Interview with Ambassador Susan Rice

Interview with Ambassador Susan Rice

By The Situation Room - June 9, 2010

BLITZER: The United Nations makes a new move to pressure Iran over its nuclear efforts. The sanctions vote 12-2. Turkey and Brazil opposed. Lebanon abstained. But Iran's U.N. Ambassador says his country will never bow to pressure.

Joining us now, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. Ambassador, thanks for coming in. Do you condemn the decision of Turkey and Brazil to vote against this United Nations resolution?

SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Wolf, I think it's a very unfortunate decision that they made, and I think it reflects not a difference over goals -- because both countries made very clear that they oppose Iran becoming a nuclear power, but it was a difference over tactics and timing.

These two countries went out on a diplomatic limb, tried to negotiate a last-minute deal with Tehran. None of the other members of the Security Council thought that deal was of sufficient value to change course, and so 12 countries as well as Lebanon went -- came together and imposed a very, very tough series of sanctions today on Iran.

A set of sanctions that the Iranian regime worked for months to avoid, spent huge amounts of money and diplomatic capital trying to buy and otherwise deter countries from supporting this resolution, and today they failed. That's a victory for those of -- all of us, who are concerned about the integrity of the nonproliferation regime and the peace and security of the world today and beyond.

BLITZER: I raise the question because 12 countries voted in favor of the resolution. Lebanon, an Arab country, abstained but Turkey, a NATO ally -- a NATO ally -- and Brazil, a long-standing partner of the United States, voted to oppose this resolution.

I say, do you condemn their decision? I use the word "condemned" precisely, because the Obama Administration condemned Israel's announcement a few weeks ago that it was going to build 1,600 housing units in Jerusalem. You condemned that decision. Do you condemn the decision of Turkey and Brazil to vote against you today?

RICE: Wolf, I think it's a shame. I think it reflects badly on their judgments in this regard. I think their actions speak for themselves. It's not for me to defend or condemn. It's for me to say that the United States today, in partnership with China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and 12 members of the Security Council, plus Lebanon, understood that Iran's behavior, its repeated violations of Security Council resolutions, of IAEA obligations, of its enrichment activities has faced tough consequences for its behavior.

Today's sanction resolution put in place a whole new series of -- of measures against Iran, a ban on its ability to invest in nuclear uranium activities abroad, a ban on arms imports, a ban on its ability to do anything -- any activity related to ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear weapons, those provisions by themselves will make us safer.

BLITZER: All right.

RICE: Moreover, 40 companies sanctioned, including 15 related to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a very negative actor inside of Iran --

BLITZER: All right.

RICE: -- that's very much behind its nuclear and proliferation activities. This was a very important and very significant resolution that Iran went out of its way to block and failed.

BLITZER: Yes, but we spoke a few weeks ago, right after the president of Brazil, President Lula and the prime minister of Turkey, Prime Minister Erdogan, went to Tehran and raised their hands with Ahmadinejad. We spoke at that time.

You told me when we were looking ahead, you said, what I will say to them is they should uphold international law. We continue to encourage Turkey and Brazil to make that case very plainly to Iran. Did you meet with their ambassadors and say to them, in no uncertain terms, we expect you to vote against -- to vote in favor of this resolution?

RICE: Yes, repeatedly. They know exactly what was at stake. And their leaders --

BLITZER: Did they know they would be punished as a result of this vote?

RICE: Their leaders made informed choices, as I said, very unfortunate choices, because they are now the outliers. They are standing outside of the rest of the Security Council, outside of the body of the international community.

BLITZER: What kind of consequences will Turkey and Brazil face? Specifically Turkey, a member of NATO? Is it time to start thinking about Turkey leaving NATO? RICE: Wolf, no. I'm not going to sit here and speculate about exactly what impact this will have on Turkey's relationship with NATO and other countries in the region or its bilateral relationship with the United States. This is an important issue. It is one in which we would have expected them to make a different choice. They have not. And that's a reality that they and the rest of the world will have to confront.

BLITZER: It was shocking to me that China and Russia were on board. You worked hard to get them. You got them on board. But two friendly countries like Turkey and Brazil, not on board. The immediate reaction from Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, was to these sanctions, he says, "They are liked a used handkerchief that should be dumped in a garbage can." It doesn't sound like he's overly worried.

RICE: Oh, he's very worried. And the vitriol that we heard from the Iranian ambassador, which was reprehensible and offensive today in the Security Council, the ridiculous statements that Ahmadinejad -- Ahmadinejad has made are a reflection of the fact that they did not want these sanctions to be imposed, by all variety of means, Wolf, I can assure you, we know that Iran worked very hard to prevent this resolution from passing today.

The fact that it again failed for the fourth time is a source of grave concern for the Iranian leadership. They know that the measures in this resolution will very significantly constrain their ability to pursue their nuclear and proliferation activities.

BLITZER: All right, Ambassador, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck up there.

RICE: Thank you.


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