This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," September 18, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: And meanwhile, the man who has said that he wants to wipe Israel off the map and is apparently trying to make a bomb to possibly do just that, had some ugly words today for the Jewish state. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that Israel is not going to survive in any shape or form, were his words.
On top of that today, we are learning that Russia is now reportedly preparing to sell its surface-to-air missile system to Iran despite western demands for a halt of all sales from Russia to Tehran.
Peter Brookes a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation and he joins me now.
Peter, welcome. Good to see you as always.
PETER BROOKES, HERITAGE FOUNDATION SR. FELLOW: Thank you, Martha.
• Video: Watch Martha's interview with Peter Brookes
MACCALLUM: You know, it's a chicken and egg syndrome in some ways. I mean, let's talk a little bit first about these sales.
MACCALLUM: You know, we've had a troubled relationship with Russia as of late and now they turn around and say that they're basically selling a missile system to Iran that would protect them from any incoming missiles from Israel.
BROOKES: Well, I mean, this is symptomatic of the Russian relationship with Iran. This is not the first missile sale. They sold them a billion dollars in missiles prior to this. This is a new sale.
And don't forget, Martha, that Russia has been building Iran's first nuclear reactor and that's what these surface-to-air missiles are meant to defend, Iran's nuclear program. So, this is very, very troubling. Russia is probably trying to push back on us about issues on Georgia, Kosovo, and other things. But it's certainly not going to be helpful to us, to Israel, and, I think, ultimately, it will be bad for Russia, too.
MACCALLUM: Yes. You know, I mean, this is such a blatant move, and as you say, it's just the latest in a string of very aggressive moves by Russia. But it leaves us with the same question that we had during the Georgian crisis: What is the United States to do about it?
BROOKES: Well, there's not much we can really do about these direct sales. We can certainly appeal to the Russians not to sell them, but there's not much the Russians — I don't think the Russians are going to change their mind. I mean, Russia, besides its energy sales, its other major industry is its arms sales. It's one of the largest arms sellers and, of course, as you know, they've sold $4 billion worth of arms to Venezuela as well.
The challenge here is going to be to dealing with Iran's nuclear program and this new Israeli prime minister, that has to weigh very heavy on her mind because Iran is moving in the direction of a nuclear weapon without any hindrance whatsoever, a new IAEA report has even pointed out the fact that they really can't get the Iranians to stop what they're doing, or to be more open and transparent about their nuclear program.
MACCALLUM: Yes, a lot of urgency in that situation.
Peter Brookes, thanks for getting us up to speed on it tonight. It's always good to have you.
BROOKES: Thank you, Martha.
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