Mitt Romney: The Complete Interview

The risks are, of course, that Iran grabs the Shia south, that the Sunni portion of the country becomes dominated by Al Qaeda, that perhaps Kurdish instability destabilizes the border with Turkey.

You might have a regional conflict where we have to go back again with more troops.

Anyone looking at a decision like this has to say, "How do you minimize the casualties to Americans throughout the world, our military and other casualties?" And in my view, to minimize those casualties, to reduce the risks, it's better now to put in an additional five brigades than it is to say, "Hey, let's pull out or let's divide into multiple parts."

That's an option that's always available down the road, but right now, the only option we have that really has prospects for securing the country and maintaining a central government with power over these sub-states is by supporting it with a troop surge that can bring stability, hopefully, to the people of Baghdad.

Stephanopoulos: The president announced a nuclear deal with North Korea this week.

Is it a good deal?

Mitt Romney: Well, I'm hopeful that the key to the deal, which is additional inspectors, IAEA inspectors, will let us determine whether or not they're cheating, because I think the experience that we've had with North Korea is just like the last time that President Clinton entered into an agreed framework, that the North Koreans cheat.

They take advantage of the heavy oil they got, they take advantage of the nuclear reactors they get, they use those things for their country's benefit, but then they continue with their nuclear proliferation efforts.

And in this case, I think we have to recognize that given their history, the key to this agreement being a step forward or, instead, a step back is whether or not there will be adequate IAEA inspections.

Stephanopoulos: But because of that history, others like John Bolton, the president's own former U.N. ambassador, say it's a bad deal, we're actually rewarding North Korea for bad behavior when we know they cheated in the past.

Mitt Romney: Well, I want to see the final agreement. I want to see how the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted. I'm not going to tell you whether right now it's a good agreement, but I know what the problem is in the agreement, and that is unless the IAEA has the kind of inspections that we can be sure they're not cheating, then it would not be a step forward, and that's going to be critical.

For instance, we had agreements with Saddam Hussein and then he just didn't honor them. And we had agreements with North Korea, they decided not to honor.

Inspection is the key. Of course, we want to trust people, but we want to verify, as well.

Stephanopoulos: Would you take the risk with this deal?

Mitt Romney: Well, it depends on whether we have adequate inspections. If we have adequate inspections and if they're going to shut down their nuclear reactor, if they will do those two things, then that's a positive development.

But if they're going to not allow inspections throughout the country, then that's not something which is going to work for us.

Stephanopoulos: Senator Clinton took to the Senate floor earlier this week and said the president does not have the authority he needs to take military action against Iran.

Do you agree?

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