Hadley: Iran Knows What It Needs to do

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," June 14, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Stephen Hadley, the national security director, who was with the president on that trip to Iraq.

Mr. Hadley, good to have you.


CAVUTO: I don't know if you had a chance to listen to the prime minister saying, don't trust this overture that was expressed to our own John Moody from the Iranians, that maybe they could help us with Iraq. What did you think of that?

HADLEY: Well, the former prime minister is absolutely right. We have a long list of concerns with Iran: their pursuit of a nuclear weapon, their support for terror, their threats to the state of Israel, their oppression of their own people.

We have real concerns about this regime. We have put stopping their acquisition of nuclear weapons at the top of the list. We have made it very clear that, if they will suspend their enrichment program, we would be willing to sit down and try and negotiate with Britain, France, the United Kingdom, and probably Russia and China, a resolution of that issue.

So, that is the first item on the agenda. If they want to talk, they know what they need to do, which is suspend their enrichment program.

With respect to Iraq, if they are interested in making some kind of progress in Iraq, they know what they need to do. They need to stop the provision of IEDs, improvised explosive devices, and other equipment that are being used by elements in Iraq to target Iraqis and target the coalition.

So, if they want to do something to help stabilize Iraq, that's what they need to do. They know that. They need to take steps to do it.

CAVUTO: You seem to be saying that this offer is bogus.

HADLEY: I don't know the details of the offer.

Look, if Iraq — if Iran is willing to take steps not to destabilize Iraq but to stabilize it, that would be a good thing. And the way they can start is to make sure that there is no equipment, explosive devices and other things, going into Iraq that are being used to kill Iraqis and kill members of the coalition.

CAVUTO: Mr. Hadley...

HADLEY: That's where we start.

CAVUTO: ... have there been direct negotiations between the United States and Iran on these very points?

HADLEY: No. There have — we have, of course, channels by which we can communicate to Iran. We do it through the Swiss channel, which protects our interests. There have been efforts to do that. But we don't have direct negotiations.

What we have offered, of course, is, if they will suspend their uranium-enrichment program, we would join these other nations and sit down and have direct negotiations with Iran. But the issue is whether Iran will take that step and suspend their enrichment program.

CAVUTO: If they do not?

HADLEY: It's — we've made clear that, if they do not — and we've agreed with the principal parties to this enterprise that, then, we go back to New York, we move for Security Council resolutions and ultimately towards additional measures, to try and make it clear to the Iranian regime that they have two — a strategic choice to make.

They can come to the table and negotiate and have a positive relationship with the rest of the world, or they can spurn that offer, in which case they are moving into a direction of increasingly isolating themselves from the international community.

We hope they will make the right choice, the first choice. And we will see what decision they make.

CAVUTO: Do you know — Mr. Hadley, I hate to put you on the spot here — how closely Israel is involved in these negotiations? Obviously, the country has a vested interest in seeing this resolved diplomatically. Can you update me on that?

HADLEY: In what negotiations are you referring to?

CAVUTO: In overtures to Iran and how actively you are keeping them apprised of the situation.

HADLEY: Well, the negotiations on the nuclear issue have been focused on, of course, the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

We have been involved, in some sense, behind the scenes. Russia has been involved, the Chinese as well. That's the group of countries that have been dealing these negotiations and have been handling this matter with Iran. And that's a good place for it to be.

CAVUTO: So, if there was a wild-card move on the part of the Israelis to take this into their own hands, as they did with Iraq in 1980, that would be met with displeasure?

HADLEY: Well, I think, as you heard from the former prime minister, we all would like to try and resolve this in a diplomatic way. That's the president's priority. We have laid out a strategy going forward to try and achieve that. That ought to be the locus of our effort, and it is the locus of our effort.


HADLEY: And I'm sure it's been very clear we have the Israeli government's support on that.

CAVUTO: All right. Now, you were one of the select few to join the president on the trip to Baghdad that everyone kept top secret. I don't know how you let — get that secret. But how did you guys pull that off?

HADLEY: It was a very small group of people that organized the trip. Obviously, security is a consideration whenever the president travels, whether it's in this country or overseas.

In a place like Iraq, obviously, he would be what we call a high-value target in Iraq. And it was important, therefore, to do it in a way that would ensure security. It was good cooperation among a small group of people, headed by Joe Hagin here at the White House. And they did a terrific job.

CAVUTO: Did you have any concerns for the president?

HADLEY: The...

CAVUTO: For yourself actually?

HADLEY: Well, our military there, the Secret Service designed a program with which they were very comfortable. Obviously, if they weren't, the president wouldn't have gone.

CAVUTO: But could I ask you this, Mr. Hadley? Did any...

HADLEY: So, I really had — I really had no concerns.

CAVUTO: I apologize.

Did anyone say, sir, you know, look, Mr. President, we know you really want to go there, not a good idea?

Did anyone tell him that?

HADLEY: No. People thought, actually, it was a good idea. We obviously had to make sure that the security situation was taken care of.

But he very much wanted to go. And the reason he wanted to go was to sit down with this new unity government, look the prime minister and other cabinet ministers in the eye, and make an assessment: Do these people have a sense of priorities? Do they have the commitment to success? Are they really committed to putting the past behind them, moving forward and bringing the country together?

And it was important for him to make that personal assessment. And I think he had that opportunity. And he came away very encouraged by what he saw.

So, it was a trip he wanted to take, and it was important for him to do it.

CAVUTO: All right.

Finally, very quickly, sir, you sleep any in the last couple of days?

HADLEY: A little bit. You know, it turns out the floor can be very comfortable, if you get tired enough.

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