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Special Report

How Serious Is Iran Nuke Threat?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 7, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: An Iranian dissident group has just released these satellite photographs of what it says is a secret centrifuge production facility about six miles outside Tehran in Iran. The Iranian regime this group says is quietly making a lot of progress enriching uranium, needed to make nuclear weapons. This is the same group that revealed in 2002 the Natanz and Iraq facilities, a revelation that really lead to more U.N. inspections and the world taking a second look at Iran's nuclear program.

What about this? We're back with the panel. Charles, as we focus on all of these protests and rebellions around the Middle East, we largely have not been focusing on Iran.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: That's why Iran in two ways has been the big beneficiary of this unrest. Number one, the west has taken its eye off the ball because what is happening among the Arabs is unprecedented, extremely important. And this story's gonna get a lot less attention than it should.

But it's extremely important, because even though it's unsurprising it's alarming. It tells you that the Iranians are hell-bent on acquiring a nuke. Even though they've had a lot of difficulties, including the virus, the computer virus introduced that delayed a little, the program. It's now on track. It's developing all of these components to spin the uranium into weapons of grade material.

The second advantage is that a lot of the regimes that are toppling, were regimes that were staunchly anti-Iranian starting with Egypt. You've got Hamas now with a friend in Egypt, sort of, allowing it a lot of activity, which is why we are seeing attacks on Israel. We had the former prime minister of Lebanon, as we heard earlier on the show, accusing Iran of taking over his country arming Hezbollah.

So, Iran is using the unrest, the weakening of the anti-Iranian autocrats in that region to stir the pro-Iranian elements.

BAIER: Karen, we didn't hear from the administration officials on this. Many officials on background said they're still looking into it. But administration policy on Iran, after Egypt they talked a lot about what was happening in Iran but largely have not talked about it since. Do you sense that there is any urgency with the administration on this issue?

KAREN TUMULTY, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, we actually did have an interesting development today, which was the Defense Secretary Gates meeting with the Saudis came out and accused Iran of interfering in Bahrain. And this was a stance that we had not heard them take before. In fact, they had been somewhat critical of the Saudis coming to the Bahrain government's defense there.

So I think, that this whole -- all of these developments today are a reminder that for everything else going on in the Middle East there is absolutely no more crucial foreign policy imperative for the United States than the containment of Iran, and that, in fact, a lot of these developments as Charles says, have complicated that for the United States and its allies.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, Secretary Gates was in Saudi Arabia for one reason. He was there to repair the damage that has been done to the relationship between the United States and the Saudis. Where it's at the point now where communications have been cut off in some instances. The Saudis don't trust what the United States is doing. That we saw that when they sent their own troops into Bahrain. So I think --

BAIER: There has been a report that Saudis reached out the China and Russia.

HAYES: Right. Basically, they don't trust the United States any longer to guarantee their security, which had been this, sort of, corrupt bargain going back decades. So I think that is what Secretary Gates was there, that explains his comment.

On the broader question of what is taking place in Iran, and I think if -- when I was asking people after in September of 2009 after the White House revealed the existence of this [INAUDIBLE] facility, which was another one of these, I talked to intelligence sources at that point and they said they had been monitoring suspect sites for nearly a decade in Iran and that there are more than a handful of them, potentially. So it's not surprising that we would find this. And it will be interesting to see if they can confirm it and confirm it quickly.

BAIER: Charles you mentioned the Stuxnet virus, which was a computer virus that many officials believed really took a toll on the Iranian nuclear program. If all of this is true, perhaps could it indicate that the virus was not as effective as once believed?

KRAUTHAMMER: It probably was as effectives but it looks as if the Iranians have worked around it by producing their own new machines because the virus didn't only interrupt the enrichment, it destroyed machines. But apparently it's producing lots of its own machines clandestinely, which is what we discovered today, which is why it actually increased in supply of enriched uranium in the last year or two, even though we had assumed as a result of the viral attack it had been reduced.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for a wild celebration.

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