Henry Kissinger 'On the Record' on Pakistan, Nuke Threats and More

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 19, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: No matter what the Republicans do, President Obama is in office until at least 2012, dealing with extremely dangerous issues that threaten the entire world. One of the biggest, nuclear proliferation. President Obama has said his ultimate vision is for the world to be free of nuclear weapons. Is that possible or even realistic?

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met with the president today to talk about this very issue. Secretary Kissinger joins us live. Nice to see you, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: So what, sir, can you tell us about your meeting today with the president.

KISSINGER: Well, the reason we met with the president today -- there were four of us, two former Republican secretaries of state, Democratic secretary of defense and a Democratic chairman of the Armed Services Committee. And we are trying to make a contribution. We wrote two articles on the subject of how one can reduce the danger of nuclear proliferation and work ultimately, perhaps, toward a world that might have no nuclear weapons.

We support the basic premise of the objective, but also, we strongly support the idea that until that objective is reached, we must maintain adequate forces for deterrence. And so we have to look at the individual steps that can be taken. We need, in a way, sort of a vision and a kind of a step-by-step program in order perhaps get there. Is it possible? At this point, nobody could describe what such a world would look like.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, last week, the admiral who's the Joint Chiefs of Staff said before the -- one of the Senate committees -- he said there is evidence that Pakistan is adding to its nuclear weapons system and warheads. That's really bad news if you're talking to try to cap the situation.

KISSINGER: In the short term, the preeminent objective has to be to prevent further proliferation of nuclear weapons into North Korea, Iran, and now Pakistan is building up its forces. The real problem in Pakistan isn't so much the size of its forces, because they're pretty substantial already, but the question is whether there's political control over these weapons. And with Taliban forces 60 miles from the capital, one has to be concerned that these weapons might fall into jihadist hands.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's interesting you raise that because the CIA director, Leon Panetta, was even asked that question about how confident we can be that the nuclear warheads in Pakistan are secured. And he says they are, quote, "pretty secure," the measures are pretty secure. That -- that's not certainty to me.

KISSINGER: Well, "pretty secure" isn't good enough for the long term. And so one of the problems, immediate problem we face is to stop any further proliferation.


KISSINGER: Well, we have a situation in North Korea, which has just kicked over traces of an agreement they had already made. There are six- power talks going on. Now, if Japan, China, Russia, the United States together cannot convince or -- a country of the size of North Korea by creating enough pressure, what is the sense of talking about an international system at all? And I believe that China and we and Japan should be able to bring about the denuclearization of North Korea.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is it, though, that -- I mean (INAUDIBLE) what is it North Korea wants? I've never been sort of certain what it is that they want to close everything down.

KISSINGER: Well, Korea is a very strange country. It's a country ion which everybody has a radio in his house that he can't shut off, so the government can talk to their people 24 hours a day. And in a way, it does. They have devoted over 50 percent of their GNP to military purposes now for years, and as a result, there's starvation, shortages. They seem to think that they need nuclear weapons to gain respect or -- it's really hard to know where they are going.

But if we cannot deal with a country that has no natural resources that others want, no significant trade, totally dependent on its neighbors for supplies, then what is the sense of talking of an international system?

VAN SUSTEREN: So where do we go from -- so what...


VAN SUSTEREN: So what's the next step? That sounds bleak.

KISSINGER: I support, and so do my colleagues, the president's idea of a world in which the reliance on nuclear weapons is reduced. But the immediate task is to prevent the spread -- or to prevent -- to get away the nuclear weapons from North Korea and to prevent the spread into Iran. And there, we have to figure out the combinations of penalties and rewards and diplomacy and pressures we can exercise in order to bring it about. It's not just -- it's a psychiatric (ph) problem of getting somebody into a conference room, it's a problem of the incentives that exist and the penalties that exist.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's obviously very terrifying.

KISSINGER: It's a very -- it's a dangerous situation. And the four of us have tried to create what we call a non-partisan basis on which we can proceed.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's always nice to see you, Secretary Kissinger. I hope -- I wish you'd come back more often, or I'll come up to New York and see you.

KISSINGER: Come up to New York.

VAN SUSTEREN: I will. I will and -- because we have a lot more to talk about and I...

KISSINGER: It would always be fun to see you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see you, sir.

KISSINGER: Thank you.

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