OTR Interviews

Netanyahu: Militant Islam trying to dominant the Middle East and the entire world, its ultimate target - the United States

Israeli prime minister says Islamic militants want to take over the entire Middle East and their ultimate target is the U.S. However, in the campaign against ISIS, we must not lose the bigger war: Allowing Iran to have nuclear weapons


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 2, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ON THE RECORD. Today, we spoke with the prime minister about what he sees as the greatest threats to Israel and to the U.S., here in the United States.


VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Prime Minister, nice to see you. Welcome to the United States.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you. It's good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: I heard your speech the other day before the U.N. General Assembly. Of course, a lot of attention in the United States on ISIS and in Iraq and Syria. But as you noted, that's the battle. The real war that matters much to your country as well as to the world is the Iran and nuclear weapons. Where are they on nuclear weapons?

NETANYAHU: They are trying to get a deal which would leave them with the ability to get to get -- to make enough enriched uranium for a bomb and have all the sanctions, the tough sanctions lifted off of them. That's what they're trying to do. They shouldn't get it.

I think it's important to specify what is the problem. The problem is that militant Islam is trying to dominate the Middle East and then take over the world. Its number-one target ultimately is the United States. They view all these branches -- Shiites, radical Shiites, radical Sunnis -- they see you as the Great Satan. They call us the Small Satan because we are just a frontal position, a forward position of the United States. They want to destroy us so they can get to you.

The greatest danger is that any one of these groups, either ISIS on the radical Sunni side, or Iran that leads the radical Shiites, that any one of them would get nuclear weapons is a tremendous threat to the future of our world, a tremendous threat not only to Israel but to the United States as well. That has to be prevented.

Defeat ISIS, very important. We support that completely. Support President Obama's effort there, 100 percent. But defeating ISIS and letting Iran have the capacity to manufacture enough material for a bomb, that's to lose the war. You have to do both, defeat ISIS and prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons capability.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is sort of peculiar though is that in fighting and defeating ISIS that the United States and countries that are going along with the United States have Iran supporting it --


VAN SUSTEREN: -- which is sort of an unusual, strange bed fellows in some ways.

NETANYAHU: Yes and no, because when both of your enemies are fighting one another, you don't support one or the other. Weaken both. That's my point. You don't have to give Iran -- and I don't think anyone is suggesting it -- but I heard in the press that people are saying, well, let's reward Iran for fighting ISIS with, you know, what they want on the nuclear deal. What for? They are going to fight ISIS anyway. If Assad came to you and said, well, I will fight ISIS if you give me back my chemical weapons, you would laugh them out of court. That's about the same absurdity. There is no need to do that. You have to fight the ISIS and do everything that's necessary to prevent Iran from having the capacity to make atomic bombs.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the arrangement right now, or the negotiation, discussions, which are supposed to -- I think November 24th is the next deadline.


VAN SUSTEREN: At least they are discussing leaving some enrichment capability with Iran, which I think before have you been quoted as saying a bad deal is worse than no deal. Is that a bad deal if they have any enrichment capacity?

NETANYAHU: In my opinion, of course. Why do they need centrifuges? Ask that question. They say they need it for civilian nuclear energy. That's not true. 17 countries around the world, big countries, like Mexico and Canada and Indonesia and others, have civilian nuclear energy. They don't have one centrifuge. Because the centrifuge you really need is for one thing, not for civilian nuclear energy, but for making a bomb, for military use. So there is no reason Iran should have it. My point was they shouldn't have it. And to the extent move away from that and they get more and more centrifuges, first hundreds, and then possibly thousands, and then you are giving them the capacity in short order, a few weeks, a few months to operate those centrifuges, enrich enough uranium, that's what you need, enriched uranium, to make a core of a nuclear bomb. There is no reason on earth to do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have the sense that President Obama or has he said to you meaning that he is willing to put on the table some sort of enrichment capability? I know Iran says they want it for peaceful purposes and I know that whole argument. But do you have the sense --

NETANYAHU: Peaceful purposes?

VAN SUSTEREN: I know that's what they say.


NETANYAHU: -- make radio isotopes to put on their intercontinental ballistic missiles that shoot out to Iranian patients orbiting the earth? I mean, that's absurd. They're making bombs.


NETANYAHU: That's what they're trying to do. That's what they're whole program is about, making bombs.

VAN SUSTEREN: I was not suggesting that I believe that -- I know they have intercontinental ballistic missiles as well. There is only one reason for that. But I'm curious, do you have the sense that the United States, its position is they will allow some -- or that they will agree to some enrichment of uranium?

NETANYAHU: Yeah, they say so openly. And their brief this afternoon it was clear that we have an open exchange. I mean, you know what is being discussed and the U.S. is very open with us, as befits close allies. But to the extent that you veer away from no enrichment, from no centrifuges, and you start moving away from that, then it becomes a bad deal, and you move further away and it becomes a very bad deal. And to the extent you get close to the position where they will have no enrichment capacity or minimal, that becomes a better deal. And we will see where it ends up on the spectrum.

But I think it's the overwhelming issue because these militant Islamic groups or regimes, whether Iran or ISIL or Hamas, they all have a fanatic ideology. They want to have their domains expanded. And ultimately, they want to change history. They want to bring us back to the early Medieval Period where women are chattel and minorities are subjugated. And everyone they consider an infidel is given a choice, convert or die. That's insane. But this insanity, coupled with the weapons of mass destruction, could lead to catastrophe. That's happened before in the previous century with another mad ideology that sought to conquer the world. And when they thought they had enough power, the Nazis brought horrible devastation and 60 million people died and a third of my people died. We can't let that happen again.

VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned Hamas. Israel is taking a lot of the world -- condemned over the number of Palestinian civilian deaths. But Hamas is the same as ISIS?

NETANYAHU: Hamas and ISIS, they are not twins, but they are brothers. I called them branches of the same poison tree. These are radical Islamic movements. And they use some of the same methods. Look at this. I brought this picture. And when your viewers look at this, they might think this is ISIS about to carry out an impending execution. But it's not. This is taken roughly at the same time of the ISIS beheadings, except it happened not in Syria or Iraq, but in Gaza. And this Hamas executioner is about to execute one of dozens of Palestinians that they killed in order to instill their campaign of fear over the population of Gaza.

Now, there are some differences. Hamas beheads people, or rather ISIS beheads people and Hamas puts a bullet in their head. But if you are the victim or their family, the horror is the same. So they use the same tactics.

And they also have the same goal of dominating the world with this terrible Islamist conception. And I think they should be fought. We fought Hamas. Now you are fighting ISIS. But I think we shouldn't lose sight of -- in the cracks, we shouldn't let Iran, the ultimate Islamist power, to get the ultimate power.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Prime minister, before we go -- and you have to excuse my Midwestern accent, but -- (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

NETANYAHU: That's pretty good.


There is room for improvement. But it means Happy New Year. This is the Jewish New Year. So I want to say that we offer it for Jews and non- Jews alike. I hope that we have a year, under challenging circumstances fighting these terrorists who challenge, really, imperil our civilization, I hope we have a good year for security and for prosperity and for peace.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir.

NETANYAHU: Thank you.