OTR Interviews

How North Korea's recent nuke tests are a wakeup call on Iran and sanctions

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says North Korea's recent nuclear test shows that 'sanctions alone will not stop' Iran's program


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 18, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issues a warning. He warns North Korea's latest nuclear test is a wakeup call, a wakeup call about Iran.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Sanctions alone will not stop the nuclear program of Iran. They have to be coupled with a robust, credible military threat. If they're not, there's no chance to stop it.


VAN SUSTEREN: Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton joins us. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: Prime Minister Netanyahu also says that Iran is going to top the agenda when he meets with President Obama when President Obama makes his first trip as president to Israel next month. But I'm curious. Do sanctions -- have they worked any time?

BOLTON: Well, not in the case of something like a would-be nuclear proliferator. I think North Korea is a good example that Prime Minister Netanyahu used. You know, it's one of the poorest countries on earth. It's the most heavily sanctioned country on earth. Its people are perennially near starvation, and yet they've just exploded their third nuclear device, and in December put a payload into earth orbit.

So if you're sitting in Teheran, you can see that if you have determination, you're going to get through and get nuclear weapons, and that's why the Israelis are so worried about the failure of diplomatic and the failure of sanctions to slow Iran down.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I was just -- I would think sanctions would only work if everybody were on board, so there weren't sort of these penetrations of the market so these countries could get money. And I find -- I find it almost -- I mean, almost to the point of insanity that we expect the sanctions to work in Iran, when just -- we give extensions or we give exceptions to the sanctions the -- we have 20 countries right now that have exceptions from our Treasury Department to do business with Iran, and they're big companies.

It's Germany, France, Japan, China, India, Republican of Korea, South Africa, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands. All these countries are allowed to do business with Iran. And if we're trying to starve Iran with sanctions so that they get rid of their nuclear weapons, borders on insanity!

BOLTON: Yes. And that's only what the countries are doing legally, let alone what they're all doing illegally. I mean, there is a theoretical case for sanctions that are massively applied very quickly and enforced by military force. That's essentially the opposite of the sanctions program that we've imposed on Iran. It's been done incrementally. We've not had full cooperation from all countries. And Iran is evading it, both the financial side and the oil side, quite regularly.

It is -- the sanctions are having an economic effect on Iran, that's true, but largely against Iran's middle class, which, of course, is the group of people most opposed to the rule of the ayatollahs. It has had no discernible effect on Iran's nuclear weapons program, and that's what it's supposed to affect.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but when you give waivers, you're complicit with breaking the sanctions, the ability of the sanctions to do what they're intended to do. And (INAUDIBLE) we've even given it to the United -- to Britain a waiver. And so we're basically complicit. And of course, we do this because we don't want all these countries to be buying oil other places and running up the prices here at home.

BOLTON: Well, I think that's right. I think it also ties in with the Obama administration's near theological determination to find a way to negotiate with Iran. They really believe, or maybe the president really believes he can chit-chat Iran out of its nuclear weapons objective. That is not going to happen. And that's why the spotlight is on Israel and on this trip by the president about whether Israel will use military force. And it directly affects the response of the United States if Israel, for the third time in its history, decided to take on a hostile state's nuclear weapons program.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I'd would love to be a fly on the wall when Prime Minister Netanyahu has a conversation with President Obama on his own soil in that very dangerous region. Ambassador, thank you, sir.

BOLTON: Thank you.