Return to Transcripts main page


Iran Nuclear Deal is Done; Oil Prices Tumble on Iran Deal. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 14, 2015 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I should thank those who helped the process, other governments, the former -- the two former high representatives, Javier Solana and Cathy Ashton, and also particularly, Federica Mogherini, and other colleagues for their leadership in making this process come to fruition. Thank you.

FEDERICA MOHGERINI, E.U. FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: Thank you very much. We now proceed to our final plenary for the adoption of the agreement and then we will move to the media. Thank you very much.

As in some other organizations, this ends the public session of our plenary. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

ZARIF: We didn't thank Austria.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We are watching the leaders gather there. We know a deal has been done.

They are shooing the reporters away at the moment. They are heading into the plenary session now. The public session of the plenary is now over. So, they are getting ready to get this underway and adopt what they agreed to.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

Nic Robertson is there for us in Vienna. He has been following these negotiations for weeks -- dare I say, months.

Nic, what's happening now?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, what you were witnessing there is a small slice of what life has been like here. We were getting into the beginning of the key meetings, we get a few seconds, maybe a minute of video. We saw the E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini saying that they were going to move forward with the adoption of the agreement.

You heard the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, thanking Mogherini for her work in moderating and mediating these talks. What will happen now behind the closed doors, they will go to a formal stage once the deal is done. They're going to go I guess to discuss the final details of it and going to the final stage of agreement before they then come out, Federica Mogherini and Mohammad Javad Zarif, will then come out and expected to give a press conference.

During that press conference, we can expect to begin to hear the first of the details of the agreement. But what we do know is this agreement broadly stands as it was laid out in Lausanne, Switzerland, in the last phase of negotiations in April earlier this year. And it's going to involve a reduction -- a reduction in the amount of enriched uranium that Iran will hold. It will come to a significant reduction in the number of centrifuges Iran will have and it will change the designation and equipment that some of the nuclear sites Iran has as well. The details in Vienna will be heard later.

We heard from the director general of the International Atomic Energy Association detailing one of the issues that have been overcome. That was about the possible military dimensions. Has Iran said everything it can say about the questions and has it tried to make a nuclear weapon in the past. He says, the director general of the IAEA says he now has agreement with Iran to answer those questions and he should know more fully by later this year. The 15th of December is when he said -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Nic Robertson, thank you for that, Nic.

We know, Nic, what they get in return is a dropping of sanctions. That is so important for the economy in the country that has been basically held back by those sanctions for so long.

For more -- for more on this, a read on the Iranian perspective of the deal, let's turn to CNN's Fred Pleitgen.

You know, Fred, you spent a lot of time there. So, a dropping of the sanctions is something you know firsthand and would change Tehran. Change the country, they must be very pleased in Tehran this morning.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly are. It is certainly something where you are absolutely right. It would potentially change things inside Iran.

They believe that the international sanctions are holding them back. We talked about the sanctions against the oil and gas sector, which is, of course, something that's highly underdeveloped considering the natural resources that Iran has.

But also in day-to-day life, in day-to-day economic development, it is something that is holding foreign companies back. It's holding the businesses inside Iran back as well.

And one of the things to them that hurts them the most, is that they are not part of international monetary transactions. You cannot go to Iran and pay with a credit card, you can't do an electronic payment. If you're going to do a deal there, you better arrive with bags full of money.

And that's certainly one of the things they want to get rid of as fast as possible. Now, it's interesting that many Iranian officials are already out there on Twitter. They are saying things.

[05:05:00] For instance, President Hassan Rouhani just tweeted just now, "Iran and the IAEA," of course, the International Atomic Energy Agency, "agreed to accelerate cooperation with the aim to fully resolve all prior issues."

Now, Nic was talking about one of those issues, the possible military dimension to Iran's nuclear program. But the Iranians also had major problems with the IAEA. They always believed the IAEA was riddled with Western spies, much to Iran's detriment. And so, certainly, it seems as though, those two, Iran and IAEA, are sorting differences out, that is something that is going to be very, very important moving forward on this historic day, Christine.

ROMANS: But, Fred, you know there are those in Congress, Israel, for example, and many others who are concerned that Iran is not an honest broker and want to make sure that sanctions can be put back in place quickly if, for example, there is a forbidden and nuclear activity.

Do we know anything about the contents of the deal to protect against back sliding from the Iranians?

PLEITGEN: We don't know anything about the deal so far. There are some things put out by Iranian state media, which are sort of general phrases that they say Iran has been recognized as a nuclear power. Iran can continue to enrich uranium. Obviously, we don't know the deal at this point in time. This is Iranian media saying it.

But the snapback provisions as people have been calling them as talks have been going on, are something that certainly was heatedly discuss inside Iran as well. But you don't want any snapback provisions. They want the entire sanctions regime o be lifted as past as possible.

So, it is going to be interesting to see how those two things are going to be met. On the one hand, of course, the security concerns of Israel and of the United States, of other nations in the region like Saudi Arabia and the Iranians wish to just get the sanctions relief going as past as possible. That is going to be one of the key things that we're going to be looking at once we get the details of that agreement, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Frederik Pleitgen for us in Berlin this morning. Thank you so much for that.

So, at the White House, there is no doubt they are making plans for a victory lap. But that victory lap also comes with some very heavy lifting with Congress.

I want to bring in CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski live from Washington for the latest.

The president and this administration have been working hard for this narrow nuclear deal. He's going to face criticism for those who say it's hard to have a narrow deal with Iran when there are so many other issues in the world where the United States is at odds with the Iranians. MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, definitely.

I mean, Republicans making some of their own demands already, on things that should have been part of this deal, and we know that are not. Even before we got the announcement that this deal had been reached, many in Congress have been jumping on not being shy about expressing their concerns and anger over some parts of this.

And some of the details that are coming out are very similar to the framework that we already knew about that Iran will only be able to have 300 kilograms of low enriched uranium. They have remaining stockpile that's either going to have to be diluted or shipped out of the country.

Another sticking that is pretty controversial is the lifting of the arms embargo on Iran. It seems like according to the details that journalists were given, sort of in a quick session before anything really started going, was that the arms embargo would last for five years for traditional arms. After that, sales could commence.

But for its ballistic capabilities, that would be another eight years. I mean, that is something members of Congress have been looking at among others. What kind of monitoring? Will this entail monitoring at Iran's military sites? That's something that Iran for weeks prior to reaching a deal had been saying it was a no go.

I mean, it's interesting to have seen the dynamic of this. For so many weeks, Iran is saying certain things would not happen if a deal were to be reached. It seems like they did make some of the concessions. That is the focus later on today. We expect to hear from the president fairly early in the morning. We haven't got a timeframe on that yet, exactly, and what capacity the president will address the public.

And then we expect to hear, you know, what concessions did Iran make in the reaching of this deal and what concessions did negotiators make? Where was the common ground that we already know many in Congress are not going to be happy with?

Congress, as we have been saying, does have 60 days to review this and they do have something as for -- I mean, they don't have technically an up or down vote on the deal itself. But they do have a vote on lifting the sanctions that Congress itself had imposed on Iran. You can see how that could potentially be a real monkey wrench in the final implementation of a deal, especially since the lifting of the sanctions were so key to Iran's participation in this.

But we're just going to have to wait and see. I mean, we're hearing that the deal itself is 100 pages long. We certainly haven't had a copy of it, just a few details coming out. So, we'll need to hear the details.

[05:10:00] We're going to hear from the president and then starts Congress's participation in this -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Michelle Kosinski in Washington, thank you for that, Michelle. Let's get some more perspective, expert perspective this morning on this nuclear deal with Iran. Flynt Leverett is in Vienna, following these talks. He is now professor at Penn State and former Middle East expert at the CIA, the State Department and National Security Council. He has been on the inside of the U.S. relationship with Iran and a ten-year long push or consideration about whether that relationship should change. A conversation began in the Bush administration, we should say.

This is sold as a narrow deal just on the nuclear issue with Iran. You would like to see this as a springboard for a modernization of the American relationship with the Iranians.

FLYNT LEVERETT, FORMER SENIOR ANALYST, CIA: Yes. I think this is going to be the key strategic question for the Obama administration and even more President Obama's successor. What does this deal mean for the broader U.S. relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran? Right now, the administration's rhetoric, for the most part, says this is a narrow nuclear deal. It is transactional only about the nuclear issue in the administration's perspective, Iran remains this basically bad actor in the region.

But I think that there are at least some people in the administration who understand that Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is an indispensable country in today's Middle East. And at this point, frankly, the United States can't achieve its own objectives in places like Iraq, Syria, Yemen in dealing with the challenge of the Islamic State. The United States cannot achieve its objectives without a better, more comprehensive kind of relationship with Iran.

The Iranians, for their part, are indicating that they would like to use the nuclear deal as basis for exploring this kind of more comprehensive improvement in relations. I think that would be a very good thing for the United States, but I'm not sure there's a strategic consensus in the Obama administration about that and, of course, outside the administration, this will be a controversial proposition.

ROMANS: Well, you are talking about Israel and Saudi Arabia, the long-time allies to the United States in the Middle East. This adds a new dimension, if you will, to broaden out the relationship between the U.S. and Iran. And there is China and Russia, China and Russia who have their own aspirations for selling weapons for example to Iran. It's a very complicated, complicated geopolitical situation.

LEVERETT: Yes. I think Iran is a country that any great power in the world today is going to want to have positive relations with. Russia has a long standing relationship with Iran. China has been building up its economic and now to some degree, strategic relations with Iran. And if China moves ahead in a serious way with what it calls its new Silk Road initiative to increase Chinese economic ties to the Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East, Iran is a critical country for China's plans for the new Silk Road.

The importance of Iran in the Middle East and global politics is only going to grow. And the United States, in my view, needs to face that reality and use this nuclear agreement as a critical first step to building a more productive relationship with this important country.

ROMANS: Flynt Leverett, a lot to talk about on this topic. You are there in Vienna where the talks are happening right now, now behind closed doors. Thank you, Flynt. We'll talk to you again very, very quickly.

Again, the doors are closed on the negotiations again right now. But a deal has been done and that is not cause for celebration everywhere.

Harsh words this morning out of Israel on the breaking news of the deal. We go live to Jerusalem right after the break.


[05:17:18] ROMANS: Breaking this morning: there is now a nuclear deal with Iran. While Iranian and Western diplomats are congratulating themselves, there's fury in at least one world capital, Jerusalem. The Iran nuclear deal realizes one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's darkest fears, an accord, he says, will pave the way to a nuclear armed Iran.

Joining us now is CNN's Erin McLaughlin in Jerusalem.

And, Erin, the response has been swift and decisive from Israeli officials.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has, Christine. This morning, we heard from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as his meeting began with the Dutch foreign minister in Jerusalem. He said the following, he said, quote, "When you are ready to make a deal, no matter what the cost, this is the result. From the first reports that are arriving, it is already possible to conclude that this agreement is historic mistake for the world."

Now, we are expecting a more elaborate statement from the Israeli prime minister later today. We are also hearing from members of his coalition. Hard line coalition partner Naftali Bennett releasing the following statement, saying, quote, "This day will be remembered as a black day in the history of the free world. History books are rewritten today with the most dangerous and severe chapter."

So, some very strong rhetoric coming from the Israeli government, presumably before they had a chance to read the entire agreement, which goes to illustrate the lack of trust that has existed throughout this process.

Also hearing from foreign minister Danny Danon, he released the following statements, saying, quote, "Now that the talks are over, it is time for action. I call upon our friends and allies and the relevant parliaments tasked with reviewing this agreement to reject this bad deal. They are signaling what is perhaps focus of the Israeli government going forward, persuading opinion of lawmakers around the world, particularly one we presume U.S. lawmakers as Congress is set to review any agreement coming out of Vienna today -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Erin for us this morning in Jerusalem -- thank you for that.

Let's get right back to Vienna now, where all of this happening. The nuclear talks underway there. They have completed a nuclear deal. They are back behind closed doors. Those officials behind closed doors before they address the public and announce the contents of the deal at a press conference there.

Our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour joins us now this morning.

I think all can agree history books have been rewritten. When you -- when you look today and the Israelis are saying, they say that it is utter disaster. But for the people who have been pushing this deal, for them, it's rewriting this nuclear relationship at least between the West and Iran.

[05:20:06] And they hope it paves the way to peace.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, that's right. And when you consider particularly the relationship with Iran and the United States over the last more than 35 years since the Islamic revolution, we've gone from anti-American Islamic revolution to hostage holding, to terrorism, and now to this nuclear deal.

And it is not just the U.S. and Iran, although they are the main drivers of this, of course. But with Russia and China, with the European powers, and this coalition has stuck together for the last agonizing, painstaking, slow, nearly two years of almost consistent diplomacy. And it survived the last few days here, about 17 days or so, of repeatedly missed deadlines trying to get over the very, very last hurdles.

Now, today, right now, the main players and foreign ministers and main negotiators have been meeting in the last and final plenary session. A little bit away from where we are standing right now, which is the back of me here, the Coburg Palais is the hotel where all of the negotiations have been taking place. They have gone to the U.N. building to have these family photo, to have the last handshakes, to I guess, you know, make sure everybody is standing on the platform, and we have not too distant future, for the next few minutes or half an hour or so, to be able put this out to the public.

Now, although, everybody who is against it, talks about the agreement, they haven't yet. Much of it does take the shape in what was agreed in Lausanne in April. But there are further details hammered out and enshrined. And that paper has not been made fully public. It's actually not a paper. It's about 100 pages.

The most difficult of the wording for the U.N. Security Council resolution that will enshrine all of this.

But in short, strict limitations on Iran's nuclear program for periods of 10 to 25 years, depending on what issues they're talking about, in return for a lifting of sanctions and a different relationship between Iran and the West -- Christine. ROMANS: And, Christiane, they resolved the concern about an arms

embargo, about restricting the sale of missile technology, for example, to Iran. That had been a real sticking point in the last and final hours.

AMANPOUR: That's right. The last few days, the arms embargo was a huge sticking point, incredibly, a slow process trying to work through that with the right wording and right action going forward, but also the sanctions and dividing the sanctions, because there are all sorts of different sanctions, E.U., U.N., U.S. all of that playing out in the future.

But in short, they have come up with language that resolves the arms embargo issue according to both sides, to the acceptance of all sides. Therefore, the arms embargo will remain for a period of time. We can't tell you the exact details right now, but then, you know, then, you know, conventional weapons embargo will be lifted and on to that, ballistic. I mean, you know, there will be a phase lifting of that embargo.

So, that's -- for that. But the very tricky language was how to get a new U.N. resolution to replace the old one which has been in place for many years with the draconian limitations on Iran including sanctions.

ROMANS: All right. Christiane Amanpour for us in Vienna.

And, again, the meeting is happening just not very far from where she's standing there for us. We will let you get back to your sources.

And tell you this -- a nuclear deal with Iran, with the big impact on the price of oil, driving down the price of oil even more. Breaking that down, next.


[05:26:57] ROMANS: Breaking news: a nuclear deal with Iran and oil prices driven down sharply. U.S. crude down 2 percent right now, $51 a barrel. At the beginning of the year, it inched up a bit, but oil prices have been falling for a month now as the nuclear deal with Iran neared.

Iran has the fourth biggest oil reserves in the world. That oil has been blocked from world markets by sanctions. This deal will change that and let Iran increase its oil exports. It may take months or even years for Iran to fully ramp up production.

Eventually, a deal could add 1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil per day to global markets. There's already a huge surplus, almost 2 million a day, more than demand is produced every day.

Adding more oil to the market will push prices lower. Oil expert Tom Kloza tells us oil could soon drop back into the $40 range. Gas prices -- gas prices could return to $2 a gallon.

Breaking news this morning: a nuclear deal has been reached. Live team coverage breaking down all the fast moving developments, next.