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Trump Addresses World Leaders at United Nations; Iranian Press: We Rejected Eight U.S. Requests for Meetings; Trump: North Korea Sanctions will Stay until Denuclearization; Trump: "Iran's Leaders Sow Chaos, Death and Destruction". Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 25, 2018 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: -- a bit late, so he jumped the queue. The president though will take that stage momentarily. And as he was arriving at the U.N., he spoke about U.S. relations with Iran. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iran has acted very badly. We are doing many things right now, including sanctions at a very massive level. One of the highest levels we have ever done. Iran has to change its tune before I meet with them. They want to meet. I'm not meeting with them until they change their tune. It will happen. I believe they have no choice. We look forward to having a great relationship with Iran. But it won't happen now.

(END BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: My colleague, Christiane Amanpour happens to have just sat down with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. So, Christiane, you heard the president there both on camera, but earlier today in his tweets seeming to leave the door open to a possible meeting with the Iranian president at some time. Based on your conversations, is Rouhani open to meeting with Trump?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, Jim, here's the thing. This specific question to Rouhani was based on a specific tweet by President Trump and the specific thing he just said just then, which was that he said despite repeated requests, implying that the Iranians had made repeated requests to meet, that he had no plans to meet. And as you know, he went on to say maybe some time in the future, said President Trump. I'm sure he's a very lovely man that was referring to Rouhani. So, I asked him, I mean, the Iranian delegation basically took this all with a pinch of salt. First of all, they denied having ever asked to meet and so did the president. This is what he told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR (on camera): The president of the United States has tweeted this morning saying that despite repeated requests, I think he means your requests, he has no plans to meet you. Maybe some time in the future. And he thinks maybe you're a lovely man. That's what he says in the tweet. What do you make of that? Have you requested a meeting with President Trump?

PRES. HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN (via translator): Not this year, nor last year. We have never made such a request for a meeting with the president of the United States. Of course, last year, from American officials, we received eight requests for a meeting. And I did not see that as being an appropriate meeting. As I do not see it as being appropriate now. And a meeting must take place at a time when that meeting can serve a purpose, can be beneficial, can serve the benefits of both countries, but under the current conditions, when it comes to a meeting and dialogue, I do not see it as beneficial nor appropriate, but you should ask him who made such requests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Well, Jim, you can see it's kind of unusual, body language and verbal sparring between these two leaders. And it appears that President Trump manages to get all the world leaders to kind of respond in kind. So that's what Rouhani was doing. And he then went on more seriously to say that the reason we cannot meet now is because we need to have movement on the Iran nuclear deal. That President Trump has pulled the United States out of it. He said that - I mean he calls it illegally and unjustifiably. He said it's not just a handshake or an agreement. This is an actual formal agreement enshrined in a U.N. Security Council Resolution, so it's an international legal affair. And that Iran continues to abide by it and hopes that the other signatories, Europeans, Russians, and the rest, can get President Trump to abide by it as well.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. What is Iran's calculation in continuing to abide by the agreement even though the U.S. has left, and by doing that, has taken away many of the economic benefits that Iran expected by making this agreement? Are they calculating that eventually Trump will be gone and then the deal will be resurrected in full? What's their calculation?

AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, look, you're absolutely right. One would wonder why they would stay in it except for the fact they have hinged their policy on that. It has been in effect since 2015. It was negotiated for six or more years before that. And the whole sort of system is based now around abiding by it and the IAEA has yet again signed off, that's the U.N. nuclear watchdog that Iran is abiding by it, and it wants to maintain as much economic investment in trade and connection with the world as it possibly can, even under the U.S. threats and the secondary sanctions. And to that point, the Europeans and the high representative for European foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, is working furiously to try to figure out other mechanisms where potentially they can bypass direct payment or other such things that might violate sanctions but have payments go and trade continue legitimate trade, as she said, under the Iran nuclear deal in a way that somehow manages to bypass these strictures of the sanctions. So it's really sort of like an incredible knot that has been made and they're trying to unpick it.

[10:35:23] SCIUTTO: Understood. Christiane, great to have you speaking to the Iranian president there, thanks very much.

We continue to wait for President Trump to take the podium at the U.N. General Assembly. We see some preparations here. They spoke a little bit out of order because the president was a few minutes late arriving. The most recent speaker was the President of Ecuador Lenin Moreno. We're waiting now to see now when the president is ready to take the stage and the moment that he does take the stage, we will come, we will bring you there to the floor of the United Nations.

Listen, as we wait there for the president, Sam Vinograd, the president has a lot to address in the speech. Last year, the main topic was North Korea. He's certain to address North Korea again here, but he's going to talk about Iran. He pulled the U.S. out of the agreement. He's going to talk about China. He has instituted a policy of very harsh sanctions against China, rather tariffs against China, which he's going to stay I'm going to stick with it. How is that going to be received by this body here?

SAM VINOGRAD, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: I think the body is going to be listening for another country in President Trump's speech. That's actually Russia. We're quite focused on Iran right now, but let's remember, Russia has violated U.N. resolutions. Russia used chemical weapons in the United Kingdom which is exactly why there have been international condemnations. Nations have pulled their diplomats out. The U.S. is sanctioning Russia because of that, and we know that the president doesn't really like to push Russia around on a public stage. So I think the body will be waiting to hear if Russia makes a speech or not, and also, whether there's any kind of consistency between what the president says about North Korea and Iran and whether the idea of nonproliferation actually applies equally to countries, consistency would be the president's friend here.

SCIUTTO: David Drucker, why won't the president take on Iran - take on Russia rather in the terms that he does Iran, North Korea, even sometimes U.S. allies, taking them to task on the world stage?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is the biggest conundrum of his presidency because some of the policies that he's implemented or allowed his administration to implement have been in some cases tougher on Russia than his predecessor, but his rhetoric has been sorely lacking and lets the Russians off the hook every chance he gets. One fascinating thing about the Iran problem, the president when it comes to Iran as compared to North Korea has been much more of a traditionalist. They need to change their tune before I meet with them. That was the standard that his predecessors, Republican and Democrat, have upheld, with North Korea and Iran. And in this case, what he's saying is I'm not going to do what I did with North Korea with the Iranians unless they come to the table.

SCIUTTO: We are watching. Again, this is live pictures from the U.N. General Assembly. You saw President Trump walk into the room. He's being introduced now. He will stand up and take the podium when he begins speaking these just moments away here. Our understanding, this speech will focus to some degree on China, on tariffs, but also on sovereignty and America first. Let's listen to the president.

TRUMP: Madam President, Mr. Secretary General, world leaders, ambassadors, and distinguished delegates.

One year ago, I stood before you for the first time in this grand hall. I addressed the threats facing our world, and I presented a vision to achieve a brighter future for all of humanity. Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we have made.

In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America is so thrilled.

(LAUGHTER)

I did not expect that reaction, but that's OK.

(APPLAUSE)

America's economy is booming like never before. Since my election, we have added $10 trillion in wealth. The stock market is at an all-time high in history, and jobless claims are at a 50-year low. African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment have all achieved their lowest levels ever recorded.

[10:40:03] We have added more than 4 million new jobs, including half a million manufacturing jobs. We have passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history. We have started the construction of a major border wall, and we have greatly strengthened border security. We have secured record funding for our military, $700 billion this year and $716 billion next year. Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before. In other words, the United States is stronger, safer, and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago. We are standing up for America and the American people. And we are also standing up for the world.

This is great news for our citizens and for peace-loving people everywhere. We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace. Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth. That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination. I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.

From Warsaw to Brussels to Tokyo to Singapore, it has been my highest honor to represent the United States abroad. I have forged close relationships and friendships and strong partnerships with the leaders of many nations in this room.

And our approach has always yielded incredible change. With support from many countries here today, we have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace. In June, I traveled to Singapore to meet face-to-face with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un. We had highly productive conversations and meetings. And we agreed that it was in both countries' interest to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Since that meeting, we have seen a number of encouraging measures that few could have imagined a short time ago. The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction. Nuclear testing has stopped. Some military facilities are already being dismantled. Our hostages have been released. And as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home, to lay at rest in American soil. I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done. The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs.

I also want to thank the many member states who helped us reach this moment, a moment that is actually far greater than people would understand -- far greater. But for, also, their support and the critical support that we will all need going forward. A special thanks to President Moon of South Korea, the Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and President Xi of China.

In the Middle East, our new approach is also yielding great strides and very historic change. Following my trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Gulf countries opened a new center to target terrorist financing. They are enforcing new sanctions, working with us to identify and track terrorist networks, and taking more responsibility for fighting terrorism and extremism in their own region.

[10:45:13] The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Syria and Yemen, and they are pursuing multiple avenues to ending Yemen's horrible, horrific civil war.

Ultimately, it is up to the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children. For that reason, the United States is working with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt to establish a regional strategic alliance so that Middle Eastern nations can advance prosperity, stability, and security across their home region.

Thanks to the United States military, and our partnership with many of your nations, I am pleased to report that the bloodthirsty killers known as ISIS have been driven out from the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria. We will continue to work with friends and allies to deny radical Islamic terrorists, any funding, territory, or support or any means of infiltrating our borders.

The ongoing tragedy in Syria is heartbreaking. Our shared goals must be the de-escalation of military conflict along with a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. In this vein, we urge the United Nations-led peace process to be reinvigorated. But rest assured, the United States will respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime. I commend the people of Jordan and other neighboring countries for hosting refugees from this very brutal civil war. As we see in Jordan, the most compassionate policy is to place refugees as close to their homes as possible, to ease their eventual return to be part of the rebuilding process. This approach also stretches finite resources to help far more people, increasing the impact of every dollar spent.

Every solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria must also include a strategy to address the brutal regime that is fueled and financed in the corrupt dictatorship in Iran. Iran's leaders sow chaos, death, and disruption. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran's leaders plunder the nation's resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from Iran's treasury, seized valuable portions of the economy, and looted the religious endowments, all to line their own pockets and send their proxies to wage war. Not good. Iran's neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the regime's agenda of aggression and expansion. That is why so many countries in the Middle East strongly supported my decision to withdraw the United States from the horrible 2015 Iran nuclear deal and re-impose nuclear sanctions.

The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran's leaders. In the year since the deal has been reached, the military budget grew nearly 40 percent. The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism, and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen.

[10:50:06] The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda. Last month, we began re-imposing hard-hitting nuclear sanctions that have been lifted under the Iran deal. Additional sanctions will resume November 5th, and more will follow. And we are working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially. We cannot allow the world's leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet's most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants "Death to America" and that threatens Israel with annihilation to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth. We just cannot do it. We ask all nations to isolate Iran's regime as long as its aggression continues, and we ask all nations to support Iran's people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.

This year, we took another significant step forward in the Middle East in recognition of every sovereign state to determine its own capital. I moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts. America's policy of principled realism means that we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong, over the years, time and time again.

This is true, not only in matters of peace, but in matters of prosperity. We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal. The United States will not be taken advantage of any longer. For decades, the United States opened its economy, the largest by far on Earth, with few conditions. We allowed foreign goods from all over the world to flow freely across our borders. Yet other countries did not grant us free and reciprocal access to their markets in return. Even worse, some countries abused their openness to dump their products, subsidize their goods, target our industries, and manipulate their currencies to gain unfair advantage over our country. As a result, our trade deficit ballooned to nearly $800 billion a year. For this reason, we are systematically renegotiating broken and bad trade deals. Last month, we announced a groundbreaking U.S.-Mexico trade agreement.

And just yesterday, I stood with President Moon to announce the successful completion of the brand-new U.S.-Korea trade deal. And this is just the beginning. Many nations in this hall will agree that the world trading system is in dire need of change. For example, countries were admitted to the World Trade Organization that violates every single principle on which the organization is based. While the United States and many other nations played by the rules, these countries use government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises to rig the system in their favor. They engaged in relentless product dumping, forced technology transfer, and the theft of intellectual property.

[10:55:00] The United States lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs, nearly a quarter of all steel jobs, and 60,000 factories after China joined the WTO. We have racked up $13 trillion in trade deficits over the last two decades.

But those days are over. We will no longer tolerate such abuse. We will no longer allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated, and our wealth to be plundered and transferred. America will never apologize for protecting its citizens. The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese-made goods, for a total so far of $250 billion. I have great respect and affection for my friend President Xi, but I have made clear that our trade imbalance is just not acceptable. China's market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.

As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interests. I spoke before this body last year and warned that the UN Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human-rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends. Our ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, laid out a clear agenda for reform, but despite reported and repeated warnings, no action at all was taken. So the United States took the only responsible course. We withdrew from the Human Rights Council and we will not return until real reform is enacted.

For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support and recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process. We will never surrender America's sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable global bureaucracy. America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism. Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from other new forms of coercion and domination.

In America, we believe in energy security for ourselves and for our allies. We have become the largest energy producer anywhere on the face of the Earth. The United States stands ready to export our abundant, affordable supply of oil, clean coal, and natural gas. OPEC and OPEC nations are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don't like it. Nobody should like it.

We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good. We want them to stop raising prices. We want them to start lowering prices. And they must contribute substantially to military protection from now on. We are not going to put up with it, these horrible prices, much longer. Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation. That is why we congratulate European states such as Poland for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline so that nations are not dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs. Germany will become totally dependent -