alluded to earlier, people are free to criticize. People are free to disagree. But we're in the middle of this crisis. Look, this is a nuclear weapon, apparently, that could militarize the entire region, which could create tensions, which could lead to conflict. Shouldn't we all be agreeing with the president, getting behind him?
I know of no one who disagrees that our first step has got to get sanctions on North Korea, including the ability to stop ships that are going in and out of North Korean ports, and inspect them to make sure that the raw material isn't going in and out. The North Koreans have proved they'll sell anything to anybody. Shouldn't we be showing solidarity to the world, at least until we get this sanctions issue resolved?
There has to be immediate reaction. That's what I was reacting to today, was the criticism by Senator Clinton, Senator Kerry, and others, when we should be at least united behind the president. If they disagree with that path, fine, but what proposal do you have, if that's not the first step? I think we all agree with that.
HANNITY: And we continue now with Senator John McCain of Arizona.
Senator, a lot of people predicting that the Republicans will lose the House, maybe even the Senate. What does that mean to you? Does that concern you? And is it fair when Republicans suggest that Democrats are weak on defense?
MCCAIN: Well, it concerns me, of course, because if we lose either or both houses then it will contribute to gridlock. Do we Republicans have to do things better? Of course we do.
I think we need to be serious about ethics and lobbying reform. I think we need to get back to our stewardship of tax dollars in a way that conservative Republicans will be proud of us. Less government, less regulation, et cetera. We're going to have to do a better job.
But I'm proud of our economy. I'm proud of our low unemployment. I'm proud of the fact there's not been another attack on the United States since September 11, 2001. We've got a good message, but we're going to have to get through the clutter.
HANNITY: Senator, you know, just as we're coming on the air here tonight, Japan is suspecting that North Korea, in fact, conducted a second nuclear test. And, as we think about this, what is the answer here? Is the answer that we worked through the United Nations or is a stronger answer that we rearm Japan, that we offer them some type of missile defense, and perhaps they even become nuclear-prepared?
MCCAIN: If the United Nations, because of China and Russia, do not invoke the strictest form of sanctions, that will affect our relations with both countries in a variety of ways. It is in China's interest, not for any reason other than it's not in China's interest to see an escalation of tension on the Korean Peninsula.
Yes, the Japanese would have to rearm. The Japanese would have to acquire defensive weapons. What happens with Taiwan? The whole area could be in jeopardy of some kind of conflagration. That's why it's in China's interest.
And, by the way, they control the food, and they control the oil that goes into North Korea. And they could exercise that if they want to.
So first the United Nations sanctions. But China has got to play a greater role. And they've been doing pretty well.
HANNITY: Rearming Japan, a resolution to defend Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, that would all be in the areas that you would suggest to the president at this particular point, remind the Chinese that, in fact, the Olympics are coming?
MCCAIN: Yes. And I would also make it clear to the Chinese that we're not happy with some things, like the currency exchange. We're not happy with their repression of democracy. We're not happy with their failure to progress recently on a path to a free and open society.
And we will continue our steadfast belief that Taiwan will only be reunited to China if it's done in a peaceful manner and the people of Taiwan desire to do so. Until then, we will protect them.
COLMES: Senator, let's talk about a policy that did work with North Korea.
COLMES: And I'm talking about the agreed framework. And let me show what Colin Powell actually said. He says: "The previous administration I give credit to for freezing that plutonium site. Lots of nuclear weapons were not made because of the Agreed Framework and the work of President Clinton and his team." That's George Bush's first secretary of state, Colin Powell. Did he not know what he was talking about?
MCCAIN: I respectfully disagree. I think the record is clear. You can revise history. They didn't abide by the agreement. They didn't remove the rods from the Yongbyon reactor. They continued to enrich uranium. And they continued to export missiles and other equipment, although that wasn't part of the agreement. And they continued to starve their people. And they continued to keep hundreds of thousands of people in a gulag. So I respectfully disagree, and I believe history shows.
Mr. Perry, former secretary of defense, was President Clinton's negotiator on this. Recently, he and a guy named Carter wrote an op-ed piece saying we should attack North Korea militarily. I'm not supporting that.
COLMES: Well, I'm glad we agree on that. Look, no plutonium, no uranium developed during the Clinton years. Plutonium has been developed, and many times the uranium available now in North Korea during the Bush years. Isn't that also significant?
MCCAIN: Not true. Uranium was enriched, and the Yongbyon reactor rods, which were part of the agreement, were to be removed to a third company. It never happened.
COLMES: What about the plutonium?
MCCAIN: They continued to enrich uranium. The plutonium — yes, go ahead.
COLMES: Plutonium now. I mean, now they have plutonium. They didn't have development, and they had no nuclear bombs during the Clinton years, during the Agreed Framework, when there was one-on-one communication with North Korea, something this administration has refused to do.
MCCAIN: Alan, they were developing the weapons. They were starving their people. They diverted food to their army.
And, again, you can say that pigs fly, but the fact is that they did not remove the rods from the Yongbyon reactor and transfer them to a third country. That's a matter of fact. And they continued their efforts to enrich uranium in another site. And they kicked out the IAEA inspectors. All of those were blatant violations of the agreement. And that's why we find ourselves in the situation we're in today.
You know what happens when we talk one-on-one with the North Koreans? It's not who we talk to and how. But if we talk one-on-one with the North Koreans, it cuts out the South Koreans, and gives this little person prestige on the world stage, which he craves.
Look, it's not whether it's two-party or six-party or 60-party talks. It's whether the North Koreans will continue to stand in violation of every international treaty and threaten the security of its neighbors, including South Korea, and Japan, and the United States eventually.
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