Full Transcript: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta Sits Down With Martha Raddatz


SECRETARY PANETTA: You know, I -- I have not -- seen that information -- directly. And f -- from what I know -- we -- we still remain very concerned about -- obviously the CBW sites, the chemical and biological weapons sites that are there in Syria -- and -- ensuring that -- they are secured -- and that they don't fall into the wrong hands -- and that -- also that they're not used against -- their own citizens.

MARTHA RADDATZ: Do you believe they have been used in any way?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I don't -- I don't believe that they have been used against their citizens -- you know -- as we would imagine chemical weapons being used in that kind of battle. I think -- I think they have moved this stuff around, they've moved it from one place to the other. I think they have put together some of the ingredients involved -- in putting a bomb together that involves -- chemical and biological weapons. And -- it could very well be that people in that process -- could have been impacted. Who knows? But we have not seen -- intelligence that -- they have -- deliberately used this against their own people.

MARTHA RADDATZ: When you say they've put these ingredients together, do they have artillery shells loaded and ready to go right now?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Our biggest concern was the intelligence we received that -- they were in fact -- putting together these ingredients into shells that -- could then be deployed against their own people. And that's when the president spoke out about it -- expressed our concern and made very clear that that's a red line for us.

MARTHA RADDATZ: And you remain concerned meaning they're still loaded and ready to go?

SECRETARY PANETTA: From what we know -- what they -- what they put together -- remains put together. And -- you know, we've -- we've -- continued to send a very clear message to them that -- they must not deploy these kinds of weapons against their own people.

MARTHA RADDATZ: How quickly could they load those weapons and use them?

SECRETARY PANETTA: It would take a while. They'd have to -- obviously decide whether they're gonna put 'em on planes or try to load 'em into artillery -- you know, weapons of one kind or another. There are different ways to deploy this stuff. But—

MARTHA RADDATZ: And we're talking about minutes, hours?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I think it -- you know, it's the kind of thing that -- would still take a matter of hours to be able to do it.

MARTHA RADDATZ: And let's talk about Iran. Obviously that is a looming problem for the next secretary of defense and was one of your biggest challenges as well. Every day do they move closer to a nuclear weapons program?

SECRETAY PANETTA: You know -- every day that -- they continue -- the enrichment process -- and every day that they fail to -- sit down and negotiate -- limitations on their ability to -- to enrich and limitations -- that make very clear that they should never be able to develop a nuclear weapon, every day that they do not sit down and negotiate this issue -- indicates -- that th -- the world, the international community has to make very clear to them that -- we will not accept a nuclear armed Iran, period.

MARTHA RADDATZ: You saw Benjamin Netanyahu last year, the end of last year draw that ticking time bomb. It looked like spring was the timeline for the Israelis. Do you still believe that the Israelis will take military action by spring, summer?

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Kanye West accepts the Vanguard Award onstage during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
Christopher Polk/MTV1415/Getty Images
PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin works out at Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, Russia, Aug. 30, 2015.
Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images