Two questions, are you confident they are safe and being treated well? And can the United States prevent them from being put into 10 years of hard labor?
RICE: George, we're very concerned about the circumstances of these two journalists. We are communicating directly through the -- a third country that represents our interests in North Korea our concern for these Americans in taking every possible action that we can to ensure their safe and swift release.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And do you have any guarantees?
RICE: Of course we have no guarantees.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And do you believe they're going to put on trial?
RICE: We don't have any reason to be certain that they'll put on trial. We remain hopeful that their release may be possible swiftly and safely.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But they're safe?
RICE: To the best of our knowledge, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me also talk about the issue of proliferation in Iran, which the president also talked about today. He said that Iran poses a real threat and that we will continue to engage -- look for ways to engage with Iran.
This weekend, another one of your predecessors, this week Ambassador Richard Holbrooke had a brief meeting with the Iranians at the international conference in Munich. What is the next step in that engagement?
RICE: Well, the president has been very clear that Iran has a choice. Iran can rejoin the community of nations, it can halt its illicit nuclear program. It has a right to peaceful nuclear processing. But its behavior to date has indicated that it's not pursuing simply a peaceful program.
We have extended, as the president said on a number of occasions an opportunity, an open hand to Iran. And we hope Iran will seize that opportunity to take the steps that would enable it to be a responsible member of the international community.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the U.N. effort to put sanctions on Iran has not been effective in any way. Is the U.N. process at a dead end?
RICE: No, George, actually I think on the contrary. The sanctions that have been imposed by the United Nations and implemented by the United States and others have had some significant effect on the trade and the banking and the financial sector inside of Iran, and we certainly remain open to consideration of possible future measures.
The aim here, though, is to marshal all of the resources at our disposal, diplomatic, economic, and other to try to make this choice as clear as possible to Iran, to give them a path to end their nuclear -- illicit nuclear weapons program, enter the community of nations, or, if in fact, they ultimately choose not to do that, then to bring to bear the full force of the international community to put pressure on Iran to stop.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Israel has made it very clear, including the new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that they believe Iran is fully going after a nuclear capability and that if the United States doesn't act, they will act.
And Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said the thought of such a strike concerns him. Does it concern you?
RICE: I think we share Israel's very grave concern about the threat that Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program poses, not only to Israel and the other countries in the region, but indeed to U.S. national security.