Transcript: George Stephanopoulos Interviews President Obama

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you convinced that Russia and President Medvedev take this as seriously and, and feel the same urgency that you do?

OBAMA: I am convinced that what you heard today would've been unimaginable a year ago. For me to lay out clearly our approach to sanctions and to have then a Russian president next to me say there's nothing I heard that I could disagree with, I think it's an enormous shift and a signal that Russia, like the United States, recognizes that unless we can get all countries to start abiding by certain rules of the road -- and right now, our biggest concerns are obviously Iran and North Korea -- but they're a broader set of issues at stake out there. That -- that's going to be damaging to their national security just like ours. And, and so, what you heard today was the Russians I think are clear that we need sanctions that will change the behavior of Iran. And I think that what you'll be able to see over the next several weeks is, is that both the United States and Russia as part of a broader international effort are going to say to the Iranians once again, you've got options here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: An international effort that includes China?

OBAMA: You've got options. You can take the path you're on, and get further isolated with greater and great consequences, or you can actually look at the very reasonable offers that have been out there that would allow them to pursue civilian nuclear energy without pursuing weapons.

Now, you know, you were asking about China. I think China is obviously concerned about their energy. You know, when you have that many people, and you're growing that fast, then issues of oil are going to be high on your list. But what I've been encouraged by in conversations that we've had recently with the Chinese is the recognition, as they recognized when it came to North Korea, that if the international community is just standing by toothless and there are no consequences to actors who act contrary to their international obligations -- that over time, that's going to be destabilizing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what do you say to critics who say you're on the same page with Russia now because you've given away too much? And that sanctions aren't going to change Iran's behavior, unless they include real limits on this trade in oil and refined gasoline products?

OBAMA: You had a compound question here. First, you made a suggestion that we gave away too much, and I -- it would be -- I'd be curious as to what exactly we gave away.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're giving away that -- the taking -- taking the fine petroleum products off the table.

OBAMA: Oh, I see. So, so, why don't you reformulate the question here, George, because I'm just trying to follow you here. You're, you're suggesting that --

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you and Russia are on the same page. You're on the same page, because they've taken refined petroleum products off the table. And critics say --

OBAMA: No, no, no, no. I -- I didn't say that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't believe it. Well --

OBAMA: What -- what -- what I --

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- they said that.

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