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Special Report

Center Seat: Sen. Rand Paul on negotiating with Iran

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 18, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Welcome back to Center Seat. Our guest, Senator Rand Paul. Senator, another Twitter question for you, quickly. Richard Garner writes this, "What would he suggest we do about Iran versus our current policy? Would he allow them to have a nuke?"

SEN. RAND PAUL, R - TX: No. And, you know, I voted repeatedly for sanctions. And I would like to bring them to the negotiating table, and it appears as if the sanctions are working.

BAIER: So would you do anything -- would you do anything different than this administration is doing?

PAUL: You know, I guess it's unclear what we're doing at this point because I'm not privy to exactly what is going on with the negotiations. But I think it's a good sign that we are in negotiations and that Iran, I think, is feeling the sanctions. And I think that's why they've come to the negotiating table.

BAIER: But this administration it seems to trying to dial back on the sanctions in order to go to this next step. Are you in favor of that?

PAUL: I think that if you go to negotiations there will be carrot and stick and I'm not sure what the -- I know what stick is but I'm not sure what carrot is and what the exchange will be. But I think if you want to negotiate and you want to have diplomacy, there is some kind of exchange.

I do think, though, that ultimately if we want Iran to behave and enter into the civilized world again, I think China and Russia can have a great deal of influence on this. Most of the oil that flows through the Straits of Hormuz goes out to the West, India, Japan, China. And what we've limited, they're still importing quite a bit of that oil. Ultimately, if China were completely with us on this, I think Iran would turn around and really would accept significant changes.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: But senator, China has shown zero interest in reining in Iran's nuclear program over the last decade, and Russia, as well. There's no hope of that happening. Our only hope is, as you said, the sanctions.  There's now a move in Congress to increase the sanctions precisely because the current sanctions are the one thing that brought the regime into negotiations. Do you support or do you oppose the move in Congress right now to increase the sanctions?

PAUL: I haven't seen what the sanctions are yet. But what I would say is that I am a little bit concerned about having new sanctions in the middle of negotiations, whether that leads to more negotiation or less negotiation. And I think there's at least a reasonable argument that adding new sanctions -- and I've supported every one of the sanctions so far, but adding new sanctions in the middle of the negotiation, whether that's a good idea or not or whether that scares them away from the table.  My goal is I want the outcome to hopefully be one that's not war. I think we've had quite a bit of war in the last decade. I would like to have an outcome where Iran agrees not to create nuclear weapons, but at the same time we do it without having to have a war.

KRAUTHAMMER: Let me ask you one last question. Therefore, if the negotiations collapse, if the Iranians either walk away or they violate, or it simply doesn't proceed, are you prepared, as a last resort, with Iran about to go nuclear would you be prepared to if you were the president, to order a military strike as a way to prevent that outcome?

PAUL: I would say all options would be on the table and that would include military. I would also be prepared to vote for more sanctions if we go away from negotiations and the negotiations fail. I think in the midst of negotiations, it's a mistake, though.

BAIER: George?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm going to ask Charles' question, just a different way. The president has been very specific, saying my policy is not containment of a nuclear Iran. Would President Paul have the same policy, that you would act to make it impossible for them to have nuclear weapons?

PAUL: Right. What I've said with regard to containment is is that we -- it shouldn't be our policy at this point in time, in trying to prevent them from having nuclear weapons. The one reason I haven't liked to use the word "never" with regards to containment is that if you said that with regard to China, or Pakistan, or North Korea, we would now be at war with those countries because all of a sudden one day they had nuclear weapons.

So I don't think it should be our policy. You can have nuclear weapons and we'll contain you. That shouldn't be our policy. But I don't think we should also say the extension of that, that we will never have containment as a policy. Containment actually, for 70 years, was a great policy with regard to the Soviet Union.

WILL: Suppose the Israelis came to you and said, "The progress is too fast, they're too close now. We must strike. Will you help us?" What would you say?

PAUL: You know, I think that's a tough situation. I think with regard to Israel, deciding it's in their best interest, I don't think it's ever our obligation to criticize them for defending their country. So if they decided to act unilaterally I don't think it's our place to be criticizing -- 

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: But that's another question. And I think it has to be probably decided by what the facts on the ground are at that point and how close they are. So really, decisions like that I think are sometimes dependent on facts you may not have, you know, even within the Senate, or amongst us we may not have the facts.

BAIER: Mara, a 2016 question.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: 2016 -- you would have the fact if you were commander in chief.

PAUL: Right.

LIASSON: So let me ask you a question about that. Voters are completely disgusted with Washington. Every player here gets abysmally, historically low ratings from the president to the leadership in Congress.  Why wouldn't voters want an outsider in 2016, a Republican governor, maybe a conservative governor of a blue state? No names --

PAUL: I think they want someone outside of, you know, what's been going on. So for example, someone like myself who has been promoting term limits, someone who says we shouldn't have, you know, decade after decade longevity up here. And I think I'm enough new here to still be perceived as an outsider should that be the choice sometime in 2016.

But I don't know that a governor is necessarily an outsider. A governor can be an insider as much as anybody else. I think you want somebody who maybe hasn't spent their whole life in politics. People who have had another career. When young people come up to me and ask me about getting involved in politics, that's my number one advice. Go get a real job and do something and have a real career before being in politics.

KRAUTHAMMER: Like being an eye doctor, for example?

PAUL: Yeah.

LIASSON: Is Chris Christie a conservative?

PAUL: You know, it depends on how you define that. If you have a very loose definition, probably. If you look at a lot of issues like whether or not we should accept ObamaCare, bring it to our state, expand Medicaid, those would be I think at best moderate positions. So, but everybody has to make that judge. But I think we have room for moderates in our party.

BAIER: All right, senator, thank you very much for being here on Center Seat. I really appreciate it. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for when horsing around goes wrong, plus tonight's SR Pulse Bing highlights.

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