'All-Star' Panel On the Meeting of World Leaders to Keep Nukes Out of the Hands of Terrorists

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from April 12, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JOHN BRENNAN, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What we're trying to do is to make sure that we're able to stay several steps ahead of terrorist groups by working with these countries to make sure they are able to button down their facilities, but also take the appropriate steps and to institute the protocols that are necessary that will endure over time. This is not just a one-time event here. What we're trying to do is continue this process that's been underway for a number of years that we can truly help to safeguard these materials.


BRET BAIER, "SPECIAL REPORT" HOST: Well, that was the president's counterterrorism adviser talking about the nuclear summit here in Washington where 47 countries, leaders from 47 countries discussing the effort to rein in and to basically keep track of loose nuclear material all over the world so it doesn't get in the hands of terrorists.

But there is breaking details late in the day that the White House was touting a commitment by China to move forward and at least talk about possible sanctions on Iran. What about all of that?

Let's bring in our panel, Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson, National political correspondent of National Public Radio, and the syndicated columnist, Charles Krauthammer.

All right, Charles, let's start with the China development, the White House saying they have a commitment from Hu Jintao that there will be an effort to move forward with some kind of sanctions against Iran. What does that mean?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It means absolutely nothing. That means that the Chinese aren't going to veto, it doesn't say what will be in the resolution. It doesn't mean that there will be anything serious about it. The Chinese could even abstain. It gets us nowhere where we a month or two ago, where Chinese has said we'll consider talking about the beginning framework of perhaps a way to approach sanctions. Meaningless.

BAIER: Do you agree, Mara?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I think it depends what comes out of this. President Obama has said he is not going to wait around forever that this has to happen in the next couple of few weeks and he needs to get a regime and really tough sanctions. I think having some kind of an embargo on refined petroleum products is part of that. That's what Russia seems to have put off the table, even though they made nice noises about sanctions in general, but they just don't want certain sanctions in particular.

BAIER: Yes, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev saying in an interview that he doesn't think the sanctions work most of the time and they'd have to be very specific in this case.

LIASSON: Right, I think that — I am willing to withhold judgment to see what he actually gets out of China and Russia. He has to get something pretty tough or else he's back to plan C which I think is working with some kind of coalition of the willing to put sanctions on Iran.

BAIER: Fred, are you buying it?

FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: I'll withhold judgment but not my expectations, and my expectations are that they're going to have another weak set of sanctions that in no way are going to influence the Iranians to back away from their nuclear weapons program. We already know there was a strong set of sanctions that even the Brits and the Germans said, oh we'll never get the Russians and the Chinese to go along with it.

They already gave those up so they're going to get the sanctions. My expectation is that it will have no effect whatsoever. If I'm pleasantly surprised that would be fine, but I'm certainly not expecting anything like that. Look, you didn't need to have a summit in Washington to get the Chinese to say they'll talk about this, because they said, as Charles pointed out it, a couple weeks ago.

What I would like to have seen is rather than a summit on loose nukes, which is an important issue but it's not the most critical issue now by far. Iran is more important, South Korea and its nuclear weapons are more important than now.

Dealing with Russia on this whole issue was more important because we know today from President Medvedev that the Russians are interpreting the new start treaty signed last week as allowing the Russians to get out of the treaty if they don't like what the U.S. is doing on missile defense. That is — look, if the Russians stick with that notion, that jeopardizes ratification of the treaty.

BAIER: Charles, the summit, overall.

KRAUTHAMMER: There is something widely disproportionate about this. The biggest gathering of world leaders on American soil since the end of the world war, founding of the U.N., which at the time seemed like an important world historical event to do what?

This is to prevent proliferation of nuclear material into hands of terrorists. Well the two most important dangerous threats of that are not even under discussion. Number one is Iran, which our own State Department says is the largest exploiter of terrorism in the world, which we all know is developing nukes. Secondly is Pakistan, which has processing of plutonium going on as we speak, which is producing new material every day. And even though it's a friendly country, it's got two insurgencies, it's unstable.

Bombs going off in its major cities every day then the Secret Service, the ISI of dubious loyalties. So you've got to ask yourself, is the major issue here the great announcement today that 86 kilos of highly enriched uranium are now secure? I don't know about you, but I haven't been staying up nights worrying about Ukrainian uranium.

If that's what we're worried about, which you have is a meeting of experts in Geneva who will work it all out and have the foreign secretaries sign off on it. But a summit of this level over the issues leaving out Iran and Pakistan is quite bizarre.

BAIER: Mara, the White House says Ukraine, Chile, a number of countries saying they are going to move the nuclear material and put it under lock and key, essentially give it to the U.S.

LIASSON: Good, look, you can't say it's a bad thing that's a good thing. To say we are having this summit instead of dealing with Iran, no we're actually having this summit and we're dealing with Iran in all these bilaterals. Securing loose nukes is an important thing, to say it's the number one threat right now. I agree with Charles, it's not, Iran is much scarier.

BAIER: They're saying it's the number one security threat.

LIASSON: No, well - they're saying it's one of the — the nuclear weapons falling into the hands of a terrorist, is the number one security threat. They're not playing down the threat of Iran. They need to do something about Iran or else we're going to be onto plan "D," which is containment.

BAIER: What about the White House expectations, not for the bilateral meetings, but for the summit itself?

LIASSON: Yes, I think White House expectations were high. Whatever regime and agreement comes out of this has to be very practical and has to really bind people to do something. If it's vague, then it will seem like a ridiculous exercise to get everybody here for that.

BARNES: It's vague and non-binding.

BAIER: Last word, Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: Chilean and Ukrainian proliferation is not the highest agenda in the world this evening. You don't need the largest gathering of leaders in order to deal with it. You could have experts do it. You want to gather world leaders, it should be over Iran and Pakistan. It's not even under discussion.

BAIER: That said, I had a very interesting interview with the president of Chile today and you can see it on our website, our home page, at foxnews.com. You can also vote on what you think the most important goal of the summit is by voting in our online poll. Go to the home page foxnews.com/specialreport.

Up next, how will Poland recover from Saturday's devastating plane crash?



PRESIDENT LECH KACZYNSKI: Well, the details have been not worked out yet. The previous government has no doubt whatsoever if the ratification process would be started in Congress. Then today we would have it begun a different situation.

BAIER: Do you think Russia was emboldened by this decision?

PRESIDENT LECH KACZYNSKI: Russia is always bold, but is it encouraged then it becomes even bolder.


BAIER: That was president Lech Kaczynski, President of Poland, who died Saturday. I talked to him Saturday at the United Nations after the U.S. decision about missile defense in Poland. He died in this plane crash in Russia. Ninety five others died there.

They were heading to the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre where 22,000 Polish soldiers were killed by Soviet forces, but the list of who died on this plane crash, the deputy foreign minister, the deputy speaker of parliament, the chiefs of the Army and the Navy, the president of the National Bank, the head of the National Security Bureau, the president and the first lady and dozens of members of parliament. The ambassador to the U.S. says Poland can recover.


ROBERT KUPIECKI, POLISH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: There is no danger whatsoever for the democracy and political system in Poland. Poland has a mature democracy, a solid member of international community and a great ally of the United States.


BAIER: It's hard to imagine a country that could have gone through something like this. We're back with the panel. Charles, it's devastating.

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, but I think the ambassador spoke correctly. The irony is that this is the most successful of all the east European countries. It was the first to lead the Warsaw Pact countries, the captive nations out of the Soviet empire with solidarity. It led the way. It's also been the most successful in changing the economy to capitalist economy and establishing stable democracy.

The one ray of light here is that the head of government in Poland, not the — the presidency is largely a ceremonial position. So, the head of the government was not on the plane and the government is generally intact. But it is, this is a terrible loss of the political elite of the country. But I don't think it threatens their stability.

Ironically, the president was running for reelection against the leader of the parliament, and the leader of the parliament is the one who constitutionally inherits the job. And the president, the late president was behind in the polls, so essentially, this just speeds up what would have been a transition to the opposition party.

So generally speaking, I think it's not going to affect the stability of the country but obviously it's terrible — and the irony of it happening in a trip to commemorate the worst previous event in the history of the country in terms of the massacre of its elite at the Katyn massacre is really unbelievable. It's a country that has had a terribly tragic history, almost unbelievable in reputation of the tragedy.

BAIER: Mara.

LIASSON: Yes, I mean, I agree with everything Charles just said. It's just inconceivable. I mean that they were going to commemorate this horrendous massacre on Russian soil and they all die right there and then. But I agree, I think Polish democracy is strong and vibrant. This is not a threat to the system.

Obviously, something that I think will kind of scar the Polish soul for a very, very long time, but there is not going to be any kind of instability or unrest in Poland. They have to sort things out and figure out how they'll conduct the election. But, yes, it's just a terrible, terrible thing.

BARNES: One of the big losses is President Kaczynski, because he was a tough guy. He was a guy that his greatest ambition was to resist Russian domination. That's what he wanted to do more than anything else, as a head of the country.

He also complained about German influence in Europe and complained about the German, old Europe didn't like him. They said he was kind of — he angered them because he complained all the time, but he stood up for Poland and was also, as the ambassador mentioned, a great friend of the United States.

BAIER: You know, you heard him in that the interview in September which he said Russia is always bold, but if it's encouraged it becomes bolder. He was really frank and blunt throughout this entire thing.

BARNES: He was not afraid of the Russians at all. Of course, he was undercut by President Obama when Obama decided not to build that anti-missile system in Poland.

BAIER: Charles, is there a threat at all in Poland that there would be an inclination to go with one strong leader in the wake of such a tragedy, even understanding Poland's history?

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, I think because it's not a presidential system as we have here.

BAIER: Right. The prime minister controls.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think it's more the symbolism as Fred indicates. He was a symbol of the more right wing perspective, the more nationalist perspective, which in fact probably would have lost the election at the end of the year. So I think it's not really a change of the guard here.

His position was rather weakening. You would have had the more sort of left-of-center politicians winning. Nonetheless — in fact, it could have an ironic strengthening, because it creates an event and commemoration, which looking into the big future, I think his legacy, his memory will be honored in a way that had he been extraordinary politician he might not have. He's now in a sense of martyr, a Kennedy figure and that I think will be a monumental landmark in the history of Polish democracy.

BAIER: The images were stark. His twin brother is the prime minister. To see that image at that service is incredible —

KRAUTHAMMER: Former prime minister.

BAIER: Former prime minister right. That's it for the panel, but stay tuned for a new tax that is not sitting well with a certain demographic.

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