Transcript: George Stephanopoulos Interviews President Obama

OBAMA: Well, what I said is -- is that the United States and Russia both are committed to making sure that there are sanctions that change Iranian behavior. That's what you heard President Medevdev say, say today. Now, our assessments in terms of what that particular mix is -- that hasn't finalized. That's still a process of negotiation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, it could still include that?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I -- I don't want to negotiate on ABC News. But I think that there are going to be a whole host of measures that we put on the table, that they put on the table, that they think are effective, and that we think are effective, and we're not doing this in isolation. We're doing this with the other P-5 Plus One members. So, China is entering in negotiations in New York. We've got Germany, and France, and Great Britain. All of us are going to be sitting and crafting, shaping a sanctions regime that we think is actually going to be effective in changing Iranian behavior.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me -- let me --

OBAMA: But if the question is, do we have a guarantee as to the sanctions we are able to institute at this stage are automatically going to change Iranian behavior, of course we don't. I mean, the history of the Iranian regime, like the North Korean regime is that, you know, you apply international pressure on these countries, sometimes they choose to change behavior, sometimes they don't. Part of that may have to do with their internal political dynamics. But if that pressure is steady, and applied, and consistent, and there's a unified international effort, over time, you can see changes in behavior. And we saw that in Libya for example, which had pursued --

STEPHANOPOULOS: But so far, three rounds of U.N. sanctions haven't worked.

OBAMA: Well --

STEPHANOPOULOS: What will be different this time?

OBAMA: Well, the -- I don't think you have seen the degree of international unity that you've seen in this effort. Now, we've got to explore a whole range of other options. And I've been consistent about that. But I think the important point is if that we came in a year and a half ago, close to a year and a half ago, saying that we would approach the Iranian government, give them an option, and we would move on parallel tracks, not because we were naive that the Iranians would automatically accept an open hand from us, but rather because we understood that by taking ourselves off the table as an issue, by showing that we would be willing to engage if, in fact, Iran was willing to act responsibly, what we would be able to do is to mobilize the international community much more effectively than we have in the past. And I think you're seeing the results of that bear fruit today.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just press this one more time. Are -- are -- are you saying now that you're willing to consider blocking the trade in gasoline to Iran?

OBAMA: George, what I'm saying is I am not going to discuss the specifics of sanctions at this point.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So far, the Iranian officials are calling the sanctions a joke. And I'm sure you've seen that. And President Ahmadinejad took after you personally. He -- he's basically calling you a cowboy. The quote -- the quote was, "inexperienced amateur," and he wants you to wait "until your sweat dries and you get some experience." What do you make of that?

OBAMA: Well, let's see, George. So far, you've quoted Sarah Palin (LAUGHS) --

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...