Condoleezza Rice: Iran "absolutely" cannot be trusted

(CBS News) Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state, addressed recent efforts toward diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran, saying on "CBS This Morning," the Iranians can't be believed or trusted.

"They have done everything to make certain that you can't trust them," she said on "CBS This Morning." "They hid their nuclear program for decades. They have given the international Atomic Energy Agency the runaround. I negotiated myself with the P5+1, the international negotiating team for them. You absolutely cannot trust them."

Rice's comments come after Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued strong words about Iranian Prime Minister Hasan Rouhani Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Don't believe Iran's "charm offensive"

Netanyahu said, "The only difference between the (former prime minister and Rouhani) is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He fooled the world once, now he thinks he can fool it again. You see, Rouhani thinks he can have his yellow cake and eat it, too."

Netanyahu also said his country will not let Iran have a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu warned the U.S. and other countries that Iran's president has changed, but its ambitions haven't.

Rice, a CBS News contributor, echoed that on "CTM" and said Netanyahu is "duly concerned" about a rush to a deal with Iran that might not ultimately address the country's nuclear program.

"He's sending a warning out there that shouldn't be done," Rice said. "I do not think this regime has changed its ambitions."

She continued, "You can test them. You can say, 'Are you willing to give up your nuclear capability fully and completely -- verifiably,' and see if they'll take the deal. But let's remember the reasons the Iranians say they're here now is that that economy is suffering desperately under the weight of sanctions. They want relief from the sanctions. My concern is they're going to want relief from the sanctions before they do anything to deserve it."

Rice said the regime realizes that its nuclear ambitions are perhaps causing turmoil at home they cannot tolerate.

"So by all means test it," Rice said. "But remember you cannot leave the Iranians with nuclear capability, leave them with an option for a nuclear weapon later on because you leave them with the ability to reprocess and enrich their uranium."

CBS News' Norah O'Donnell noted that Rouhani told reporters in Tehran that the U.S. had contacted him five times about setting up a meeting with President Obama and he told reporters that he'd rejected that. Asked why he would do that, Rice said it's likely an effort for him to save face.

"I suspect he's trying very hard at home not to appear that he has gone soft," she said. "After all, that's a pretty tough regime that he's a part of."

Telling the media the story of those requests -- if the information is in fact true -- Rice said, is a misstep for Rouhani. However, the information is a concern for the president, according to Rice, because it can make him look desperate because the U.S. should actually be in the power position.

"(Iran is) under sanctions. They're the ones that need sanctions relief," Rice said. "And I would hope that somebody in the White House -- through whatever channels we can -- is saying 'this is no way to get off to a good start with the United States'."

Turning to the partial government shutdown, Rice called the situation a "pretty ugly sight," and called for the more discussion across the aisle.

She said, "I would have hoped that our leaders both from the White House and from the Congress could sit in a room and say, 'Here's what we need to do.' It just doesn't make sense to talk through the media on these issues. Get people in the same room. We have a long history in this country of people being able to...sit in the same room, and to have the good of the country at heart and we're not seeing that right now and I think Americans find it appalling."

Asked if the country is being held hostage due to a desire to end Obamacare, Rice said there are people with strong views in Congress -- and, she added, "the president has a strong view. But certainly if they can get in a room, particularly the leadership in Congress, which I think wants to get the government going again, they should sit in a room, and see if they can't come to a conclusion. Let's not have this firefight across the airwaves instead."

  • Amanda Cochran

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