tv Newsmakers CSPAN April 11, 2010 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
>> joining us is congressman brad sherman. thank you for being with us. we appreciated. we have to reporters here to help us with questions. -- we have to reporters here to help us with questions. -- wheat two -- we have two reporters here to79g÷ help us wh questions. >> we're wondering if a couple things that happen -- benjamin netanyahu deciding not to show up and sent his deputy and alsoiran showing off its latest -- and sending his deputy and also iran showing off its latest development. is that going to cast a pall on the conference? does it focus people on the need
to do something? but the main focus of the conference is going to be on matters -- >> the main focus of the conference is going to be matters not usually focused on at this level. what will come out of the conference is an accelerated plan to make sure that all of the, especially the medical nuclear materials around the world, which are small in quantity, but highly-enriched, are properly cared for. .
you had a steady drumbeat these past few weeks. there was the nuclear posture review. what do you want to see them accomplish in the next couple of days? >> i think they have momentum on dealing with the rather technical issue of making sure that medical nuclear materials are well handled when they are no longer useful, that they are returned properly to where they can be reprocessed or disposed of. as to the bigger issue of stopping the iranian nuclear program for dealing with the north korean program, i think we're doomed to failure as long as we maintain the policies of the bush and obama administration's. that policy is that we beg, but
we never bargain. we have never told in a country that, if they will help us deal with these nuclear problems, we will see it their way on any other issue or that, for example, china's access to u.s. markets would be impeded in any way if they continued to support the iran and north korea nuclear program. they really are supporting it, although the rhetoric is on the other side. as long as we try to persuade these countries that they ought to change their policies because they do not yet understand what is in their national interest, i think we're doomed to failure and a willingness to bargain and threaten and make concessions dooms us to a world in which iran and north korea have nuclear-weapons and that will be very dangerous world. >> you were paying attention to the president's remarks and
meetings in prague and the signing of a new treaty. as far as the sanctions go, in terms of the russian response, are you confident that there will be any meaningful u.s. sanctions and that the u.s. and russia together will convince china and other countries to go along? >> it is a long way from truly meaningful sanctions. even our administration is talking about smart sanctions. the idea is that we will have sanctions that do not hurt the iranian economy. why would the iranian government give up something so important as their development of nuclear weapons in order to escape sanctions so slight and so narrowly targeted and so inconsequential that they do not hurt the national economy? there are a few occasions where you can get a minor change in the nation's behavior by denying
their leadership the chance to get a tourist visas and visit disney world. i do not think he wants to visit disney world or give up his nuclear program for a few concessions or avoiding sanctions that only affected the personal lives of the leadership group. we will have to do far more than what is being talked about in dzwashington, let alone moscow. >> what about sanctions that might be imposed by the u.s., but not by a wider spectrum of nations? >> first, we can go too harsh extra-territorial sanctions. none of this is easy. none of this is simple. none of this is without controversy. that's why it has not been done. it is just sitting there and we
have built to pick it up. we have the iran sanctions act. we used to call into the iran- libya sanctions act. we applied them to libya and it worked. since the 1990's, three presidents have had policy to violate american law to protect tehran's business partners. this is opposite from what we're trying to do. critical for policy, we have explicit, continuous, the tories violations of law. the only should the administration follow the law because it is the law, but the fact is that we should sanction those companies that are investing in iran's oil sector. if we follow the law since the -- iran's long sectooil sector.
if we followed all along, at this point,$$ would be to get to russia and china on board. that would require beijing and moscow about such a issues are on the table. right now, the only thing that is on the table or lectures on why they should agree with us on iran, even though we have threatened them with nothing and offer them nothing. the non-bargaining approach is an acute failure. >> whether we have talked about is the position that israel is in in this point. should netanyahu have, should he not have come?
bearer's the question if -- there is the question over whether they will attack iran. is there a real risk? is a potentially even a justification for israel to attack iran in the next year or two years? that is despited will have huge consequences on the united states. >> i think there is an incredibly large justification. you have the country dedicated publicly to a second holocaust and they are working every day, effectively, without any serious world reaction to achieve the tools to create that holocaust. on the other hand, israel's military option is extremely difficult. it is israel that prevented saddam hussein from developing nuclear weapons in the early 1980's.
but that was because saddam hussein put all of his efforts in one place above-ground. syria seems to have done the same thing. although, what happened in their last years of official. -- what happened there last year is on official. -- is an officiaunofficial. i do not know whether an israeli military response would be limited to trying to take out the nuclear facilities or if they would, in effect, impose sanctions through the air by making it impossible for iran to export petroleum and otherwise take out economic targets or threaten to do so. i hope, very much, that we see
it a radical change in u.s. policy that would create the kinds of sanctions that could peacefully deal with the iran nuclear program. i would doubt that that would happen. i also doubt that israel will take military action. of the most likely scenario five years from now is living in a very dangerous world in which both north korea and iran -- and iran is far more ambitious and far more dangerous -- a suspect that both of them will have nuclear weapons five years from now. >> let's go back to the first question when he asked about whether or not israel's prime minister should be coming to the nuclear summit this week. there have been reports in the paper that the prime minister decided not to because some of the muslim countries that are coming -- it is reported that they would want to force israel to sign the non-proliferation treaty. is it a good decision that the
prime minister is not coming? what is your thoughts about signing the nuclear non- proliferation treaty? >> india, pakistan, and israel have all not signed the treaty and are in a separate category from those countries that have. in contrast, north korea and iran have signed the non- proliferation treaty and they are in the category of byerly toward -- of violator. for israel to sign the non- proliferation treaty at a time that iran8÷ can violate it with impunity, it may be contrary to their national security interest. it is interesting that those states that are saying that israel should sign the treaty are not doing anything effective to make sure that iran lives by the treaty and are not even suggesting that pakistan signed the treaty. i think that the -- that pakistan sign the treaty.
i think that there is a worldwide effort to expel israel and what it off the map. >> [unintelligible] >> i do not know what motivated the decision. but, by not coming, if he avoids this effort to try to force israel to sign the treaty while pakistan does not and iran signed it and violates it, it by not coming he avoids pressure to sign it, i understand. i hope that his non-attendance has nothing to do with this recent flap about what was announced while joe biden was on the ground in jerusalem. i think the page has turned from that issue. >> congressmen, can i turn the conversation to the notion of
security at u.s. labs? in recent years, there has been concerns about security breaches and wanted to ask you, first of all, are you confident that those are now under control and we will not have proliferation- related issues from within u.s. borders? second of all, to the extent that we have concerns on u.s. soil, does thatg#t not demonstre how tricky the prospect is to ask other countries to secure their nuclear material? >> i think that the fact that we have had some problems in the united states illustrates just how important this is. i think your question is right on the market. it shows that this is difficult -- right on the mark. it shows that this is difficult with isotopes and other nuclear materials in some places and
around the world. i am so glad that we are having an international conference to focus attention on handling these materials properly. as to what steps should be taken at u.s. labs, that is more dealt with by other committees in congress. but i do agree with you that we have a second reason to have the best possible controls in the united states. that is to inspire the world to improve their controls as well. >> 37 countries will be represented at the summit on monday and tuesday. of those, which you consider to have the most potential problems or need the most work in terms of coming up with a plan for or coming up with an agreement for and coming up with the money for getting their nuclear materials under control? is that pakistan and russia? are there more countries that are off the radar? >> i think that pakistan and
russia are high on that list, but for very different reasons. pakistan has limited nuclear materials. i think that their military puts a high premium on maintaining control of those materials. but a competent military is only as stable as the constitutional system or the country that it fights for. there are internal divisions in pakistan and not always is the constitution following. so instability in pakistan is at least az:ñ possibility and it ia nuclear state, not just with highly enriched medical nuclear materials that somebody could try to assemble from here and there into a nuclear device, but pakistan is a country with nuclear devices. russia has tremendously
improved from the days of boris but here's a country with many thousands of battlefield nuclear weapons. i am not absolutely certain that russia has proper accounting and security for each one of those weapons. those weapons would not destroy an entire megalopolis, but even the smallest of nuclear explosions would shake -- would not only kill many, many people, but shake the world international system to the core. >> talking a little bit about the start treaty. -- the star treaty. it seems that we do not have anything approaching a bipartisan consensus now. it seems that everything that has been coming before congress,
whether it is health care or the street, has become a political football. you have a sense that there will be a political consensus that can be reached on this? is thereixañ concern on your pat that there the forints -- that the for a policy consensus is not there? some say that obama is weakening our security by giving up some of our nukes. >> there are two different issues. one is should for policy be bipartisan and should we avoided making any part of the political football? that is critically important. i share your concerns that now everything seems to be a political football. i would hate to think that our ability to make the world safer from nuclear weapons becomes just another political football, just another thing to try to
mobilize the base of this or that political party. the second issue is the consensus. while i support a bipartisan approach to foreign policy, i, myself, and outside the consensus on quite a number of it issues. i think you need to have some different ideas brought forward. i think your form policy for the last 15 years to 20 years has been very much night in the economic or national security interest of the united states. i hope that, in our effort to all get together in a non- partisan way, it does not mean that republicans and democrats get together to embrace a consensus and snuff out the voices calling for any radical change of any part of our foreign policy. i think that missile defense has become a partisan issue.
the one thing that is missing from that debate is an understanding that, probably not with regard to russia, but with regard to iran and north korea, the most likely delivery system is that they would smuggle the weapon. this would give them plausible liability. this means that there would not have to rely on technology that might not be 50-50 or 60-40, or whether this will reach anywhere near its target for hit the precise target, but smuggling the weapon can get you to the exact areas that you want that look into the act. it is not hard to small blip in into the united states. you can smuggle one in through a veil of marijuana. there is little discussion of the fact that, while our borders may be made a bit more secure and that may have some effect on
undocumented immigration or even drug importation, the security service of a country capable of developing nuclear weapons can smuggle a nuclear weapon into the station. >> the house and senate have clearly shown an interest in having a much tougher sanctions regime that is being talked about. what is your sense on why the president has not gone that route and has not talked about cutting off iran's gasoline supplies are anything that would be really tough? is it too difficult to go to china and to russia and negotiate these sorts of things and they want to have some kind of a deal? what is your idea why he has not embraced those things? >> i think the obama administration reflect the views of the prior eight years of the
bush administration. they have networks can gain ratings by exaggerating the foreign-policy differences. the fact is that most of our foreign policy is a very establishment, very and creative, very bureaucratic process -- very uncreative, a very bureaucratic process. we are unwilling to prioritize. i was in condoleezza rice's office, talking with her well before -- many, many months before the russia-georgia war -- or at least many weeks before. i urged her to talk to the russians about our need for radical changes in their policy toward iran and our willingness to review the desires e$ì(lc@&+
independence of the people of south basidia. she looked at me as if i was from mars. in doing so, she was reflecting the view of the entire building. the idea that there's anything on our list of established positions that we would change just to achieve a more important priority, that is not the kind of thinking that goes on in the state department. but even in the form policy circles in general does that happen. you take a position on [unintelligible] because that is the position you want to take. the idea that the position may be less important than the iranian nuclear program, you're not allowed to go there. when you think in terms of offering anything to russia or china of or if you think in
terms of threatening russia or china with any adverse consequences, that has to leave been taken off the table. the last administration and this administration limit themselves to sending smart people to beijing and moscow to try to convince russia and china that they should be on our side because, after all, that is the smart thing to do. the other example on china is that, forced to hear that there might be some lack of total openness of our market to their exports if they continue to subsidize north korea and protect iran, here you are up against wal-mart and wall street. those are two forces that neither the bush administration nor the obama administration have been willing to take on just for the purpose of dealing with the rent nuclear program. if we were to actually follow
the law of the iran sanctions act, european governments would be upset. so far, we have not been willing to upset anybody come offer anything, or threaten anybody in order to get sanctions on iran and that is why we do not have anything but the smallest efforts and to the tiniest sanctions. >> we have time for one more question. >> non-proliferation, which is the focus of the summit, is expensive. there is not that much money floating around that is available in the federal budget. the health care plan was very expensive. we had the stimulus plans. in terms of bipartisanship, if it is -- is it worth it to have
that cost? >> bipartisan defenses and hundreds of millions of dollars, compared that to the cost of the world economy. the best investment we can make in our national security are steps to try to keep the worst hands of the most powerful weapons and nuclear material. that being said, i would hope that, in designing how we spend this money, which -- read as many jobs in the united states -- we try to create as many jobs in the united states as possible. >> congressman, before we let you go, congress returns next week. will you be taking part on the sidelines of this summit? will you have meetings yourself?
>> we are going to have hearings in my subcommittee and that the full committee level. i expect to be involved in a very peripheral way in the discussions next week. i think this is just the beginning of -- a continuation of a very long process. >> ok. congressmen brad sherman, thank you for your time. >> thank you. >> we will have a few more minutes with our reporters and talk about what you heard today. margaret, let me start with you. what are your comments for the summit? >> i think, it's our shared by a lot of people in congress -- i think comments are shared by allow people in congress. so many directly tied to non- proliferation but are not about
non-proliferation. the summit is not going to stand on its own. it is going to be connected to so many political durables and policy variables beyond the scope of non-proliferation. >> the congressman seems very critical of the obama administration position. >> he has been. that is not a universal feeling. the feelings in congress are all across the spectrum, whether they think that obama has been right on the money or whether they would do different things. then threw in 46 countries and you understand how complicated it is. >> i think that the white house is trying to look at this as an opportunity to score some points on the board and have a couple of incremental agreements on how to enrich uranium and trying to
do with that particular and smaller issues and build on what he already accomplished with the agreement with russia, hoping to get that through the senate. they want to score some points on this nuclear issue. the problem is that some of the bigger and tractable issues, whether it is israel or iran or pakistan or north korea, there really has not been a whole lot of progress. the administration keeps talking about how they will try to have a coalition of sanctions against iran, but people are looking at it and say, "where's the beef here?" they really do not see anything serious. i think that is going to be a continuing challenge for the obama administration going for it and going to congress in dealing with the public and dealing with the world leaders, many who have special ties to
iran and its oil businesses in the area. it is very hard to say to all those people, "ok, maybe take an economic hit for some intangible benefit as far as keeping them from having nuclear weapons." that is a hard trade. >> what is the next issue in congress? >> , as has been passing bills against iran. -- congress has been passing bills against iran. 2ñwtheir proclamations, etc. -- there are proclamations, etc. . the white house is set to take a position, they can put together what they want in senate to his desk. i think that republicans have been pushing for closer ties to israel. there has been critici