Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Done Deal: U.S. and Partners Reach Historic Agreement with Iran; Criticism from Israel on Iran Deal; Interview with Mark Regev; Interview with Ben Rhodes; Who's Got the Better End on Iran Nuclear Deal; Top U.S. and Iranian Negotiators Speaking Out; Hunt for Escaped Mexican Drug Lord. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired July 14, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:09] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Happening now, done deal. The U.S. and its partners reach a long-term landmark agreement to contain Iran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. Will Congress sign off on this historic accord?
Angry allies, America's closest Middle East partners are blasting the deal with Iran. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a historic mistake. I get more reaction from his spokesman this hour.
On the run, a multimillion-dollar reward is now being offered for Mexico's most notorious drug lord after a stunning escape from a maximum security prison. Is his glamorous wife part of the support network helping him hide?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in "THE SITUATION ROOM".
BLITZER (on camera): Relations between the United States and Iran are poised to enter a new era after decades of hostility. Western powers and the Tehran government have reached a historic agreement to contain Iran's nuclear program and prevent it from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.
We're going live to Vienna where the deal was struck after almost two years of grueling talks. We're going to hear from two top negotiators. We'll also get reaction from Israel, which strongly opposes the agreement, and from the White House, which is claiming victory. Our correspondents and guests, they're standing by, including the White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and the spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev is standing by.
But let's begin with our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto. He has more on the deal, the reaction, and what happens next. Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, one of the lead Iranian negotiators gave me his reaction just after the agreement and it was, "It is done." Just that, exhaustion after marathon negotiating sessions, but also remarkable progress 22 months after that legendary phone call now between President Obama and the Iranian president, Rouhani. Ultimately, though, this is an arms control agreement. It is not a disarmament agreement, and it leaves Iran with many capabilities that the deal's opponents are loath to accept.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Smiles and laughter to mark a historic agreement nearly two years in the making and ending more than three decades of hostility. The agreement reining in Iran's nuclear program comes after 18 long-winded days of meetings in Vienna, the final stretch of 20 months of negotiations. The west and Iran both immediately claimed victory.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is the good deal that we have sought. Believe me, had we been willing to settle for a lesser deal, we would have finished this negotiation a long time ago.
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Today could have been the end of hope on this issue. But now we are starting a new chapter of hope.
SCIUTTO: Here's a breakdown. The deal curtails Iran's nuclear program by cutting the number of centrifuges operating to make highly enriched uranium, and limiting but not eliminating research on more advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium much faster. In theory, this extends the estimated minimum time needed for Iran to assemble a nuclear weapon to at least one year from the current two to three months.
To help prevent cheating, the deal also provides for more intrusive inspections of the entire nuclear supply chain, even tracking uranium from the time it leaves the mine. The International Atomic Energy Agency in charge of the inspections signing an agreement with Iran today.
KERRY: To be able to have a covert path, Iran would actually need far more than one covert facility. It would need an entire covert supply chain.
SCIUTTO: Still the deal does not dismantle any of Iran's nuclear facilities, including the once secret underground military facility at Fordow. And it eventually lifts a U.N. arms embargo that had prevented Iran from acquiring intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S.
Fierce opposition to the deal was immediate.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: What a stunning, historic mistake.
SCIUTTO: And the deal faces a challenge in Congress as well. REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's continue hand a
dangerous regime billions of dollars in sanctions relief while paving the way for a nuclear Iran.
SCIUTTO: Secretary Kerry took his critics head-on, touting the success so far of the interim agreement in freezing Iran's nuclear program.
KERRY: Man, were we told by skeptics that we were making a mistake of a lifetime, that Iran would never comply, that this was a terrible agreement. But you know what, they were dead wrong.
[17:05:00] SCIUTTO (on camera): There are still some open questions, for instance, will the west be able to interview Iranian scientists who may have worked on a weaponization program in the past. But it is the decided questions that are going to create their own controversies -- one, the lifting of that conventional and ballistic missile arms embargo. And ultimately it is that the agreement itself sunsets after 15 years. This does not end the nuclear issue with Iran. It buys time. It delays it. That's going to be a fundamental question not only for negotiators, for this administration, for Congress, but also for President Obama's legacy. Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Sciutto reporting for us, thank you.
Let's get some more on the reaction to the deal, including the sharp criticism from some of Washington's most important Middle East allies. Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is in Vienna where the deal was struck. Nic, explain how the deal is now being received.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, you would expect with a deal that's being cast as such an historic deal that the United States might be able to rely on its allies for more support at this time.. But indeed that's not turning out to be the case. The United States -- some of the United States' biggest allies are turning out to be the biggest critics of this agreement, and, conversely, those who are often the United States' adversaries are turning out to be some of the most supportive of this deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.
ZARIF: I believe this is a historic moment.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Some of the harshest reaction from U.S. allies, some of the most supportive from adversaries. Tonight, some of President Obama's most important allies in the Middle East aren't buying his claims that the Iran nuclear deal will make the world safer. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to publicly criticize the agreement saying the lifting of sanctions rewards a terrorist regime.
NETANYAHU: The world is a much more dangerous place today than it was yesterday. This cash bonanza will fuel Iran's terrorism worldwide, its aggression in the region, and its efforts to destroy Israel, which are ongoing.
ROBERTSON: Saudi Arabia is no friend of Israel, but it's also not a friend of Iran. The Saudis also are condemning the nuclear agreement, describing it to CNN as a monumental historical miscalculation by the Obama administration.
Some of the most positive reaction is coming from Russia and China, two of the United States' most powerful adversaries. Russian president Vladimir Putin says now the world can breathe a sigh of relief. Russia and China will win big financially from the deal that allows them to resume weapons sales to Iran.
ROBERTSON (on camera): So what happens with this deal now? Well, it's being turned into a draft U.N. Resolution. But, as you can see, from what we hear there, that the U.N. Security Council -- comprising of China, Russia, Germany, France, Britain, the United States, leaving out Germany there, of course -- the U.N. Security Council, there's going to be, if you will, automatic support again from the people at the Security Council quite often who are the United States' strongest critics, even vetoing what the United States is trying to achieve there, Wolf.
BLITZER: Nic Robertson in Vienna for us covering this story, thank you.
Let's talk about all of this with the spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mark Regev is joining us live from Jerusalem. Mark, thanks very much for joining us. I know President Obama had a conversation on the phone with the prime minister today. How did that conversation go?
MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: Well, obviously, Wolf, like all such conversations between leaders, I can't go into every detail. But I can say the following -- my prime minister did express our concerns about two important elements. The first element is we see this deal as allowing Iran to maintain a massive nuclear infrastructure, which in a decade or so can be used to make fuel for nuclear weapons. In fact, they'll have such a large industrial nuclear base that they can make dozens if not hundreds of nuclear warheads.
That's the first problem. The second problem is, in the short term, Iran gets this influx of cash by the easing of the sanctions. And that money, I'd like to be able to tell you, Wolf, will be used for schools and roads in Tehran. But it's our understanding and our assessment that that money will be used to finance terrorism, to finance their missile program, to finance Iran's aggression in the region, in Yemen, in Syria and Iraq, in Libya, in Lebanon and other places. In other words, we see Iran coming out of this stronger, more
aggressive and more extreme.
[17:10:02] BLITZER: So what are you going to do about that?
REGEV: We're speaking out against the deal. I'm speaking to you now. My prime minister's been stating our case. We think this is a historic mistake.
And as your reporter before me said, this is something that Israel isn't alone. A lot of important Arab countries in the region are speaking out against this deal, too. And I would remind you, Wolf, when Arab leaders and Israeli leaders agree, it doesn't happen every day of the week and I think people should pay attention. It means something.
BLITZER: The prime minister also said Israel reserves the right to defend itself. Does that mean that you consider the military option, a strike against Iran's nuclear program, still very much alive?
REGEV: Look, Iran's hostility towards Israel is documented. They just say Israel is a cancer that must be removed or that Israel must be obliterated or Israel must be destroyed. This is par for the course in the way the Iranian regime expresses itself. And of course they're a threat to us.
But it's also a threat to your country, Wolf. Just last weekend, the Iranians were burning American and Israeli flags in the streets of Tehran. The so-called moderate president, Rouhani, was leading a demonstration where people were shouting, "Death to America, death to Israel." This is a country whose agenda is fundamentally hostile to my country and to yours. You've got to remember, Wolf, in their warped world outlook, you are, in America, the Big Satan and we are the Little Satan. And unfortunately, this deal makes them stronger and will make them ultimately more dangerous.
BLITZER: The president said today -- and I'm quoting him, he said, "The United States will continue," in his words, "our unprecedented efforts to strengthen Israel's security, efforts that go beyond what any American administration has done before."
Ash Carter, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, will be coming to Israel next week. Is that U.S. support for Israel adequate, from your perspective?
REGEV: Well, we thank President Obama and his team for all they've done over the years for Israel. But we do have a serious and honest disagreement on this issue. We see this Iranian deal as gravely endangering Israel and the region. And it's a problem, a serious problem, because here you're taking a regime that is extreme, that is radical, that has in their own words a global mission to export their version of the Islamic revolution, and you're giving them atomic weapons, the capability to build those weapons in a decade, and you're giving them a massive influx of cash to finance their aggression and their terrorism. I'd remind you of two things -- just last month, the U.S. State
Department put out a report, a documented report, saying that Iran remains a major sponsor of terrorism, if not the major state sponsor of terrorism on the planet. So you're taking a terrorist regime and they're edging closer to nuclear weapons and it's not being stopped. That's a problem.
BLITZER: Mark, I want you to stand by. I have more questions for you. And we're going to get reaction from the White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. He's standing by live at the White House as well. Much more when we come back.
[17:18:09] BLITZER: Back with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, who's joining us live from Jerusalem.
You've expressed your concern on these two points, the nuclear potential after a decade. The immediate concern that Iran's going to get a lot more money to fund terrorists, enemies of Israel like Hamas and Hezbollah for that matter. So what do you do about that?
MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: We make our case. We think our arguments are good. We'll be trying to convince people that this deal is a mistake and that there need to be fundamental changes. I mean, ultimately no one more than Israel has an interest in a diplomatic solution. But it must be a good solution, a solution that actually blocks Iran's path to the bomb.
And unfortunately we're seeing -- what we think we're seeing today is a repeat of the fiasco that was with North Korea. Then once again everyone was assured that this would be a victory for nonproliferation. That a rogue regime would be boarding to the mainstream, that we would succeed in integrating North Korea into the international community. And we all know what happened. North Korea remains as problematic as ever and now they've got nuclear weapons.
We don't want to make the same mistake again. And I'm afraid, I'm afraid very much that this deal today in Vienna repeats those mistakes.
BLITZER: Mark Regev, the spokesman for the prime minister of Israel, thanks very much for joining us.
I want to get a different perspective. Let's get some reaction from the White House right now. The deputy national security adviser to the president, Ben Rhodes, is joining us.
Ben, you heard what Mark Regev just said. Give me your response.
BEN RHODES, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, look, Wolf, we believe that this deal clearly meets our bottom lines in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. There are very strict limitations on Iran's program for the next 10 years. They will significantly roll it back, take out two-thirds of their centrifuges, convert their reactors so they can't develop weapons grade plutonium.
[17:20:03] Put limits on research and development that they can do and get rid of 98 percent of their stockpile of enriched uranium. That is, by the way, limitations that extends 15 years under this deal. So we believe that with the very comprehensive inspections and verification regime that we have, we will be able to confirm and verify that Iran cannot pursue a nuclear weapon.
BLITZER: You heard Mark Regev suggest this could be another North Korea nuclear deal. That didn't exactly work out the way the U.S. wanted 20 years ago.
Here's the question, I guess. Is this going to be another North Korea deal or is this potentially an opening the door the way Nixon did to China?
RHODES: This is a very different deal than the North Korea deal, Wolf. It is far more comprehensive. The inspections regime has 24/7 access to the declared nuclear facilities that Iran has. It also looks at its entire supply chain for its nuclear program. The raw materials, the uranium mines and mills, the conversion facilities, where they produce centrifuges.
The reason that's important is, in order to cheat and break out and develop a covert nuclear weapon, they would have to built an entire covert supply chain. And we'll have the ability to inspect what we need to inspect, where we need to expect it, when we need to inspect it, throughout the country if we have suspicions that they're cheating. So it's a much more comprehensive verification regime that's in place.
BLITZER: During these two years of marathon negotiations, and you heard the concerns raised by the Israeli spokesman, did the U.S. ever ask Iran to acknowledge Israel's right to exist?
RHODES: Well, Wolf, that's our constant position. Right? So before this negotiation, during and after, we always insist that Iran should recognize Israel's right to exist, as should every country in the region, by the way, which include many of the other Arab states who have not yet taken that step. However, this deal dealt specifically with the nuclear program.
The reason why is everything that Iran does in the region, we share the Israeli assessment that they support terrorism in the region, that they're a destabilizing actor. But we believe that an Iran with a nuclear weapon would be far more dangerous. It could prompt a nuclear arms race in the region, it would give a nuclear umbrella to Hezbollah's activities. That's why we're dealing with a nuclear issue in this deal, preventing them from getting a nuclear weapon even as we'll continue to confront other activities of Iran's that we have strong objections to.
BLITZER: It's not just the Israelis but the Saudis, the Emirates, the Egyptians, for that matter, the Kuwaitis. A lot of the Sunni moderate Arab nations are concerned, as you well know, about this deal.
I guess the question is this, why are they wrong, the Israelis and the moderate Sunni Arab leaders, and the U.S. is right?
RHODES: Well, first of all, I think the president had good discussions at Camp David with our Gulf partners on this deal. I think they left there feeling better about the deal but still very concerned about Iran's activities in the region. We share those concerns and we're going to work with them to develop capabilities to counter those activities. But I'd say more broadly, we believe that this deal clearly verifies our ability to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
And look, this is permanent in many respects. There's a permanent prohibition on Iran developing a nuclear weapons program. Their obligation to the international community extends beyond 15 years. They cannot develop a nuclear weapons program to weaponize their peaceful nuclear program and the inspections and transparency regime, that is permanent. So even after 15 years or 20 years, we'll have much broader access in Iran to inspect suspected locations and to see if they're cheating and to take action if necessary in that scenario.
So this deal is very strong in the limitations it imposes for 15 years and even beyond that, it's very strong in terms of having greater inspections and verification regime so we can make sure that Iran is not violating its commitment to not pursue a nuclear weapon.
BLITZER: If the speaker of the House, John Boehner, says the deal is unacceptable, he's going to oppose it presumably. What happens if they override a presidential veto and reject this deal, the House and the Senate?
RHODES: Well, let's be very clear, Wolf. In a world with a deal, Iran takes out two-thirds of its centrifuges, gets rid of that stockpile, converts that reactor, in a world in which the deal is killed, there are no constraints on Iran's nuclear program. They could just fire up those machine, advance their program, rebuild that stockpile, fuel that reactor to develop plutonium. So there's a great risk that if you kill this deal, you lose the constraints. We've seen Iran pursue its nuclear program even under sanctions in the past.
But the second thing, Wolf, that is very important here is the international community is what made these sanctions bite. We got the cooperation of all these other countries to sanction Iran. That's how we pressured them to the table, that's how we pressured them to make these concessions to get this good deal.
If the United States blows up the deal, not only do we think we'll lose all the benefits of the deal, we will likely lose the international buy-in for the sanctions coalition. Why would the other countries that went along with the sanctions to get this good deal go along with a sanctions regime after we've made clear that we're not going to accept the very deal that the sanctions brought about in the first place?
BLITZER: Four American citizens, as you know, are being held by the Iranians. Is there any opportunity that as part of this deal, they're going to get hundreds of billions of dollars, they will release these four Americans?
[17:25:10] RHODES: Well, we constantly have raised the case of the four Americans with the Iranian government. We want to see them released immediately. We did not draw a direct linkage to this deal for a very simple reason. If we didn't get a deal, we didn't want them to tied to whether or not there was a nuclear agreement. However, it would be the right thing for the Iranian government to do, to release these Americans as soon as possible. That would send a very clear and positive signal.
If they don't, we'll continue to very strongly oppose that action just as we're going to have issues with many other Iranian policies that we object to. But again, in a world with a deal, Iran does not have a nuclear weapon and we can verify that they cannot pursue a nuclear weapon, that is worth doing.
BLITZER: What do you think? Is this deal going to go through or are there enough votes to block it?
RHODES: Well, you heard the president make very clear that he would veto any legislation that would prevent the implementation of this deal. We believe that we'll have the support to uphold that commitment. We believe that we'll be making the case to as many members of Congress as we can. We already see some strong support.
Leader Pelosi early this morning put out a very strong statement of support. We'll be briefing members. The president has spoken to leaders of Congress. Secretary Kerry and Secretary Moniz, when they get back, can sit down with these members.
And I might add, Secretary Moniz is one of the best nuclear physicist in the world. He can sit down and explain why this cuts off every pathway that Iran has to a nuclear weapon and why we can verify that they're keeping those commitments. I think that will be persuasive to a lot of members of Congress.
BLITZER: Ben Rhodes, at the White House, thanks very much for joining us.
RHODES: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Iran's reaction is coming up. We're going to hear directly from its top negotiator. We'll also hear from the secretary of state, John Kerry.
And we're learning the U.S. tipped off Mexico that an imprisoned drug lord's relatives and associates were making plans to break him out of prison. Why wasn't anything done to stop it?
[17:31:26] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It took about two years to negotiate a deal over Iran's nuclear program. Judging by the reaction, though, on Capitol Hill, getting Congress to go along with the deal, ease sanctions on Iran, may be even harder.
With us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM, two guests. Vali Nasr is the dean of Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. David Frum is the senior editor at "The Atlantic" magazine. He was a speechwriter, by the way, for President George W. Bush. Helped come up with that phrase "axis of evil" to describe Iran, Iraq and North Korea. A lot of us remembered that.
Vali, you say this is a good deal, a victory. Why?
VALI NASR, ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Well, it's a victory for diplomacy, it's victory for the objectives that President Obama set out, which is try to limit Iran's nuclear program, try to change the profile of its positioning on that issue. To that extent what he set out to do he has done so.
And also if you look at the context in the Middle East, given the situation in that region, I think creating some stability in U.S.-Iran relationship would benefit the United States.
BLITZER: Because you think that this potentially could be an opening the way Nixon moved to China, eventually leading to normalization of relations?
NASR: Not in the short run. That's not going to happen for some time. But this is the first crack. Iran has never signed a deal with the United States. It has never recognized, you know, even sitting with the United States in a room. So they have passed certain rubicons. But also at the same time, the Middle East as a whole is in a free fall, as you know you have the collapse of Syria, you have the collapse of Iraq. These are going to be challenges for us going forward. I think confrontation at this point in time with Iran would have just complicated things further.
BLITZER: You disagree, David, right?
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I don't think you can compare this with Nixon going to China. When Nixon went to China he gave little and he got much. He enlisted China as part of the U.S.- led anti-Soviet coalition, the concessions were minimal. And the gesture was overwhelmingly welcomed by America's global allies.
This is a case where the United States is giving much and getting little and it's upending the whole structure of its alliance system in the Middle East and alarming a lot of its allies in Europe at the same time.
BLITZER: But isn't it better to test the Iranians rather than going to war against the Iranians?
FRUM: You know, when someone has done a bad job, they will tell you, the only alternative to what I did was global thermonuclear war. But there was another option, which is to have negotiated from the beginning as if the United States had the power behind it that it really did. One of the things that have been puzzling about this whole arrangement is that Iran needs this deal desperately. Its economy is in shambles. At the time the negotiations started, the currency was in free fall.
And yet throughout these negotiations, it was the United States that acted as the desperate party. And this is going to be the debate inside the Republican Party. At this point, we have bad options. But a year and a half ago, we had much better options. And the administration negotiated weakly and got a weak out.
BLITZER: Quick response?
NASR: Well, first of all, this is more like negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Iran arms control than it is to opening to China. So you have to look at what is the nature of the transaction that we have done. Secondly, the deal is not necessarily that popular among Iran's leaders either. They also have the same kind of concerns that you have in Congress that, yes, it was good to negotiate. But in the end, they may have not got enough and they have given a lot.
I mean, look at the financial economic things. They're not going to get anything before a year. And if they get a Republican president in the White House, the deal may be off altogether. And you know, so there's a lot of risk in it and it's not a given that this is a total victory --
BLITZER: All of the Republican presidential candidates, including Rand Paul himself, they've all basically said this deal is not a good deal, unacceptable, that's the word Rand Paul used.
Very quickly, before I let you go, David. You caused a stir with this Serena Williams tweet suggesting that maybe you though she was on steroids. She's one of the greatest, if not the greatest women tennis players ever. You deleted those tweets. What happened there? What were you thinking?
[17:35:13] FRUM: No, I put up two tweets that remain up that made the point I wanted to make. Then later on I had a conversation with a Twitter follower. We had a fairly intense one. I took down the tweet and then I inadvertently allowed a couple of those to go public. I took those down. The two main tweets in which I referenced in "The New York Times'" story saying there's something peculiar about Serena Williams' musculature, I left those up.
And, you know, if you want to have me back to talk about tennis, we can talk about tennis. On Iran day, I think I need to say one more thing to Vali because he's such a powerful and insightful voice but this analogy he raises between this and the Soviet Union negotiation. That is exactly the problem. The Soviet Union and the United States negotiated as two superpowers. In this case, there was a superpower negotiating with a completely broken economy. And the United States should have acted like that instead of acting like it was dealing with an equal superpower that had a lot of options when it had so very, very few.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Vali. NASR: Well, in terms of the structure of the deal, it was -- this is
an arms control deal. This is not really negotiations about opening up a country. Iran is not ready to actually come out of the cold. In that sense, it's a transactional deal. Now the question on what did the United States give and what did it get in return is something that's going to be debated here and similarly is going to be debated in Iran.
I think in both countries, you have unhappy camps who think that they didn't get the best at the table. And the irony is that the Congress actually has an exact parallel in the Iran in the form of the conservatives who think that the Iranian foreign minister and president basically gave up the whole nuclear program and what they're getting in return is conditional. Congress may not approve it. The Republicans may throw it out of the window.
BLITZER: We're going to end this discussion on the Iran nuclear talks. Maybe you'd like to come back tomorrow, we'll talk about Serena a little bit -- I mean, I watched her play tennis. I'm going to a tennis match here in Washington tonight. Our Washington Kastles are playing. I have seen no evidence, all the tests that she's taken over the years, her sister, Venus, there's no evidence that she's ever was on any steroids, right?
FRUM: We'll save this for our tennis program someday. But on Iran day, I think the thing to keep in mind is the United States has committed itself to something that is a grossly inequitable deal.
BLITZER: Maybe tomorrow if you want to come back, we'll talk about tennis a little bit which is a lot more fun than talking Iran nuclear negotiations.
Guys, thanks very much for joining us.
Up next, we're going to hear from two of the top negotiators. The Secretary of State John Kerry himself and Iran's Foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. They both spoke with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
[17:42:24] BLITZER: After the announcement of today's nuclear deal with Iran, CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour sat down with the two top negotiators. The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Christiane is joining us now live from Vienna.
Christiane, you asked the secretary if this was a strategic realignment potentially to redefine the balance of power in the Middle East. What did he tell you?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, precisely I did. Because, you know, a lot of that's been bandied around by the Obama administration. So I wanted to know whether they still thought that. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN SECRETARY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We exclusively negotiated a nuclear deal because we knew that if we got into the other issues, you would never get to the nuclear deal. So an Iran without a nuclear weapon -- Christiane, I think you know this as a matter of common sense -- is better to deal with than an Iran with one.
For those who are worried about Iran's behavior in the region, we are better off pushing back or dealing with that behavior if they're not on a path to get one. And we believe we are clearly demonstrating a way in which they cannot get a nuclear weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So I also then talked to -- after that I did talk to Zarif. But meantime, I talked to the head of the IAEA who is tasked with verifying this deal. And he felt that they did actually have enough in the deal and the agreements that would give them the kind of access they need to answer the outstanding questions about the past and also obviously to monitor very closely what happens going forward.
BLITZER: Christiane, what did the Foreign minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tell you about why Iran wanted to strike this deal, especially with the West, especially with the United States, right now?
AMANPOUR: Well, in general, as you know, this has not been a zero sum game. It's not like one side got everything they wanted and the other side lost. All along, Iran has said this has to be a win-win solution and the United States finally came to that realization.
Remember, this all started under the George Bush administration when he started the whole idea of -- of equating, limiting and curbing Iran's nuclear program with an easing and a lifting of sanctions. Well, now it's actually happened under the Obama administration. A lot of things happened in the interim. But it's happened.
And Zarif has said, well, of course, what they wanted was, A, to be recognized as a legitimate nuclear program which this deal does, and, B, to have the sanctions lifted but also to have broader implications. This is what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[17:45:07] MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We wanted to change the nature of our relationship with the West. We didn't believe it was good for Iran and the West, while we have common threats and common challenges in our region, to be basically entrenching ourselves in a nonissue, in an unnecessary crisis, in a fabricated crisis that has been created for over the past almost decade or more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So he said fabricated issue and a non-crisis. Well, obviously a lot of the world doesn't believe that it's a non-crisis. Many, many people, Europeans, the Americans, the Israelis, many believe that there was a real crisis. The idea of what was Iran doing with its nuclear program. But now that this deal is here and they say that they have the right mechanisms to check it and to keep it curbed from anywhere between 10 and 25 years, Secretary Kerry responded to the criticism, mostly from Congress and from Israel saying, well, what is the alternative? What is the alternative? And unless anybody has a better idea and a better alternative, this arms control agreement was the best and a good deal -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Christiane, thanks very, very much.
An important note to our viewers, by the way, Christiane's program "AMANPOUR" can be seen anytime on CNN. Go there if you want. You can watch her interview with the head of the international group in charge of verifying Iran's nuclear activity.
Christiane, thank you.
Coming up, amid the hunt for an escaped drug lord, we're now learning the U.S. warned Mexico that his relatives and associates were looking for ways to get him out of prison.
[17:51:16] BLITZER: We'll have much more to come on today's historic nuclear deal with Iran, but we're also following the hunt for a notorious Mexican drug lord who escaped from prison. And now we're learning that the United States warned Mexico about the planned escape.
Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd, he's got new information. What are you learning, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight there's a $3.8 million bounty for the man known as El Chapo but so far no trace of him. And tonight as Wolf mentioned, we're getting new information on leads being followed by law enforcement and leads that may have been missed.
TODD (voice-over): A new picture of the menacing drug lord Joaquin El Chappo Guzman and new information on a key piece of intelligence that may not have been heeded.
A law enforcement official tells CNN following his capture in 2014, DEA agents developed threads of information indicating Guzman's relatives and associates were looking for ways to get him out of prison. The official says U.S. officials had no specific information on Guzman's escape on Saturday but that they did pass along what they had to Mexican authorities. Mexico's Interior minister denies the assertion.
Tonight, a Mexican official tells CNN about 50 people have been questioned and three top prison officials fired in the investigation into Guzman's escape. The officials says Guzman may head back to the mountain hideaways of Sinaloa state and his hometown of Badiraguato.
IOAN GRILLO, AUTHOR, "EL NARCO": In these communities, he is seen as a hero. He's almost venerated. He's larger than life.
TODD: A U.S. law enforcement official tells CNN Guzman's got an intensive support network in the heavily forested switchbacks of Sinaloa with advanced team of lookouts, spies and scouts who help him evade capture. A huge advantage for El Chapo, his Robin Hood reputation.
DUNCAN WOOD, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: He brings real benefits to the local community. He pays for things. You know, whether it is the quinceanera, the 15-year-old party, or whether it's putting on a rodeo for the local community or paying for something in the local church. He's done that for many, many years.
TODD: Is this woman helping him? Emma Coronel, a glamorous former beauty queen who married El Chapo when she was a teenager. He was around 50. Coronel was a U.S. citizen and gave birth to Guzman's twin daughters near Los Angeles in 2011. Officials say she is related to a notorious Mexican drug lord named Nacho Coronel who was killed in a shoot-out with the Mexican army in 2010.
GRILLO: She comes from a very similar background with Chapo Guzman. From these communities in Sinaloa state, in the countryside who have grown up around, among drug traffickers and it's almost like a large tribe of drug traffickers.
TODD: Now there's no indication from officials that Emma Coronel is involved in Guzman's criminal activities or in his escape, and it's not clear whether Mexican authorities are questioning her at the moment. One Mexican official says her phone was one of the leads used in El Chapo's capture in Mazatlan, Mexico last year. Now as far as tracking her down, an official tells CNN she is traceable and she's usually not hiding -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a story that is. We'll continue on stay on top of it.
Brian, thank you very, very much.
Coming up, the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran. Will the U.S. Congress sign off or try to block it? I'll speak with a key member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff. He's is standing by live.
Plus, President Obama speaking to the NAACP about race, crime and justice. We'll have a full report.
BLITZER: Happening now, digging into the deal. How much did negotiators give to Iran in order to get a nuclear agreement? Tonight, the likely winners and losers and fears that a long time enemy of the U.S. can't be trusted.
President Obama's threat. He's warning Congress that he'll veto any attempt to block the Iran deal. Republican opponents are pouncing. They're accusing the president of endangering the world even as he tries to hone his legacy.
Seeking justice. A famous case of deadly police violence has settled as President Obama speaks to the NAACP about race, crime and punishment. Stand by for his remarks and the reaction.
And Trump on top. He is surging to the number one spot in the new Republican presidential poll while taking direct aim at Hillary Clinton, the Iran nuclear deal and an escaped Mexican drug lord.
[18:00:02] We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.