tv Amanpour on PBS PBS May 9, 2018 6:00am-6:30am PDT
welcome to amanpour on pbs. tonight president trump has pulled the united states out of the iran nuclear deal making america the only party to violate it. so what now? we go live to tehran for reaction from mohammed marandi, a part of iran's delegation during the nuclear talks. we go to washington, d.c. to speak to former u.s. assistant secretary of state under president obama, thomas countryman, who helped negotiate the deal. and we go to europe which now holds survival of the deal i i i its hands. former swedish prime minister carl bildt joins me. ♪
>> good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour in london. today's announcement weakens our security, breaks america's word, isolates us from our european allies, puts israel at greater risk, empowers iran's hardliners and reduces our global leverage to address tehran's misbehavior. that was the stark and somber reaction to president trump pulling the u.s. out of the iran nuclear deal from the former u.s. secretary of state john kerry, who spent years negotiating it earlier in the day trump had simply ignored his closest international allies, and plunged into uncharted territory with no apparent plan "b." >> it is clear to me that we cannot prevent an iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement. i am announcing today that the united states will withdraw from the iran nuclear deal.
in a few moments i will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating u.s. nuclear sanctions on the iranian regime. we will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction. iran's leaders will naturally say that they refuse to negotiate a new deal. they refuse, and that's fine. i'd probably say the same thing if i was in their position, but the fact is they are going to want to make a new and lasting deal, one that benefits all of iran and the iranian people. >> so far iran's leaders are saying that won't happen. president hassan rouhani moments after trump spoke, told the nation he would work with
europe, russia and china to maintain the current deal. president obama who made containing iran's nuclear program his signature foreign policy achievement said that trump was making a, quote, serious mistake, since iran had not violated the deal. he said that without the agreement, quote, the united states could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed iran or another war in the middle east. trump has put america at this crossroads even as he said that secretary of state mike pompeo was on his way to north korea to try to get the regime there to enter a denuclearization deal with the very same president who just ripped up the one with iran. when i spoke with iran's ambassador here in london last week, he told me that u.s. withdrawal could mean the entire deal was dead, so is it? mohammed marandi is a professor at the university of tehran, part of iran's delegation during the nuclear talks, and he joins me now from tehran. professor marand welcome to
the program. so, first and foremost, is the deal dead from iran's perspective right now? >> well, it's almost dead, and the reason, of course, is because the united states has officially ended the deal, but the iranians i think are giving eu countries, the russians and the chinese an opportunity over the next few weeks to prevent it from collapsing completely. vernment and trump in .s. t is particular, that is the problem. if the iranians had immediately withdrawn i think it would have lessened the impact of what trump has done, but by standing back and giving a few extra weeks, i think that they are putting greater focus on the fact that trump is seeking escalation, and that the trump
administration is showing that the united states is not a country that abides by its commitments. >> that's the sort of diplomacy you're outlining. what's the actual substance? what do you think iran can talk to the russians, chinese, europeans about, to make it actually work? what would the conditions for that be? >> well, the russians and the chinese have their own policy. both countries are now on the receiving end of u.s. pressure and hostility, the trade war issue with china, of course, the ongoing problems between the united states and russia. both these countries have an incentive to see a strong iran and to improve their relations with iran because they know that if iran is hurt, they could be next, and china is a country on the rise, so many of iran's economic needs can be met through its economic cooperation
with china. europe, on the other hand, has a different set of interests here. part of it is economic but also trump, by ignoring europe, and effectively by humiliating the french president when he went to washington, and ignoring the german chancellor, i think he -- not only did he humiliate europe but he presented them as ineffectual and of no significance. so the europeans have a vested interest in showing that they do matter in international issues. if they roll over and abide by trump's demands, then i don't think in future any international body or any global player or regional player will take europe seriously. so for that reason i think the europeans will have to grow a spine.
if they do and if they stand up to trump, then there is a possibility that the agreement could last. if not, then i think that iran will ultimately have to withdraw. >> and if it withdraws, let me put this to you, the iranian ambassador to britain told me that this is what might happen when i asked him. >> when the united states is out of the deal, it means that there is no deal left. the consequence would be that iran would in fact be ready to go back to the -- to the previous situation. >> that means enriching uranium at a vast speed and capacity. >> it could be enriching uranium. it could be redefining or cooperation with the agency and some other activities that are under consideration. >> so do you think that's likely, professor marandi, that they would go back to the status quo ante and even the ambassador sort of hinted that the hardliners would be more empowered, and could even encourage a total withdrawal from the npt, the non-proliferation treaty. >> well, let me put it this way.
i think what trump has actually done is that he's created a united front in iran, because those who were critical of the agreement from the beginning were saying that the united states is simply untrustworthy, and they have been proven to be correct. obama, we must be fair, was not abiding by the agreement either. he was violating the agreement on many occasions. trump, of course, took this forward at a much more rapid pace, but what we basically saw is that, inside iran those who were against it, they feel vindicated, saying the united states is not trustworthy and prove themselves town untrustworthy, and those who supported the -- says we showed
so at the end of the day, i think they have united all the political factions in the country in the sense that they have shown iran to be the side that is willing to ease tensions to solve the problem, and it's the united states that's unwilling to do so. and i think also the iranian population, even though they will be facing economic uld -- they all recognize that this is the doing of the united states and that the iranians have over the past few years attempted to negotiate with the united states and to prove that it's not iran that's the problem. >> okay. >> so, again, even at the national level, trump has hurt the united states inside iran, and at the international level, he's done so as well. >> so, just let me ask you this then, given all that you've just said, obviously when it comes to the nuclear issue, you can make a case for at least some lessening of tension with this nuclear deal, but you cannot say that iran has lowered tensions around the world because of its activities in syria, because of the whole, you know, the missile testing and yemen and all this.
syria, as everybody knows what's going on in syria and what iran's role is there. so my question to you is president trump has said tonight that he's going to wait for iran to come almost begging to make a good deal, a better deal, that would involve all these other issues, and he said that he'd be there ready and waiting when the iranian regime came to make a deal. what do you think? is it likely? >> well, first of all, whehen i comes to iran's defense capability it's not up for negotiation because that's one of the reasons why the united states doesn't attack iran. second of all, when it comes to syria, if we look at the 2012 defense intelligence agency document of the united states we
know that the united states and its regional allies were funding the extremists in syria, and the reason why iran is in syria is to battle isis and al qaeda. in fact, trump previously said that iran and russia were fighting against isis and that's a good thing. so he's contradicting himself, because tonight he was saying something quite different, but, again, i think the most important thing is that if -- when the united states cannot be trusted at the negotiating table, when the united states is not able to fulfill its own commitments when it comes to our nuclear deal, there's absolutely no reason whatsoever why iran would negotiate anything else with the united states, because the united states has shown itself to be unreliable. >> on that note, thank you so much for joining us from tehran. and we are now going to go and get the perspective from washington. president trump backing out of the deal, potentially puts him in an even tougher position to make a deal on north korea, but he said that he's still hopeful that he can make that happen. >> today's action sends a critical message --
the united states no longer makes empty threats. when i make promises, i keep them. in fact, at this very moment secretary pompeo is on his way to north korea in preparation for my upcoming meeting with kim jong-un. plans are being made, relationships are building. hopefully a deal will happen. >> so thomas countryman worked on crafting the iran deal, as former acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, under president obama, and he's joining me now from washington. welcome to the program. you just heard professor marandi from iran talking about one of the things that president trump said was that, you know, i know they are going to be kicking and screaming, but they are going to come back, and, you know, want to make a better deal. what do you think is the
likelihood of that? you just heard professor marandi say why should they if even the one they have done has been trashed? >> i think professor marandi is essentially correct. the president by deciding that the u.s. would be the first of seven countries to violate the jcpoa has immediately damaged united states credibility whether it's negotiating with iran, with north korea or with any other country on earth. and that's the most immediate effect of the crisis that has been initiated by the united states government. it is a crisis that will develop slowly until it develops rapidly, and it will have the effect not only of damaging the prospect for talks with north korea, but of setting up an unnecessary fight with our best allies of giving the iranians an incentive to resume the enrichment of uranium, the very practice that the world united
against four years ago, damaging our ability to see what iran is up to and increasing in the long run the risk of further military conflict in the middle east. so an immediate damage to our credibility, and a long-term damage to several other goals that the u.s. used to share with the rest of the world. >> now, on the issue of iran saying that it wants to enter serious discussions with europe, with china, with russia, to see whether this is salvageable, you're, you know, very technically involved in this. could it be salvageable even without the united states? >> the short answer is tha-- this is a seven-part deal, seven countries. the u.s. cannot kill the deal all by itself, but without question the president's actions have wounded the deal severely. it will be difficult to preserve the deal if the u.s. is the only
one in violation, but it is crucial that an attempt be made to keep the deal going, and that's why i hope to see iran and europe as well as russia and china take a deep breath, not respond as impulsively as the white house does and see if there is something that can be done to salvage this deal. at the minimum i would hope that the european union would respond as strongly to an american violation of the deal as they would have responded to an iranian violation. >> well, what does that mean? what are you suggesting that europe does? >> i suggest that europe should take action to make clear first that it continues to support the deal, secondly to give iran whatever it can give in economic incentives, that is, continued trade and investment between europe and iran. third, to make clear, as europe
has done on previous occasions, that it does not accept the u.s. right to punish european firms for the acting inconsistency with a multinational deal. that may not be enough to save this deal in the long run, but i think it's important for europe's future credibility that they make the effort to do so. >> well, we'll put that to the former prime minister carl bildt in a moment, but i want to ask you about this notion that president trump received questions about will this make america safer? how will it make america safer? he keeps saying i fulfilled a campaign promise, but a cnn poll shows that actually 63% of americans want america to stay inside the deal. but i guess, you know, the
question is what about iranian complaints over the years that even under the obama administration, there wasn't enough energy expended to get financial institutions and the others to do business with iran? this is what secretary of state kerry at the time in 2016 told me, when i asked him about that. >> as part of this agreement, iran has a right to do certain business that has been defined, and they have the rights to the benefit of the deal that they have agreed to. they have undone their centrifuges. they have lived by every component of this agreement, and, therefore, the banks and he the world community needs to live by its part of the agreement. but let me be clear -- european banks can open accounts, can make loans and can engage in business and can travel. there is no reason for them on a non-designated entity for any legitimate business not to do business. >> so, thomas countryman, that's kind of what you're saying, right?
i mean, even right now, that's even more important to tell europe and others who want to do business. >> i think it's important for europe to stand up to -- for international agreements, even if the u.s. pulls out. whether it's the paris agreement or this agreement, it's important, as i said, for europe's future credibility. iran has some justification, some, for complaining that in the obama administration they did not get all the benefits they were hoping for. part of that is our law and our political situation in washington. part of it is that iran has a lot to do to reform its economy, to break the hold of oligarchs before it becomes a fully attractive place to invest. now it faces even greater obstacles as a result of the president's decision and i think professor marandi was right, that in iran many different factions, so-called moderates and
so-called hardliners will be unified in opposition to the president. i don't think many iranian citizens are going to take with any sincerity president trump's appeal to them, that he's doing this for their benefit. >> thomas countryman, thank you so much for that perspective. >> thank you. now to europe. ever since trump's election european allies have been furiously working behind the scenes with the administration and iran to save the deal. now france, germany and britain on trying to charm and flatter trump, but today the tone changed. they issued a joint statement expressing regret and concern, and the eu foreign policy chief frederico margarini, said the bloc remained committed to the deal. >> the nuclear deal with iran is the culmination of 12 years of diplomacy. it belongs to the entire international community. it has been working, and it is delivering on its goal which is
guaranteeing that iran doesn't develop nuclear weapons. the european union is determined to preserve it. >> so joining me for more on this the former swedish prime minister carl bildt, cochair of the european council of foreign relations and joins me now from stockholm. welcome to the program. >> thanks. >> you heard it all being flung at you from the iranian perspective, from the u.s. perspective. it's really up to europe to really hang on to this and make sure you don't violate it and you keep it together. is it that something that's doable? >> it's clearly something that europe must look very seriously into all the possibilities of doing, to stand up for, well, our interests and stand by our words to defend the interests we have in preserving and for preventing further conflicts in the region, so i'm quite certain that all the european leaders when they get together, the prime minister and president
next week, this would be very high up on the agenda. i think there's no question whatsoever in support of the deal from the european side. then the critical thing will be -- we were dealing with fairly brutal policies in the white house. these are hard decisions by the white house, and i think anyone had anticipated, so there will be sanctions against iran immediately, they are saying, but i guess there will be sanctions against europe as well, and against european enterprises and european economies that are involved with any sort of trading relationship with iran, and that is something that is extremely serious from the european union point of view. >> i mean, that is -- >> and it's a very serious policy response. >> and that is really back to the bad old days from europe's perspective. can i ask you this, prime minister? you know, the israelis, the saudis, the emirates, they are all thrilled about this. they think that this is absolutely the bee's knees, that
this is the way to pressure iran and this is the way to change the regime and get everything that they want. of course, we've been asking what is your plan "b"? what is your plan "b" if you want to get everything that you want? and we are just hearing from the state department which just told cnn that the reason there is no plan "b" is because they were so busy trying to get a supplemental agreement that they didn't get. how true does that ring to you? >> well, i think that the plan "b" or the plan "a" by some of the people that are behind this particular decision goes well, well beyond the iran nuclear deal. they are for a policy of regime change in tehran, which i think would be very destructive if they try it and what they will do is that they will significantly strengthen the hardliners in iran which would be negative and that would have a destabilizing effect on the entire region. that i fear is the hidden plan
"b" from the white house, and i think that that has been borne out by some of the rhetoric that we've heard from some of them before they entered office but also by some of the things that we have heard now. that may -- makes the decision today even more difficult in the consequences than it looks on the surface. >> and, again, there are these very -- i don't know if it's wishful thinking or facile glib statements, that you know, if we just hold out for longer and we show iran that we mean business they will come -- you know, they will come to us because they want a better deal, but this is what the foreign minister the zarif said about additional supplemental and all the rest of the conditional deals being proposed. listen to this. >> it now appears that the response from some europeans has been to offer the united states more concessions from our pocket.
this appeasement and promises of a new deal that would include matters we all decided to exclude at the outset of our negotiations. >> so very briefly because i want to ask you a follow-up question, i mean, he's right, isn't he? >> well, yes and no. i would say that the basis for the european protest is to preserve the iran nuclear deal, no change in that particular respect, but europe never said that this is the end of the story. we have a lot of other concerns with iran, but on the basis of trust established with the jcpoa, the intention was to move forward. i mean, we have an interest of talking about syria obviously. there is a u.n.-sponsored peace process in yemen that we have an interest in, that could deal with arms and missiles issues that need to be addressed and there's others one when we talk about terrorist organizations throughout the
preserved, and this particular atmosphere remains to be seen. >> very finally, president trump referenced himself netanyahu's preparation to the world last week and i want to know what you thought of what netanyahu had told congress back in 2002 about the wisdom of various interventions and add ventures in the middle east. just listen to this. >> there is no question whatsoever that saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing toward the development of nuclear weapons. no question whatsoever. if you take out saddam, saddam's regime, i guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region. >> your reaction? >> well, i mean, you can't -- you can't accuse prime minister netanyahu of not being consistent in his approach
anyhow. he was very vocally advocating that particular policy towards iraq. we know the basis for that. he was equally vocal advocating that policy towards iran. as a matter of fact, what he presented the other day was something that confirmed that iran closed down its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and there was nothing in what he said that indicated that they were violating the agreement now. but his agenda is a wider one, and i would say now it's more dangerous. >> carl bildt, thanks so much for joining us from stockholm on this fateful day. that's it for our program tonight. thanks for watching us on pbs, and join us again tomorrow night.