OTR Interviews

Lindsey Graham: John Kerry, Listen to Howard Dean - Walk away from negotiation table with Iran

Sen. Lindsey Graham on why the US won't walk away from the ongoing talks with Iran

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 1, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator Lindsey Graham says he has little confidence in the negotiations will end well.

And Senator Graham joins us. Good evening, sir.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Good evening.

VAN SUSTEREN: So, do you have little confidence?

GRAHAM: Well, everybody in the region there, the Arabs and the Israelis, are very worried about the deal that they have been briefed about. And we are chasing the Iranians past a deadline that we set. And I never thought I would live long enough to hear myself say this. But, John Kerry, listen to Howard Dean. When Howard Dean says it's time to walk away, it's time to walk away, it's time to walk away.

VAN SUSTEREN: It seems to me one of the most important questions I have is that as these negotiations go beyond the deadline that, you know, it's always good to have the other side talking, at the table talking. But what I want to know is whether or not while these negotiations are going on are the Iranians enriching any uranium? Because I heard some things about the breakout period being two or three months. Do we know for certain there is no enrichment happening right now while we're at the table?

GRAHAM: There is definitely enrichment going on. Part of the hang-up is that Iranians want to research-and-development component to their nuclear program with advanced centrifuges that could turn material into weapons-grade material within a matter of months. You are talking about 6000-plus centrifuges, giving the Iranians a capacity to go nuclear in terms of a bomb within a matter of months, not a year, and the whole goal of negotiations a year and a half ago was to dismantle the Iranian nuclear program. Now the goal is to contain them within a year. And nobody in the region is going to feel safe with a deal like that.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so with us at the table though, if they are still enriching, they have every incentive to keep us at the table just talking because it's business as usual for them. I mean, that's sort of the curious part about it. Otherwise, it's good to stay at the table. As long as they keep us talking, and behind our back, they're enriching, or if it's in front of us, I mean, that's their goal.

GRAHAM: Well, I think their goal is to lock in a nuclear program that they can one day turn into a bomb with just a few months of breakout. This is North Korea in the making. Same people negotiating the Iranian deal also negotiated the North Korean deal. You saw how that ended. When the Israelis and Arabs tell you with one voice that the deal that we're contemplating here creates regional instability, we should listen. We're talking about a very advanced enrichment program in the hands of the most radical ayatollahs in the world, people who have killed American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iranian regime has toppled four Arab capitals during the last year and a half and we haven't mentioned that at all. If I were John Kerry, I would walk away from the table and say sanctions are going to be re-imposed, full-throated, and we are not coming back to the table to talk about your nuclear program until you stop destabilizing the regions -- the region.

VAN SUSTEREN: Then what do you think happens? If Secretary Kerry walked away from the table right now, if President Obama said deal is up, time is up, what happens then?

GRAHAM: Well, if you re-impose sanctions and you hang tough, they will come back to the table. At the end of the day, the Iranians are going to keep playing us like a fiddle, try to extract more concessions. Everything has moved their way. If they don't believe we are going to use military force to stop a nuclear breakout, one day they are going to break out. So without the military option really on the table, you will never get a good deal with the Iranians. I think they believe they probably got division between P5-Plus-1. The longer they negotiate, the more John Kerry gives in. That model has to give away to breaking away and telling the Iranians no more negotiations about your nuclear ambitions until you stop wreaking terror throughout the region.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think President Obama is thinking tonight?

GRAHAM: I think he wants a deal so bad he can't stand it. Ben Rhodes had said that a nuclear deal with Iran is equivalent to Obamacare on the domestic front. Here is what I think President Obama is thinking: I want a deal with the Iranians and that will be legacy, and he will be disappointed if they walk away. At the end of the day, President Obama is negotiating against himself. The goal of dismantling their program has given away to try to contain them within a year. Here is what President Obama is about to do. He is about to lock in a nuclear program in the hands of the ayatollahs that will make the Arabs go get their own bomb and put Israel in a bind so they may have to use military force. In trying to neuter the nuclear ambitions of the Iranians, he has about to set in motion a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.