Secret Nuclear Plant Exposed: What Can Be Done About Iran Now?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 25, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: There is disturbing news tonight about Iran's nuclear program. Iran now admits it has been building, hiding a second uranium enrichment plant. As soon as this news broke, President Obama and the leaders of France and Great Britain blasted Iran for building the site. And the blasting -- that was not well received by the Iranian president. He immediately fired back, insisting it is not a secret site, and threatens that the United States and its allies will regret accusing Iran of hiding a nuclear facility.

Former U.S. Ambassador the United Nations John Bolton joins us live. That we'll regret accusing them? What does that mean?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Well, I think he feels in a very strong position. I think he believes he can defeat any sanctions in the Security Council, if the president proceeds with them. Or even if sanctions are adopted by the Council, that they'll be just as weak as the last three sets (ph). So I think he's feeling pretty good this week.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, have the sanctions that have been imposed so far and the ones likely to be imposed or possibly imposed -- do they have any bite to them, any impact?

BOLTON: Well, they certainly have some impact on the institutions or the individuals who are specifically named by the sanctions committee, but those are sort of additional transaction costs for Iran. But the test of sanctions should be, Do they dissuade Iran from continuing its pursuit of nuclear weapons? And the answer on the three sets we have now is unquestionably no.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, as long as we're talking -- and I mean, we - - the world is talking, they're building! What's sort of the timetable? I mean, how -- I mean, they want to keep us talking forever so that they can build. How long are we going to be able -- or how long are they going to be able to keep us talking?

BOLTON: Well, they've succeed so far for nearly seven years keeping the Europeans talking. And as you say, during that time, there's no question they used it to continue to make progress on the nuclear program. That's why people who say, What does it hurt to engage in negotiations, don't understand that, in fact, it can hurt a lot. I think we're very close to the point where the Israelis are going to make a decision on the possible use of military force that'll take these negotiations out of the picture.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, today when we listened to President Obama and others, it was, like, Oh, shock, horror, you know, this is -- you know, now we know Iran is doing that. But it turns out that we were on to this a little earlier, is that right?

BOLTON: It's true according to the administration's own background briefings after the announcement, which means that everything the president's been saying about his extended hand to Ahmadinejad and how much he wants to negotiate has to be in context of yet another incident in 20 years of Iran lying about this program. There is not a shred of evidence that you can commit any commitment that Iran makes about its nuclear program, so even if you get to the table and negotiate with them, why do you think they'll live up to whatever they agree to?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, why was he willing to say those -- make those statements, do you think -- I realize you can't get in his head, but make those statements that he wants to talk to them, or we're going to have this meeting her on October 1st with a number of nations but -- why -- why would he -- why would he or why would anyone else (INAUDIBLE) doing this if they all know that -- and have known for months that they're building a second nuclear weapons plant?

BOLTON: I have to believe that it's because he thinks that his ability to negotiate will find a way through this problem, and it's not the George Bush approach of trying to isolate Iran, that he thinks he can carry it through. In fact, much of what he is doing is built on the mistakes of the Bush administration, which has allowed the European negotiations to go on for so long.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what happens on October 1st? All the nations are supposed to get together for the -- the Security Council nations plus Germany and talk to Iran.

BOLTON: I think there are two possibilities. One is that Iran comes in and says, Well, of course, we'll negotiate about the nuclear program. No problem. It's entirely peaceful. Then we're into six months, nine months of negotiation. Once the State Department gets a chance to sit across the table from Iran, it'll be very hard to get up from that chair.

But second, even if Iran comes in and says, Of course we're not going to talk about our nuclear program, and the president goes to the Security Council, it is far from certain he can even get another resolution. Today, Russian president Medvedev said, and I quote, "We will consider sanctions." Now, let's be clear. That's what the Russians have said consistently for three years. They've never ruled out sanctions. They've always said they'd consider them. The problem is, when you get to the point of drafting the resolution, they did very weak and watered down.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, this really matters to Europe and it really matters to us, not so much, I guess, to Europe, except for that they're our allies. But it even more importantly matters to Israel. And I -- and you touched on it a second ago, but how long can Israel be patient and sort of watch this talking game?

BOLTON: Well, this is extremely important because if the Iranians have an alternative site for uranium enrichment at Qom, which is what they were trying to build here, it's at least possible that there are further alternative sites that we have not yet confirmed. And this raises the hardest possible question for Israel, that it could attack the Iranian enrichment facility at Natanz and completely destroy it, but still not stop Iran's progress toward nuclear weapons. So what's particularly risky here is that the military option itself may now be a lot harder to accomplish.

VAN SUSTEREN: If we were aware of this, you know, we had some inkling (INAUDIBLE) happens, what's wrong with our intelligence? Do we not have boots on the ground? You know, what happened to sort of getting the old- fashioned intelligence so we can find out really what they have and even find out earlier?

BOLTON: Well, I think our intelligence inside Iran is very weak. We do have -- we rely on information from other intelligence services. But I think the basic point is we should acknowledge there's a lot we don't know about the Iranian nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. That shouldn't make us more comfortable, it should make us more nervous. And yet today, the administration again defended the famous 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that said there's no nuclear weapons program, and yet that's the entire rationale why we're concerned about this site at Qom, that it's an alternative location to do enrichment up to weapons-grade uranium.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so what would you do?

BOLTON: Well, I think, at this point, we have exhausted the diplomatic option. I don't think there's any chance that sanctions will shift Iranian behavior. I think you have two very unattractive options. One is regime change in Iran, which cannot be turned on and off like a light switch. That's a matter of a couple years, at least. Or other alternative is the use of military force against the assets in the nuclear program we now know about.

I think that is the decision Israel is confronting as we speak. I think there's zero chance Obama will do it. I think this now rests with Israel.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, thank you, sir.

BOLTON: Thank you.

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