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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 9, 2013 10:30pm-12:31am EST

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maybe they won't accept it but let's give it a try. there's a reason for that. the iranians have been the entrenched gem party. if we ask for an outcome that no one believes is achievable we will become the in transience inside. we have counted on being the reasonable side to get support for the sanctions regime. if we look like we are not interested in the deal that our partners in this international sanctions coalition, they will leave the coalition and we need that pressure over the next six months to get iran to get an acceptable final deal. i think that is the risk of going from the maximalist position. >> dr. brzezinski i notice that you tweeted about iran. you said obama carried the best team since bush baker and congress is becoming embarrassed
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by net now who's threats to tate >> i think there is something to that. [laughter] >> you talked about that. >> we are all engaged and one might decipher what might be the particular motives but it's fair to say that prime minister netanyahu expected the agreement and i think he was surprised that it did. a lot of people in this country are surprised in one has to take note of the fact that this was an agreement not just between the united states and iran all those will -- although those were the principle parties but agreement that involves russia, china and europe and that was a very important step forward in the sense that it creates a framework on which to build and permits these countries also to in a sense an outcome which is
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vaguely being previewed without being overly specific. i think we all have a common interest in iran not -- into a -- total social failure and the source of violence. i think that is shared by many israelis and this is why public opinion as far as i can sense and tom knows better is not confused with netanyahu's tat ticks or assertions. >> i would point out the day after the agreement was signed the tel aviv stock market went up. >> as you all know there is talk in the senate in passing a sanctions bill that will go into effect if there is no progress made within six months. i would just like to get what each of you thinks the impact of that would be. would that be a good day and in your view or is it something not
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so good? >> i don't think it would be a good thing. i don't think it would be a good thing. the view is some sanctions, more sanctions would be better. the sanctions are having a crippling effect. they have made significant concessions in this interim deal. they know that if they drag their feet and their -- they don't negotiate seriously over the next six months congress can pass a new sanctions bill immediately at any time. it will take them less than 24 hours to do that. why does it have to be done now? there is a provision in the interim deal that says the u.s. will refrain from imposing additional sanctions. if it's a kind of delayed trigger on sanctions and doesn't take effect for six months maybe that's not inconsistent with the letter of the agreement.
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it seems to be inconsistent with the spirit of the agreement and the iranians have said that would be a violation of the agreement and hardliners in iran will take advantage of that and will undercut any good shooting authority of the iranian negotiating team. i think it will in make things very difficult. i think we can always have sanctions and we will have sanctions. there's not a deal after six months in the iranians are not negotiating seriously there will be more sanctions. we just don't need to do it now. >> the president obama secretary carry, their reputations are on the line now too. they struck the steel and they said it's a proper framework to negotiate. if iran cheats -- i'm sorry. [laughter] if iran cheats -- i'm so tired. i think it they will be the first to call for more
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sanctions. they would be extremely embarrassed. they would be very vulnerable. there worst critics would have been true then -- proven true. let's give them a proper clean lab test. >> i will ask you dr. brzezinski. you do not think holding this out would make it easier to make a deal if this is already on the books? >> the sanctions have been lifted. >> it would be more sanctions if you don't close the deal. >> at some point we have to ask ourselves what is it that we can live with and be reasonably confident that iran is not in the position to use the nuclear weapon in some fashion that gives us some benefit. unless one becomes a believer that the iranians are hell-bent on committing suicide and therefore the moment they have the first allegedly bomb they
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will attack israel. one has to ask oneself you now, is the assumption behind that but this country is totally suicidal, that the leadership wishes the country would be destroyed is going to attack with the first assumed nuclear weapon, a country which has two nuclear weapons and has the capacity to deliver them? at some point we will have to think about that dilemma. i'm of the view that at some point probably in the course of these negotiations when they are being finalized we will have to go that is to say the united states that we will under any circumstance of a threat from iran directed at israel, react the same way we would have reacted by any threat by the soviet union and europe or the same way we are still committed to reacting on behalf of the japanese or the koreans, the
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south koreans are threatened by north korea. that is to say that action is tantamount an attack on the united states. this is a further reinforcement of the situation which iran may end up with a nuclear program and the nuclear program may always have some potential for a breakup. it provides reinsurance and in that context it's useful to remind ourselves that achieving a nuclear capability is much more complicated than having a theoretical capability for making a weapon. there are sort of a public assumption which has been fostered to some extent i netanyahu that the iranians are just months away from having a weapon. the point is having a weapon doesn't mean anything. if you have the so-called weapons first of all you have to test it and you'd better make
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sure it works or it's an effective suicide. that means you would take a lot of people with you and secondly you have have to have a clever system that is reliable so it has to be tested too and thirdly unless you're totally suicidal which is hard to assign is a characteristic of the nation that a country has endured for 3000 years you have to have some sense that you want to have the capacity to retaliate if you are struck. all of that will take an enormous amount of time to achieve. what i'm trying to say is even if we are not in a position to achieve a truly absolutely foolproof agreement that in effect precludes them from being equal in a nuclear generating nation we have that option and i think we have to exercise it. on behalf of stability in the region and guarantee not just israel which may be offended by
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being cared t. by us but anyone in the region. then we make one final point. what we don't pay much attention to is the fact is that in real nuclear player in the region as someone else. pakistan has a lot of nuclear weapons and its increasing the range of its delivering capabilities. that is food for thought. >> bob to a oink that zbigniew made, one of the weaknesses i've always found in a certain school of israeli analysis of the countries around them which they tend to relate to through newspapers and you talk about it daily is israel has politics. some parties going to come in and my hands are tied.
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saudi arabia has politics in turkey has politics. america has politics. only iran has no politics. 80 million people want to get a bomb and drop it on to choose the next day. that is basically what we are being told and i think one of the predicates, one of the trees suppositions of this bill is iran has more politics as much politics as any country in the region and if you open up the cleavage i easing the sanctions and rewarding people who want to have greater outreach with the outside world and actually deliver something for them that they can leverage in their internal politics you also begin to change the whole equation and that is very much part of the presupposition of this bill. >> let me ask you this. let's say we make a deal. how can we be sure that the iranians aren't cheating us?
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are our technical capabilities good enough that we can be reasonably certain that when we make a deal we will know if? >> this is the interim deal. we have high confidence that the international atomic energy agency can verify every element of that. the more problematic issue will come in the final deal if one is concluded. there you have to do something more difficult. you have to be confident that you don't have a covert program, clandestine program. the iranians don't have a good track record in keeping a covert throw graham covert. they have an enrichment program, an enrichment facility at natanz and a dissident group. they had another covert enrichment program there the holy city of calm western intelligence agencies discovered it and during 2009.
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it has made the iranians a bit wary of being able to keep a covert program covert and they paid a high price for those. the price they paid was crippling sanctions. their economy isn't any better now. they will be wary of doing this but we will have to insist on some very interested verification measures to be able to give some measure of confidence that they don't have covert facilities going forward. >> what do you think the best deal could be from a practical standpoint? we know what prime minister netanyahu says, stop everything, dismantle everything. what do you think is the best we can do? >> the president has more or less dead you reduce iran's enrichment capability down to
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the level required to generate electricity and the justification for this program and you convert a semi-reactor two light water and you have intrusive inspections on everything else. i think bob is a real expert on this and i would be interested in his thoughts but you are putting a year-to-year and a half between any capability. >> would that be the goal really when you come right down to it to keep them a year and a half away? >> conceptually what i think we should be trying to do, we want to be able to detect any effort at breaking out of constraints immediately. that is why we have daily inspections. you want an enrichment program that is so tightly constrained in numbers of centrifuges and enriched uranium available so the breakout timeline is long. it's a time from a breakout
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decision until they have enough highly-enriched uranium for a bomb. you want that as long as possible. why do you wanted as long as possible? so you can intervene to stop them from building a nuclear weapon. that is the critical thing. people say it should be three months or six months or 12 months before they do it. it's a kind of subject that question. the real issue is does the international community have a will to intervene once they have detected it? that is the key question. if you have great confidence that the u.s. or israel or somebody is going to intervene to prevent a bomb from being built, then it could be three months. if you have no confidence it can be 18 months or two years if it's not adequate so that is a the critical element of that and the international deal -- the international community has got to reach an agreement that if there's a violation or if there's a breakout there will be
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firm consequences and predictable consequences. to me that's a critical element. >> i have no problem with that except it's hard for me to imagine firm commitments by the international community that there would be consequences and the international community would be prepared to do something. ultimately it would be that the united states alone or conceivably with someone else but i frankly find it hard to imagine who that someone else would be. i think what we have to add most of which i agree is this, we have to operate in a fashion that is volatile political entities which is an 80 million nation is not driven into circumstances in which it feels somehow or other its identity, it's self pride, its status requires them again to engage
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with surreptitious efforts to obtain it later weapons. that is the political calculus and that i conclude leads me to the view that we have to be also sensitive of their pride and their status. there are a lot of nations and we have to be able to find some sort of a measure that puts them somewhere in that category while concluding their ability to engage with a significant nuclear program which is what they tried to do but they failed to achieve in part because it's not easy to hide. if we have all of these additional inspections that we will not be having it's going to be increasingly difficult to do that. we have to be careful not to slide into position in which the majority of -- looks like one side of. >> tula elaborate on something that was said earlier if i were 40 years anger back in college
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looking for tht esis it would be called iraq 1991 to 2003. it would be about what the u.n. sanctions did to basically crush iranian society so that when we finally did invade iraq we didn't find people flowing -- throwing flowers at us. we found people as a society that had been devastated by an international sanctions and we are still paying the price today iraq would have already left. the leader they had but i'm talking about that is why think this is an ideal moment to bring peace -- this sanctions regime and tested. this is a great civilization. this is not some desert country. this is a great civilization that has enormous potential. given a different courage to its
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own future. >> i think it's a very important point and i just want to add to it the following. we have to take into account the recent times. during the iraqi iranian war, the iraqis were using technical weapons against the iranians. guess who was helping iraq select and hit targets? i don't even want to say it but you all know what the answer does. it embarrasses me so much. >> i want to go to the question but let me ask one question and then we will go to all of you for your questions. how does syria figure into all of this? who would like to talk about that? >> certainly it's a complication because it's going to be an additional fact there in the course of the next few months. namely is it going to be to rein
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which will have to be engage in some sort of forcible solution in which case a collision with iran on a limited scale is more like lee orza going to be something under the international umbrella that is now -- we would be able to achieve and therefore calmed down that access that otherwise could be inflammatory to the relationship involves? >> the your question really is a reminder that is often forgotten about some members of congress. we actually have independent interest in this region for many of our allies or enemies that we approach this region and different way. we are ending a decade in which post-9/11 we decided we would try to deal with this region directly with boots on the ground and that has proven extremely costly. we know the whole story yet we still have an interest even more than ever in a stable middle east. one way we want to stabilize
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this region is the traditional way of balance of horses, balance of power and part of the balances between the sunni and the shiites. let's not forget because the iranian certainly don't, i was in timer -- tehran and interviewed sahib. a fundamentalist militia and we want to get out of fast scan -- afghanisafghanis tan we will need iran again as an ally in this. we have interest in this region and in relationship with iran to both balance the sunni part of the arab world and to deal with northern asia pakistan and afghanistan after we leave. we have a lot of shared interests. syria is a place of confrontation but what has happened is basically that the sanctions regime disguised the
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very diversion interest of all the parties underneath particularly saudi of arabia and the united states. saudi arabia wants an iran that has no nuclear weapon but also once a week iran period paragraph ending it does not want a strong seat shiite competitor. we have had a very unnatural situation. 34 years ago iran was the family and the big brother iran walk up and slammed the door. i took his bed and bob took his bicycle and we all got used to having our own totally monopolize relationship with uncle sam. one day, 34 years later it rather is that. he wants his bicycle, his tennis shoes, his bed and his own relationship oh my god with uncle sam. the region has freaked out.
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that is the psychology of what's going on. >> did you want to say anything on that? let's go right here. >> thank you so much and thank you for your time today and thank you for your service. i'm a reporter with "the daily beast" web site here in washington. might as china's first of all it seems pretty clear that the number one point of contention as the steel goes to congress is the tentative plan to negotiate iran's ability to maintain some level of iranian enrichment under safe guard. my question is how can we be sure sense such a safeguard would depend on continuous monitoring and evaluations and that inspections that won't allow iran to maintain its status as a threshold nuclear weapons state. in other words cannot final deal that allows iran to have any enrichment capacity be
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considered final and my second unrelated follow up is what about north korea? if they are racking up their own uranium enrichment program is there a possibility that could become iran store of highly-enriched uranium? >> do you want to go first? >> on the enrichment program, i think the iranians are going to be surprised at how token the p5+1 require its enrichment program to be. the joint plan of action that was agreed talked about a mutually defined enrichment program consistent with practical needs. the way the p5+1 government view those practical needs is very limited. they have been enrichment, they have a research reactor in tehran that already has enough fuel for a few decades and they have a power reactor at busheir
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that the russians provided fuel for. they don't need any feel for that. on the drawing board they have other research reactors plan but they have a broken ground on them. for that for siebel future they have little practical needs. the p5 bus one are in their rights to call for a very limited enrichment of ram which would divide very little recount capability. on the north korean case i think these are very different cases. the north koreans have cheated from day one. they have had nuclear weapons. in 1992 they agreed with the south koreans not to have enrichment capabilities even if there is a limited enrichment program allowed in a final deal with iran that i don't think the north koreans can legitimately say we want one too. >> go ahead.
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>> the israelis are really concerned, seriously concerned. her hats they are more concerned way. we know they are the only power that persists with nuclear weapons. the second and the world may be north korea. to divert the main issue, the main conflict to the iranian threat so they make us leave that the threat is not israel, it's iran. the arab world is buying billions of dollars and talking about missile defense for gulf
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countries only. thank you. >> i must say that microphone is distorted. it's very difficult. could you just say that without speaking into the microphone? at distorted your voice. give me the thrust of your question again. >> i wondered if the israelis are really concerned about the iranian nuclear or graham. >> about the iranian program. >> perhaps. [inaudible] or is it a way to end the conflict of the arab country? the main conflict which is the israeli conflict. >> i get the point. if you talk to air countries
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today they are more concerned about iran than they are the palestinians. if you listen to what is coming out of saudi arabia the uae and the gulf countries in particular if anyone is diverting things that we have is a tacit alliance between israel and saudi arabia where there both obsessed with the iran issue. one could argue and this is unprovable that each one has its interest in diverting its attention from domestic issues which is the israel palestinian thing, saudi arabia in the wake of the arab spring not wanting people to focus on that is jen left his chest air countries want to talk about the israel-palestine russian only israel wants to talk about iran and there's complete disagreement about what's going on in the region. they are much more recessed about the iran issue right now
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that at the government level than they are with the israeli-palestinian question. >> over here, the lady. >> thank you very much. when i was at john's hopkins had the privilege of having the general comment and speak to my class about chinese-u.s. military relations and when he was finished the i asked him ,-com,-com ma what kind of trust building exercise could the u.s. and china do together that would be affected if? without skipping a beat he answered -- [inaudible] and i thought okay applying that thinking here, what sort of trust building exercise could the u.s. and iran do post this project gerston aereo say it goes well that would not give saudi arabia the initial heart palpitations and mostly political as opposed to military standpoint show the world that the u.s. and iran can get along
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in more ways than this? thank you. >> it's interesting when i was involved in these negotiations with the iranians in the last five years they would come to us and they let's spend time working on syria and bahrain and we said we wouldn't do it. we knew that our goal friends would be outraged if we started talking about these issues without the participation and their knowledge so we refused. we said let's work on anti- piracy together. >> did you want to say something? >> hi. brenda shafer of georgetown university. a number of allies really took the risks to join the sanctions especially azerbaijan as you mentioned. what is your advice to these countries that put their
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security on the line for the sanctions often very uncomfortable risky positions. these countries are already getting the means for destabilization in azerbaijan and the emirates. what would be your device to washington? ..
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>> seems to me the united states has said there's no direct and informal relationship between the uranium deal, but on the other hand, it's inconceivable it's not in some way indirectly linked because if the deal goes forward, iran is going to have to think about any move it makes in syria or towards syria, what impact that will have on negotiating -- on the nuclear deal, and so will the united states. it seems to me there is not a relationship. do you disagree with that? >> i agree there is a relationship. there is some movement on the syria issue. it makes it somewhat easier to have some sort of an arrangement
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regarding the newark lar issue and vice versa, and if you were the iranians, realizing that your country is in the midst of really significant division regarding its future position in that region, and that you were concerned that american disengagement from afghanistan might unleash new problems in the region, i think you would want to have the situation in which some sort of stable relationship with the united states is, in fact, a reality. the iranians, after all, are very much aware of the fact that they are living in a region in which sectarianism is rising. they can become totally destructive for the countries in the region, and hence some sort of accommodation, not only with the united states, but an accommodation that involves also china, russia, europe, give them the option of becoming a more
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seriously viewed and more positive accepted participant in the international process from which they have largely excluded themselves, and i think that's a sense of sudden awakening to the overall consequences of what's been happening over the last 30 years that stirred the more articulate iranian public into an increasingly significant revision of their attitudes. >> all right. >> i'm peter sharpman. do you think there is actually enough commonground for negotiations? is there an outcome that would be acceptable to iran with its politickings and to the united states with its politics and to our allies with their politics?
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>> who would like to do that? >> i can't do better than the president with 50/50. we have a tiny enrichment program that's consistent with the needs. they took about 20 nuclear reactors and so forth, an aspiration never to be achieved. they want to keep the plutonium reactor going. we think there's only one legitimate purpose, one intended purpose, plutonium for nuclear weapons. we the live water reactor, an underground enrichment facility we thought was part of a covert military program. we want it destroyed or repurposed. they want to keep it running. there are huge gaps. one huge gap is the duration of the final deal in the interim agreement. we talked about they agreed to long term duration. it's important because at the end of that duration, iran can
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have any restrictions, and the special restrictions go away. the united states wants that length to be 20-30 more years. iranians want it in single digits. these will be hard issues to -- hard differences to bridge. >> you know, i think there's a nontechnical answer to the question. i think nick alluded to it. it's how iran chooses to define its future. do they want to be a big north korea or a small china? does it want to see its future as a bigger, sort of global outlaw, always fighting and bumping up and chasing against its neighbors in the world, or does it want to define its power as unleashing its remarkable people in a way that will enable them to realize full potential with nuclear program on the
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side? >> let me just add to that that i agree with every word that tom said. there's an american said to that. what do we want to impose on iran? how far are we prepared to go? with insistence on arrangements, in addition to being very strict can be massively humiliates and self-destructive and reverse what, to me, is an important process of change in iran, which is in our interest to reenforce and make iran a constructive player in a part of the world in which we have a right of interest, all of this are increasingly under stress and in which we may be increasingly challenged, and i don't think any of us to want to repeat the recent experiences we had in the region. >> it's hard to think of anything that damage interests more or caused more grief expense or waisted energy than in the iran-u.s. cold war in 30
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years. >> sometimes ideal is enemy of the adequate, and i am in favor of adequate arrangement with iran, but not an ideal arrangement, which, yes, is full proof, absolutely. it's like a fail safe, you know, parachute, will never fail. that has the effect of forcing someone to commit suicide and take us with them. >> right. >> the national security administration. is it possible that iran's perception of its securing environment has radically changed to the point where they may not need nuclear weapons anymore? i think it's possible, but the question still remains, you know, how much of a lee way do they have in having an essentially peaceful nuclear program? how strict to we want to be to ensure under no circumstances can they ever cheat, but the record is that even when the
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inspections and everything else was lax, their attempts to cheat in secrecy failed. it's not a simple process. we have a lot of opportunities to say, hey, wait a minute, you violate the arrangements, going beyond the spirit, and then, you know, return to some arrangement like threats, ru newed sanctions, and so forth. iranians are not suicidal. the notion they are ready to commit suicide the moment they get an alleged bomb creates a mental attitude towards this problem which is self-destructive concluding any possibility of a reasonable accommodation. >> i add, ultimately, the only way you get that sure, sure, sure foolproof thing is when you is a change in the character of the iranian regime, and part of the process is to initiate or
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enhance, actually, what's already begun. we saw 245 with the 2009 green revolution of an iranian effort to change the character of their regime. we, you know, we, in this country, we saw the soviet union die with 80,000 nuclear warheads in the bunker, so, ultimately, it was -- we do not basically, i mean, many americans don't sleep tonight because they are worried about the soviet nuclear caibts, but, in fact, they threaten us, okay, if they wanted to. china can threaten us, but when the character's regime changes, that changes the whole equation, and that's part the dynamic here. >> to add to that, i don't think they made a strategic decision not to have nuclear weapons. in 2003 when we invaded iraq, they put on hold one element of the program, the weaponnization part. they dnd waited until the coast
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was clear. they were caught cheating and so forth, and it's an open question. it's a nuclear weapons program on the shelf, and our job in this agreement is to keep them as far away from a near breakout capability as we can to detour the decision to cross the threshold and keep detouring them until there's basic change in character. >> it's a relevant point. if you ask what's the biggest thing happening in the middle east since 2010, okay, it's been a pan region wide movement since 2009, the green revolution of the young people throughout the muslim middle east realizing they were living in, you know, a flat world, seeing how everybody else was living, just how far behind they were, and demanding governments that enabled them to realize their full potential. if you ask me, that's the bigst
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thing. if you ask me what defines the region in ten years, it's not how much enrichment iran has or allowed, but it's whether and how government responds to the movement in a region where 75% of the population is under the age of 30. let's not forget that. >> this will have to be the final question. >> i'm greg craig, and i wonder if the panel would comment on the dynamics inside the p5 plus one and if you are confident over the next six months we remain on the same page with the negotiating partners. under the best of circumstances, this is a very challenging negotiation diplomatic objectives, and there was some reason to believe there was internal stresses between the p5 plus one as we approached the
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prepared agreement. i'm curious how they work together going forward. >> let me just start. well, the administration admitted there was substantial bilateral interaction between the u.s. and iranians in the runup to the november 24th agreement. in fact, the piece of paper that was given to them representatives, by katherine of the e.u., it was a u.s.-iranian draft with a few formulations, cooked up in bilateral discussions. this took a number of the partners by surprise. they would have liked to have had a greater role in the production of the document. i think this led to foreign minister's public remarks on that friday in geneva, but they
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recovered quickly, and within 24 hours, they had a consensus text they gave to the iranians, but i think going forward, managing that group will be difficult. i think they all realize on the one hand if there's really progress, it will be the result of u.s. iranian bilateral interactions, and on the other hand, they have a legitimate role. the e.u. sanctions played a role on moving the iranian calculation. you have the russians and chinese who will be happy to have any deal, not as fussy as we want to be in a final outcome so i think management going ahead will be tricky. i think that by and large all participantings in that process outside of iran, have a shared interest in the situation being resolved and, in any case, not letting it slide into a state in
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which there's explosions taking place and massive regional violence erupts. in that sen, there's consensus, but i think there's a subtle interest in the europeans, japanese, europeans, and us and russians to some extempt. the russians view us as rivals in the area, and they would like to regain influence, but at the same time, they don't want to collide with us, but they may be tempted to take a position. i think the interest in resolving the issue that there's no violence because they are interested essentially in a steady flow of oil at a reasonable price, and they'll have theater with an e ropes. the europeans have no choice but to go with us, even if they posture a difference for some other reason. the russians might at some point want to test us, and it's here
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the difference could arise over actually syria rather than iran because the russians feel they have a particular historical time with syria, and they have a role to play, and it's symbolic expression. there's potential tie between escalating violence and instability in the southern caucuses. the russians there, feel very as a vulnerable, mixed feelings, and this restrains them in my view so that in the end, if push came to shove, and i say, yes, will they be helpful or create problems, i say they are probably helpful in that they all agree we must't rub iran's nose. >> two appointments. one is it's been apparent from the start that the sanctions
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regimes disguys multiple interests of the party, and the minute you go from that to cashing it into a final deal, different interests make themselves apparent, and the question is, is as you said, how much, you know, what tradeoff? we'll venture a wreckless statement. i think it's going to be hard to get a successful deal if we also don't make progress on syria because it's hard for me to imagine all these actors agreeing on iran and having a widening series of a war where many of the same parties contest one another. they act in ways that are frightening to one another. i think it's going to be hard. i hope that we both use this six month to give the iran deal and to find some way to get a cease fire at a minimum in syria so
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neither side sees themselves losing ground in both theaters at the same time. >> all right. well, ladies and gentlemen, thank you, all, so much for coming. thanks tots panelists. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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[applause] >> mr. chairman, thank you, and 4re9 me begin with the theme of the conference. the cooperation between moscow and washington has led to the passage of u.n. security resolution 2118 about the destruction of syria's keep cay weapons. that's underway. we are reading about technical glitches in the disposal, but do you consider this a positive sign about russia's role in the middle east? >> i think it is a positive sign if you take it for what it is. we have to understand that russia has first and foremost at
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the head of their and jen da their own national security foreign policy interests. if it's good for russia, they are at the table. i think this is a double edged sword. one, it's a great way to solve strife problems across the middle east, but, b, we have to be extremely cautious of setting the table so any agreement or arrangement with the russians also protects u.s., our allies' interests, and i think the assad assad -- you know, look at the tenants of the chemical agreement, great, we have the chemical weapons off, but the russians cleaned up on exactly what they got in the particular deal, and because of that we alienated the allies in the region. that's an important component of it. i'm for getting the deal, but we paid a heavy price to get the deal, and not including allies in the negotiations of the deal.
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let's continue on syria a bit. you were in the free syria act to provide arms and support to the rebels. when we interviewed back in august, he positively referenced, please to have your cosponsorship, a bipartisan effort, and all this threatened u.s. attack on syria that led up to the security counsel resolution, and now there's a gee knee that 2 conference on january 22. help me understand, what's your thought on syria policy? did you support the process, and what else could or should the united states be doing in syria? >> yeah, and this is, to me, the most complicated part of diplomacy, so no dip mat ever wants to believe in that the military is part of the equation, but i never met a dip mat who doesn't want one
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shoulder in the fleet over the other. it's a quicker way to yes, and i think we have to set the table for negotiated settlements in syria, and it's changed. the conditioning on the ground have changed over the last two years. two years ago, we had a whole set of options available to us. 18 months ago fewer options, 12 months, even fewer, and today, our options are not good. i argueded then if you want the talks to be successful at all you need skin in the game. that's why i supported relationships with the rebels in a way that was positive to the united states that started crafting ability to understand who are the folks more likely to support the united states on the ground when it was over and who would not, and you can help shape the battlefield in a way that brought people to the table, and here's why i think
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there was a mistake made in this. we didn't do that. we dillydallied for a long time. we didn't -- even the program that we talk about now is not very -- it's not robust enough to impact. >> tell me who goes in the talks and has credibility to get everybody at the table? you know, the russians can bring assad, clearly. they can do that, but the united states can't bring the rebels to the table. right? that's not a certainty. why? we have no skin in the game. allies who are candidly upset with the united states today, and i talk to them frequently, and they are very upset to be an understatement at where their how frustrated they are with u.s. policy in the middle east. who do we negotiate with to do it? if it's just the u.s. and russians in the room, there's no deal holding on the ground of syria. you have to bring the rebels to the table and the assad regime to the table, and the russians
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will have to be fully transparent in what they are doing in syria. i just don't see the formula lining up for the talks. >> you have leadership and oversight in the intelligence community. why, in your view, did they misjudge assad's staying power? we know the president was getting the analysis that assad's days were numbered as people said then, and in august 2011, president obama said he has to step aside. why do you think that happened? that may have cricketed to the problems we've had on syria policy. >> the completely misread commitment to helping assad stay in power so when you have two major financial military intelligence providessers to
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assad, the leverage he has in staying power is significant, and i think both of those were not factored in. if you look at it from a history lesson here and what happened in libya, you see all formulations of why he was going quickly, and i think they took that plopped it over in syria, and it's the same thing. you have the same elements happening in syria that you had in libya, with that huge exception of iran not to let it go, and the russians couldn't let it go. they needed the warm water port, and that was the last hold in the middle east. they ramped up their ability to protect assad and to try to at least increase the ability of the syria regular army forces, if you will, their military forces, in a way that you would not -- you didn't see in libya or anywhere else, and i think because they didn't read what was going on, they completely missed the boat on how long he'd
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stay. secondly, what they did with the chemical agreements, because there was no component of the assad involved in the agreement on any tenure in the regime, you've just empowered the russians to keep assad as long as they want to keep assad, and so that really upsets the apple cart when you talk about what u.s. goals were versus what russians needed and wanted and any deal they agree to and what the iranians -- candidly, i don't they they agree to anything. they need and have to have syria as a part of their buffer state strategy plan going forward. >> picking up on iran. when we spoke last month, you were concerned about a bad deal in the talks. the hill reported this week house republicans are considering legislation or sense congress about the deal. the senate could consider sanctions which the white house argues forcefully against.
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did they get a bad deal, and what did they do? i think it's a bad deal, and here's why. there's three components to a luke lar program. the missile component, the reppization component, and the enrichment component. you have six u.n. resolutions says iran should not be engaged in enrichment because they just not been a great actor. they are the largest state sponsor of terror in the world, including, by the way, trying to kill the saudi ambassador by blowing up a restaurant in washington, d.c.. not a rational act on a nation state base. if you look look at the behavior, the three components of the program, and i thought this again was a serious mistake, made it in syria. if you don't include the allies, you're going to create suspicion
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they had secret talks, a god awful idea, even if you liked the deal, and i don't, you create a level of suspicion now on the deal that makes the allies weary. the missile part of the program is not touched in the deal. they continue to do development, and the weaponnization portion of the program is not touched. they can continue weaponnization, and the very facility we think they do the work, by the way, is not open to inspectors, so if you're looking at triggers and formulation and all the modeling they need to do for rep cigs happens there. enrichment can't be much of a great deal if the secretary of state says there's nothing to enrich, and iranians simultaneously say the deal allows us to continue to enrich. that's a problem. i'm not that bright, but we call that a clue, that there is a
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problem in the deal. if you can't deal on the most primary focus, if you can't agree on that, the day you walk out of the room, that's not a deal. it's not a good deal. why is that so important? they try to sell the 20% enrichment they halt enrichment and convert to power form they have, and it takes 30 days to reconvert, and number two that significant scientific milestone for enriching up to weapons grade is that 20% number. 5% is tough to get to, 5-20 is nearly impossible to get to, and 20-95 where you need to go for weapons grade pried easy to do. they have met that one important scientific milestone in enriching bens grade uranium.
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that's why they are not bothered why they'll put a pause on what they are doing because they keep all elements of the nuclear weapon program.
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i think it's dangerous deal for the other side. we don't get to deal with just the iran. if your look at our jordanian. if you total the investment of the united states it's hundreds of billions of dollars every year. the common thing is let me get it right.
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you endangered our national security for your at lies that invest hundreds of billions of dollars in the united states for the iranians that have no friend in the region other than the syrians. and invest, again, how much in the united states? nothing. and so we have upsit a very delicate long-term strategic alliance in the middle east if our allies and israel as well. i think israel has made them well known on the deal. when you talk to the middle eastern and arab allies there they are equally upset. by doing the deal that somebody was trying to sell avoiding conflict. you may have escaladed the possibility that the israelis have feel they have to do something and escaladed the possibility that the saudi arabia i dids and others believe they have to acquire nuclear weapons in order to be stable in their mind a stabilizing factor again iran. now we may have ticked off a
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nuclear arms race in the middle east, which i can't think of anything more dangerous than the middle east in an arms race rying to acquire nuclear weaponses. >> what about the congress' role at this time. the white house is m cooing saying these are sensitive negotiations. it's a six month interim first step. give it a chance. don't put anymore sanctions in place at this time. how do you balance your concerns about the deal with the white house that is obviously insensitive negotiations right now with iran, and that's an intire rim first step agreement? >> i would push ahead with the sanction. for this reason. we always get the caveat to the president in the sanction regime. making the decision not to either move forward or putting a time line how you move forward. or giving them the ability as they have just done to peel back some of the sanctions. we have put ourselves in the
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worst possible position now. and when you say a sick month agreement. sheer the other problem. the clock hasn't started ticking yet. they haven't agreed on when the clock starts ticking. they have another round of negotiations to determine when the clock starts ticking on the six months. one thing that iran wanted in this whole thing was time. they needed more time. we just gave them probably -- t not six months. it's probably closer to a year. right. that's why the reallies -- israelis are upset. the whole debate around the whole thing and the intelligence services around the world is something called a dash. how fast would it take to put the weaponization portion, the enrichment portion on the missile portion of the plan. so they know they have it complete. we believe they are well underway on the weaponization. we know they scientifically hit the 20% mark when it comes to
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enrichment. how fast can they put the program together? the intelligence circle around the world, that's what everyone debates. they get in and israelis say they think it 14 months and the united states may say 8 months. whatever the number may be. other intelligence services come in and say we think it is whatever, 12 months. gets what we're debating now is is it 12, 13, or 14 months? even after the deal. we are debating with the dash is. we have accomplished nothing. if you give them 12 months or filtered out. concerned it won't stop any other component of the program. we may be in trouble. that's why i argue, move forward, let the iranians understand there's a whole punch of people -- , by the way, the last sanction regime passed with over 400 votes. it's very bipartisan effort. and i think there's bipartisan in both the house and senate. our allies have action. the israelis in the region.
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the turks are not happy with the deal. we know that some of our european friends are not happy with the deal. so our argument is let's push for put a little pressure on the iranians so they understand if they don't comply it's at least something hanging over their head. the sort of -- if you will you continue comply something bad is going to happen to you. you said on cnn this week that the u.s. is not safer in the war on terrorism. i think both you and senator feinstein your counter part chair agree on this point. as i mentioned in my owning remarkses and published a piece today, the rise of al-qaeda-affiliated groups in the sinai and egypt. it's a trend we've been watching. all related to what has been happening in syria and elsewhere in the region. what more can and should the u.s. be doing to confront
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terrorism in the middle east? what other threats to do you see on the hires than we need to be looking out for? >> first of all, please do not alienate our allies in the middle east. we've don a fine job of it. some of our strongest allies in our counterterrorism efforts are not happy. when the saudi arabias announce they're going find a strategic shift away from the united states, when we have other friends? the region saying we don't know -- we don't believe we can count on the united. these are allies. these are arab league partner. it's a huge partner. we need them as partners in our effort against implementing any counterterrorism programs response that fraying is very, very concerning to me. you know, in their mind they're mad about withholding money in the folks in egypt going after the muslim brotherhood when
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which is a problem they face neferred their own country and don't understand. it. they didn't understand the redline in syria. it tushed tout wasn't a redline. of it negotiation. without them included the russians in a place hay didn't agree with. they didn't agree with the iranian deal. you can see how -- as they told me the iran deal was maybe the straw that broke the camel's back. that's a problem for us. what is happening in the sinai is that when morsi was president, withdrew any solid efforts. working with the israelis, by the way, it wasn't done in a vacuum. and what we saw was he pulled back completely. after the fall of libya and the weapons flying across the egyptian border in to the sinai it became a wild, wild, you know, east, middle east, i guess.
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very dangerous place. not cob dem but get to the sinai but let them get control of the problem in sinai. syria is a huge and growing problem for us. we can't really do syria i have
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never seen pooling of the number of al qaeda. we didn't see it in iraq at the height of the iraq war from foreign fighters. from regional attraction in to the eastern provinces of syria in the western boarder area in iraq. it's really concerning. i mean, very concerning. and so what you're seeing happening there is a debate amongst iraq affiliates. with iraq core in the pakistan/afghanistan region. they're having a debate about where they target their resources in syria today. so al qaeda core says focus on syria today. we'll worry about external operations later. they're saying we have so many westerners who have showed up. who we are putting through their -- we're giving combat experience to.
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we are ready to do about external operations. it's going to cost me -- they're going go home. they have good paper. they passport. they have western passport. we have never seen this number of before. that's a problem. it a huge problem. if you think about why i'm nervous. we vowr allies looking for over partner the region now. we have a pooling of al qaeda. we don't have a good operation to get try to vet rebel on the ground in the way i think we need to. it's a -- this is a recipe for disasters. by the way, i have talked about aqim, al-shabaab increase in activity. you saw the involvement in the west gate attack. the interest in crossing border and doing attacks. all of these affiliates are feeling empowered in a way they haven't before. and trying to engage in the external attacks. and now it might be not be the
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united right away. they all the aspiration. they're getting better at what they're doing. al-shabaab two years ago, three years ago, four years ago you never see them to an operation of that size, scope, and complexity in kenya across the border. they wouldn't have done it. they joined al qaeda started with an affiliate in al qaeda and taking direction from al qaeda. that's what we're seeing metastasize around the country. >> mr. chairman, thank you. we have a few minutes just a few minutes for questions. i would like that open up the floor at this point. please keep your questions concise and to the point. time is short. and i want to get in as many as we can in the remain of the hour. please wait for the microphone and state your name, title, affiliation. >> sorry.
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[inaudible] question regarding -- a lot of fears about the participation chinese i wonder given these -- these are great questions. if row are familiar, we did a fairly intensive study off the committee. the ranking member and i decided that because of the sheer level of concern across the community, we were concerned that a company founded, financed, run bay former chinese intelligence official may be up to no good. and they're pricing model didn't fit a competitive market.
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the pricing models were designed to get in to market at the place where we don't believe they could make a profit. a very full about 18-month long information. china off the committee and came to a conclusion that that particular company and another company were affiliated with the military and intelligence structure in chiern designed to run backbones around the world including the united so they can control the information across the pipes. that's a dangerous thing to allow happen in the united. we did our part. the huge difference is we don't have -- there's no relationship like that with our providers. now what happens is because of the leaks, and i'll tell you this is the most frustrating thing. trying to get to the truth versus how the facts -- give a great example of this. dpowrm three or four months ago when said the united was spying
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on 70 million french citizen listening to their phone calls. in 30 days alone 70 million foreign calls? remember this? it happened to the spaniards, the germans, come to find out, it was exactly not what happened. in fact, can you imagine us hiring about 4,000 french interpreters listening to them order good wine and cheese in france. not a good use of resources. what happened in the snowden affair, they took a slide out of a slide deck and said france at the top inspect is why we have to be careful about the reporting that happens on this. and it said 70 million phone calls and shows a map of the phone calls and had some what we understand is operational code name on the bottom. the reporter said we got them. they were listening to french citizen in france for 30 days they collected ownership million sphoan calls. outrageous. it would be outrageous.
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except for one small problem. the flench were collecting in areas where they had french troops exposed to harms where we had u.s. troops. they collected communications and in the goodness of their heart they said we think it might help your soldiers in harm's way too. whoops, wasn't collected in france. it wasn't the u.s. didn't collect it. the french collected it. and was in areas where there are high threat environments to their soldier. all the things you want an ally to tell us to do. we spent three weeks trying to explain we didn't listen to french or spanish phone calls. it's been our problem. i met with a group from the european union yesterday, there is a bipartisan group going to brussels two weeks, i think, i'm leading a delegation to have the discussions bhap we don't want to have happen is for them to use it as an excuse for
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excluding american companies to operate in europe. you know, there would be no reason to do that. candidly. , and again, these are not companies run, owned, operated or don't plug-in to them as you might see in the press for our american it companies. it just doesn't happen. we have lays, protections, oversight. i told my european allies, do you realize we send our intelligence services to a corp., a foreign intelligence surveillance court before they can go and listen to a foreigner . another service in the world that send their service to a third party doter see if they can listen to the united states. do you think they're having the conversation in china wan didly or france or germany or italy? no. as a matter of fact they don't have access to the intention
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services. we're going try to have the conversation in a couple of weeks so they don't use it as protectionism. the companies companies in france and other places germany are saying, let's exclude the mesh companies so we can say the information is safe because it's in servers in france. france put a provision in so they don't need go a judge in order to get the private communications. anybody know that? the whole debate filled with hypocrisy. it's almost laugh laughable. we have to go to the court listen to foreigner. they just passed the provision in their book their version of the senate in the house upper and lower chamber that remove their ability to have go to a judge to plug-in and listen and read your e-mail. i think that's pretty shocking and very selling about where
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we're at all. what we have argued is every time i see a story in the paper. i guarantee about 90% is wrong. and we're going to try to get the right data set to have the fair, competitive, let our companies compete. if they wanted to compete, they should have opened their books, separated themselves from the military and intelligence services, and probably could have competed anywhere in the world. they chose not to do that. we have time we're already over -- sorry, it was an long answer. i want to to get in one more question from john mclough lynn. thank you, for your bipartisan leadership with the committee. >> thank you. i great my appreciate. i want to ask you about afghanistan and not so much in the news every day, but your assessment of how important it is that we finalize this bilateral security agreement. what are the consequences, if for some reason we don't?
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>> yeah, i think the the administration is trying to if qu and get a deal. the notion we're not going do it fullout is dangerous for a host of reasons. i think it's a stain on our national character if we walk away from the women of afghanistan. just arbitrarily pull out. we asked them to participate in society. engage in politics and be a part of the solution. for us to pack up and leave knowing that the taliban and the eastern prorcheses has closed some 500 schools the majority of which are girl schools. they have now poisoned i forget the exact number. well over 100 little girls to try go school. for us to walk away would be a travesty as a nice.
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we ought not let ourselves get caught up in the society that not allow our commitment to the women we have asked to take the risks. secondly, we know that in the eastern provinces, al qaeda is talking about coming back. even the pakistani taliban is talking about holding some territory in afghanistan in the eastern prorchtions. it's important we have the ability to deny "safe haven" in afghanistan. that deal is really important for that. i think the administration gets that. i think they're working toward a deal. we try to help support we can to gate deal. we are going have some presence there for some time. it's not about us rebuilding afghanistan. it's about us providing a security environment that allows afghanistan to build itself. it's in the national security interest of the united states of america. we forget that is where the
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planning, financing recruiting, training happened for 9/11. i'll guarantee they're licking their chop thinking they can get back to the eastern provinces. more than he. s the deal or he thinks we have to have a deal. and i hope we don't play the game of chicken. i don't think that's where their mind set is. the deal is really important. it sends a message. it's not helpful to us given what is happened in the middle
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east. thank you. i appreciate your support. [applause] okay. if you can stay seated. we're going to begin the next session right away. he was elected in tbow re-representing maryland's eighth district. and quickly rose to become one of the youngest member of the democratic leadership. serving adds chairman of the
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democratic national convention and as assistant to the speaker of the house. in 2010, he was elected by his colleagues to be the top democracy in the house budget committee. a post he still rules today. congressman van hole less than has who gliewp the u.s. foreign service together with john kerry. he was born in kansas. went to grade school in turkey, and he was an expert in the senate. i would add his parent were distinguished state department officials. his father a highly respected ambassador and member of the foreign service and his mother one of the government's top analyst on afghanistan in the region. i would also strong boich leader
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looking for consensus and delighted to have you here with us today. [applause] thank you. great to see you. someone who wrote my dissertation on iraq. you were more than that on the committee. the report for the foreign relations committee in 189 1988 chemical weapons use during saddam hussein's. i was a hiic report.
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gold standard of foreign relations committee staff report. you've been invested in this chemical weapons issue. it's spg you have written and spoken passionately about in your career. t great to be here. look, i think in to answer that question we need to look how the
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whole situation e volved with respect to our position on chemical weapons in syria. and how it unfolded. the united and -- world war one said that chemical weapons weapons of mass destruction are particularly heinous form of warfare. and so i believe it was appropriate for the president to draw a line on the use of chemical weapon in syria. yes, there are other terrible weapons being used in syria. but the international community recognized that line is one that we want to prohibit fromming with crossed. i sthowght the president was right to establish the red line. when the assad regime crossed the red line it was very
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appropriate for the president to say he was prepared to use limited force for a purpose of making sure that we deter any future use of chemical weapons. he did that. and he was clearly prepared to move forward. it was that point that the russians realized in this case we a common interest. the russians had an interest in preventing the united from taking military action again aside. the close ally. but the russians had an interest in making sure that in syria those danger use weapons didn't fall to the hands of the stream islamic al qaeda-related elements. this is obviously one area in syria we and the russians have some common interests. because we, united states, also
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want to make sure that in the chaos of syria you do not have al qaeda-type extremist elements taking route. and certainly dangerous to the united and russia to have them call weapons fall to their hands. getting those weapon out of the hand of assad. which demonstrated a willingnd to use them. so, look, it's always hard to make large generalization based on specific case. at least this case, i believe that it was something that was in both our interests and, you know, i disagree with my friend
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-- mike rogers in this. that the notion that somehow the russians were the big winners at the company the united states in this deal. it's just -- to me, absurd. the president's goal with respect to the threat of force was very specific. he wanted to accomplish the goal of getting rid of the chemical weapons. a lot of people who were upset we didn't end up using military force had a very different goal in mind with respect u.s. military force. they wanted the force for the purpose of trying to change the power situation on the ground. the president never indicated that was the purpose of force in this instance. and frankly, as you look forward iran, the president's distinction between using force for the purpose of getting rid of weapons of mass destruction versus use of force for the purpose of regime change oles
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sent, i think an important message. look, i think it was an area where situation and as mike rogers did say, you've got an influx of foreign fighters. so you've got a pretty toxic mix in syria now of the extreme elements. >> are you hopeful for the geneva process in russia. do you see as a stipin the right direction of trying to bring the parties together end the war?
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the only challenge is through negotiated settlement. the extent we try to get people around the table to negotiate a settlement that would be an important step. is also think people recognize that challenges are huge in trying to bring people together and actually reach a settlement. but i do believe that this is another example where russian u.s. cooperation could, again, bear fruit. it converges on one area of common interest. transition away from the current regime but done in a way that
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doesn't great a vacuum that brings in what even worse case scenario, which is allowing syria to become, you know, a base of operations. let me turn to iran far moment. i think you heard some of chairman rogers comment. he felt we got a bad deal in iran. there's some talk as i mentioned among house republicans about passage of a resolution or some type of legislation in the house. i think more tellingingly there's some in the senate who are may consider a further sanctions bill. the white house doesn't the president to happen and weighing in strongly with the congress at that time. you have been supporter of sanctions on iran. i think you cosponsored the inn gal bill. you are a good friend and
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supporter of israel and ore allies whoa shared some concerns about the agreement. is now the time for more sanctions legislation on iran? >> you're right. i've been a big supporter of economic sanctions on iran to bring iran to the negotiating table in a serious way. so we could do everything possible to try to negotiate a diplomatic solution to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. those were the purpose of the sanctions. in and my view was the more pressure we can bring to bear too accomplish that goal, the better. for example, i supported the sanctions in the house. earlier in the summer. that went over to the united senate. however, again, what was the purpose of the sanctions? the purpose of the sanctions was
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to have a serious negotiation and i strongly disagree with mike's characterization of the six month interim agreement. t an interim agreement to suggest it somehow dangerous to me actually is somewhat nigh yeef in a sen. so you to compare the agreement to what the alternative is; right bhap is the agreement to? it says that the iranians had to neutralize their entire stockpile of the more highly enriched urine yum. they have to freeze the nuclear enrichment plan in the other areas. on iraq, iraq reactor, again, a freeze. meanwhile, the sanctions that are in place overwhelmingly
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remain in place. all the sanctions on the oil and the financial sector. they're all in place. in fact during the next sick months iran will lose between 25 and 30 billion in lost oil sales. and the sales allowed will go in to essentially an escaladed you account with the exception of about 4.5 billion released in a staggered way over the six month period conditioned on their continued compliance and very little relief in some of these other area. so the sanctions regime overwhelmingly remains in place during this period. and everyone has said you mentioned the race to break out. it does add a little time to the clock, frankly, before you could have an uranium breakout. it's hard to argue that situation is more dangerous.
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especially when you consider the fact it's all reversible. if there's any violation of the agreement, the 8.8 billion worth of relief can immediately go back in to place. the president has the authority under existing sanctions legislation to further increase sanctions and the united states congress would be the very first to move very quickly to impose additional sanctions. so at this point in time. i would argue you have to move very carefully tread very carefully in this area with respect to new sanctions. for two reasons. one, the reasonable sanction for sceflt was because they're international sanctions; right. the united states didn't have close economic relationship with the iran. the reason these sanctions are successful we've got the european partners and, you know, indian and the chinese and the
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turk and russians and others to participate in these sanctions. to the extent our allies do not think that we are serious about pursuing a diplomatic solution first. we have a real risk they will no longer participate in the sanctions. then you end up with the worst of two world. no sanctionses. sop no more i bite. then the iranians can move forward without penalty. second, look, this is not qea of trusting the iranians. this is a question of testing the iranians. and we will be verifying every move i can't read the mine mind of the iranian and within iran i think we know there's a debate within the leadership. you've got, you know, elected on a plat platform to try to
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relieve the sanction because the terrible economic situation in iran right now. you also have lot of folks in iran who would like to see this whole thick unralph top the extent we take steps that give the revolutionary guard ammunition to try and undermine the effort then it seemses to me we harm ourself. bottom line, we're not going in to this, you know, thinking that the iranian regime has changed character. there are reasons why iran might decide to limit its nuclear program to exclusive purposes. there are reasons to do that. there are others that say it's not the case with we should test that. ultimately if it doesn't work, the only remaining option is the one the president has said has been on the table. which is the use of force.
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i think it's a big burden on the opponent of the agreement to let people know that is there final position. skipping over. >> what about the concern of our ally, israel, saudi arabia, and other about the deal. how should we manage that at this point? >> well, there are concerns, obviously, but i would point out if you actually look at the statements that came out from a lot of gulf states including saudis after the they read the final agreement.
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they were tepped. it doesn't mean there are concerns underneath. if you look at the statements, they were not i wouldn't characterize them the way mike has. if you look at the situation with israel, you obviously have lots of the folks in the military that said it's a good step. you have the former head of military intelligence, a lot of leaders in the other political parties. so, look, as i understand the prime minister's position. the congress often play an important role in the debate as the bad cop to the good cop. i think there is an important role there. i think, you know, the prime minister is a very good negotiator. in addition to looking out for the security interest of this country. and so i think that -- i think that already he turned
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his focus on what we should be focused. on which is the comprehensive agreement. what are the parameters? how can we design that to, you know, achieve our objective here and find out whether or not the iranians are serious. so i think with respect to our ally. the best way to reassure them is to try to keep them well informed. after all, they share the goal of making sure that iran opportunity have a nuclear weapon. and i think they recognize that doing nothing simply allows iran to proceed on the way. now there are some that say proceed on the way and the united states has to use for. well, our view is again, it remains on the table as an
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option. it's not the preferred way to address this challenge. let me ask you about egypt. difficult transition that continuing since the taxable by the military government next year inerm if of elections and industrial violence streaks bhap should u.s. policy be toward egypt. should the congress be involved in con conditioning u.s. assistance to egypt at this time? >> so egypt is an incredibly tough case, as we all know right now. i think the administration has done a good job under difficult circumstances that left our policy kind of murky, and it's
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because the situation of egypt is murky. the as a result is we've kind of made both sides angry. the alternative, of course, is to come down either strongly against, you know, the current government. or san diego signal that, you know, the elections don't matter and we don't care about a, you know, open process. so look, i think what we need do is calibrate our response to say that we want egypt to move in the distribution we have hoped they were moving in. which is toward a more, you know, more open process. rule of law. send a signal we are worried about the recent measure that clamp down on, you know, the
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ability of people to gather and protest. you mentioned tahir square. as you know, the most recent laws passed totally outlawed. i think it's important for the united to send a signal that we support the rule of law and right of people to petition their government. but we also have ongoing obviously important security interest. we don't want to totally alien ate, you know, the government. so that is why i think the sort of call tbraited response you seek from the administration which is to say we're going withhold some of our military support. not all.
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there's no easy an. at least from my perspective. let me ask you about iraq which is a country you have been involved in as we discussed for some time. a few decade now. terrorism in iraq is as bad as it's ever been. going back to the worst years during the u.s. occupation there. how do you see iraq at this point? what can and should the u.s. be doing there? do you see the rise of terrorism in iraq as linked to syria and other problem we're seeing with this rise of salafi groups in the region? >> i think it's been exacerbated by that. look, just to rewind the clock a little bit. and, you know, it is, you know, it's interesting to hear some folks now who, you know, suggest
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the sixth month agreement with iran is somehow, you know, strengthening the iranians when i think we all know that the one thing in the last decade did most strengthen iran was the war in iraq. nothing strengthed it more than the iraq war. tbhapped iraq, obviously did result in, you know, unleashing all of these tensions between in iraq. you mentioned the kurds in the north who have been a little bit of island stability there.
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but you already have the tensions have been greatly exacerbated by the situation in syria. what you've got now, as i said, you've got an influx of foreign fighters in to syria. so a lot of the al qaeda and iraq, you know, folks are now playing in syria and also then playing back in to iraq. you have seen a terrible brutality recently. first of all, you've got the violence against iraq. you've got the violence of the al qaeda extremists against some of the sunni triable leaders who had cooperated with us. it is related to syria.
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you're also, of course, seeing a similar spill over effect in lebanon. so, i mean, there's no doubt that this, you know, these deep ask isism also reenforced by the proxy with iran and hezbollah and the one hand. we have got to find an negotiated settlement to the issue. and at the same time as mike said, do everything we can with our own resources to monitor and try and, you know, counterterrorism front.
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>> i'm opening it up for questions. please be concise and state your name and affiliation when called upon. thank you for an interesting presentation. i knew your dad. >> all right. >> it shows i'm a little bit older and my question is as follows. i remember that the soviet american i'm wondering now even
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if we make progress with iran on the nuclear issue, is this possible if iran continues to strongly support syria and hezbollah and similar allies. are we bound to disagree on this? and does this need to be part of our conversation with the iranians? thank you. >> no. thank you obviously a big question. you're right. i would agree during the cold war, you know, the international competition between the united states and soviet union was a diser aresome game. we did well. assumed they were on the short end of the stick. any place they were doing well. the only exception in the rule was not in the area of international competition but an agreement we could enter to some arms control agreement in our
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mutual interest. in term of the international arena. it was a diser aresome game. zerosome game. like the cooperation open the chemical weapons program in syria, there are some opportunities to work together. openfully with respect to the iranian nuclear program that will be another. you're right. there are other issues swirling around. right, after all, russia from our perspective been a very, you know, has not been a helpful player in syria from, you know, overall, and it is not been helpful in a lot of other areas. but i do believe that the discussions should be brought and, i mean, they are being brought with the russians
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obviously over syria. i don't think we should put too much -- in term of the negotiations with the iranian on the nuclear program, i think we have to focus on that specific issue. it doesn't mean we can't also be creasing other issue. but i think we have to avoid is any suggestion that, you know, there are somehow trade-off with respect to an agreement on a policy issue in syria with respect to the negotiation over the nuclear program. the nuclear program we have clear objectives. we want to make sure that there's no way that iran can develop a -- doesn't have a nuclear infrastructure. that would allow it any kind of, you know, short medium path toward, you know, a nuclear weapon. they're not going to --
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the technology they've learn. but our goals have to be focus odden that. it doesn't mean that it couldn't possibly, you know, grow a larger discussion, i mean, i would welcome that, again. we have to test at every point. my concern is that some people put such high expectations on the discussion. they think in addition to trying to deal with the nuclear issue, you know, if we don't it would be important to test the possibility of, you know, on the other fronts. but not at the expense of moving forward with the nuclear. it's going to be, you know, i mean, in the next six months and beyond are going to be huge
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opportunities but also big risk, obviously, here. and, you know, on the one hand, you know, people say, well, iran got such a good deal because the iranian people a lot are happy about it. well, that tells me is that expectations among a lot of iranians especially in young iranians are that have greater opening with the west. they have to move forward on the economy. in that sense, there are pressure on the iranians to try to make sure they relieve the full sanctions. we have to -- narrowing the scope of their program.
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it's going to be a tense time. lot of hope but a huge amount of things that can go wrong. and i would argue that the danger of having anyone take any action here that might send the signal that the united did not want to fully test this during the six months would, as i said, unwind the unity we've achieved and the sanctions. and then if this doesn't work out have to look at the other -- kept on the table you don't want -- you want to have kind of international action. and the perception is somehow the united states didn't give this the full testing it should then that would actually be
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harmful to our interest. congressman, correct me if i'm wrong. i think it's a point we made. it's no long aerothreat to the u.s. interest and ally in the region. that conversation about hezbollah and other issues has to be had at some point. and has to be a conversation through the congress or i think the president have to certify to the congress those have been satisfied. we talked about several time. that's those issues that the nuclear agreement could post way for the opening new conversation on syria, with lebanon, and
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hezbollah that need to be had. >> andrew is right. if you look at the language of the sanctions. they have requirements that the president make certain certifications. there are provisions to allow to make certain waiver on national interest grounds. and there's actually some amount of ambiguity in the degree to which the executive branch could, if it chose, to, you know, waive sanctions based on different findings. ..
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>> they don't get in exchange for that operation. though if you have the of the structure because you are cooperating here. that does not really do it. and it's fun to talk about these other issues. but it would be useful. >> please wait for the microphone. >> thank you, mr. congressman, thank you for your interesting

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