A Nuclear Cauldron in the Middle East

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This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, September 29, that has been edited for clarity.

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BRIT HUME, CO-HOST: He is an American businessman by trade, but few people on earth have better connections and sources in the Mid East than Mansoor Ijaz; who also happens to be a Fox News foreign policy analyst, just back from a trip throughout that part of the world.

Welcome home.

MANSOOR IJAZ, FOX NEWS FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: Thank you very much, Brit. Good to be with you.

HUME: Thanks for being here. I want to start by asking about something that was said on the weekend by the minister from Iran, Kharrazi. Let's listen to a word of what he said.


KEMAL KHARRAZI, FOREIGN MINISTER, IRAN: Certainly we don't have any program for use of weapons of mass destruction that is for sure. And we are not going to support any terrorist organization and Hezbollah (search) is not a terrorist organization.


HUME: Well, the foreign minister said that on ABC yesterday. After being in that part of the world, what do you make of that claim?

IJAZ: Well, the last part of his statement is just a flat lie. Hezbollah is truly one of the most insidious terrorist organizes in the world. There's no and, ifs, or buts about the fact that they use violent means to achieve their objectives.

But the more important problem that we're dealing with in that part of the world right now is Iran's determination to get a functional nuclear weapons program by which they can take their indigenous uranium sources, then reprocess that uranium into enriched uranium.

Which gives them then, in the best-case scenario, the materials to be able to make a dirty bomb.

You know, because they have got the most…one of the best plastic explosives expertise anywhere on planet earth. You have that right there in Iran. That's why Hezbollah is able to blow up buses with such small amounts of plastic explosives.

In the worse case scenario, you're talking about getting your hands on tactical and nuclear weapons that could be put on, for example, rocket launches in the Biqa Valley or to threaten other neighboring Muslim countries. And what is really dangerous about all of this, and that is why the United States has to take a much more serious role and take a much more determined role in stopping them...

HUME: Let me stop you for just a second. May I take it that you confirmed these notions while you were on your recent travels?

IJAZ: Yes. There is no question that...

HUME: And you're talking to intelligence services and various countries around them?

IJAZ: You bet. You bet. And in fact...

HUME: You weren't there, though? You didn't get in.

IJAZ: No, I did not go to Iran. And it would be illegal for me to do that.

But the point I would make to you is that we've known for quite some time that Iran was very close to the nuclear threshold in terms of enriching uranium. What has changed now, is not only do we know that they can enrich it, but we now also have a very good idea that they're pretty close to being able to assemble their own devices. That is what's troubling because that then forces every other country in the region, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, other countries that are wealthy enough to be able to go to a country like Pakistan that needs cash and say to them, all right, we need on demand a nuclear in case Iran gets out of control.

Forget about Israel. Just leave Israel out of the equation for the time being. This is now creating the potential for a nuclear cauldron in the Middle East. Iran is the only major Sunni…I mean Shiia state in the world, Shiia Islamic state in the world. Saudi Arabia is the principle Sunni Islamic state in the world. Their war has played itself out in Pakistan, you know, in terms of Sunnis and Shiias fighting with each other.

HUME: Proxies for the two nations.

IJAZ: Proxies. And they have played themselves out now in the early stages of us reconstructing Iraq. So we have to get our arms around this problem. And I would say we have to do the same thing that we did in Pakistan.

Every time Pakistan and India came close to nuclear blows with each other, we sent somebody, a special envoy, the former CIA director, U.S. Air Force general, somebody over there to sit down with them and read them the riot act. And say if you move one inch out of these boundaries, this is precisely what we will do to your nuclear facilities, to your weapons caches, to whatever else they've got.

HUME: You're talking about weapons of mass destruction?

IJAZ: We have to make sure that they understand what we're prepared to do because the Iranian mullahs, maybe the Iranian people underneath are largely OK and we need to get them out of the handcuffs. But the mullahs at the top, they have a different mindset. They would like to go to God as fast as they can. And they think they can take everybody with them and we have to stop them from doing that.

HUME: Now, based on your trip, what is the attitude now toward the United States among those nations that encircle Iran, next to Iraq in the Middle East?

IJAZ: Well, that's where I can't report, shall we say, really good news tonight. I found in almost every case from high-level officials, intelligence officials down to ordinary people on the street, that there is a great deal of disillusionment with how the United States, they perceive the United States has handled things in Iraq. And that is because all they see in their media is the negative stuff. They don't see any of the good things that we've done in Iraq.

HUME: A lot of Americans say it's all they see in their media.

IJAZ: That's exactly right and that's the problem. It is a real problem in that part of the world. We have got to find a way to get al Jazeera a balance, if I may put it that way, to al Jazeera, to the Abudabi network. To other Arab networks that are doing nothing but, if I may put that way, poisoning the minds of the Arab people with frankly what are just literally one sides of the story and not the whole thing.

HUME: So, how do you assess -- how much does this perception interfere with our efforts to unite countries around Iran to resist them on a nuclear weapons front?

IJAZ: Causes a big problem because essentially, Saudi Arabia is sitting there wondering well, if they go into Iran, are we next? You know, the Saudi regime knows there is problems there. The United Arab Emirates, other countries around there that could be helpful are doing it under great strains internally. And I think what we need to do now is reach out diplomatically to our friends in the Arab world and make sure that they help us surround Iran, put that pressure, but make sure they understand what the end game is.

If they don't heel, we have got to destroy those nuclear facilities because we can't allow that kind of regime to ever have nuclear weapons, no matter what happens.

HUME: Mansoor Ijaz, thanks very much for coming. Sobering message.

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