Will talks with Iran have any impact?

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (via translator): Iran is a threat to Israel and the entire world. Against this malicious intention, leading world powers need to display determination and not weakness. They should not make any concessions to Iran. They need to put before it clear and unequivocal demands.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: On the eve of new talks about Iran's nuclear program, talks that the White House seem to indicate its skeptical but slightly hopeful about.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Promises are one thing. Actions and fulfillment of obligations are another. We are very clear-eyed about Iranian behavior.


BAIER: This as Iran says the U.N. watchdog, the international agency, can resume some of the inspections of nuclear facilities. We're back with the panel. Fred, what about these talks and where things seem to be headed?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, this whole thing with the inspectors -- well, this really is deja vu. We've been through this so many times. We know how it ends. They promise all these freedom to inspectors. And then, after a while, and it takes a while to schedule the things and then they go and they see a little bit and then after a while, the Iranians block the inspectors. And I think we will probably see that again.

But the Iranians clearly are scared about this next set of sanctions that the U.S. and the European countries would apply, the one on oil exports that would go into effect in July. Their economy is not in good shape and that would really hurt it. And they don't want that to happen. And so you can see what they are leading to here. They're leading to a situation where the Russians and the Chinese and others will say let's wait and see how these inspections go. Let's just let it -- let's not push so hard so quickly. And I think that would be a terrible mistake.

BAIER: Meantime, Mara, the Israelis say this is all a delaying tactic.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Yeah. And the real question is will the west do anything in these talks to impede Israel's freedom to decide whatever it wants to do? Israel's position hasn't changed. The talks can go on, and it still reserves the right to strike, and maybe it's planning one now that Benjamin Netanyahu has a stronger coalition behind him.

But I think the real question in the short-term is if you don't want to have these talks, what else do you want to do right now? And that is the question the White House asked of Romney today. Of course, nobody should give in to Iran in these talks or make concessions, and the White House says it won't and Netanyahu says that he doesn't want them to. But what is the alternative right now? The alternative is to strike Iran, I guess. Romney hasn't said he would do anything specifically different than this.


BARNES: The alternative is to make sure that the oil export sanctions goes into effect to really apply a lot more pressure. Look, we can't dismiss the idea that the Iranians wouldn't actually crumble at some point.

BAIER: Mary Katharine?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, THE DAILY CALLER: But such is the pattern with Iran, and with the way that the west reacts to them, (INAUDIBLE) P5 plus 1, whatever the acronym is of the day, is that they cross red line after red line. The milestones have all been there. It's not on our side going from 3.5 enrichment to 20 percent now. And we just sort of go oh, we'll move on. And then they sort of graciously condescend to give us something back which they should have been doing all along, such as the investigators coming in. And we cry that it's sort of -- some sort of milestone. I think people are invested in the process and they don't want an impasse that would lead to the higher gas prices and that type of thing. And I think it's gonna lead to maybe Iran getting once again, what it wants instead of what we want.

BAIER: The U.S. Senate passing this nonbinding resolution saying that there could be an attack on nuclear facilities. It's an option, but not authorizing it. The White House has said all of this talk -- loose talk the president said about war doesn't help the situation.

LIASSON: Well, he said that it drives up the price of oil, which is exactly what Iran wants right now. But I agree the sanctions should be as tough as possible. Right now what they've got are the toughest yet, but they do need to do the oil sanctions as well. And the tougher the sanctions are the more you can truly trust the theory that Iran might voluntarily give this up.

BAIER: Is there a fissure between Mitt Romney saying the administration is not tough enough and what this administration is doing -- politically is there?

BARNES: Yeah. I mean there's certainly a difference but what do challengers always say on something like this?


LIASSON: What would he do differently?

BAIER: What would he do differently? That is the question.

BARNES: Well, that's hard to say, what he'd do differently. I think he would support the sanctions going into effect and would say no more delays. No more of this rigmarole -


BARNES: -- this rigmarole about the inspectors, don't let that impede the sanctions going into effect and the greater demands on the Iranians. I mean the things he can do. I mean, look it's a challenge. What is he going to say, "I'm going to bomb"? Of course not.

LIASSON: Well, he has to suggest that he would do something tougher without saying what it is. That is the classic challenge --

BARNES: I don't think he has to say that.

BAIER: That is it for panel. But stay tuned to see why geography matters in politics.