This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from Feb. 14, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.


SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Their [Iran's] decision to restart enrichment-related activities would seem to be a step in the wrong direction. It would seem to be a step in the direction of further isolating the Iranian people from the rest of the world.


BRIT HUME, HOST: Well, yes. Iran has now resumed the processing of uranium, the enrichment of uranium, which is an important step in the creation of a nuclear weapon, something that is, by treaty, prevented from doing, supposedly. So the question is, now that this is happening, what next?

Mort? Now what?

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: Well, you know, they keep taking steps. They broke the seals, no response. There is a referral to the United Nations Security Council, that there will be a referral. And then the question is does the world community, especially the Europeans, crack down on the Iranians or don’t they?

I mean, this is — we’re approaching a moment of truth here, and they’re clearly going beyond the point where the world can tolerate it if the world has the gumption to do something about it. And there are things they can do. I mean, if we decided, the Europeans especially, decided to cut off Iran’s gasoline, and they import 50 percent of their gasoline.

HUME: They don’t have refining capacity.

KONDRACKE: Yes, exactly. You know, they could really bring the Iranian economy to the — you know, to the ground or bring them to heel, maybe. Otherwise, they’re going to be a nuclear power, an Islamic fundamentalist nuclear power.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: That certainly seems to be the direction that things are headed. I mean, the president has talked about this a lot. Iran is part of the axis of evil. He’s made it a part of his policy not to allow Iran to become a nuclear power, but it’s heading that way.

Plus, Iran is exerting more and more influence over Iraq. You’ve got an Iranian leaning prime minister. You’ve got all sorts of aid that’s going into Iraq from Iran. And I think...

HUME: You mean aid to the insurgency?

LIASSON: To the insurgency and all sorts of other kind of — almost like a Hamas-style, you know, social service money, aid, social aid, too. And I think Iraq is a bigger — Iran is a bigger and bigger problem, and I don’t think the administration really has an answer.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The only way to understand the soft language of the administration. And that was a very soft statement: it seems as if Iran is headed in the wrong direction. Iran is making fuel for a nuclear explosive device. I mean, that’s pretty serious stuff.

I think they are probably — I’m guessing here, but I think they are probably trying to be the good guy, at least at this stage and perhaps knowing that the U.N. is not going to impose any serious sanctions. I can’t imagine...

HUME: Monday, you know, Charles, we had Kofi Annan, saying that he hoped that Iran would return to the negotiations. So I’m sure that was comforting to you.

KRAUTHAMMER: Absolutely. I mean, he softened the square. The State Department is one level of softness, and that’s sort of an absurd level.

But if — if our strategy is to at least appease the Europeans in the sense of showing our good will and our willingness to at least listen and to work together, perhaps it’s a way to line up support or at least not opposition if we choose the military option.

I don’t expect that anybody in the White House seriously believes that sanctions aren’t going to be imposed or that sanctions are going to actually stop the process.

KONDRACKE: I mean, my impression of the administration is that they — that they really believe that the diplomatic track can actually get something done, that there would be sanctions, that the Iranians will go so far over the line that the Europeans can’t stomach what they’re doing and will actually help impose sanctions. If that seems to be the strategy.

LIASSON: We’re certainly putting to a test.

KONDRACKE: We will. We sure are.

KRAUTHAMMER: If it is a strategy, I think it’s a deluded strategy. Because for one, the sanctions are not going to happen. China and Russia are going to act to stop it.

HUME: Let’s assume this goes forward...

KRAUTHAMMER: It’s not going to stop Iran’s program.

HUME: Let’s assume that this goes forward in the way that everybody at this desk fears, in that Iran plunges ahead here, unrestrained, either with or without U.N. action, and the moment of truth arrives on the watch of this president. What happens in your judgment? Mort?


KONDRACKE: Well, I hope — I hope he would use the military option.

HUME: You think he will?


HUME: Mara?


HUME: You think he would not do so? He’d pull back. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: He’s the only president in our memory who would actually think of it seriously, and I think it’s likely he would use it.

HUME: Well, you heard it here first, folks. And that is it for the panel.

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