Exclusive: Cheney Holds Firm on Iraq Achievements

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Vice President Dick Cheney refused to acknowledge failure of any U.S. policy in Iraq, touting the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi elections and the writing of an Iraqi constitution as success stories.

He also reaffirmed and expanded on his comments that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proposed course in Iraq would validate al Qaeda.

Cheney acknowledged global warming, but, in contradiction to White House policy, said the jury was still out on whether it was caused by human activity.

ABC News' Jonathan Karl sat down with the vice president in Sydney, Australia.The following is a transcript of the complete interview:

Karl: Mr. Vice President, Iran has again defied the United Nations and has accelerated their nuclear program. What should be done about this?

Cheney: Well, Nick Burns is off to London to meet with his counterparts to look at the next step in the process, focusing I think on a prospective further U.N. Security Council resolution. We've seen the reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency that indicates they are going forward with their program. That's what they've announced. They've, in effect, defied the United Nations. And now we'll have to see whether or not the international community is really serious about insisting on them giving up their nuclear aspirations.

Karl: And what are the stakes here? The diplomatic effort has been going on for a long time and it has not worked. In fact, Iran has gone in the other direction. So what are the stakes here?

Cheney: Well, remember where Iran sits. It's important to back up I think for a minute and set aside the nuclear question, just look at what Iran represents in terms of their physical location. They occupy one whole side of the Persian Gulf, clearly have the capacity to influence the world's supply of oil, about 20 percent of the daily production comes out through the Straits of Hormuz. They are the prime sponsor of Hezbollah, one of the world's worst terrorist organizations. They've been actively involved through Syria and Hezbollah in trying to topple the government of Lebanon. They've got a long track record of being a difficult customer. And they're now governed by Ahmadinejad, who has, in fact, made threats about Israel, the destruction of Israel and about the United States. And they're now also pursuing nuclear weapons.

A nuclear-armed Iran is not a very pleasant prospect for anybody to think about it. It clearly could do significant damage. And so I think we need to continue to do everything we can to make certain they don't achieve that objective.

Karl: But [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair recently said that the only sensible solution to this crisis is diplomacy. Do you agree with that?

Cheney: We hope that we can solve the problem diplomatically. The president has indicated he wants to do everything he can to resolve it diplomatically. That's why we've been working with the EU and going through the United Nations with sanctions. But the president has also made it clear that we haven't taken any options off the table.

Karl: Now, Tony Blair seemed to be suggesting that military action really isn't an option by saying the only sensible solution here is diplomacy. Is there realistically a military solution to this?

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