updated 10/24/2006 8:55:05 PM ET 2006-10-25T00:55:05

Recent events in Iran and North Korea support President Bush’s 2002 claim that those nations were part of an “axis of evil,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday.

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After discussions of the North Korean nuclear test and the anti-Semitic remarks of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, radio host Sean Hannity asked Rice about the axis remark.

“You think of some of the world reaction to the president’s use of the word ‘axis of evil,’ and then you see how events have been unfolding,” Hannity remarked.

“It was a pretty good analysis, wasn’t it?” Rice replied. “It really was.”

Bush used the term to describe Iraq, Iran and North Korea, states he said sponsor terrorism and seek weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, was toppled the next year in a U.S.-led coup, but autocratic governments remain in place in the other two countries, and both have nuclear programs that alarm the West.

The remark in Bush’s State of the Union address drew immediate criticism as too shrill and potentially damaging to U.S. foreign policy. In the case of North Korea, it has been blamed for souring what might have been an opportunity for the U.S. to engage the reclusive Pyongyang leadership and negotiate an end to its nuclear weapons program. The Bush administration says North Korea was determined to cheat and that it pursued a more effective strategy of international diplomacy.

“The president three years ago realized that in order to manage the North Korean nuclear problem, a problem that’s been going for decades, we have to have a regional coalition,” Rice said in the interview. “This isn’t something the United States was going to be able to do alone.”

Proof of the strategy’s success came when China voted this month to impose sanctions on its neighbor and ally North Korea, she said.

On Iran, Rice said that nation’s people deserve a better leader. She predicted the U.N. Security Council will approve sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program “in the next few weeks.”

Hannity asked Rice about her career plans, including what Rice has called her dream job of running the NFL. She did not seek the NFL commissioner’s job when it came open earlier this year, saying she still had work to do at the State Department.

“Yeah, I lost that, “ Rice said. “It came up a little early.”

Hannity tried a political question Rice has shot down for months: “You have no intention of running for president?”

“No,” Rice said.

“Never?”

“No.”

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