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Iran Nuclear Negotiations Discussed; UK Surveillance Hearing Examined; World Chess Championship Match Begins

Aired November 7, 2013 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

Tonight, Iran and Western powers are in the midst of another round of talks, the most important to date on Iran's nuclear program. And in a moment, I go one on one with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, its foreign minister, Javad Zarif.

This all follows the June election of the relatively moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, who's ushered in a new era of cooperation and hope that the nuclear crisis can be resolved amid cripplings and crippling sanctions eased.

But as ever, the road is fraught and it's tense. The United States Congress is talking of ratcheting up sanctions even as these talks are underway.

While senior U.S. officials at the negotiations in Geneva tell us that sanctions relief is on the table, if the Iranians agree to restrict their nuclear program, they said it requires Tehran to move first and quickly, perhaps even suspending enrichment for a period.

Iran has said enrichment is a red line and yet the foreign minister, Zarif, also said that he could see an agreement being worked out this week from their side.

Let's go directly to Geneva now and to Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Welcome to the program. Thanks for joining me.

JAVAD ZARIF, FOREIGN MINISTER, IRAN: Good evening. It's good to be with you.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you first to comment on what your deputy, the deputy foreign minister has told journalists today, that Iran is ready to cap some of its nuclear activities in return for some selective sanctions relief.

What can you tell me about that?

ZARIF: Well, we're here in Geneva in order to reach accommodation so that while Iran's right to nuclear technology, including enrichment, is respected and Iran continues to exercise that right, we address some of the immediate concerns of 5+1 and also present -- agree on objectives as well as an end game that we can work in order to achieve a competitive solution.

So it's a -- it's a framework that we have agreed upon; now we need to -- we know what the ingredients should be. We have -- we have discussed them in the last 3-4 weeks. And I think our colleagues are ready to start drafting.

I hope that by tomorrow morning, we can -- we can start serious work in order to prepare some sort of a joint statement that would address these three important elements, that is a common objective for all seven of us, the 5+1, and Iran; an end game that we all try to reach within a limited period of time, hopefully in less than a year; and a series of actions that the two sides have take reciprocally in order to build confidence and address their most immediate concerns.

And I believe it is possible to reach an understanding or an agreement before we close these negotiations tomorrow evening.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's a huge amount of progress and hope that you're expressing from your side.

Can you please give me some details about what you are prepared to cap if that is correct, as your deputy foreign minister has said?

What activities are you prepared to cap?

What steps are you prepared to take right now?

ZARIF: Well, Christiane, we are at the -- at this very sensitive stage of negotiations, and it is best if these negotiations are done at the negotiating table rather than on live television, but I can tell you that we are prepared to address some of the most immediate concerns that have been raised and then we expect reciprocally for our concerns to be met by the P5+1, particularly United States and the European Union.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you specifically, are you prepared to, let's say, address enrichment of 20 percent?

Are you specifically prepared as the chief U.S. nuclear negotiator has suggested, that there should be or could be a suspension of Iran's program for maybe a period of some six months while these negotiations continue and are fully completed?

ZARIF: There won't be a suspension of our enrichment problem in its entirely. What we can deal with various issues. Various issues are on the table, some of the issues that you mentioned around the table, the parts of these negotiations. And we hope that we can reach an accommodation where the concerns of both sides are met.

AMANPOUR: You say that you hope tomorrow you'll be able to draft some kind of a statement. So does that mean the P5 plus -- the P5+1 have accepted what you've put on the table?

ZARIF: And nobody has put anything on the table. Issues are on the table; we have dealt with the concerns of each side. Everybody knows where the concerns are and now we need to start drafting some sort of an agreement in a joint fashion.

This is not one side presenting a text to the other side, but the two sides sitting down together and preparing a text that both sides can live with.

And I believe the ingredients are there. It takes quite a bit of effort and quite a bit of good faith and political will. I know that we have it on our side and I hope that we can expect the same from the other side. And in that fashion, and in that spirit, we can move forward.

AMANPOUR: You know, obviously, there's a huge amount of skepticism, not just from Israel but from the Congress of the United States. I spoke to the very powerful chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, Senator Menendez. This is what he told me about what it would take to lift sanctions, even some sanctions on Iran. Listen to this.


SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), N.J.: Why is it impossible to simply accept -- get Iran to accept that it's suspend? It's not rolling back its 20 percent or 3.5 percent enrichment; it's not reducing its centrifuges. Why can you not simply suspend in order to have the negotiation that you want? That would be a good faith effort.

And in return, I and others would say what the House of Representatives passed 400-20, which is a new round of sanctions, we should wait. But at least Iran should suspend.

So a good faith effort by Iran would be suspend, and we will suspend.


AMANPOUR: What is your reaction to that?

ZARIF: Well, Iran suspended its entire enrichment program from 2003- 2005. So we've tested that. And it didn't produce positive results. We're not going to test that again.

But we are prepared to address the immediate concerns and I believe people should stop trying to impose a solution. They're -- we've got to be creative. We've got to be innovative and deal with situations as -- on the basis of realities, not on the basis of illusions. And I believe, at the end of the day, everybody will be happy with a deal that can be achieved today.

Otherwise, one year down the road, we'll be wishing for the same deal that could be achieved today and the opportunity was missed.

There is a window of opportunity now that has been created by the Iranian people through their election of President Rouhani. And that opportunity needs to be seized.

And I believe people should accept the realities, should learn a lesson from what has been achieved in the past 8-10 years, when this type of attitude that is pressure on the Iranian people has been waged and it has produced no results. Of course there has been economic hardship.

But in fact, instead of 160 centrifuges that were spinning 10 years ago or eight years ago, today we have 19,000 centrifuges. So that is what sanctions and pressures and intimidation has brought; those people who are continuing to advocating that type of behavior, I think that is a failed policy. It needs to be changed.

And tomorrow we have a chance to change it and reverse that trend. Otherwise we would engage in a lose-lose situation, which we have been engaging in (INAUDIBLE) --


AMANPOUR: And finally -- oh, my goodness, it looks like we may have lost our connection.

I don't know whether you can still hear me, Foreign Minister?

Well, we want to thank the foreign minister, who can no longer hear us. But we heard a lot of details and the hope that by tomorrow there could be some kind of joint statement issued and agreed to by Iran and the P5+1.

Certainly around all of these talks, since they began, all sides have expressed cautious optimism. We'll see what the result will be in this initial round by tomorrow.

Now the issue of nuclear proliferation is not confined to the conference table. It is also the subject of spying among nations, along with other targets, like terrorism and online sex trafficking.

U.K. intelligence says that its efforts to monitor all of this and fight all of this are being compromised by the leaks of the former NSA worker Edward Snowden. And when we come back, a rare sighting, Britain's masters of the dark art of espionage come out of the cold and into the public light of testimony.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour. And it has never happened before. For the first time ever today, the three secretive heads of Britain's intelligence services appeared openly together on live television to testify before Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee: Sir Iain Lobban, Director of GCHQ, Britain's answer to the NSA, MI-6 Foreign Intelligence Chief Sir John Sawers and Andrew Parker, the head of domestic intelligence at MI-5.

The testimony confirmed a spike in terror threats this year, mostly because of the unchecked war in Syria, said the intelligence chiefs. But dominating the session, the intel chiefs' insistence that their work has, in fact, been compromised in the five months since Edward Snowden's NSA revelations.


JOHN SAWERS, CHIEF, U.K. SECRET INTELLIGENCE SERVICE: The leaks from Snowden have been very damaging. They've put our operations at risk. It's clear that our adversaries are rubbing their hands with glee. Al Qaeda is lapping it up.

IAIN LOBBAN, DIRECTOR, BRITISH SURVEILLANCE AGENCY CGHQ: We've seen terrorist groups in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and in -- elsewhere in South Asia, discussing the revelations in specific terms, in terms of the communications packages that they use, the communications packages that they wish to move to.

HAZEL BLEARS, MEMBER, BRITISH PARLIAMENT: Can you give us a guarantee today that you do not conduct operations which were out with the British legal framework?

LOBBAN: Yes, I can give you that guarantee. I believe that is true. We are subject to the law. I will also say I'm sure that's true of my sister agencies as well.


AMANPOUR: Now Sir Malcolm Rifkind is a former defense and foreign secretary of the U.K. He's chairman of the committee that questioned the intelligence chiefs today. During a break in the testimony, I asked him whether their testimony was, indeed, sufficient and frank enough.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program. Thank you for joining me today.


AMANPOUR: Let me get straight to the heart of the matter.

The intelligence chiefs told you that there was a darkening, a gradual darkening of their global sources since the Snowden revelations and that they have monitored, in the last five months, various organizations across the region, discussing essentially how to avoid and react to what's been revealed by the Snowden leaks.

Are you convinced by what you heard about that?

RIFKIND: Well, it's what we feared would happen and it's entirely logical. One has always known that, although some terrorists are very stupid, there are a lot who are very clever.

And we know that those who are very clever and very dangerous constantly try to identify what are the capabilities of the intelligence agencies, and try to outstrip them by increasing their own security measures.

So it shouldn't really surprise anyone. It's disturbing that there is hard evidence, but I can't say I was entirely surprised.

AMANPOUR: But you did press and you asked for specific instances --

RIFKIND: Yes. And I was -- we were promised that that would be information they would be very happy to share with us when we have a private session because obviously they will not wish to, in public session, go into too much detail, which itself could help the terrorists if they heard about it.

AMANPOUR: As a former defense secretary and foreign secretary, do you believe the security of Britain -- and in some cases its allies -- have been compromised?

RIFKIND: Well, I'm not in a position to quantify it, but the fundamental question that I think we all have to ponder over is when you get newspapers choosing to publish official secrets, which they themselves believe can be published safely and without danger to national security, how do they know, how can they be certain?

They may be doing it in good faith, but frankly, they do not have the experience to be certain of what they are doing. And what we heard today, as I say, it doesn't -- didn't terribly surprise me, but it's something that I think newspapers and their editors should ponder over with regard to their future actions.

AMANPOUR: You did ask the question that everybody's been asking, since the leaks by Edward Snowden about the NSA, you asked why do the vast majority of people's communications have to be tapped in order to get a few evildoers?

That is the big question.

Do you feel that you got a satisfactory answer?

RIFKIND: Well, I think the answers we got today - and it's also something which is already in the public domain -- should be reassuring, because what in fact is happening is that these modern computers can process vast numbers of emails, but they discard over 99.9 percent of them, which have no links to terrorism or serious crime.

And they can do that without any human eye ever having read any of these emails.

So when the occasional argument is used that ordinary, respectable, law-abiding citizens are having their emails read, as was said today and I -- I'm aware of from my own knowledge, that simply does not happen. It would be illegal.

It would be a crime under British law if that was happening. And we have no reason to believe that it does happen, because once a computer's identified emails that they think could be relevant, then, if they don't already have it, the intelligence agencies need to get a warrant from our secretary of state if they wish to read the content of any of these communications.

AMANPOUR: And you're convinced -- and the intelligence chiefs, who are asked a direct question by one of the members of your committee, that they are acting within the bounds of the law.

Are you convinced that that is the case?

RIFKIND: Well, I think it's highly likely, to put it mildly, that they are because what motive would they have for not doing so? You know, when criminals break the law, they're hoping to have financial gain, make a lot of money. But that's what crime's all about.

Where we 're talking about intelligence agencies, the heads of these agencies are very senior public servants. What personal benefit do they get from breaking the law?

They would be committing a crime. They would end up being prosecuted, if it was found out.

Why should they have a motive to do that? And therefore, I find it -- obviously an organization might have an individual employee who has lower standards. Mr. Snowden is an example of that in an obvious way.

But to say that the agencies as a whole knowingly break the law, I find that -- I can't prove it never happens, but I find it inherently implausible in any rational basis.

AMANPOUR: So to that end, then, you even mentioned it yourself in the hearings today.

You said, look, gentlemen, you've given us very fulsome answers. Why is it, then, that we can't figure out a way to convince the public of what's going on, keeping what needs to be secret secret, but sharing with the public so that they don't get suspicious when these kinds of revelations come out?

RIFKIND: Sure. Well, I think we -- what we do have in democratic societies is constantly press our intelligence agencies to make sure they're not being unnecessarily cautious. Obviously, they will be nervous or cautious if they're asked to say in public what their capabilities are; they are always worried that if they do that and it turns out to have been a mistake, then terrorism benefits. And that can't be in anyone's interest.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't constantly open up these questions and put to them, how certain can you be?

And one of the benefits of an intelligence committee such as the one I chair -- and similar committees exist in the United States -- is that these - when you have these discussions in private, then the intelligence agencies can open up in a lot more detail as to what they believe might be the risks if matters were publicized.

And we as parliamentarians, as politicians, we can also offer our own judgment as to whether their arguments are convincing or not.

AMANPOUR: So in the United States, the president has said there is going to be a review of the NSA. We don't know whether there's going to be any significant changes, any significant reining in of some of these tapping and eavesdropping intelligence gathering.

Your committee, does that demand a review?

Do you see any changes to the way intelligence is gathered after this committee?

RIFKIND: Yes, what we have said is that we intend to do quite a lot of work on two areas. First of all, whether the laws that were passed some years ago, whether in any respect they need modernizing or changing to fit modern circumstances, and that's going to be important.

We also want to look at the debate between security and privacy, that's always the issue that has to be addressed, and be satisfied as to whether we have that balance right in the United Kingdom, or whether, in some ways, that needs modification.

So we'll be taking evidence on that. Some of it will be secret evidence, which we'll take in private, but we would expect there also to be public sessions, as we had today, at least in regard to some of the arguments that will be made.

AMANPOUR: And finally, a former head of GCHQ, in an interview, has said and has talked specifically about the relationship between the NSA, between GCHQ, various intelligence sharing.

But he did also say that we have the brains; they have the money.

Does that about sum it up?

RIFKIND: Well, I heard that being said. I don't think he meant that literally. I've no doubt from my own meetings with people in the American intelligence community that there's one heck of a lot of brain there as well. But there's no doubt when it does come to money, the United States is in a league of its own. It's not just a super power, it's a super-duper power.

AMANPOUR: Well, on that note, thank you very much indeed.

RIFKIND: Thank you very much.


AMANPOUR: And of course one of the nations where Edward Snowden briefly considered seeking asylum was Venezuela. And since we try to keep abreast of all the latest news and other happenings from that country, take a look at this eye-opening photograph.

That is a mannequin factory in the city of Valencia. And if their bodies seem a little, shall we say, voluptuous, it's because implants and cosmetic surgery are hugely popular with real live Venezuelan women.

As our friends at "The New York Times" report, ever since mannequin manufacturers began pumping up their models, business, like the national bustline, has been booming.

And after a break, we'll turn to a war zone where castles are conquered and kings are captured without a single drop of blood being shed. We'll explain when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back. And just to update the breaking news that we had at the top of the program, in my interview with the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, he has told me that they've had very good meetings in Geneva today with the members of the P5+1, United States and the European countries and France, China and Russia.

And he says that they potentially could sign a draft and reach a final understanding on capping some activities in return for some sanctions relief tomorrow morning.

We will have much more of that obviously in the full interview that's going to be posted online. You can check it out then.

Now finally tonight, it has been a momentous week for India. On Tuesday, as we told you, it launched its first mission to Mars and this weekend it hosts the start of a titanic struggle among kings, queens, knights and castles.

Imagine a world where a war of wills is waged, not on a battlefield, but on a small wooden board.

The opening ceremony of the World Chess Championship had an Olympic flavor, with a giant chessboard, screaming fans and bouquets of flowers, as this chess-crazy country welcomed the two competitors, five-time defending champion Viswanathan Anand is India's national hero.

But at age 43, which is considered old in this pressure-packed sport, this hometown favorite is the underdog because his challenger, 22-year-old Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, nicknamed "The Mozart of Chess," has rocketed to the top of the chess world with a once-in-a-generation blend of boundless youth and a killer instinct.

This latest match of the century is expected to be the most closely watched showdown since another prodigy, the American Bobby Fisher defeated Russia's Boris Spassky in 1972 at the height of the Cold War.

In a world where people all too often become pawns in the hands of the ruthless, the eyes of millions will be on pawns in the hands of these two grand masters in a bloodless battle for the crown.

And that's it for tonight's program. Remember, you can always contact us at, where you can once again see the interview I did with the Iranian foreign minister, regarding a potential agreement in the nuclear crisis.

You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.