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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 11, 2015 11:00pm-12:01am EDT

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negotiated with iran. they wanted more meet to it. -- meat to it. they were frustrated by what happened with the democrat ability to filibuster. they wanted to do something stronger that would put everyone on the house on stronger footing going forward. that is not pass either. collapsedthat of inward looking around them. can watch more about this and follow lisa muska arrow. thank you. >> next, discussion of the implementation process of the iran nuclear agreement and side deals with the international atomic energy agency. the another chance to see house floor debate on the iran agreement. on the next "washington
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.ournal," darrell campbell he discusses the iran nuclear deal in the fate of nonproliferation. and then the latest on the scandal.linton e-mail and then a discussion of a french privacy regulator that ordered to censor search results on the impact on internet providers in the u.s.. we will take your calls and you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. " what seemed in journal" live live atington journal" 7:00 a.m. eastern. >> this weekend on c-span networks, politics, books, and american history. speeches by two republican
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presidential candidates. first governor scott walker visits president reagan's on the matter in the governor bobby jindal at the national press club. then two profiles with gop candidates. first, former governor george pataki talks about his career and issues forming his candidacy and rick santorum talks about his time in congress, his 2012 presidential run in one years running again area on c-span's discussesack cashill his book. minnesota senator amy klobuchar talks about her life and career with the washington bureau chief susan page. saturday at 8:00 p.m. on lectures in history, paul
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christopher anderson teaches a class on how former south carolina confederates viewed reconstruction in the wake of the civil war. he discusses how some white southerners justified and even romanticized their defeat and motives for fighting. and sunday at 2:00 p.m., the landmark supreme court decision and loving versus virginia ruled it was unconstitutional to prohibit interracial marriage. author and history professor peter wallenstein discusses the complexities of the case and how it affected similar legal challenges. get our complete schedule at >> next to the hudson institute hosted david albright and others for a discussion about the inspections process. iran's role in inspections and additional implementation steps. this is about a hour and a half.
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>> thank you. thank you. thank you very much for coming do.udson is to i want to thank our c-span audience. all, iel -- first of represents my colleagues. he thought that he would get out earlier. issues,ting on the iran and as many of you may know, representative pompeo and had ar tom cotton, who we few weeks ago -- these are the lead advocates for congressional review on the secret side deals
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between iran and the ieee eight -- iaea. even if he cannot be here, i hope you will follow what he is doing, what senator tom cotton is doing and -- what representative tom cotton is doing and we have a fantastic whol led by dave albright has been to hudson before. mr. albright has been the analysis that his organization, isis has been providing on the iran deal, as well as different n nuclearhat the ira facilities are invaluable and i recommend that you follow what they are doing. so, thank you again, david, for being here with us again.
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and we have the managing director of present strategy for the israel project. i highly recommend his work, which has been taking up a lot of the political and policy matters regarding the iran deal and debate. i am told in washington -- this is his first time at hudson. thank you for being here. to his left is my hudson colleague, the hudson institute senior fellow michael durand. it is always a pleasure to sit on the same panel with mike. theill be taking up some of implications of the joint plan of action, especially how it relates to american strategy in the middle east and what it looks like and what that deal and the ramifications of the deal look like in the broader middle east. so, it is an exceptional panel. i look forward to learning a lot
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do, too.and i hope you right now, david, if you could start? you very much. let's confess this is my first back in washington officially since the end of may, so i have missed much of the personal contact going on in this agreement. might institute and i are neutral on this deal. we were deeply involved in developing provisions in the deal. we worked closely with .egotiators in the agreement some of the negotiators have said some of the provisions -- our name is on it. we share it with other government or groups, but our name is on several of these provisions.
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-- we see weaknesses in the deal. in order to do objective, nonpartisan analysis, we would not take sides in this debate. even when i was in europe, we have done nothing else but look at this deal. we have put out 10 provisional reports on this deal which i would recommend you look at if you're interested. it's very competition. it has many strengths, it has many weaknesses. one of the issues today is over the adequacy of the deal to solve the problem of access and to contribute to solving the problems associated with determining the verification of the allegations that iran had a nuclear weapons program in the past. and to do that in the context of the implementation period over the fall and winter, and is that
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verification effort going to strengthen the verification of the final deal, or is it going to create precedents and weaken verification? what i would like to do is just quickly summarize a report we will either issue today or monday on this agreement, and also some general issues around satellite imagery of the site. it's very clear that the iaea has reported regularly they have been undermined on doing effective verification. that is the starting point. they do not know what has taken place, but there are now some images.e it's problematic for verification. i would argue that this deal has further top located the
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verification of that site. it's not a public agreement. i worked on -- we have worked intensively on iran since 2002 and i have worked with many countries, inspectors in the 1990's. we have published extensively other grimace. organization that requires secrecy. but it has not been secret. iran has complained bitterly about that for years. they could make this -i-8 deal public and release it to the member states in that would be consistent with what they have been doing on iran. i think the secrecy of it raises
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questions that you need to be addressed. and also in my experience, they -- andssively classify they will do it for all of the same reasons. it may have nothing to do with legitimate ones -- proprietary information, security information, embarrassing information. i would argue in this case it's a little embarrassing what this eel has. -- deal has. i think you have all had the chance to see the details. the associated press went to pretty great lengths to try to get a draft of it. they then confirmed -- at least they told me -- i think they reported that the final deal was not that different from the draft. what you have is a situation where there will be videotaping of potential locations were sampling would take place, and
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would direct the iranians to take the samples and that's not the normal way to do things. i will give you an example. is a secret centrifuge development facility. iran denied there was such a thing. iran got access and brought in a very top-level centrifuge expert with that access who looked around. and when they did the sampling finally, they did not find any trace of an rich uranium in the area that had been heavily modified. but in the secondary building the foundation. that it not been modified. it had traces of enriched uranium. you need to look. i brought a simple and north korea. i can't show it. this is actually a document -- this is arward -- processing plant in the early
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1990's and north korea. korea did not expect environmental sampling. it was a highly classified method that was unclassified as a result of the iraqi war in 1991, to strengthen the iaea and so they deployed it. they are looking behind this box. again, north korea did not expect it. the idea is it was not disturbed . they will look at where the paint does not look solid. that is very hard to do with a video camera. so i think a video camera opens up additional methods and it's not the normal way they have been doing it. i think that is a problem. -- they are not getting access to the physical locations where samples are being taken. and the deal, as reported by the
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ap says the director general and general canirector go as a courtesy visit. in my own work with the ap, and i talked to be journalists involved in this, he believes the deal that he was shown and able to transcribe, it has some errors in it. is he has reported that that an accurate rendition. in testimony i know that u.s. officials have testified and i won't say who -- sometimes it's congressional congressmen have said -- the sampling would be access would follow. so, the access is coming at a point where it is not as useful. politically access is important, but again he wanted to drive the inspection effort and the
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environmental sampling effort, not be put on at the end of the process. what happens if there are other sites? there are other sites associated less civil military dimensions of iran's nuclear program. are they going to be subject to these kinds of rules when they go there? another reason you want access is to talk to the scientists said and engineers involved. whether that will happen, i don't know. these are confidential arrangements. some people object to the word secrecy. to me it's all the same. technically it is a confidential agreement. but will they be able to do the job, which is to come to closure iran's pastion of
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nuclear activity. scheme, theer long-term agreement, you have to ask whether this is setting a precedent for that. i think legally with the additional protocol you could argue it is not. but iran has violated safeguard agreements many times. it has pushed to be envelope. let's say you go out and there is a suspect site. the clock starts kicking -- starts ticking. iran says no, you can't have access, but you can do the video monitoring and we will take the samples. what's going to happen? i would argue and worry, actually, that there are countries in europe that will have heavy investments in iran, and iran is going to be appealing to them to say, look, this worked in this case.
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you accepted it publicly. do you really want to snap back sanctions over something that's proven or was acceptable in a highly controversial case like parchin? i would worry that the europeans may not stick with the united states. i think the u.s. will vote to snap back. but i think there's worry the united states -- the others may not. certainly you can't count on russia and china. you just need one of the three to say, maybe we're not going to go with this. so i think it's also in the long-term, it's a problem -- the long term, it's a problem. finally, we want the iaea to be as strong as it can be. it can be incredibly strong. in north korea they nailed the north koreans to the wall with environmental sampling and other evidence to say they had an undeclared production of plutonium and separation of plutonium. they didn't know how much, but they had them cold. there have been other cases where they've done. that they caught them despite modification.
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but, iran's gotten better at modification. it's certainly learned. and i think we can't -- i think the electric example actually proves the case that you have to worry more about parchin. it doesn't prove the case that the iaea will find it no matter what. the iranians have learned and they are probably much better at modification and undermining the iaea than before and so you want to make sure that the iaea goes into this long term agreement as strong as possible, it does address or satisfy the concerns over the possible military dimensions of iran's program and we get closure on that and we in a sense march into this agreement where the iaea has as much credibility as possible. i worry that the way it's going is they're going to have reduced credibility and that's going to
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give an advantage to iran, it's going to come back to haunt us. lee: thank you very much. that was a terrific introduction. one of the topics i want to come back, regarding the iaea's credibility and how this might be affected by that, but one thing i wanted to check before we went on to omri, when you were saying that the draft that the a.p. published, they checked that with, you were saying, the iaea verifying that that was close to that, or -- david: no. they went to member states. this is how this works. the iaea people -- let me not put words in a.p. they have sources, they're based in vienna. and they went to sources to verify. one can imagine, too, that -- well, let me end it there. i don't want to take any more time. lee: that story was sourced to officials from member states. specifically. omri, if would you like to pick up. fill out some of the --
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omri: sure. i think in addition to the geopolitical environment and the verification regime, it's important to understand the dynamics that have emerged here in town over the last month, two months, certainly before that, this debate has been shaping up for several years. but really after the announcement of the jcpoa in the middle of july you saw a particular kind of debate shape up here in town. and it has a range of dimensions that have to do with intersections between policy and politics, frustration on the hill. the administration is operating in an environment in which they've lost the benefit of the doubt with many lawmakers. both republican lawmakers and democratic lawmakers. and that comes from a number of
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places. it comes from frustration by lawmakers who believe that they were led, that they were essentially had their chains pulled for several years, for several years, of course, administration officials would go to the hill and they would testify that if only were they to be given breathing room for negotiations they would bring home a deal that robustly resolved the possible military dimensions of iran's program, that would lead to the shuttering of fordo, that would lead very, very pointedly to any time, anywhere inspections. and members feel betrayed. they're saying openly that had they known back then that this would be the deal now, they would have pursued alternative legislative paths, including most prominently sanctions legislation. that's one place in which -- one reason that the administration has lost the benefit of the doubt. another reason is what members perceive to be simple
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dishonesty. they believe that the administration has repeatedly politicized intelligence as far as iranian cheating over the course of the jpoa, the interim joint plan of action. they believe that the administration is looking the other way on iranian sanctions busting of u.n. sanctions. they believe that they're not getting the information -- the united nations panel, which was supposed to monitor compliance, and various members of congress are not getting the information that they deserve. of course this has recently come to a head in the last couple of days in the policy conversation when it comes to the politicalization of intelligence that has to do with isis. but that's also another thing that's in the air. which is to say they just don't trust the administration to give them accurate information. and then of course the third reason why they're operating in an environment of distrust is this specific debate over failing to transmit to lawmakers the side deals, the secret side deals, between the iaea and iran and, again, secret side deals is a loaded term. it's a term that's used by
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detractors and opponents of the deal but there was a moment, would have been two weeks ago, three weeks ago, there was a state department briefing at which an a.p. reporter finally got frustrated with the administration and said, can we stipulate that a deal that's classified we can call secret and a deal that's parallel we can call side? that kind of ended the debate about whether there are secret side deals but the other side prefers to not call them secret side deals and uses lines like, this is not just secret, this is just the way adults do business. saying that to a lawmaker when they say there's a secret side deal is not a productive way to rebuild trust. that has occurred on a number of occasions. this specific issue, it takes place in a much broader environment and i don't choose your metaphor, underlines, highlight, puts an exclamation point at the end of, deep, deep, deep distrust on the hill toward the administration. which is one of the reasons why it has legs.
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why this idea of the secret side deals has legs. that's the political reason. the kind of public affairs reason, we'd call the communications reason, you know, if you quickly divide the town politics, policy, public affairs, politics is distrust on the hill. the public affairs reason has to do with how the administration approached messaging on this issue. so the administration does polling, both sides on this debate do a ton of polling. both sides very, very early saw the same three things popping up. one was the importance of science and expertise, which is why the administration never missed an opportunity, especially during the last few months of the negotiation, to emphasize that scientists agree with them. this kind of reached a point that caused a lot of people to smirk. secretary of energy moniz during the vienna talks went to -- i
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went portugal or spain, somewhere in iberia, for an award. he came back and then he tweeted a picture. it's now back to work to lock in an agreement based on hard science. anywhere that they could insert the term they inserted it because they saw that it boosted public popularity. the second thing that -- popularity. the second thing that both sides saw, how you described the agreement really mattered. if you described it as iran grease to never construct a nuclear weapon, they saw an eight to 10-point bump in approval. they then by the way took that wording and started inserting it into their own polls or into the polls of validaters in order to boost the numbers. that was the second thing. but the third thing that both sides saw was that voters overwhelmingly dislike iran, iran has the lowest favorability of most middle east actors, highest unfavorability. but the reason they do it, the reason that -- what causes that dislike is distrust. so you ask people, why should the u.s. stand in opposition to iran?
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it's a standard kind of wording that we use. they cite all sorts of things. iran is dedicated to the destruction of the u.s., destruction of our allies, iran stones rape victims for adultery, iran hangs gays from cranes. but what's underneath that is distrust. they don't trust iran not to do those things. which is why you saw the administration develop the talking point that this deal was not built on trust. if you go back to their materials, that develops very, very, very early because they were seeing the same things we were seeing, which is distrust is potentially toxic to support of negotiations with iran. the side deals agreement in the same way that in a political dimension reinforces pre-existing distrust among lawmakers, in a public affairs dimension reinforces public distrust. the reason that this is so toxic in terms of the white house's public affairs campaign is
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because it very, very, very precisely casts a spotlight on something that they very much do not want to play with, which is distrust of iran. and now there's the policy implications. david talked a lot about this in greater depth. one thing that i think it's important to note is that it's not just the policy community that's concerned about the parchin arrangement becoming a precedent, the arrangement of course is videotaping, allowing the iranians to take their own samples and hand them over to the agency, and negotiating with the iranians on a limited number of samples that will be taken from a limited number of places. congressman royce sent a letter to secretary kerry in which he also discussed his worry that this would become a precedent. he cited specifically one of the paragraphs in annex one of the jcpoa.
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somewhere in the 70's, for give me, i should know this. 71 or 77. that talks about alternative arrangements that the iranians are allowed to offer when the agency requests access. representative royce asked -- told secretary kerry, i worry that this will become a precedent. so you have this side deals issue playing out really across everything that counts in town here. politics, policy and public affairs. and in the last 48 hours, that has now become a legislative issue or at least an issue in the battle between congress and the president over the arrangement. so there's been a lot of talk on the hill, both among democrats and republicans, but in the context of this strategy, it's largely republican strategy, that the so-called corker clock, the 60-day clock during which congress has the right to review the jcpoa and if they feel so moved, to pass a resolution of
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disapproval, that that clock hasn't started. the administration and frankly leadership in the senate believe -- have stated that it started when the administration transmitted a number of documents relevant to their disclosure obligations. some of those have been leaked, some of those haven't. those involve things like the u.s.'s collapse on p.m.d.'s, it involves arrangements, involves why the intelligence community believes that that collapse is justified. so we know the content of a number of these documents. they were transmitted -- they were transmitted within a couple of days of getting back from vienna. the clock, according to this reading, ends on september 17, which is the last day congress would have to pass a resolution of disapproval. there are many people who are now claiming that because of the nontransmission of the iaea side deals, that clock hasn't started. there was, until the last 48 hours, no real recourse for those people. they could complain they could
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say it was illegal. there wasn't much they could do. on tuesday, d.c. district court ruled for the first time ever, this was in the context of an obamacare case, that injury that's done to congress' article one prerogatives is in fact something that can be litigated. in more technical terms, they granted standing to the house to pursue claims of energy again -- injury against the president. that created the possibility, this has now been discussed by several legal scholars, but it's being written about broadly, the main one is a "the washington post" legal blogger, and he has taken this, he's now written two articles that says that in fact the injury done to congress' article one prerogatives does constitute something that can be litigated. he published his first analysis of this yesterday, just afternoon, at roughly the same time, and i mean within 15 minutes, "politico" posted an article with a statement from speaker boehner saying that based on the new ruling, i.e.,
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the finding that congress has standings to pursue litigation, he may well sue president obama or the house may well sue president obama over the nontransmission of documents. now, the reasoning is actually a little bit subtle. the reasoning is that the corker clock never started which means congress never had the ability to weigh in at all. so it's not your usual claim that it's illegal to waive sanctions. if that occurs then it would obviously change the policy -- it would radically change the policy environment. for instance, one of the things that the iranians are counting on is a stable regulatory environment that would encourage companies to enter. it's difficult to see how companies could enter in a political environment in which there's bipartisan opposition in both chambers of congress to the deal and a legal environment that is uncertain. i think on that point -- lee: thanks. that's fantastic. do you know, i mean, if speaker of the house boehner, if he'd been moving on that before the "post" piece?
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something they were talking about before? omri: there were definitely discussions at the beginning of the week and beforehand about a possible litigation strategy but they usually ended with the idea that congress would not be able to find a way to have standing and it would just get bounced out of court. now, if you read the "politico" article it specifically cites the reasoning behind this new district court finding. but -- lee: were they all waiting for this decision to come down? omri: i think they'd been looking for ways to enforce what they consider to be their prerogatives. one of the weird things about the kind of politics around the corker-cardin debate, and the side deals specifically that we're discussing today, is not meeting the corker-cardin requirements, which is to say, not turning over all of the documents that are relevant to
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the deal, is disobeying congress' prerogatives on a piece of legislation about congress' prerogatives. right, it's not just not enforcing legislation. it's not enforcing legislation that's specifically about enforcing legislation. and that was passed by enormous majorities. vetoproof majorities. and so i think that there were discussions about how to enforce congress' prerogatives that were ongoing, certainly there were discussions on wednesday before "the washington post" piece came out. but "the washington post" piece provided a rationale or at least outlined a rationale that had not existed. without being grandiose about this, in the history of the republic. this is a new thing. lee: very interesting. thanks, that was terrific. mike, if you can round us off. and give us an even larger picture that we already have here. michael: sure. omri just said that it's the first time in the history of the republic, but it reminds me that any issue of significance in american politics eventually finds its way into the courts. that's the kind of prediction
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that political analysis that i would like to produce. something that remains true forever. lee: i love someone tweeted that. michael: i love david albright's analysis. i said to them before we came in. there's two personalities in the world. hedgehogs and foxes, i think. he's a fox. he sees complexity, he likes to talk about complexity. i like to lump things together and make them very simple. so i'm going to simplify what he said and turn it into a crudely political statement and say that the administration caved in -- on serious inspections with regard to the possible military dimensions of the iranian program. the question is, why did they cave and what does it mean? what do these secret side deals
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mean? how come adults are doing business in this manner? for me, this whole question of the secret side deals epitomizes the entire approach to the nuclear question. or you can see, you can see imbedded in this or reflected in this the motives and the approach of the administration to the whole thing. let me -- that's a general statement. let me give you the specifics. one of the fascinating -- a lot of people are saying about the administration, when they see things like this, when they've caved on what we might call the more coercive measures of the agreement, so the inspections and verification and snapback and so on, when you look closely at these mechanisms, they evaporate. our colleagues here at hudson did a very good analysis of the so-called 23 days that the iranians have in order to oppose any effort to inspect a nuclear-suspect site.
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and under their analysis, which i think is very convincing, the 23 days quickly becomes many, many, many months. possibly even longer. because of the inability to bring this process to an end at any point and to actually coerce the iranians into getting what you want. as david sort of suggested, at a certain point, you find yourself, when you're pushing up against the iranians, the only option you have is, for lack of a better word, the nuclear option of blowing up the whole deal in order to get what you want from them. so it isn't a very effective mechanism. when people look at this, at the way that the administration has caved on these coercive measures, there's a tendency to say that we were bamboozled,
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that the iranians are master negotiators, they play chess, we play checkers. we're just smalltown american simpletons and they live in this complex middle eastern environment and so on. but actually the people running our government are more clever than that. they're not smalltown simpletons and they know what they're doing. they are presenting what is actually one kind of agreement as another kind of agreement. because as omri has told us, they've done -- and as i'm sure he's correct -- they've done extensive polling of the american people and they found out that the american people don't trust the iranians. and they don't want a u.s. strategy that is based on trusting the iranians. but the fact of the matter is the president decided almost from the moment he got into office, possibly even before he got into office, that we need the iranians as a partner in the middle east.
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and the logic is absolutely simple. the president, the most important decision that the president made about the middle east, about iran, was one he made when he was campaigning and that is that he was going to pull the united states back from the region. the minute you say you want to pull the united states back from the region, you are done as the leader of a serious policy designed to contain iran in the region. the only way then to affect that pullback is to come to some kind of accommodation with the iranians. the biggest problem you have is their nuclear program. so they needed a way to put the nuclear question off to one side. well, they got down to the serious business of aligning with the iranians against isis and other -- that's the bad isis, not the good isis that
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david runs. against isis and other actors. so, that's what this agreement in my view is really all about. yes, they do want to stop the nuclear program. that is a goal of the obama administration. but it is not the only goal they have and it's not the primary goal. the primary goal is to pull the united states back from the middle east and to come up with a regional security architecture that will allow the united states to stay out. these two goals have been working simultaneously all along and at a certain point they run counter to each other. because in order to pull the u.s. back they've got to reach an agreement on the nuclear program. and the iranians picked up on that and they recognize that getting the agreement was more important for the administration than anything else. and they realize that they could use it to their advantage and they can come up with -- the
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iranians could offer solutions that were not really solutions, that the administration would accept in the end. so you get to see the amount of creative intelligence that has gone into this on the part of the administration in order to present to us something that is really something else is startling. the side deals is a great example. first of all, you subcontract out some of the work to the iaea so you can say, well, nothing to do with me. i haven't seen those agreement, don't even know what's in them. it isn't part of some kind of secret arrangement that i have with the iranians. the other thing that they've done, which you can see if you read closely in the text of the agreement, is they have sequenced the issues so it looks like we're getting something that we're not actually getting. the sequencing in time is that the iranians have to answer the iaea's questions about the possible military dimensions of their program and the iaea will
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submit a report by december 15 and it's only after that, the submitting of that report, that we get implementation day for the agreement. that's the point at which the sanctions are removed from the iranians. that sequencing allows the administration to stand and say with a completely -- complete sincerity, complete straight face and total honesty that the lifting of the sanctions will not take place until after the iranians submit their answers to the iaea. totally true. what it doesn't tell you, though, is that it makes it sound like there's a conditionality applied here. that the iranians have to answer
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questions that actually satisfy us about -- and actually satisfy the iaea in some significant way, that we now know about the possible military dimensions of their program. but that's not what's going to happen. the iranians are going to submit answers. the iaea is going to submit a report and then the sanctions are going to be removed. regardless of what the iranians say and regardless of what the iaea puts in its report. now, both actors, the iranians and the iaea, recognize that they will be putting the united states and the entire p5+1, all of those european foreign ministers who have already been to tehran with trade delegations and so on, will be completely discomfited if the iaea says, you know what, the iranians stiffed us again. so the iranians are do their best to come as far toward the iaea as they can without actually delivering anything that the iaea really wants and they'll be under enormous pressure to produce a report that will not embarrass the americans and the other p5+1 partners. but even if he does implementation day still goes
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forward. because as the agreement is written, there is absolutely no conditionality. and that to me, that is what i say when i see it's reflective of the whole agreement. the president of the united states wants an agreement with iran and he wants an agreement with iran for reasons that have to do with nuclear questions, but even more so for reasons that have to do with the whole position of the united states in the middle east. and you can see this falling, you can see this unfolding before your eyes right now with the russians and the iranians coordinating in an increase in their support for the assad -- their direct military support for the assad regime. this is the direct outcome of the strategic concept of the americans, of working together with the russians and the iranians to try to tamp down the worst pathologies of the middle
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east. at some point we should start debating that concept. the administration has not come clean that that is the strategic concept that it's working. the president has not come clean. when asked if he thinks this agreement is going to lead to a greater flexibility of the iranians in the region, he says, the administration talks out of both sides of their mouth. they're saying, we hope that happens but that's not why. we don't trust them. we think the agreement stands alone as it is. is it is why they're doing it. they are doing it because of this larger concept and the larger concept is flawed. i'd love, lee, if later on we could talk about why it's flawed. but it's flawed and in the end it won't work. lee: this is what i do want to come back to. but david had -- i was going to ask him to comment even if he didn't volunteer to comment, on what you were saying about the iaea. david: i think my organization were split. i think what michael is saying is this is all cynical exercise. and the argument is, look, iran has modified parchin.
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the iaea is very unlikely to find anything. i don't want to get too technical but it's a testament of an initiator made out of uranium. it may have three grams, four grams of uranium in it. that was then blown up 13 years ago or more. and iran's had three years to eliminate any traces of that. and you see it all over the area, that they've done cleanup, they know where it went, they know the weather patterns that day, they know what they need to do. and they've experience at cleanup. in other sites. so they can -- so the cynical version is, they're not going to find anything so who cares if this is a weak deal? just get through this. get armando to place the iaea flag at parchin and say, we have access. another side of my group wants that, look, every step of this
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process we want the iaea to be doing the most rigorous verification possible. we want to make sure their credibility is strong, we want to make sure that if they go to parchin and they say we didn't find any uranium, that they can say it's because of, you know, modification and we believe that's true. or maybe they'll find uranium. maybe they'll get lucky. and they'll find uranium. but then you've got to show that that uranium was related to an experiment related to nuclear weapons. that's another problem i didn't get into. but that attribution is nontrivial. a lot of uranium in the world. you've got to detect it and attribute it properly. you want them to be doing the most rigorous methods possible in order to grain credibility in their findings. the other -- and then what michael's saying is, this is a
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box-checking exercises. the administration said you're not going to find -- we know they had a nuclear weapons program. we don't really care about the past. we care about the future. and let's just get through this. and get the sanctions off. i know i've been briefed by white house officials who say they do care. we're a very technical organization and we've dealt with technical people in various countries on this. we don't deal with the policy and the p.r. parts. and i know that by march, february -- no, march -- february, march, april of this year, that what i was being told in briefings by white house officials or -- was different than what n.g.o.'s were being told by more senior white house officials. and i even complained about it and the answer i got, well, you just have to understand it's different. lee: can you say how it was different?
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david: i don't want to go into any samples per se but it's over -- this would be -- let me use this. this would be an example where i'm told it does matter. if the iaea's concerns are not addressed and we can talk about what that means, it may not mean what you're thinking, that sanctions would not come off. but listen to secretary of state kerry. others are told, and you hear him say, what happened in the past doesn't matter. is that my phone? oh, i'm sorry. i thought i turned it off. so i think -- lee: it's not secretary kerry. david: yeah. the bottom line is that we don't know. in fact, when i commented on this difference in the briefings, my reaction was, look, the people who are briefing these n.g.o.'s, i think they're really spinning them.
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i mean, i'm kind of disturbed by how the arms control community has bought into a lot of stuff to win this fight. that is compromising their, i believe, their integrity. but the bottom line is that the people who are higher are spinning, where the technical, scientific people are lower. and i believe they're not. but who's going to control the decision on implementation day? that's really the issue. there's no meeting scheduled among the p5+1 to sit down and say, you know, they've addressed the iaea concerns. it will be up to what happens in the u.s. government mind on implementation day to make a decision on whether this condition would stop the lifting of sanctions. i'm not ready to predict what happens. we've approached this very differently. he used an example of fox or whatever. michael: hedgehog and a fox. david: we see it very differently. scientists in washington are
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constantly confronted with the reality of, if you're going to make a mistake, do it right. and what happens is that we see our role as we see problems and that we also want an integrity to the process. we do want it more transparent, of course. but we want an integrity to the process that the work is done rigorously and that it can with stand review. i think that motivates our work to a great extent. and that's also why we're neutral. we want to be able to look at the strengths and value those. we want to look at the weaknesses. and just get into it without thinking or hearing a voice in our ear, oh, my god, you support the deal, you better not say that. i can tell you, we get beat up all the time because left wing groups use our work or i guess right now the, in this debate, we've had these fights before on the aluminum tubes in iraq. august, september, 2000, our
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-- august, september, 2002, our work, say questioning the aluminum tubes used in centrifuges was certainly not appreciated by the right wing. and we took a lot of abuse for those positions. on the syrian reactor, we thought the site bomb by israel we thought the site bombed by israel was a reactor and many in the left attacked us. and went after us. for that. and we see this case today on the iran deal, particularly this summer, where the left i think is attacking us and it's in the similar vein. they're defending things that really shouldn't be defended. this deal has problems that have to be faced. and i think the iaea is one of them that you need to find a way, and this is where maybe i'm not as pessimistic as you, maybe it's just optimistic, the iaea has to find a way to strengthen what it's doing over the next several months. you're not going to change this iaea parchin deal or iaea-iran parchin deal. it's in place.
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they can try to make the best of it. they can then try to get access to other sites. they can do a rigorous job on the verification of the possible military dimensions issue. and try to come out of this with the strongest report possible in december and that can withstand criticism. lee: omri, i think you wanted to follow up. omri: this issue of what the white house was telling -- you know, most of the think tanks in this city have attempted to work with the administration in order to point out flaws over the previous two years and so on. that's happened both on the nuclear side, the stuff that david works on, but also in the context of the sanctions regime and so on. and there really was, the dynamic really did develop where the white house would be telling its validaters, these n.g.o.'s, one thing, and would be telling these experts that were trying to contribute a different thing. experts would show up with concerns like p.m.d.'s, with concerns like, you know, the iranians will push back against
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inspections, with concerns like what are you doing allowing the iranians to produce heavy water reactors after 15 years out of the agreement? and the experts would be told one thing and then the n.g.o.'s would be spun up and told something different. lee: i want to check. just make sure what david was saying, the experts were being told something by lower level officials who were themselves scientific or technical experts. omri: largely but not always. perhaps one of the gentlest things he could say was being spun up. -- as david was saying, more politically motivated. perhaps one of the gentlest things he could say was being spun up. then toward the end, especially the final days of vienna and after vienna, something very distressing began to happen which is that all of the excuses that were being provided to the white house validaters, to these n.g.o.'s, to go out and validate
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were actual concessions that got built into the agreement. so we do know on which side the actual text falls. on one side -- when it comes to things like p.m.d.'s, the possible military dimension of iran's past nuclear work, you know, experts were being told, of course these matter, we need them to baseline the program, we don't know how far the iranian as got, there are all kinds of technical details like it's important to know what kind of bomb design they were working on because that goes into calculations of how much uranium they need in order to produce that bomb which is the breakout calculation. so there are all kinds of experts saying, of course we need to resolve these p.m.d.'s. and then there was the spin that was, it crystallized in secretary kerry's statement to a teleconference which is, we have absolute knowledge of iran's past nuclear work and we don't need the iranians to tell us what they did. one was spin and by the way he
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was roundly, roundly criticized for that and the state department spent the next week walking back that statement. and yet that is the reading that was transmitted to congress. we know that among the documents that were submitted to congress, pursuant to its corker-cardin obligations, there were two documents that dealt with the p.m.d.'s issue at least two. one of those documents said, we've come to the conclusion that -- it's unrealistic and unnecessary to force iran to come clean on its past nuclear work because the u.s. intelligence community has judged that it has sufficient knowledge to detect an iranian breakout and to enforce the deal without having the iranians come clean. and then it said, for an explanation why, please see subsequent classified annex. so that's the first thing that, i believe it was the "wall street journal," that reported the existence of those documents. bloomberg view subsequently reported on the contents of that other document, the one that purports to explain why it is
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that the i.c. judges that it doesn't need iran to come clean on its past nuclear work and it turns out that that assessment is premised, without exaggeration, without hyperbole, it's premised on near total iranian cooperation with inspectors over the lifetime of the deal. right? in a very precise way, trust the iranians. so, when we talk about this very, very frustrating process that occurred as the jcpoa was coming together, where experts were being told one thing and white house validaters were being told another, one of the distressing things is that by the end, the spin had become the u.s.'s position. the experts' view that we need iran to come clean on its past military -- on the past military nature of its nuclear work was abandoned in favor of this spin that we know enough about what happened in the past and all that matters are the future. -- all that matters is the future.
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lee: thanks. mike, i think you wanted to respond. michael: i just wanted to say that the picture that david presented of lower level technical experts being committed to their job and thinking the best of all this, in contrast to -- and not being influenced by political considerations, and higher level officials having a different view, is built into the d.n.a. of the obama administration. of course it exists in any administration, to a certain extent. but it's really heightened in the case of the obama administration. i think everybody now recognizes this. for a while it was only i think critics of the administration who said this. now i think everyone can see it. there is the president and four, five close people around him, and then there is everybody else. and the president and his closest advisors are often not sharing with the everybody else,
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some of their greatest concerns and calculations. we saw just in the last couple of days, there's a fascinating article in "bloomberg" about the russian move, the russian military move in syria. and first reaction of the state department, when this happened, was to go to the russians and the bulgarians and to protest them giving the russians overflight and staging rights for the russians to supply their forces in syria. but according to rogan, the president was very unhappy with this because the state department had run out and done this without consulting him. so my takeaway from that is that the president has one view about the relative advantages and disadvantages of what the russians are doing and the state department has another. and the president hasn't shared his thinking about the value of the russian and iranian actions
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in syria with the state department. and he's not going to do it. he's not going to do it because, precisely what omri explained to us, is that the american public does not trust the iranians and the u.s. strategy that is based on coordinating with the iranians is going to be politically illegitimate. lee: let me ask you, mike, you worked in the bush white house and we understand that this is a fairly -- it's not an unusual phenomenon, the idea that a white house and state department don't necessarily see eye-to-eye. these are different bureaucracies. with different ideas. white house is political appointees and state department is a permanent bureaucracy. how is this different? michael: it's different in that -- sorry, just to connect the dots. that's how you get to what david was saying before. you get actual technical experts who are presenting what the administration is doing with respect to -- on the basis of
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technical considerations and the traditional nonproliferation concerns that the u.s. government has, when those nonproliferation concerns are not what's actually motivating the difference is this. i talked to a high level of official about a year ago. thesis that the united states is aligning with iran. i pointed to a number of different examples where i saw that happening on the ground in iraq, syria, and lebanon. he said, you've got it totally wrong, mike. the thing about barack obama is that he approaches the region like a lawyer. each problem in the region is a separate file, so there's an iranian nuclear file, there's an iraq file, there's a syria file,


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