'This Week' Transcript: Clinton and Ahmadinejad

Now it's very delicate and I-- you know, we-- you know, some days we get it right and some days maybe we could do better. But our bottom line is, you know, we think the Iranian people deserve so much more than what they are now being given. And we are worried about the direction we see Iran headed.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: The sanctions -- President Ahmadinejad has said the sanctions are, quote, "Pathetic -- worse than a used handkerchief." Do you think they have any possibility of actually affecting their nuclear behavior?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, first, I think they have-- and-- and will continue to affect their behavior. In fact, you know-- former President Rafsanjani said just the other day, "These are serious. They need to be taken seriously." He was in-- in effect criticizing his government because of comments like that.

That yes, they're biting. And we hear that from many in the region and beyond. And in fact the information we're getting is that the Iranian regime is quite worried about the impact on their banking system, on their economic growth because they've already encountered some tough economic times. And this is, you know, making it more costly.

Sanctions are a tool. They're not an end in themselves. And, you know, we would very much like to see Iran return to the P5 Plus One forum where they were last present a year ago October, to talk about their nuclear program. We would like to see them once again permit full IAEA inspections.

We would like to see them taking the offer that has been made by us and others to talk about a broad range of issues like their support for terrorism. Hamas, Hezbollah, et cetera. So we stand ready to engage with Iran. And that's really the message that I would like to send to the Iranians. Is that you know, there's a way out of the sanctions. There's a way out of increasing opprobrium from the international community.

And there should be a way out of this takeover of their political system and a threat to their dual system of elected and clerical leadership, because when you empower a military as much as they have to rely on them to put down legitimate protests and demonstrations, you create a momentum and unleash forces that you do not know where they will end up. And so we think that now is the time for the Iranian leadership to engage seriously.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for joining us.

AMANPOUR: Mr. president thank you for joining us. The United States is very pleased that you've released Sarah Shourd, and the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has said that she wants the other two, Josh and Shane, to be released also, a humanitarian gesture.

AHMADINEJAD: It is true that the Islamic Republic of Iran took a humanitarian measure and released one of the three individuals who entered our borders Ms. Sarah Shourd. This was a huge humanitarian gesture.

Now, you may be aware that eight Iranians are illegally being detained in the United States. So I believe that it would not be misplaced to ask that the U.S. government should make a humanitarian gesture to release the Iranians who were illegally arrested and detained here in the United States.

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