Showdown with Iran

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 30, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: In just a matter of hours, it begins, and the entire world is waiting for the news out of Geneva, Iran sitting down face to face with the United States and five other nations. Is there any way Iran can or will be stopped from getting nuclear weapons?

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger joins us live. Good evening, sir. Nice to see you, Mr. -- nice to see you, Dr. Kissinger. Tomorrow's the big day in Geneva. What do you expect will happen?

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I would be amazed if anything spectacular happened. This is the first day of what almost certainly will be a very long negotiation. And if we look at the behavior of the North Koreans, who have a similar problem with respect to nuclear weapons, it will involve some endurance. I don't expect anything spectacular to happen tomorrow.

VAN SUSTEREN: Then why are we meeting when the Iranians have made clear that they are taking the issue of nuclear weapons off the table?

KISSINGER: Well, we can't let them take it off the table. We have a whole host of problems with them. We have the nuclear issue. And if they develop nuclear weapons, it will change the whole -- the entire situation in the region and maybe globally. We have their pressure on the Sunni Arab countries in the region. We have their threats against Israel. And we have their support for organizations that are either terrorists or support terrorists, like the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Hamas on the West Bank. So these issues have to be resolved or dramatically improved if one can talk of any arrangement with Iran.

VAN SUSTEREN: Iran says that they are not seeking to make nuclear weapons but that they want nuclear power for civilian and peaceful reasons. Do you believe them?

KISSINGER: I don't believe them. But if that were to be the outcome, it means that there has to be an inspection system where people can believe them. They have pursued this program for 10 years. They have no need for nuclear power on any significant scale because they have huge supplies of gas and oil. The -- what they're enriching is really useful primarily for weapons and not for nuclear power, so I don't believe they're making that effort for civilian uses.

But if they are, then one can conceive arrangements where, for example, the enrichment facilities are outside of Iran under some sort of international control, where one could look at that. But I don't believe that that's what they're doing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who -- which countries do you think have been sharing technology or even materials with Iran in this endeavor?

KISSINGER: In recent years, probably (INAUDIBLE) probably North Korea. Initially, almost certainly, this so-called private network out of Pakistan. Those, I would think, are the two principal countries. Russia has sold them some peaceful nuclear technology for power generation, but that is not the issue that worries most people.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think that in terms of this meeting tomorrow and -- are we sort of -- do we have enough of a united front? Are Russia and China as aggressive about this as the United States?

KISSINGER: On the issue of whether they should have nuclear weapons, there is a united front. But what that means is they have said it's unacceptable, but nobody has defined how they define unacceptable. On the issue of sanctions, Russia and China are for much less severe sanctions, but unless the sanctions are severe, unless they really bite, they will not have an effect, or at least not enough of an effect.

VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of Israel, Ahmadinejad has said that he wants to wipe Israel off the map. How much time do you think there will be before Israel will be boxed in to at least trying to do something to protect themselves about this?

KISSINGER: Well, if a point is reached where the Iranians are either close to nuclear weapons or are just about to get them, that would be the last moment where Israel can take action of its own. And in the light of the threats that they have heard, one cannot ignore that the Israelis in some sort of desperation will act on their own. But it would leave them in a very tough position.

VAN SUSTEREN: What are the odds -- since the Iranians have lied about what they've been doing in this, what are the odds do you think they've been lying about how far they are in terms of developing a nuclear weapon? Could they be much farther along than we even think?

KISSINGER: Well, there -- it's -- the intelligence community in 2007 came out with a report in which they said that the Iranians have stopped nuclear weapons development. I wrote an article sharply criticizing this because it could mean that they already have developed a weapon. And anyway, no weapons tests has ever failed, so if they can do -- enrich enough uranium, I don't know anybody who doubts that they can produce a weapon. So the key issue is how much enriched uranium they are producing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Secretary Kissinger, thank you, sir. Always nice to see you.

KISSINGER: Always good to be here.

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