after a gunman opened fire at a church in texas. the attack, in the small town of sutherland springs, left another 20 injured and is described as the worst mass shooting in texan history. a huge new leak of financial documents, known as the ‘paradise papers', has revealed how the powerful and wealthy secretly invest vast amounts of money in offshore tax havens. the papers disclose how donald trump's commerce secretary has business links with russian allies of president putin who are subject to us sanctions. president trump is injapan at the start of a marathon 11—day tour of asia. after meeting the japanese prime minister, he said the two countries had never been closer, but also slammed trade between them as "neither fair, nor open." now on bbc news, hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur.
it's hard to imagine two men more different in temperament and global outlook than barack obama and donald trump. no surprise, then, that the current president is intent on dismantling their predecessor's legacy. my guest today is ernest moniz, energy secretary in the obama administration and a key figure in two landmark obama commitments — the iran nuclear deal and the paris climate change accord. so, how significant will the trump u—turns prove to be? ernest moniz, welcome to hardtalk. pleasure.
how does it feel watching so much of the work that you did along with many others inside the white house team being steadily dismantled by donald trump? obviously, it is, shall we say, disappointing, to say it in a very temperate way. mainly because i think that tremendous opportunities for moving forward in united states, with our friends or allies, obviously, the uk prominent among those, on such important issues. basically, a whole range of global threats from climate change risks to nuclear security, and these were opportunities hard won. in both cases, helping to forge very significant international cooperation alliances and, in fact, one of the most troublesome
patterns is the way that many of our alliances, many of our friendships and collaborative opportunities, are instead of being strengthened, are being weakened. we will unpick a bit of that. i wonder whether it has given you pause for thought. i mean, donald trump isn't acting simply on a whim, he is surrounded by advisers. he is driven, one can only assume, as the president of the united states by an overriding concern for america's national security interest. starting with the iran nuclear deal, we have to assume that he has real reasons for deciding that the obama deal that you were such an important part of making, was actually contrary to america's national—security interest. well, if you listen carefully to what he has said, what i would point out is, neither he nor his administration, many of whom supported
staying in the agreement, have given no specifics in terms of the agreement structure. there are two issues. one is the suggestion that it would have been wonderful to have had some of these nuclear restrictions going on for a longer period of time. you say there is no substance to his criticisms, but there clearly is. he has pointed out to the sunset clauses in the deal which mean, as far as i can understand it, come 2026, iran's uranium enrichment programme can be given green light, full steam ahead, let's get on with it. not quite. until 2031, there is a severe restriction on any stockpile they have of enriched uranium and it's only to a low enrichment. there is a 15—year constraint. the main point is... which comparison shall we make?
let's make the comparison to where we were and where we would be. where we were was iran could have gone to a nuclear weapon in two to three months. we have extended that dramatically for a 10—15 year period. so it is just about buying time? you don't believe for a second that the deal you struck has changed the fundamentals of iran's determination to acquire a nuclear weapon? i think, first of all, that will be proved out in 10—15 years. i want to point out, there is a great focus on these nuclear provisions which are very important and many are very unique and rolled back their programme dramatically. but the key to the agreement are the verification and transparency measures, which do not sunset. so we have, for example, their engagement in the protocol that allows the international inspectors to go anywhere that looks suspicious.
that is a forever commitment. so you're putting an enormous amount of faith in the iaea, the nuclear watchdog organisation. the iaea... we know the iranians have hoodwinked them before. first of all, the iaea now has tools that they didn't have before in iran. it has tools, it has nowhere else in the world. the former head of intelligence, jim clapper, has said you couldn't say 100% certain, but the bar is raised so high that the risk of getting caught would be enormous. two more points... may ijust say one more thing, going back? the other thing that is really the point of the criticism is that the deal is not what it was never intended to be. namely, a way to address hezbollah and missiles. the whole point was remove the existential threat and now work hard with our regional allies and friends to push back on those other destabilising behaviours.
right. you see, notjust donald trump who called the deal, the worst in american history, horrible, he said. but others including the leader of america's greatest strategic ally in the region, israel and benjamin netanyahu, and a seniorfigure in another key ally, saudi arabia, prince turki al faisal, both have said the deal is potentially disastrous because it allows iran to continue to refine and develop it uranium enrichment techniques because it doesn't stop it altogether. number two, it allows the iranians to continue developing their ballistic missile technology, which they are very actively doing. and number three, as the saudi puts it, prince turki al faisal, "on the day the agreement sunsets," he says, "my view is that under the present leadership in iran, they will simply race for developing a nuclear weapon without anybody restricting them further." i come to the question again — has it not giving you any pause, this reaction? again, from where we were and would
be today, we have made tremendous progress in rolling back their programme and, very importantly, providing insight. prince turki knows very well what would be the advantages to national means in terms of understanding of what will be going on in iran, and i have spoken with him about this. by the way, many who oppose the deal, now say at this stage, we should stay in it because of the advantages. you mentioned prime minister netanyahu. let's talk about the former iran hawk, if you like, ehud barak. he came out very clearly two weeks ago and he was one engaged in what would have been possible israeli military actions. it's a different time now having the agreement than whatever arguments could've been used two years ago. once again, it was no secret for many years. this is in some sense analogous
to what ronald reagan did in the 80s with their soviet union. negotiated nuclear arms control, even in the face of all of the other adversarial relationships we had. this should be viewed... and by the way, the uk and french and german governments have all said this as a foundation stone. we shouldn't be sitting here carping, we should be working now to build off of this foundation stone as we look forward 15 years. on the principle of buying time, is it not wise for congress to put some new clauses or proposed some new clauses? we'll see how the other international players in this react, but you used the phrase about buying time. presumably, you buy time with a purpose. you used the term buying time. well, ok, but it's implicit in everything you've said. if that's the idea, is it not wise
to ramp up the pressure? first of all, i reject the summary that we are simply buying time. we are not simply buying time. we have a long period of time in which their nuclear programme is rolled back dramatically. during which time, i would hope again we can build on that foundation and address what happens down the road, 10—15 years. there are many tools at our disposal that have not been played. but the transparency, the verification, i want to emphasise, is in many ways the core of the agreement. i want to take you to north korea briefly. you've spent a lot of time considering the way in which the us uses and projects its nuclear deterrence power. it seems the message from trump on north korea, not entirely unrelated to iran, is that policy over a generation hasn't worked. we've tried to find forms of negotiation and tried to work multilaterally and it hasn't worked,
and clearly, the north koreans are developing their nuclear weapons technology, they are miniaturising, they are developing ballistic missile technology, put them together and the us is in the firing line. donald trump has decided to say, so far and no further, and if you continue on this path, fire and fury would be the result. is that not actually sensible diplomacy? first of all, you talk about not having an agreement or a policy not working for a long time. i will come back to korea but let me make one more point about iran. there was a deal to be had in 2003. that was declined. iran went from essentially no centrifuges to 20,000 centrifuges. no enriched uranium to 12 tons of enriched uranium. this idea of not looking at the whole picture, reaching an agreement, sometimes buying time, but putting in place
the kinds of verification measures, is critical. by the way, verification for north korea will be equally important. we can't spend too much time going back in time. but what we can consider is right now is north korea and the notion that you have that donald trump is not pursuing a sensible course. i think you've said that there must be dialogue now. absolutely. and i'm saying, well, they've tried that, many, many times. donald trump is, in essence, threatening something very different. he's using the fear factor. i believe the piece you are referring to does advocate dialogue now, but it makes it clear that the first dialogue is with china, south korea and japan. but a different dialogue from what we are seeing at least in the public. a dialogue that is not simply the united states making recommendations to china for what we want to see happen,
as opposed to a broader dialogue of the entire security context for that region — for china, north korea, south korea, japan. of course, issues like the future american military postulate in the region, should an agreement be reached, is very important to china. i think we have to be putting on the table a lot broader set of issues. this is a case where the issue of north korean nuclear weapons combined with missiles, can be eventually resolved only by enlarging the discussion to include the full security context. right. well, those are words which sound great, but i am very mindful of what is actually happening on the ground. every single day, the north koreans appear more and more determined to develop a capability that in the end would allow them to threaten targets in the mainland united states. no question about that. here is my question. you're currently, post obama, you're the chief of something called
the nuclear threat initiative organisation. in your view, is it inevitable that what north korea is doing today is going to lead to another very dangerous round of nuclear weapons proliferation in our world ? that is certainly a major risk. that's one of the regions where one is very concerned about that, especially since... it's very important. you have emphasised the united states coming under the range of north korean missiles. that is obviously a very serious issue. but i want to emphasise, our allies, south korea and japan, our military forces, have already been under that threat. it is notjust about the united states. it's also about tens of millions of people potentially coming under threat in south korea and japan. so that threat has been there now for a while. and, frankly, south korea, seoul, has been under a very effective deterrent, shall we say, long before
north korea ever had a nuclear explosion. we need to have a broader picture of the whole security context. let me ask you this, which is more of a philosophical question than a direct practical diplomacy question, but now that you are out of the administration and free to say what you really think, and now that you are heading up this nuclear initiative organisation, threat initiative organisation, do you yourself believe that one day, the united states should commit notjust to nuclear non—proliferation, but to the abolition of nuclear weapons? the nobel peace prize has been given to a group who are fundamentally committed to what has become a sort of un treaty—based notion that one day, we'll get to a point where all nations sign up to the elimination of nuclear weapons. do you believe it's possible to imagine the united states doing that? yes. i think the vision has to remain a world without nuclear weapons. i'm not... i'm not not so naive to think that that is possible in any short time period of — short time period.
it's going to take a long time to get there. i hope we can get there. if the us signs that sort of long—term intent, it's a utter hypocrisy, is it not, for the united states to lecture parts of the world which do not have nuclear weapons and tell them they must never get them. i mean, if the us isn't even prepared to commit to a long—term abolition of these weapons, why should any other nation not seek to acquire them? the united states is a signatory of the non—proliferation treaty. the non—proliferation treaty... non—proliferation is a different issue. the non—proliferation treaty makes the statement. the p5 — us, russia — you know — russia, china, britain, france — were singled out as nuclear weapon states. the rest of the world would stay non—nuclear weapon states. we would act to help them develop peaceful nuclear programmes and we would act to eliminate nuclear weapons. that is a commitment in the non—proliferation treaty, it is already in a treaty. but to get there requires steps.
the idea ofjust talking about the vision, frankly, is not going to help us with the very, very difficult, step—by—step processes that will take a long time to get there. what is a verification regime for a world without nuclear weapons? that's a tough question. it applies to everybody, ok? right now, what we focus on is let's make sure we are taking the steps that prevent the use of a nuclear weapon — that is the real risk — and regrettably, i would say the odds of that happening today are higher probably since the cuban missile crisis. so which do you lose more sleep over — that threat, your alarm about nuclear proliferation and the danger, the real danger you see of actually a nuclear conflict in the world in the not—too—distant future, or climate change, the rise in global temperatures, and the fact that despite the paris accord, it looks as though the international will to keep temperature rise below that two degree centigrade threshold
isn't going to be effective. which causes you more loss of sleep? first of all, i'm going to throw a third one in there, which nti also works on, which is biosecurity, the possibility of pandemics, including pandemics caused by bad actors. with respect, there's only are only so many alarms we can deal with in one hardtalk. i just wanted to say that there are three — three, which i consider to be kind of existential issues. right now — now, and now with those — now, with those. now let's get to climate change. because you worked very hard withjohn kerry and others on getting the paris deal... we'll go there, we'll go there. ..and donald trump's walked away from that. that's right. and, frankly, it doesn't look as though the american public cares that much that donald trump's walked away from it. first of all, i do want to make sure it's understood that what president trump did onjune first was announce the beginning of the process to withdraw from the paris accord.
formally, that cannot occur earlier... until right around the time of his first administration coming to an end. until the day after the next presidential election. i understand. and so, i don't consider that a done deal, but obviously quite, uh, quite disturbing. but, but — but look at the facts, you know, whatever he can practically do about the paris accord — look at what he has done, he's approved new pipeline projects, massive projects, that's obviously gonna further expand fossil fuel exploitation in the united states, he's revoked the clean power plan, he's overturned obama's arctic drilling ban, he's reviewing commitment to investment, federal investment, in clean energy r&d — research and development. on all of these different levels, he's taken real, practical steps which have reversed the policies that you and obama were driving. so, look, obviously, i'm very, very unhappy about this but let's also look at some other facts. first of all, you know, the united states is, you know, is roughly speaking halfway towards the paris goal already. that happened without these federal climate rules.
the states were the big drivers of this. the governors of those states have recommitted to continuing. that was partly because of easy wins with the conversion from coal to cheap shale oil and gas. coal to gas was half of — roughly half of the progress. yes, and that's low—hanging fruit, but you've got to move forward from there. so, the clean power plan, which is being called part of ‘a war on coal‘ — which never existed — but the clean power plan would, in fact, there's no doubt, it would lower coal‘s role in electricity production — at least unless there was carbon capture, a separate discussion. but, my point is... yeah, but what i'm saying is donald trump's expanding coal production — at least he claims he wants to, and he's also cutting federal investment in r&d in renewables. so let's — let's talk about the facts on coal. nobody is talking about building a new coal plant with or without the clean power plan.
secondly, every projection i've seen is that the target for the clean power plan — 32% reduction co2 by 2030 — is going to be met even without the clean power plan. some states now will not meet their targets. so there's a lot of progress towards this low carbon future. what i would say the president's announcement notwithstanding, in the united states and globally, we're going to the same place. there's no going back. we're going to a low carbon future. and that is so deeply held that, in fact, after the president's announcement, over 1,000 businessmen made the same statement — we're going forward. yeah. international scientist just released a paper saying the concentration of co2 in the atmosphere increased at record speed last year. you are a respected scientist in this field — is it too late to have any hope of keeping global temperatures, global warming, below that — significantly below — that two—degree centigrade threshold? the 2—degree threshold, i'm not gonna be pollyanna. she's going to be very, very tough to meet.
is it possible? it's possible, but it's gonna require a serious, concerted action to get there — including, in my view, a pretty universal price on carbon. but let me emphasise — the 2—degree goal is a very sensible one in terms of minimising the damage from global warming, minimising the degree of very expensive adaptation that we and all countries will have to do. however, what is really important — frankly, this may not be as satisfying — is to get as far as we can in that carbon or greenhouse gas emissions reduction. because if we don't, we will be way up the curve in global warming with catastrophic impacts. if we can't make two degrees, well, let's make 2.5 degrees. all right. i'm not giving up on that, but... it's interesting you say that. i mean, i'mjust mindful that the current head of the epa, a donald trump appointee scott pruitt, says this. he says he doesn't believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming. so my last question to you is do you feel now, as a renowned nuclear
physicist, scientist, a man who left science to go into politics in the federal government, do you feel like an endangered species? i mean, in trump era, it seems a man like you would have no chance of becoming a key player in washington politics. there's no question i think this administration — to date, at least — has not met the standards, in my view, for putting in those who are knowledgeable on the science as a basis for policy. i do want to, however, i can't let this go without saying you said scott pruitt‘s statement — it's simply incorrect, and infact... well, it's not so much that i want you to the dispute whether it is correct or incorrect, what i want to address as a final point is has something fundamental changed in us governance that rationality, data, science matters less than it's matters for generations? i'm not going to talk about generations but i can certainly talk about the last decade, and the answer is yes. i mean, i think that'sjust a simple
fact that we are seeing far less fact—driven, analytically—driven analysis of policy — and i might say that what i found personally in the last administration was, look, it isn't as though the obama white house and the congress had a wonderful political relationship. let's face it, it was quite difficult. even within that, when we at the department of energy went forward with energy policy recommendations clearly based on data and analysis, we found a very receptive home in the congress and then they, in fact, enacted legislation to put in place many of those recommendations. so i think this administration is missing a bet by not basing their policy on that and statements of the type that you made about carbon and climate are a good example of an anti—fact—driven statement. the key is society will keep moving in the direction of low carbon. we will see. we will. but ernest moniz, for now, thank
you very much for being on hardtalk. pleasure. thank you very much indeed. well, bonfire night was a cold and mainly dry one up and down the uk. overnight those temperatures continue to fall away under clear skies and with light winds, leading to the coldest night of the season so far. during the early hours of monday morning, we're looking at values in towns and cities close to freezing. you can see the blue hue there on the map. and in rural places, significantly colder, down to “4, —5, maybe even —6 in one or two places along with some mist and fog.
so we start monday morning off on a cold and a brighter note. some mist and fog around too, that should tend to clear away, we'll start to see a change, though, out west as a weather system slowly moves in bringing cloud, rain and strengthening winds. into the afternoon, some of that thick cloud will have arrived across the south—west of england, in towards wales. some spots of rain too. the wind strengthening up from the south, lifting temperatures gradually to ii to 12 celsius. still, though, a cold but bright and sunny afternoon for the midlands eastwards and here it'll remain like that until the overnight period when the thickening cloud arrives. for much of northern england, for northern ireland, scotland, cloudier skies into the afternoon, strengthening winds and that rain really starting to pep up and become more persistent and heavy across the north—west corner of scotland. you can see the isobars packed together, so it'll be a breezy evening across the board and that cloud continuing to push eastwards along with this rain band. by the end of the night, it'll be a cross western parts of britain. behind it, something clearer and cooler but ahead of it, mild and breezy and certainly much
milder than the previous night. but the mild air, as you can see here, is only a very, very thin slice, wedged between two areas of cold air and another plunge of cold air moving in behind that rain band. so it'll be a windy, breezy day across much of england and wales on tuesday. the rain eventually reaching eastern areas, where it will be fairly heavy at times. behind it, skies brightened up nicely, one or two showers around, plenty of sunshine, but the air will be colder, back into single figures for many. double figures across the east and the south—east, but here, very wet. that weather front eventually clears away and a ridge of high pressure noses in for wednesday before the next weather system moves in during wednesday night. so a cold start again to many places on wednesday, a little bit of frost, at least bright with some sunshine and turning bright eventually across the far south—east. turning wetter and windier, though, across scotland and northern ireland. that band of wet and windy weather spreads through during wednesday night to leave thursday breezy, cooler again with a little bit of sunshine and a few showers.
this is the briefing. i'm sally bundock. our top story — a huge new leak of financial documents — known as the paradise papers — has revealed how the powerful and wealthy secretly invest vast amounts of money in offshore tax havens. police probe for answers — after a mass shooting at a texas church leaves 26 dead and another 20 injured. the case against coal: protestors take on fossil fuels — and the us — as a climate change summit gets under way in germany. all smiles on the golf course but president trump is talking tough on trade with japan — saying the relationship is neither fair nor open. we'll be live in tokyo as president trump continues his tour of asia.