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Obama Secures Enough Congressional Support for Iran Nuclear Deal; Europe's Growing Refugee Crisis; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired September 2, 2015 - 14:00:00   ET




FRED PLEITGEN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: a special edition of the program on Europe's growing refugee crisis. As many more migrants

arrive here in Germany, homeless, helpless and hungry, we're live outside a refugee shelter.

Also big news out of the U.S. as President Obama secures enough political support to save his Iran nuclear deal.

But can he win over the American public? An international exclusive interview with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: . this agreement is not based on hope or trust. This agreement is based on verification and on very specific

steps that Iran has to take.



PLEITGEN: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane, with a special edition of the show. And

we're live here in Germany, where thousands of refugees are streaming into Munich as Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

Now in just a moment you'll see my interview with a top German politician and a young Syrian who's made the long journey.

But first, to another major international story and that is, of course, Iran and a big victory for the Obama administration. The White

House has secured the votes it needs to pass the Iran nuclear deal through Congress. The American people are still very much on the fence.

A recent CNN poll showed the majority of them want Congress to block the deal. And so today the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry directly

addressed the country, asking Americans for their support.

Now our own chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, spoke to Secretary of State Kerry just before he delivered that speech in

Philadelphia. And he said he believes the nuclear deal will be good for security in the region.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Secretary Kerry, I want to start by saying thank you very much for giving us this interview ahead of this major

address. And obviously the stakes are incredibly high.

Tell us what you hope to accomplish in the hour that you have to speak to the American people.

KERRY: Well, I hope to make it clear, Christiane -- first of all, thank you for having a moment here.

I hope to make it clear that this agreement, which has been entered into by the P5+1, six nations coming together, and Iran, is an agreement

that will set out very strict requirements that Iran needs to adhere to -- which they have accepted -- and will, in fact, close off and provide

assurance to the world that the pathways are closed off to a nuclear weapon.

Iran has declared they never want to seek one, that they will not seek one. But that has to be put into a structure where it is affirmed by

specific actions that are verifiable. That's what this agreement does.

And I will deal with a number of the myths that are out there, that somehow this agreement legitimizes a path to a nuclear weapon or that it's

not able to be verified and so forth.

AMANPOUR: Secretary Kerry, this whole debate has been described as one of the most divisive in the United States in modern history. It

involves American security, Israeli security, concerns in the region of the Middle East. And the American people seem to have succumbed to the very

divisive debate and the coverage of it.

A recent CNN poll, the latest we've taken, just about a week or so ago, shows that 56 percent of the people who you hope to convince today say

the Congress should not approve it.

KERRY: Well, the latest poll I saw said that 52 percent of Americans support the agreement. But it is correct for you to say that it's been

divisive and I regret that it's been divisive.

That's one of the reasons why I'm here today: it is to dispel the myths and layout specifically and factually what this agreement does and

doesn't do.

And I hope -- and I think we're seeing this, incidentally, as senators are looking at this very, very closely, examining it; we had another

senator announce today her support for the agreement, Senator Mikulski.

So there's an increasing march of people who are looking at it closely, judging it --


KERRY: -- by its facts and then deciding that they do support it.

AMANPOUR: You just mentioned Senator Mikulski and that now brings you to 34 votes apparently for approval of this deal.

What does that mean in terms of whether it sinks or swims?

KERRY: Obviously 34 votes are enough votes for the president's veto to be able to be upheld.

But we're not -- that's not the way we're approaching this. We want anybody and everybody hopefully to be able to vote for it. We're going to

continue to try to persuade people, up until the last moment. And our hope is that that number will grow obviously.

What we're trying to point out clearly today, what I will say, is that this agreement is not based on hope or trust. This agreement is based on

verification and on very specific steps that Iran has to take.

There is no sunset to this agreement.

AMANPOUR: So let me just ask you again, you said you wanted to dispel the myths, as you call it, around this deal.

One of them -- even those supporters in Congress say they have a heavy heart about -- is what about all the billions of dollars that will be freed

under sanctions relief that many fear, not just in the U.S. but in the region, will go towards Iran funding the kind of terrorism that it's been

accused of funding in the past?

KERRY: Well, to give you an example of the level of distortion and the mythology, I keep hearing people talk about hundreds of billions of

dollars that will be released.

That is not what will happen. The money that has been held back in escrow is money actually that belongs to Iran. But it has not been

delivered to Iran under the sanctions regime. It -- the real amount is somewhere in the vicinity of $50 billion to $55 billion.

Much of that money is already spoken for in Iran because of contracts with China, because of bad loans, because of balance-of-debt payments,

because of infrastructure projects.

And for Iran to bring its oil industry back to where it was just five years ago, they would have to invest several hundred billion dollars.

So, yes, it is probably fair to say something may find its way to some bad or nefarious activity. But the activities that we have objected to

that Iran is engaged in are not fueled primarily by money.

AMANPOUR: And let me just ask you, as I must, the terrible crisis engulfing Europe right now, the flood of refugees, the biggest movement of

people since the end of World War II -- and the war in Syria is sparking that to a great extent.

We've seen how Germany is being generous to these refugees; we've seen how Hungary and even here in the U.K. governments are not being generous.

What would you say to your counterparts in Europe right now?

KERRY: Well, I just met with a group of my counterparts from Europe and I listened very carefully to them at a conference that we had in Alaska

regarding climate change. And we had seven foreign ministers who had come together, six of them from Europe.

And they really were seized by this challenge of the migration that is taking place. It's an enormous challenge; it's a very serious issue for

all of us. And we in the State Department are trying to think through various ways to try to make the contribution to solving it.

But one of the key things is resolving Syria, obviously. And resolving Syria requires cooperation with Russia, with Saudi Arabia.

We've come together. We had a meeting a few days ago, a trilateral meeting between Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United States. We are looking

at ways to see if we can find a diplomatic path, a political solution that will have an impact.

But the most critical thing is Assad himself has got to contribute to that and he cannot contribute to it by sitting there and viewing this as a

choice about his future and his longevity as the leader of Syria. There is no way to find a peaceful track if that is the focus.

He is going to have to contribute to the transition that was envisioned in the Geneva process and that's what we're working towards with

other countries at this moment.

AMANPOUR: And, Mr. Secretary, ISIS, as we've seen, has just destroyed a 2,000-year edifice in Palmyra and it continues its rampage against human

life as well. A huge and important strategy session in Aspen in Colorado recently concluded that the only way to defeat ISIS is through a ground


Is there any indication that the United States is moving any closer to gathering some kind of coalition, Western, regional or both, to defeat ISIS

as you have said it needs to be defeated?

KERRY: Well, it does need to be defeated and it has made that more clear putting its exclamation point on that --


KERRY: -- on that reality, which we all knew anyway, but in the last days with the beheading of the professor who guarded the antiquities as

well as with the destruction of the antiquities and its own threats and movements within the region.

This is a very dangerous group and we need to -- we need to increase the pressure on them.

And we are talking about very specific ways to do that with other countries in the region.

You are correct; there will need to be people on the ground. I am convinced there will be at the appropriate moment. And I believe that that

pressure will increase and is increasing, even as we're talking, in many different ways.

AMANPOUR: Well, you've just raised the idea of a ground force. I've got to ask you, you're talking about the pressure; you say it will happen.

You're convinced.

Who? Who will take part? The United States?

KERRY: Well, I think -- no, the president has said that -- at least for the time being, the president has made it very clear that American

troops are not part of that equation. And I don't think he has any plans to change that.

But I do know that there are others who are talking about it. There are people in the region who are capable of that. And I believe that

everybody understands -- there are also people in Syria, by the way, already who are capable of that and there are Syrian oppositionists of the

regime who are also capable.

So I believe that, over the next months, with our meetings in New York coming up at the United Nations General Assembly and otherwise, this will

be very much a topic of conversation; it already is a topic of conversation. And there will be increased focus on ramping up the effort

with respect to ISIL.

AMANPOUR: Secretary of State John Kerry, thank you so much for joining us at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, just ahead

of your big speech to the American people on this Iran deal. Thanks for joining us.

KERRY: Thank you.


PLEITGEN: That's Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking to our own Christiane Amanpour.

And after a break, we'll take a closer look at that crisis shaping up here in Munich. You'll see my interview with prominent Green Party

politician and the vice president of Germany's parliament, Claudia Roth, who says Europe is in dire need of some common humanity. That's coming up





PLEITGEN: And welcome back to the program. I'm Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane.

And we're standing, of course, outside this temporary refugee shelter in the city of Munich, where mostly Iraqi and Syrian refugees arrived. And

many of them are looking to start a new life here in Europe.

But tragically we also know that not all of them make it here. And we have to warn you that the pictures that we're about to show you are

extremely disturbing. But we do feel that we have to show them to you because they show the stark reality of the enormous tragedy that's

unfolding right here on Europe's doors.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Now the pictures that you're seeing right now is the body of a -- the dead body of a small child. The boy's body was

washed onto a tourist beach in Bodrum, in Turkey, today. He and his family believed to be from Syria were refugees trying to get from the Turkish

coast to Greece.

At least 12 others died when their boats --


PLEITGEN (voice-over): -- sank and this is the disturbing reality that so many families face when they make that dangerous journey to try to

come to places like this.


PLEITGEN: Now earlier I spoke to top German Green Party politician Claudia Roth, who's also president of Germany's parliament and who has been

doing a lot of research and visiting the hot spots of the European refugee crisis.

She says that Europe will only be able to tackle the crisis if it unites.


Ms. Claudia Roth, thank you for joining the program today.

CLAUDIA ROTH, PRESIDENT, GERMAN PARLIAMENT: First of all, what is the situation in Europe right now? Because it seems as though the Hungarians

believe they can't let the refugees pass onto here and at the same time we see here in Munich people are donating things; they're ready for more

people to come.

What is the situation?

I think that Europe is in a real crisis. And every day, Europe is dying or the values in Europe are dying if there is not a shared

responsibility, finding a shared responsibility.

And it's a solution that in Hungary they build 175 kilometer-long fence or in Bulgaria they build 100-kilometer long wall. No, Europe should

be ready to receive more refugees from the hot regions, from Lebanon, from Jordan, from Iraq.

And there will be more coming from Syria and we have to receive them as a humanitarian responsibility and share the responsibility inside Europe

with the member states --

PLEITGEN: There's many, many people stranded right now in Hungary with very little food, very little water. The Hungarian government says

we're just upholding European law.

Is that what they're doing or are they just not being flexible enough --

ROTH: That has nothing to do with European law. I asked myself when I saw this, what the hell is it, European law, that they take people out of

the refugee -- take them like prisoners, put them anywhere, nobody knows. If they don't give them water, basic needs, this is -- these are universal

human rights. And they are violating these rights.

I'm really shocked about the situation in Hungary and what Albania (ph) is doing is very, very --

PLEITGEN: Could he just let the people go? Because a lot of the people there have train tickets. They have train tickets.

ROTH: It's incredible. They sell the train tickets but then they do not allow them to use the train.

I think what is important is that they should register the people. OK. But then we would need immediately a kind of resettlement program to

take them, for example, from Lebanon, already from Turkey, latest from Hungary, Bulgaria or Macedonia, and to make a corridor, to make legal ways

to reach Europe.

The problem is that we don't have these legal possibilities and that this is something which helps also earn money with --

PLEITGEN: Traffickers.

ROTH: -- yes, the traffickers.

PLEITGEN: Do you think that Germany is ready for a mass influx of refugees?

Because the talk is of up to 800,000 possibly coming this year.

ROTH: Well, Germany is one of the richest countries in the whole world. We have a history and a historical responsibility, especially if it

comes to questions of receiving asylum seekers.

Germany of course cannot do it alone. But can do more.

PLEITGEN: What do you make of the way that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is handling the crisis so far?

ROTH: I think she should have talked this crisis, this international crisis earlier on board. Now finally this week, when she went to Heidenau,

this was good that she did it. Merkel faced the reality of German racists and she saw for the first time refugees. She spoke to refugees and she

could learn in a very direct way that these people don't leave their countries because Germany is so beautiful but because they want to have a

future, because they want to survive.

For me, it's unacceptable the way Cameron is behaving, the British prime minister, or the fact that so many countries say, oh, we have nothing

to do. Now Merkel, it's up to her to make quite clear that the Europeans' responsibility but that Germany is.

PLEITGEN: And that will require changing European laws.

ROTH: We need common asylum --


PLEITGEN: How are you going to do that, though? Because East European countries are for restrictive policy. Britain is for a

restrictive policy. Certainly Hungary is for a restrictive policy.

How is Angela Merkel going to do that --


ROTH: I think this is a crisis for the European Union and now Europe has to show whether it's a common -- something in common, whether we are

really a European Union or whether we are kind of national states, which try only to --


ROTH: -- get their own interests through. And this is a challenge for Europe, which is much more difficult than, for example, the challenge

to solve the problems in Greece.

If we cannot manage to deal together, there's not a European responsibility, then Europe can collapse. And this would be terrible.

PLEITGEN: Claudia Roth, thank you very much for joining us today.

ROTH: Thank you so much. Thank you.

PLEITGEN: Thank you.

ROTH: Thank you.


PLEITGEN: And when we come back, the look at the personal side of this tragedy with a story of an old friend. A Syrian student who I mean

when I was in Damascus and who is now a refugee here in Germany will tell me how he's doing -- coming up next.




PLEITGEN: And finally tonight, try to imagine what it could be like to be a Syrian refugee, one who traveled thousands of miles on a perilous

journey from Damascus to right here in Germany.

I first met Hani Zaitoun when he was a young man in school in Damascus just two years ago. Now he's still a young man; he's only 19 and he's one

of the many refugees seeking safe haven right here in Germany.

Now our worlds collided once again as we started reporting on the refugee crisis here in Germany and Hani joins me here now tonight.

Good evening, Hani.


PLEITGEN: How are you? And I remember two years ago, when we first met, the situation in Damascus was already very bad. But I met you and

your family and you guys still seemed to be happy.

Why did you decide to give it all up and come here?

ZAITOUN: Well, I think that leaving Damascus and leaving Syria is a really tough decision. But four or 4.5 years of war, was, I think,

sufficient reason for me to leave Damascus and to take the decision of leaving Syria --

PLEITGEN: Was this because you felt unsafe?

Or you did you do it because you feel you had no future there?

ZAITOUN: Well, I think that's both. I think that's for -- you can see how bad the situation is becoming now in Damascus. And especially in

the last few days it became really fragile, awful like Damascus is considered a relatively safe place in Syria. In the last few days, for

instance, where I was, I used to study at Damascus University.

Today, a mortar shell landed there in Damascus University and killed two students and injured about 30 students.

I imagine if I was there, I was going to be like maybe the end of my life.

So I had to take this decision of leaving Damascus. And also let's not like to mention how the electricity shortage, the water shortage, the

fuel shortage there, this is all what concerns you there with the war there.

PLEITGEN: You're 19 years old. And I don't know about many of our viewers, but when I was 19 years old, I wasn't a very responsible person.

But it's a big burden for someone to make that journey. You're dealing with authorities. You have to fill out forms.

How difficult is it for you to navigate through all that?


ZAITOUN: Well, although it's really hard to acquire (ph) the new system and to get to know a whole new country, for me it was a little bit

like more easier than the other Syrians because I've been able to speak English and some German because I've learned some German before I came


But sometimes you have to take this burden in order to take a step or a milestone to the future. And then you can have -- you can plan like

other human beings and have this future, that you will go to university and have a good future and get your rights as a human being.

So although it's really hard to be here and especially that I'm alone, you have to be really autonomous and you have to really take care of

yourself and be responsible.

PLEITGEN: How many of your friends are -- that are still in Damascus -- are thinking of doing the same thing?

ZAITOUN: Well, there are so many people. And they are already on the road to Germany or maybe to other German countries and they're -- most of

the people are --


PLEITGEN: What's it like for you here?

What's it like being in a refugee shelter?

ZAITOUN: Well, although it's not easy to be in a refugee shelter or like what they call it, camps, but you know that at least it's ephemeral,

that after a while, it's just something like 30-50 days in a camp. But after that, you will have a good place to stay at. You will have your

rights, your dignity will be preserved. And everything will be good for you.

And the German government, the German authorities are really making really good efforts in giving us our rights and giving access to education,

to basic needs that we may not be able to get in Damascus or in Syria.

So I think that it may be, as you say, may be hard but we have to do this.

PLEITGEN: Hani Zaitoun, thank you very much for coming --

ZAITOUN: You're welcome.

PLEITGEN: Thank you very much.

And that is it for our program tonight. Remember you can always see the whole show online at, and you can also follow me on

Facebook and on Twitter, @FPleitgenCNN. Thank you very much for watching and goodbye from Munich.