'This Week' Transcript: Adm. Mike Mullen

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MULLEN: Completely comfortable with where we are militarily, myself, the rest of the uniformed leadership, as well as the secretary of defense.

AMANPOUR: And the intelligence agencies have signed off on all the verification procedures and measures? You're comfortable with that?

MULLEN: Absolutely. The verification regime that exists in this is in ways better than the one that has existed in the past. Some criticize that there are fewer inspections; the arsenal is much smaller than it used to be. We are close to one year without any ability to verify what's going on in Russia.

AMANPOUR: And you're comfortable with the amount of money that the president and the administration has pledged to modernize American nuclear arsenals?

MULLEN: I have. I reviewed it -- I've reviewed it several times. And it is a very clear commitment to modernize the nuclear infrastructure in this country.

AMANPOUR: So by a process of elimination, is the Senate playing politics with American national security?

MULLEN: Well, you'd have to ask the Senate about that.

AMANPOUR: What do you think?

MULLEN: Well, certainly, what I think is that there is a sense of urgency with respect to ratifying this treaty that needs to be both recognized. Historically this has been bipartisan. This is a national security issue of great significance. And the sooner we get it done, the better.

AMANPOUR: In a lame-duck session?

MULLEN: As soon as possible.

AMANPOUR: In a lame-duck session?

MULLEN: Certainly, the potential is there for a lame-duck, absolutely.

AMANPOUR: And you would want that?

MULLEN: I would -- that's the soonest possible time, absolutely.

AMANPOUR: And just so we're clear, why does one need Russia's cooperation today?

MULLEN: I've worked hard, not just in this treaty, with my counterpart in Russia, and I've seen it up and down our government over the course of the last couple of years, and we've really taken significant steps, no better example than this weekend, where President Medvedev was actually in Lisbon with all of NATO supportive of a missile defense treaty -- I'm sorry, missile defense capability in the future. And a year or two ago, that just not would have been possible.

The Russians have supported us in Afghanistan, allowed us to transport some of our most significant equipment, where they could have pushed back on that.

They've also helped in other ways that wouldn't be widely known. So the relationship is maturing, very specifically, and it's one that's helped us in Iran. So they've -- so -- so there's been an awful lot tied into the improvement of this relationship.

AMANPOUR: Not ratifying it, does that harm American credibility? For instance, many of the senators who are saying, no, let's not do it in this lame-duck session are the very ones who say we need to make sure that Iran doesn't proliferate nuclear material, we need to make sure, as we've just seen, that North Korea does not. How does this affect America's credibility when it comes to nonproliferation?

MULLEN: Well, I think President Obama said coming out of this NATO summit many of the leaders there spoke to him about the need to ratify this New START treaty, and certainly it's indicative of the commitment that many other countries have to us and the importance of getting it done.

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