Return to Transcripts main page


Donald Trump Tears Up The Iran Deal And Slams Sanctions Back On Iran, No More Business As Usual; Western Companies Now Face A Dilemma In Their Deals With Tehran; Disney Earnings Are Out Any Moment And They Have A Rival Bidder For Fox; Syria's State T.V. Channel Is Reporting That The Syrian Military Has "Confronted And Destroyed Two Israeli Missiles; Businesses In Iran That Signed Deals After Sanctions Ended Are Watching Their Investments Nervously; U.S. Secretary of State in Surprise North Korea Trip; New Ebola Outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo; Iran Warns It is Ready to Start Nuclear Enrichment; Rouhani: Economic Growth will Continue in Iran Despite U.S. Exit on Nuclear Deal; OPEC: Ditching Iran Deal Would Harm Global Economy; President Trump Says He is Willing to Negotiate a New Deal with Iran; Comcast, Disney Set for Takeover Tug-of-War Over Fox; Russia: Disappointed About U.S. Leaving Iran Deal. Aired: 4-5p ET

Aired May 8, 2018 - 16:00:00   ET


BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And the Dow is closing lower at the end of a nervy day of trading. It's Tuesday, the 8th of May.

Tonight, Donald Trump tears up the Iran deal and slams sanctions back on Iran. It's no more business as usual, Western companies now face a dilemma

in their deals with Tehran, and a battle in the magic kingdom, Disney earnings are out any moment and they have a rival bidder for Fox.

I am Bianna Golodryga and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran deal has outraged his international partners and sent shockwaves through the business world.

Tonight, we will explain how companies and countries across the world will have to adjust to this new reality.

Whether it's the new threat of sanctions for companies hoping to do deals in Iran, oil prices which have bounced around sharply or the economic

pressure now facing Iran itself, but we begin here in the United States.

Donald Trump says the Iran deal amounted to nuclear blackmail, so he is pulling the U.S. out. In real terms, that means he will allow a set of

harsh economic sanctions to resume against Tehran. The U.S. Treasury Department says that process begins today.

They expect all U.S. sanctions that had been lifted by the deal will be back in place by November 4th.

After 90 days, there will be sanctions barring Iran from acquiring U.S. dollars. Sanctions on Iran's auto sector, sanctions on Iranian debt, gold,

steel and coal. And after 180 days, sanctions on Iran Central Bank and crucially, Iranian oil and energy. Trump says, the deal gave Iran too much

money without assuring against an Iranian nuclear bomb.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At the point when the United States had maximum leverage, this disastrous deal gave this regime and it's

a regime of great terror, many billions of dollars, some of it in actual cash, a great embarrassment to me as a citizen and to all citizens of the

United States.

It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb, under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.


Bill Richardson served as the U.S. Energy Secretary and was Ambassador to the United Nations under President Clinton. He is joining us live in Santa

Fe, New Mexico. Ambassador, thank you so much for coming on, on a busy afternoon here.

First, your reaction to the President's comments?

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: Well, I think it's a sad day for American diplomacy, a sad day for American leadership. That's an

abdication of American leadership. This is a decision that is going to upset our allies - Germany, France, Britain - it's going to inflame

tensions in the Middle East, and then it's going to send a message to North Korea that we're about to hopefully have a nuclear agreement that from on

President to the other, maybe you can't press the United States to keep their agreement.

So, I am disappointed in what's happened, in the explanation and once again, Iran had been rolling back their nuclear program. They had been

complying with international inspectors for almost 28 months, no violations. They're a bad regime, they do a lot of bad things like

terrorism, helping Assad and many other issues, but I think those are issues that could have been negotiated separately and keep the agreement,

but unfortunately, that's gone.

GOLODRYGA: Ambassador, there is one question that I can't seem to answer, and I am wondering if you can help me here, because of course, we know that

Israel has been staunchly opposed to this deal. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu laid out a presentation saying that Iranians had been

deceiving the world, even going before the deal obviously, but he said, possibly after the deal was signed.

My question is, if getting out of this deal is a threat to the world, wouldn't Israel be the closest country to be facing a threat from Iran.

So, if that's the case, is there a situation where they may know something or see something that we don't?

RICHARDSON: Well, look, our relationship with Israel are strong. They are our main ally in the Middle East, that will remain whoever is President of

the United States. The evidence that the Prime Minister presented to the international community was old evidence, before the nuclear agreement was

signed. There wasn't anything new.

But, you know, domestic politics is also involved in any country and it is in Israel. The worry that I have is that now, tensions...


RICHARDSON: ... are going to be inflamed in the Middle East with Iran, possibly having a nuclear weapon in the future, being stronger in its

efforts to help Assad to hurt Israel. They want to see the destruction of Israel, get involved in Yemen, help Hamas and Hezbollah that threaten

Israel and Syrian and Lebanon.

So, I don't see the plus at all for the United States and for Israel in violating this agreement, and a lot Israeli defense officials wanted the

United States to stay in the agreement.

GOLODRYGA: And what was interesting was while we anticipated this commentary from the President in this ultimate announcement, what we didn't

expect was for him to sort of bury the lead by saying, that his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo was en route to North Korea to meet with diplomats

there in preparation for the President's meeting with Kim Jong-un, and I am curious as to your take as to what this announcement today implies for any

possible deal or negotiation with North Korea?

RICHARDSON: Well, this is a good announcement. I think the fact that Secretary Pompeo is going to North Korea for the second time, to look at

logistics, preparations possibly substance on the agreement is good.

Contact at the highest level, Kim Jong-un is meeting with him, maybe Pompeo is also going to bring the three American detainees back. That would be a

nice gesture by the North Koreans, but I would suspect one of the questions Secretary Pompeo is going to get from the North Korean's Kim Jong-un is,

"Look, how can we make an agreement with you if on Iran nuclear agreement, you turn around and obviate what a previous American President had signed?"

I suspect that will be on the agenda, too, on the part of the North Koreans, they don't miss a beat, you know, they read everything. They know

everything that is happening and this summit is important to them. So, I would say that announcement on the Pompeo visit is a positive sidelight to

a very bad day for American leadership and diplomacy, getting out of this agreement I think is a huge mistake.

GOLODRYGA: The first question after the President gave that announcement was, will this make America safer? Getting out of this deal - will this

make America safer? I am asking you sort of anticipating your answer, but why? Back it up.

RICHARDSON: Well, it's not going to make us safer. Now, you're going to have two world states that have been enemies of the U.S. - North Korea and

Iran - possibly Iran with nuclear weapons. North Korea has some 20 to 60 maybe 40. Iran had rolled back its nuclear production. They had put their

nuclear fuel 96% out of the United States. They had complied with the agreement for 28 months according to international inspectors.

Now, you know, they are going to say, "All right, you're going to bring sanctions back, we're going to build our nuclear weapons." Why is that in

America's interest? It doesn't make us safer. It makes us less safe.

GOLODRYGA: Even more curious that Mike Pompeo in his role as CIA Director, testified that Iran was complying with the deal, so a lot of people, a lot

of the President's own advisers had been saying that as well. Still, nonetheless the President is the ultimate decider here and he laid out his

future plans for any sort of deal with Iran going forward. So, thank you so much. We appreciate you joining us today, Ambassador.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, it's been a volatile day for oil prices as traders weigh how today's news could impact crude supplies.

In the lead up to the President's announcement, Brent fell by as much as three percent as some speculated that Mr. Trump might not follow through on

a threat to back out of the Iran deal. Prices have bounced back somewhat since then, so they are still down over 1%.

On the equity markets, traders seemed relatively unfazed by the news. The Dow closed out the session just a few points higher, having recovered from

the midsession lows. Just a few months ago, we got earned - just a few moments ago, we've got earnings from Disney and Paul La Monica joins us


I guess, this is what Wall Street has been really anticipating and how were they?

PAUL LA MONICA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Disney earnings did top forecast, so I think this is further proof that even though ESPN continues to be a

bit of a problem for the company, but the box office is just driving Disney's success.

The studio revenues brought more than 20 percent, "Black Panther" has been a monster hit around the world, now, they have "Avengers: Infinity War" in

this quarter as well, so great news for Disney, but of course, things are complicated because Disney is trying to buy those Fox Assets, at a time

where we have learned that Comcast is going to make a bid as well.

So, very, very interesting times in the big media world.

GOLODRYGA: And we talk about Disney isolated as a stock in their earnings, but how can you explain the sort of unfazed market reaction to...


GOLODRYGA: ... such volatility in the world.

LA MONICA: Yes, it is a little fascinating that we did not have volatility too much today, considering that volatility really has been the word of

2018 on Wall Street, but things were relatively quiet. Stock market finished pretty much where it left off yesterday. Well, it was a little

bit more volatile bouncing around because of those conflicting reports about what exactly President Trump was going to say with regards to Iran.

But even the energy sector, you didn't really see oil stocks doing all that much. I think, a lot of investors are more focused on the good earnings

that we are getting from corporate America and maybe less so at least at this point in time on what's happening with Trump and Iran.

GOLODRYGA: And the President may be focused on that as well, and seeing that they're not reacting the way people had anticipated that they would,

then maybe traders should focus more on what the President said.

He said today, the U.S. no longer makes empty threats, so when he says something, he thinks that people should take it with more...


LA MONICA: This is another example of him fulfilling a campaign promise, so...

GOLODGRYGA: Paul, thank you.

LA MONICA: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: And when we return, it's a tense day not only for Iran, but for those investing in it. We will look at what is at stake for the

multinational companies who bet on the nuclear deal holding, and may have to think again.

And some breaking news, just in to CNN to bring you Syria's state T.V. channel is reporting that the Syrian military has "confronted and destroyed

two Israeli missiles." Israel's military tells CNN that they have no comment.

Oren Liebermann is in Jerusalem with the latest. And Oren, the Israeli government has been warning its citizens to prepare for some sort of

retaliation from Syria, so this had not necessarily been a surprise, nonetheless, any confirmation on what Syrian T.V. is reporting?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have seen other Syrian media reports that there were a number of explosions in Al-Kiswah, a suburb of

Damascus and as you pointed out, Syria's state media blamed those explosions, those strikes on Israel saying they confronted and destroyed

two Israeli missiles.

As per the Israeli military's policy, they had no comment on any of their own activities in Syria, whether it was or was not them and that's a fairly

standard comment we've gotten from them. But as you point out, we have context here. We have some added information.

The Israeli military is saying they are on high alert in the Golan Heights, that's the part of the area that is occupied territory, but that borders

Syria, so that would be the closest spot to Syria. It's actually only about 50 kilometers or so away from Damascus, which is where these strikes

were reported to have happened.

So, Israel, the military says they are on high alert. They have urged bomb shelters to open and perhaps, most importantly, they've said, they have

detected irregular activities of Iranian forces in Syria. All of that could give some indication as the Israeli military has also said they have

done a specific call up of reserves, a small number of reserves there, but a specific call up on a needed bases.

So, as they need those reserves, they have already called some up. So, you're absolutely right, Bianna, that Israel sees what is happening in

Syria and is concerned about that. Israel has been worried in recent days and...


LIEBERMANN: ... weeks about some sort of Iranian response, not only now to Trump's decision to pull America out of the Iran nuclear deal, but also on

strikes in Syria that Iran blames on Israel.

So, all of that is the context for this new strikes. There's still a lot we don't know in terms of what was hit, who was hit, were there any

casualties in terms of injured or killed. That reporting perhaps will come clear - become more clear from Syrian state media, and perhaps Iranian

state media depending on the target there, Bianna, so there is still a lot to learn at this point.

GOLODRYGA: A developing story that we of course will be following closely. Oren, thank you so much for bringing it to us.

International reaction to President Trump's decision to exit the Iran deal has been swift. The E.U.'s foreign minister says Europe is determined to

preserve the Iran deal and expect the rest of the international community to continue implementing it.

France has issued a joint statement with Germany and the UK saying they regret the U.S. decision and that the nuclear nonproliferation regime is at

stake. President Obama says the decision is a serious mistake.

While Israel has taken the opposite position, saying it fully supports the President's announcement. Christiane Amanpour is CNN's chief international

correspondent and joins me from London. Chistiane, so fabulous to have you on to cover this issue. In particular, I have been following your

reporting over the past few hours, and the number one question you bring up and it's important to bring to our viewers here is what is Plan B, once

President Trump has pulled out of this deal?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's precisely the question I keep trying to ask and there is no answer because

there isn't one. Unless you consider Plan B, just be in total chaos, total disruption and also, perhaps, with the sort of - as I call them, the regime

change crew back in business at the White House and obviously enabled by the Prime Minister of Israel and indeed by allies in Saudi Arabia and in

the Persian Gulf states.

That's what they would like to see. They would like to see an America squeeze Iran as hard as possible so that it implodes. That didn't happen

during the years of the toughest sanctions as you know, Bianna, having covered the Business World. For more than a decade, the toughest sanctions

ever mounted were put on Iran, not only did it not collapse, it did not cry "uncle" and nor did it stop enriching.

The only time that it came to a negotiation to actually stop enriching and contain its nuclear deal was under a so-called win-win negotiation with the

United States and the rest of the world powers.

So, the question is, what happens next? Are we going to go back to a militarization of this situation and the reports you have just heard from

Oren and you know, increasing escalated tension in that part of the world, simply plays right into the hands of those who are worried that the choice

is an Iran which does now decide to leave the deal and break out to a much more dangerous nuclear program, or military to try to stop it - military


And this is not encouraging at all.

GOLODRYGA: And it could play into the hands of the hardliners within Iran, right, who were also against the deal. President Rouhani maybe doesn't

come across as a moderate to Western countries, but it is considered a moderate in Iran really, went out to bat for this deal and sacrifice a lot

saying that it would help restore the economy.

If the President now tears up this deal, or at least the U.S. leaves the deal, imposes more sanctions, what could that possibly mean domestically

for the country?

AMANPOUR: Well, it can mean another almighty political fight, and we don't know where those chips will fall, and of course, President Rouhani, who

actually is a moderate within their system, he and his foreign minister, Javad Zarif, sort of brought the consensus in Iran along, and got the

Supreme Leader to agree to all of these, Parliament - all of those people who have to be brought along came along.

But of course, as you mentioned, there is a very strong group of those who do not like it and those are the revolutionary guards, the very people that

Israel, the United States, Europe and others want to see contained.

If the hardliners were emboldened, then they could have their way in Iran, and that would mean that it would be much worse for Israel, the United

States, Europe, the region et cetera.

So, it is really hard to see how despite the failings of the deal, in fact, that it doesn't contain every single issue with Iran, it's hard to see how

tearing it up or at least the United States pulling out and maybe more difficult, how that makes anyone safer. How sort of chipping away at one

level of containment and constraint, how that makes anybody any safer without a Plan B?

And as you know, the international community has vouched that Iran has maintained its end of the deal ever since it has been in place.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, well, President Trump says it is defective at its core. Christiane, great to have you on for your expertise. Appreciate it. Good

to see you.


GOLODRYGA: Businesses that signed deals after sanctions ended are watching their investments nervously. Iran had agreed to buy 100 Airbus jets and 80

Boeing jets. Boeing says it will continue to follow the U.S. government's lead. Airbus says it's carefully analyzing the announcement.

Peugeot started a joint venture to manufacture in Iran, and Total signed a multibillion dollar gas deal. Total's CEO told John Defterios last year

that the deal may have to change if sanctions were reimposed.


PATRICK POUYANNE, CEO, TOTAL: Either we can do the deal legally, revise the legal framework and then, we will proceed. If it cannot do that for

legal reasons, because the change of regime of sanctions - maybe we have to revisit it.


GOLODRYGA: Phil Black is in Paris and Atika Shubert is in Berlin. Phil, let's start with you because President Macron has developed a very close

relationship with President Trump over the past few months. He has been trying to convince him not to back out of the deal, invested a lot in this

relationship. In fact, what is the reaction there on the ground given the news that the President has backed out of the deal?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Macron spoke to President Trump in the hours leading up to the announcement, Bianna, and then shortly after

it, he sent out a tweet pretty quickly really that expressed the regret that he said he shared with both France and Germany as well.

And I talked about their intention to work collectively to deal with - construct a new framework, a broader framework that would deal with, what

was literally the list of grievances that President Trump gave for pulling out of the deal.

So, the long-term nuclear program in Iraq, it's ballistic missile program as well, and its destabilizing behavior in the region. France and its

European partners have for weeks and months been trying to convince President Trump that you could deal with all of that while at the same

time, keeping the existing deal, the existing framework in place, use that as a platform, and then build out to deal with all of these other concerns

that they had about Iran.

Ultimately, they failed. But President Macron will be hugely disappointed because he had invested so very much - political capital, his international

reputation. He had played very strongly on the very warm rapport that he has with President Trump and all of it, in the end, came to nothing.

That said, you have been talking about the fact that Europe is determined to try and make this deal work, still without the United States, for that

to work though, it will depend on how these sanctions that President Trump is talking about actually falling to line the detail because crucially,

Europe and European businesses will still need to be able to trade with and invest in Iran.

GOLODRYGA: That's right, meantime, the same chemistry when it comes to relationship with President Trump could not be described when it comes to

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her relationship with Donald Trump.

She was visiting Washington just a few days after President Macron, still no reaction though from the President either way, and to both parties, both

countries urging the President to keep the deal. What is the reaction in Germany, Atika?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Germany also regrets the fact that President Trump has pulled out of the Iran deal. In fact, we've just seen

a statement in the last few minutes from the Chancellor's spokesperson, also issuing that joint statement with Britain and with France saying that

Germany remains committed to the Iran deal and it will continue to abide by it.

And as Phil pointed out there, the key question is, what about the European businesses - companies that have businesses in Iran. I just spoke to

Siemens that has business in Iran and they said, they are still assessing the implications, but really they are looking to the governments to give

them some guidance here on how to abide by these regulations.

The engineering association here in Germany has said, so long as the E.U. abides by the Iran deal, so long as Iran is also wanting to go ahead with

this deal that they consider, it is still legal to do business with Iran. But it really all depends on those businesses and their ability to continue

doing business in Iran without being hit themselves by sanctions from the U.S..

Now, what's interesting actually because the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, put out a tweet almost immediately after President Trump spoke saying, "You

know, it's time for German businesses to start winding up what they have - any interest they have in Iran," so, it's clearly going to cause serious

problems for the business relationship between Germany, the E.U. and the U.S.

GOLODRYGA: And that's coming from the newly sworn in U.S. Ambassador to Germany. A lot of European companies and CEOs as we heard from the CEO of

Total, very skittish now that the U.S. is out of the deal. Thank you so much, the both of you for joining us...


GOLODRYGA: ... from Paris and Germany, thank you. Well, Donald Trump warned that any country that tried to help Iran evade sanctions would face

punishment from the United States itself.


TRUMP: We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction, any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be

strongly sanctioned by the United States.


GOLODRYGA: Former British Finance Minister, Norman Lamont, is now the head of the British-Iranian Chamber of Commerce. He joins us live from London.

Lord, thank you so much for joining us. I have to say, we talked about President Macron's attempt to convince the President to stay in the deal

while Boris Johnson has been making a similar attempt here in the U.S. this week, obviously to no avail. What is the reaction from London to the

President's news?

NORMAN LAMONT, HEAD, BRITISH-IRANIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Well, many people will be very disappointed. I think this decision by President Trump

is a very dangerous one. I think it will increase instability in the Middle East.

I think above all, it will undermine the moderates and pragmatists in Iran, and there are pragmatists in the Iranian government. And it will - as

someone was saying earlier in your program, strengthen the hard liners who have been saying, "You can trust America."

If you want Iran to behave better, as we tend to put it, it's a strange way to go about it by tearing up an agreement that Iran entered into and has

100% complied with. Why should they ever trust the West again?

GOLODRYGA: And yet, President Rouhani said that Iran will negotiate trying to stay in the deal with the European countries and with Russia and China.

Are you convinced that the deal is still salvageable without the U.S.?

LAMONT: I am not. No, I think you put your finger on it. I think it's probable if President Rouhani is representative of the total Iranian

response, and they will be cautious and they wouldn't just withdraw from the agreement themselves, but I think it's going to be very difficult for

European business to carry on trading with Iran if there are heavy U.S. sanctions introduced.

If we go back to primary sanctions, I think the financial system, which is already very limited in spite of all of the payments made, in spite of

getting a credit - I think that would dry up completely. I think people will find it very difficult to do business with Iran and what you quoted,

the U.S. Ambassador in Germany is saying is just chilling and I think you could find that all over Europe.

GOLODRYGA: What impact does this have both short and long term on what seems to be a more and more tense relationship between European allies and

the U.S.?

LAMONT: Well, I think it is one congregating factor. I think it will encourage - Britain is not very much in this movement, but I think it will

encourage those Europe. We feel that the foreign policy of Europe has got to be more and more independent of that of the United States.

And we can't always rely on the United States to see things in the same way that we do. So, I think it does have long-term implications for

transatlantic relations.

GOLODRYGA: In trying to appeal to President Trump not to completely rip up the deal, we kept hearing from President Macron, from Boris Johnson, from

many world leaders that it's not a perfect deal, right? Why don't we fix it instead of nixing it? What are some of those fixes and does that

suggest the deal itself was too weak?

LAMONT: Well, I don't think the deal was too weak. I think you've got to remember, even if you argue that it only lasted for 15 years, you've got to

remember that during that heal period, the West is going to discover through constant inspections, get to know so much about Iran's nuclear

program, and indeed some of the provisions did last much longer than what Mr. Trump said.

So, I don't accept for one minute that the deal was full of holes. I think, this was said with an amount of wishful thinking by European

countries that you could just add on a few more sanctions, just to say - to do with ballistic missiles which Iran is very keen to build because it

feels very vulnerable to a missile attack or you could build on sanctions related to their activities in Syria, which they see as essential to their


I think we might be kidding ourselves if we think Iran would just accept more sanctions for other things added on to the structure of the deal.

[16:30:16] GOLODRYGA: Yes, one has to factor in what implications this has for Iran, both also short and long term. I am afraid, we're going to

have to leave it there for tonight. We appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much and have a good evening.


GOLODRYGA: And we would be right back.


GOLODRYGA: Hello, I am Bianna Golodryga, there's more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment, but first, these are the top news headlines we're

following this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump has announced that the U.S. will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, but he called defective at

its core.

Reaction is already pouring in, European allies say they regret the U.S. decision, while Iran's president says the U.S. failed to live up to its

international commitment under the deal.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on his second surprised trip to North Korea. Donald Trump broke the news while announcing the U.S.

withdrawal from the Iran deal. Pompeo will discuss the upcoming talks between Mr. Trump and North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un as well as the U.S.

citizens who were detained inside the country.

A new outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has been discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The World Health Organization says at

least two people have tested positive with the disease and they're collecting more samples.

Nearly two dozen suspected Ebola cases have been reported in the past few weeks. Iran is warning that it is ready to start nuclear enrichment

without limitations tonight. Donald Trump's decisions to resume sanctions on the country puts huge pressure on a government already economically.

Earlier this year, there were massive protests against President Hassan Rouhani's government over a stagnant economy and rising fuel and food

prices. Tonight, Mr. Rouhani claims Iranians are more united and determined not to let the U.S. triumph.


HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT, IRAN (through translator): What this triumph did was a psychological warfare, and as an economical threshold, we will

not allow Trump to triumph in exerting pressure, economic pressure on the Iranian people.


GOLODRYGA: Rouhani says economic growth will continue, but Iranians have been rushing to buy up U.S. dollars in recent days, skyrocketing the

exchange rate on the black market.

[16:35:00] John Defterios is our emerging markets editor. He's in Bahrain and has been speaking to the head of OPEC, obviously John in a situation

like this especially in that region, oil prices are the first things that come to mind for traders around the world.

What was your reaction and what did you hear from your interview with OPEC?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, volatility, Bianna, was the watch word throughout the day, not knowing which way Donald Trump would

land on the new sanctions. He said they're going to be very tough going forward and that's the reason we're stabilizing on North Sea brent, the

international benchmark at around $75 a barrel, and that's right near a four-year high.

Now, President Trump has made his decision very well known, but there are still a number of unknowns if I can put it that way, just put the Europeans

at the top of the list here. Do the European companies, particularly oil giants have the backbone to try to stay in Iran while they have big stakes

in the U.S. market as well.

Total tops a list with an investment in Iran not finalized that are worth $5 billion at one point, Patrick Pouyanne, the CEO told me they would be

seeking an exemption from the United States. I'm not sure that's still going to be the case.

And if Italy wants to go in, Russia has engaged with Iran in a very large way, I can't see them backing out, CNPC of China has been involved in Iran

for years and helping them during that tough period of sanctions, they will stay engaged of course with Iran.

But this is going to be hitting a very tight oil market, Bianna, because of the OPEC, non-OPEC agreement that take 1.8 million barrels a day off the

market. The secretary general told me in an exclusive interview while I was in Doha that this is hitting at the wrong time and could even threaten

the global economy.

He does not think it's a good idea although he wanted to try to steer clear of the Iranian issue, he's worried about the market. Let's take a listen.


MOHAMMED BARKINDO, SECRETARY GENERAL, OPEC: For us, we are focused on stability. Whatever extraneous factor that affects supply or demand will

no doubt send market into disequilibrium, which is not in the interest of producers or the interest of consumers.

We look up to our leaders to ensure that peace and stability especially in our regions is sustained.

DEFTERIOS: Do you advise it at this stage, knowing the state of the market and the state of tensions?

BARKINDO: We are not -- we are not in the business of dialoguing on policy issues such as nuclear, such as solar or other sources of energy. All what

we are focused on is on this industry. And whatever will affect the smooth running of this industry, the smooth extraction, production, processing,

transportation, marketing of oil in this market of today will not be in the interest of the global economy.

DEFTERIOS: As we sit today, is there a risk that higher prices will boomerang and actually kill off demand that has to be a concerned of your

at this stage, secretary general?

BARKINDO: I think it is premature at the moment. What we are seeing spikes -- price spikes being driven by the volatility that occasionally

recounts for the market as a result of these geopolitical tensions.

When we look at the market, we evaluate markets both on the short, medium and long term. And we look at the market in holistic terms in reaching



GOLODRYGA: The secretary general, you could see carefully choosing his words to come across as diplomatic and not wade into the politics. But

it's clear that stability is their number one goal. What we're not seeing when we hear headlines like the U.S. getting out of an Iran deal, an

international deal.

The first one becomes a minus not stability.

DEFTERIOS: Yes, in fact, Bianna, I think we have to watch out also for unity within the OPEC, not OPEC apparatus. Saudi Arabia is the only major

producer that has the spare capacity right now. There's a thought in Riyadh, they would like to have a higher price to support the Aramco IPO.

Iran has taken the exact opposite position. So we have to watch the tensions within OPEC between Saudi Arabia and Iran and the influences could

exercise over Russia. I also think Iran is trying to put a very brave face on this economy right now, Bianna.

The first vice president of the Central Bank Governor said we can survive this. The Iranians have been faced with a great deal, but they've been

going sideways, actually backwards for the last ten years with its clients of household incomes of 15 percent, they lost 10 percent of their GDP over

the last five years.

[16:40:00] This is a painful period of time even though the Iranians were trying to put a brave face on it, the latest news from President Rouhani

which I thought was interesting, he said now they will proceed with the other five countries, "if the Iranians interest are protected."

So now, they're suggesting they will stay engaged if the Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese stay with them as well. This is key for the

Iranian economy going forward.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, no doubt, a lot of pressure on President Rouhani, one has to wonder where did he over promise to his own people in terms of the

delivery from a nuclear deal in terms of economic growth there at home.

We're going to have to leave it there, John, thank you so much for joining us. Well, Donald Trump says he is willing to negotiate a new deal with

Iran even if he doesn't expect cooperation with Tehran to come immediately.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iran's leaders will naturally say that they refuse to negotiate a new deal, they refuse, and

that's fine. I'd probably say the same thing if I was in their position.

But the fact is they are going to want to make a new and lasting deal, one that benefits all of Iran and the Iranian people. When they do, I am

ready, willing and able.


GOLODRYGA: Robin Niblett is the director of Chatham House, he is joining us from London. And Robin, you hear a recurring message from the president

when he speaks about any sort of trade deals or any sort of international deal with another country be it China and even North Korea where he says I

can understand where they're coming from.

But talk about that tactic and is it productive at all?

ROBIN NIBLETT, DIRECTOR, CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, the tactic is that any deal that Donald Trump didn't negotiate before hand, using the full might of

U.S. power was necessarily not a good deal from the U.S. standpoint.

So you could see going through on picking each of the established deal side of Obama or even his predecessors and try to reapply to them a full might

of American power, not through a multilateral structure, but through that weight you get when you apply bilaterally the size of America against

another small country.

Is it effective? Well, it certainly gets people's attention, it gets both the allies attention, whether it's the Europeans on steel or South Koreans

on North Korea. But of course, Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state is going over to do a deal potentially with North Korea.

But North Korea could end -- not remaining as a nuclear power. So it might be a deal, you might have a stable Korean Peninsula, but whether America is

actually getting what it claimed it was going to get at the beginning is doubtful, and I think the same thing on Iran.

I don't think Iran is going to play America's game, I don't think China is going to play America's game and Europe isn't playing America's game.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and the president seems to be talking about a policy or a tactic where you squeeze Iran enough, they will come to the table. I feel

though that we've tried that in that past and that necessarily wasn't the reaction that we saw from the Iranians. What if anything do you think

gives the president hope that this time would be different?

NIBLETT: I don't know, I mean, the thing on the one hand, there's another dynamic here which is the United States president, President Trump promised

that he would pull out of the Iran deal, and what he's doing is he's going through each of his succession of campaign promises and fulfilling them.

And I think he believes there's a bigger picture here which is that he will be trusted to do what he says in the context of his position with an

American domestic politics, maybe not the mid-terms but certainly when it comes to the next presidential election.

Assuming we get the -- I think he thinks this is going to stand, I mean, good stead. So there's a -- there's a moment of domestic politics here. I

think it's well, he believes that by shaking things up and creating a little bit of space, actually, he can maybe come back and what it looks

like a -- take it or leave it position and then make it, well, let's do a deal.

We have this on North Korea, fire and fury has now become Pompeo and a bilateral meeting. He's trying to stay with the Chinese on trade not

working quite so well. Maybe things that could happen with Iran and you pointed to point that way, he said, you know, let's try and do a deal later

on if you come back to the table.

Each of his excuse is, leave a little room, six months to leave sanctions are fully implemented, they kind of kick off in about 90 days time.

There's room to come back and negotiate.


NIBLETT: One more thing, I think he thinks the Europeans might do his work for him as well and negotiate something on the bilateral side.

GOLODRYGA: Well, Robins, we talk about Iran, but of course one has to assume who else is watching, that's Kim Jong-un in North Korea and whether

or not he will act any differently or come to the table with any other proposals or not, given what he's just seen the president do.

We shall see as we know the secretary of state is on his way there now. Robin, thank you so much for joining us tonight, have a good evening.

NIBLETT: Thank you.

[16:45:00] GOLODRYGA: And after the break, the fox hunt heads up -- heats up. A takeover war sets old rivals Comcast and Disney against each other

in a bid for buying up Rupert Murdoch's media empire.


GOLODRYGA: The mouse, the fox and now the peacock! The takeover tale of the year could be given a new player. Comcast shares are now 6 percent as

speculation grows that it could crash Disney's bid for 21st Century with a hostile takeover bid of its own.

The deal puts Rupert Murdoch in between Disney's Bob Iger and Brian Roberts of Comcast. Those two are known to not like each other, putting it mildly.

Comcast's bid will likely depend on another takeover playing out on the sidelines namely whether AT&T gets approval to take over Cnn's parent

company "Time Warner".

Brian Stelter joins us with more on this one. Now, that's a mouthful, Brian. Talk to us about why Comcast all of a sudden is interested and

going in for this bid.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, at the end of this -- to you point about being a mouthful, every media company will have gone

through some form of change.

At the end of this radical consolidation, whether it's two or three years from now, we're going to see a few giants, but fewer media companies that

exists right now, the entertainment business will be more tightly controlled.

And where I think I see Comcast and Disney both trying to do is figure out what the right move on the chess board is, in order to have more power,

have more control against the Netflixs and the Apples and the Googles of the world.

So this is a Fox bid, of course, Fox, the asset, they're on the table, Disney was the first bidder, Bob Iger just a few minutes ago reiterated his

believe that his deal will close, he pointed out the Fox board unanimously, accepted his bid, that was back, you know what? Five months ago --


STELTER: Several months ago. Now of course, Comcast is looking at this and wondering if it can make a gate-crashing bid. We know that Comcast is

talking to bankers about this, tried to line up the required financing. But as you said, it's the AT&T deal that's the X factor.


STELTER: I'm told Comcast probably won't go forward unless it receives the kind of guidance from the courts, essentially if the judge allows the AT&T

deal to go forward, that will be a signal that there's a support of regulatory climate for a possible Comcast bid to take over the "Fox"


GOLODRYGA: And maybe we'll have the president weighing in on it as well. Let's look at the numbers though because Comcast is putting an all cash

offer of $60 billion on the table, compare that to the $52 billion bid for Disney.

If you're 21st Century Fox, I know you already have the feel over here with Disney, why not start talking to Comcast though for what may be a sweeter


STELTER: Yes, there are certainly, I would expect would be interest from the "Fox" board, we're going to hear from "Fox" and its earnings later in

the week, maybe if we're lucky, the Murdoch's will give us some guidance on this, but I would doubt it.

I think from Disney's perspective, there's an offer on the table, it's real, it's already in the works, so I think you know, the person you came

to the dance with, they're hoping that person is going to stay with you. But the Comcast X factor is very real.

And if Comcast can get the required financing here, which I'd expect they can, I could absolutely see Brian Roberts trying to swoop in and steal this

from Bob Iger. The reality is, there are not a lot of companies like "Fox".

[16:50:00] But the movie studio, T.V. networks, television programs, big worldwide brand names, there's not many of those assets available. So if

you're Comcast, you'll look at this and say this might be my one chance to try to buy it.

GOLODRYGA: Absolutely, looking at the consumers and possibly there on eCos(ph), right? Their internal dynamics --

STELTER: Sometimes it's all about the personalities, they know each other on a first name basis, it's Bob versus Brian, only one of them is going to

win this.

GOLODRYGA: That's why we read your newsletter because we get all the dirt --

STELTER: The plug --

GOLODRYGA: And the business news --

STELTER: Thank you --

GOLODRYGA: All in one --

STELTER: Thanks a lot --

GOLODRYGA: I look forward to every night, Brian, thanks.

STELTER: Thanks.

GOLODRYGA: Good to see you. And after the break, more reaction to President Trump's decision to tear up the Iran nuclear deal, we'll get the

latest from Moscow.


GOLODRYGA: We'll look at more on our top story. Worldwide reaction, the President Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. Russia's

deputy -- Russia's ambassador to the UN says Russia is disappointed in the decision.

I asked Matthew Chance is Moscow whether the U.S. had isolated itself.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's just pretty astonishing, isn't it? And if there was any doubt as to how isolated the

United States is right now, well, the fact that Russia is on exactly that side.

It's on the side of just not the Chinese, but at the United Kingdom or France or Germany or the other countries that are supportive of this joint

comprehensive plan of action, the Iran nuclear deal. It's a sure sign of that.

Russia has warned that there will be harmful consequences as a result of this decision by President Trump to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal,

and it says it's the best way of limiting Iran's nuclear ambitions, that's why they signed up to it, that's why they were an integral part of

negotiating it.

I suppose there are some other local reasons as well if I can describe it like that as to why Russia would be opposed to the disintegration of the

deal, not at least the fact that Russia is a strong military ally of Iran, it's fighting side-by-side with Iranian revolution regards on the ground in


But it goes deeper into that as well. Because I think the Russians believed that the alternative strategy, the plan B in Washington right now

must be confrontation with the Iranian regime with a future regime change.

And that's something that Russia is fundamentally opposed to, the idea of switching out a pro-Moscow regime such as exist in Tehran with one that is

much more pro-western. And so on a whole range of levels, Russia is opposed to this.

GOLODRYGA: So you talk about Russia if another reason being an ally of Iran of convenience right now. You also look at Russia's relationship with

Israel which has improved over the past few years.

And in fact, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in Russia, in Moscow tomorrow, meeting with Vladimir Putin, that should make for a

very interesting meeting to say the least.

[16:55:00] CHANCE: Very interesting, and of course it comes here in Moscow against the backdrop of the May the 9th victory day parade, a huge military

through the streets of the Russian capital which Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister will be attending as the guest of honor.

After that it's over though, I expect there's going to be some very frank conversations between these two figures, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Russian

President Vladimir Putin who as we've discussed is vehemently opposed to the disintegration, the U.S. withdrawal of this Iran nuclear deal.

We're also airing reports that Iran has been carrying out more airstrikes inside Syria, site of Damascus is the latest word we've had. Now of

course, Russia is on the ground in Syria, Russia controls the airspace over Syria as well within space sophisticated surface-to-air missiles.

And in the past, when Israelis carried out airstrikes in Syria, it had to sort of seek the approval or notify the very least the Russians in advance

to make sure their planes are not shot out of the sky. There's been some patience by Moscow, but you know, how long that patience is going to last

in this new environment is unclear, and so it's a dangerous situation that we're in.

GOLODRYGA: And our thanks to Matthew Chance in Moscow. And a reminder that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak with join Richard on Friday's

show. Clearly, there will be a lot for the pair to discuss.

Meanwhile, that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Bianna Golodryga and I will see you again tomorrow.