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Interview with U.K. House of Lords Member and Former U.N. Under- Secretary-General Valerie Amos; Interview with Former U.K. Ambassador to U.S. Peter Westmacott; Interview with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi; Interview with Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 06, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone and welcome to "Amanpour". Here's what's coming up.
Meet the new British Prime Minister. Will she save the day amid an economic crisis and the war in Europe, or drive the special relationship with
America into a brick wall? Labor Pierre (ph) Valerie Amos and Former British Ambassador to the U.S. Sir Peter Westmacott join me. Plus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFAEL GROSSI, IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL: We believe and I continue to believe that the situation extremely complex, extremely challenging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: As fighting continues around Europe's largest nuclear plant in Ukraine, I asked the U.N. nuclear watchdog chief, Rafael Grossi, about the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR CHOKWE ANTAR LUMUMBA (D-JACKSON, MS): I know how threatened my residents are on an ongoing basis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A city without safe water. Michel Martin talks to Chokwe Antar Lumumber, Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi about averting the next crisis.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
And Britain has its fourth prime minister in six years. Prompting one prominent observer to say that it now looks a lot more like dysfunctional
Italy than solid and dependable blighty. Liz Truss visited Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral Castle in Scotland for the royal handshake, a formality that
propels her to the head of government and to becoming the third female prime minister of this country.
And thus ends the Boris Johnson era. Signified by high drama, a litany of scandals, and a country in deep crisis. Outside Downing Street today, Truss
promised to cut taxes and to unveil her energy plan this week. She also addressed Russia's war on Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ TRUSS, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: United with our allies, we will stand up for free demands of democracy around the world. Recognizing that we
can't have security at home without having security abroad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Indeed, the challenges out waiting Prime Minister Liz Truss are monumental. Like so many western nations, inflation is at its highest level
in decades. Energy bills are set to increase a staggering 80 percent next month. And strikes are gaining strength. And friction with Europe over
Brexit shows no sign of abating.
So, will Truss preside over a strengthening or weakening Britain? A global Britain or a hunkered-down island nation? I'm joined on this onset by the
Labor Pierre and former U.N. Under-Secretary-General Baroness Valeri Amos, and the Former British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Peter
Westmacott. He is outside parliament.
So, welcome both of you to the program. Baroness Amos, if I might ask you first, is it fair to say that Britain is showing a little, sort of,
dysfunction now that we've had four prime ministers in six years, or is it just the way of the world right now?
VALERIE AMOS, MEMBER, U.K. HOUSE OF LORDS AND FORMER U.N. UNDER-SECRETARY- GENERAL: Well, certainly, the last few weeks we haven't really had a government, have we? While this leadership election has been going on and
while the country has been thrust into a very, very deep crisis.
Look, I think there are three, sort of, major areas that the new prime minister is going to have to focus on. The immediate. Cost of living
crisis, energy, what is going to happen over the winter in terms of things like COVID. The possibility in relation to climate change of further
flooding. We saw those very high temperatures over the summer.
Then there are a whole block of issues which are around the next general election. She will be looking to that already. It will be in a couple of
years. She is going to have to put in place the kind of policies that she thinks will deliver for the British public and will get her that election.
And before you come in, just a third set of issues, which are now, but also longer term, which are about the security of the country.
It's not just about defense and terrorism. It's about economic security. It's about climate change. It's about tackling poverty. And I fear that
that, kind of, last set of issues will be very much on the back burner as she focuses on the first two.
AMANPOUR: So, I'm going to get -- drill down on that because that is the heart of the crisis facing this country. But in terms of security on the
military front and on the democracy front, let me ask you, Sir Peter Westmacott, you heard that outside Downing Street she pledged, you know, to
support and defend democracy against the kind of authoritarianism that we're seeing and the war in Europe.
But what do you make of some of the less than diplomatic, less than cozy comments she's made about the United States? I want to just read you what
she said about the U.S. She told a Conservative Party conference that Britain should not, "Worry like some teenage girl at a party if we're not
considered to be good enough by the U.S." This is in relation to having not yet got that trade deal that she wants. How do you see that special
PETER WESTMACOTT, FORMER U.K. AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Well, I think that it's going to require some careful handling. We heard during the campaign that
Liz Truss was also doubtful about whether the relation was that special after all. So, we'll have to see where it goes.
In my own view is that, like, pretty well every other British prime minister and last half century or more, she will want to have a very close
relationship with the occupants of the oval office. Because on its own, the United Kingdom is not going to be able to do very much at the international
level. She may say, we can get through the storm on our own, there's a storm just behind me, so, I'll speak up a little bit. But I think that that
relationship will be important.
But she will also need to be careful on one or two issues near her home. For example, her view that the Northern Ireland Bill, which is going to
deal with the problems of trade between the United Kingdom or the Great Britain and Northern Ireland -- and between Northern Ireland and the Irish
This could go wrong for her given the very strong interest which Irish- American catholic President Joe Biden takes in everything to do with Ireland. So, I think that part of it will need careful handling. As well as
the broader relationship between Britain and the United States, its oldest and most important ally.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to just dive deep down on that. And I know Valerie wants to come in because it is really important, this Northern Ireland
thing. I mean, it sounds like an esoteric thing that only, you know, diplomats understand. But the bottom line is it could cause a trade war
with Europe. And that affects everything, including the much-wanted economic growth that she wants. Valerie Amos, what would happen, and can
she do that on Northern Ireland, or do you think she'll just park it?
AMOS: Well, I think the issue for Liz Truss and the thing that works for her in a way in terms of domestic politics is that she's combative. She
wants to win. She talks all the time about being bold, about being a reformer. That's all very well in terms of the domestic agenda on what
she's trying to do.
But she's also been foreign secretary. And the way that you deal with other countries is that you have to build alliances. You have to think about the
areas where you can agree. Using her language, the jury may be out, for example, in terms of our relationship with China. But talking about the
jury being out in terms of our relationship with Macron when we're in the middle of a war with Ukraine and we want to be on the same side is not the
kind of language that you want to be using.
So, she needs to be much more careful in terms of how she builds those relationships as prime minister because they're going to be important, not
just in terms of our longer-term security. They're important now when we are facing rising food prices, rising energy prices, and what we do about
Ukraine. How do we continue to isolate Russia? We have to work together.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to play that soundbite. Because Peter Westmacott was also ambassador to France. And I just want to ask you both to comment on
this. It was an extraordinary comment. She was asked by a journalist about Macron. This is how the conversation went.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Macron, friend or foe?
TRUSS: The jury is out. If I become prime minister, I'll judge him on deeds, not words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, gosh. The only thing I can ask you, Peter Westmacott is, do you think she just didn't know and was just undiplomatic, or is that
some kind of red meat that she throws to the conservative base?
WESTMACOTT: I think it was one of those questions which was quick response answers. And she may not have been quite ready for it and thought that she
needed to be quite firm in terms of the position she would take towards other European countries. After all, having been against Brexit when she
was -- you know, before she became foreign secretary, she then has the zeal of a convert and is very pro-Brexit at the moment and has taken a very firm
position of, sometimes, hostility towards the idea of working with European colleagues.
So, perhaps she was just keeping an eye on her right wing by saying that. But I think that President Macron has been extraordinarily gracious with
his remarks of welcome to her since she became prime minister earlier today. And I very much hope that she will work closely with France. After
all, we have a foreign minister in France, Catherine Colonna, who was French ambassador here in London and is a great friend of the country. And
who will certainly want the relationship to work well.
And the idea that the U.K. can function effectively at the international level whether it's on Ukraine or the Middle East or wherever it happens to
be, without working closely with like-minded European partners, I think it's for the best.
AMOS: All indeed, in that bit that she talked about this afternoon outside in number 10. Talking about, you know, democracy and freedom around the
world. That's not something that Britain can deliver on its own. What does it mean? Which countries are we talking about? And who are we going to
partner with to make that a reality rather than just being a soundbite?
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me ask you about that because, you know, Britain, it is said, used to punch above its weight, small country, big power because
of its closeness to the United States. Because of its relationship as that, kind of, vital bridge with Europe. I asked in the introduction, will she
preside over strengthening Britain or weakening? You first Valerie, and then I will ask Peter.
AMOS: I don't think we know. I think a lot will depend on how Liz Truss and her government manage the immediate crisis --
AMANPOUR: Which is energy.
AMOS: Which is its energy, but it is also about the other kinds of threats that we potentially face in the next few months, which include Ukraine.
Which also includes what might happen over the winter. We hope not in terms of COVID. But we're seeing the tail end in terms of vaccination programs.
What comes next? But also, potentially what happens with climate change and the kind of flooding that we have seen including here in Britain over the
last few years?
So, interestingly, foreign policy is something that prime ministers tend to come to later. But foreign policy is front and center when you look at
Ukraine and energy. But we've also got food prices which we tend, or the government tends to blame on Ukraine. But it is not just about Ukraine, is
it? It's also partly about Brexit. It's also partly about the lack of investment -- our own investment in agriculture and the need to do that.
And I do think that there's a potential backlash from some of those trade deals that Liz Truss herself did. When you look at the relationship to
countries like Australia and our farmers are concerned about those trade deals. So, the deliver, deliver, deliver mantra is very, very important.
But some of her own policies that she has pressed in the past may begin to frazzle around her.
AMANPOUR: Peter Westmacott, as Valerie Amos has said, that these massive challenges and a lot of them are about foreign policy. The energy crisis
can be, at this point, directed to the war in Ukraine and all the fallout there. What do you think is going to happen on the international stage as
these months, you know, in winter months come? You know, how will Liz Truss and Europe and other parts, Turkey and other countries, how will they deal
with, basically, you know, the hostage holding that Putin is up to right now on this issue?
WESTMACOTT: Well, it's a really good question to which there's no easy answer, Christiane. But I think the first thing I would say, is that even
on such things as energy supplies and energy prices, the degree of interconnectedness between the United Kingdom in the rest of Europe, with
gas pipelines and energy -- electricity cables across the channel and so on, there has to be a degree of international cooperation, especially for
the United Kingdom. Because we are, at the moment, suffering from the highest levels of inflation and the highest spike in our energy prices. So,
we're not going to get those down on our own.
Secondly, I'm one of those, and I think the prime minister, as she now is, is absolutely right. To say that we cannot allow Putin to walk away with
everything he's demanding by invading illegally the next-door neighbor. But it's not entirely up to us. It has to be an international effort.
Yes, I think we are right to provide military equipment to Ukraine. America is doing far more than we are but we are doing quite a bit as well. And the
French and the Germans and others must join us so that there is not going to be a message to Putin that he can carry on doing what he likes and
invading neighboring countries at will. This is extremely important that doesn't happen.
But in the meantime, we've got to mitigate the effects of that, whether it's in grain prices or energy prices, or the effect on inflation or
shortages of other commodities which come from that part of the world. We have to work with Turkey, which of course is talking to the Russians and to
And is the custodian of the Straits. And is suffering a lot from what's happening to grain supplies and energy supplies. But it's supplying weapons
to Ukraine. And is potentially, because they kept the door open to both parties. Somebody -- a country, which can play a role in trying to bring
about a diplomatic supplement if Putin is ready to talk. At the moment, it looks like he's not.
And then there's Iran where the prime minister was very instrumental in getting the -- securing the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Where
there may or may not be a nuclear deal to resurrect with Iran. That is something the United Kingdom, obviously, can't do on its own. It must
engage with close allies and partners.
So, I think there's a big international agenda which won't wait for all the domestic things to be dealt with. And is indeed linked to the domestic
priorities which Liz Truss was setting out in her acceptance speech earlier today.
AMANPOUR: It's really interesting here --
AMOS: And we can't forget --
AMOS: -- we cannot forget Afghanistan.
AMOS: And the continued fallout --
AMANPOUR: Which everybody has forgotten about.
AMOS: -- and the continued fallout from Afghanistan which also links straight back into that broader security agenda which remains very --
AMANPOUR: And the democracy agenda that she --
AMOS: And the democracy agenda.
AMANPOUR: -- pledged to uphold. But Valerie Amos, you know, from a U.K. point of view and a party point of view. You're obviously in the Opposition
Labor Party. But she said today that she plans to cut taxes, as well as unveil an energy plan that will probably involve throwing a lot of money at
it to cap costs at affordable prices for the British people. How does that happen? How do you see that rolling out because the maths won't add up?
AMOS: Well, the maths won't add up, and I'll tell you what I'm really worried about that we are yet again going to be borrowing against future
generations. We've been doing that for years. Both sides of the political divide. And it's very, very clear that we have to stop doing this.
Borrowing money so that you can have tax cuts which aren't going to have a major impact on the people who are the poorest in this country.
They may be in work. They may actually be doing two or three jobs. But what are tax cuts going to do for them? We need a much, much more targeted
strategy. You know, Labor has talked about this. I don't understand why we're not doing more in terms of a windfall tax on those energy companies.
They themselves have talked about what they need to do to reduce energy bills. And in fact, they have been very, very clear that having a windfall
tax is not going to stop them from continuing to invest.
So, that there is much that we can do that makes a difference to the poorest in our society. This obsession, I think, with tax cuts is really
about demonstrating to a particular part of the Conservative Party that actually --
AMANPOUR: And again, it is just the base.
AMOS: It's just the base that is actually OK to really put on the poorest people in this country. Let them go through the hardest time because you
hope that, at some point, you're going to get some form of trickle-down growth. It's not good enough.
AMANPOUR: And obviously, what wasn't good enough was Boris Johnson because he was ousted by his own party. But Peter Westmacott and Valerie Amos, you
heard his own speech today in terms of his leaving speech. He looked like, in a certain sort of way, insisting that he was going away and wouldn't be
coming back. But he will be back, could be a backbencher. He's got prominent platforms to write on.
Is this, kind of, a Trump redact, Peter Westmacott, where even in out of office, out of the top office, he's going to be dominating the agenda?
WESTMACOTT: Well, there was plenty of bluster and it was very unapologetic this morning. Quite a lot of self-congratulations, I thought, in the prime
minister's farewell. And of, course, that reference to Cincinnatus, we all went scurrying for our classical notebooks to remind ourselves who he was.
That he was a general who was actually regarded as a great avatar of virtue and good behavior who went off back to the farm but was brought back to
save the kingdom after a while when everybody else made a mess of it.
So, that, I'm sure, was a very deliberate classical reference from the outgoing prime minister. Will he be backseat driving? Will Liz Truss have
to look in her mirror at all times? You know, he says he's going to be fully supportive. But it sounds to, I think, most observers as though the
prime minister has not yet given up on the idea of coming back.
He thinks that the rules that got rid of him were rigged half right through the competition. I didn't quite understand that reference but that's what
he said this morning in Downing Street before he left office.
And I suspect he thinks that there is a degree of unfinished business. That's going to be quite difficult for his successor to deal with. I hope
for her sake that he pipes down a bit and allows her to get on with the job. Because I think having more yet divisions in the Conservative Party
which are the reason why three times in the last four changes of prime minister it's come from within the Conservative Party rather than because
the people of Britain have chosen to vote for change. You know, this is a sign of disunity within the party which doesn't necessarily make for good
AMOS: Two quick things --
AMANPOUR: very quickly, we've got 30 seconds.
AMOS: Boris Johnson has been obsessed with writing his own legacy. So, those three points coming up time and time again. The second point is that
on the hold, divided parties don't win elections. So, Liz Truss --
AMANPOUR: Spoken as a true Labor Party, yes.
AMOS: -- Liz Truss has got to do a lot of work to bring her party together.
AMANPOUR: And she's somewhere like 15 points behind, I think that's the latest poll. Tories versus Labor. Baroness Amos --
AMOS: Well, you know I'll be happy about that.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I knew you would be happy about that. Baroness Amos, Sir Peter Westmacott, thank you so much for joining me.
Now, as we've said, Truss is hawkish on Ukraine. And she does vow to keep up British defense spending. But fighting around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear
Plant which is the largest in Europe is a threat far beyond Ukraine. My Next guest is head of the U.N. Nuclear Watchdog, the IAEA, Rafael Grossi is
just back from Zaporizhzhia with this comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFAEL GROSSI, IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL: We have been seeing military activity around the plant. And I was able to see, myself and my team,
impact holes, markings on buildings of shelling. So, which means that the physical integrity of the facility has been violated. Not once but several
times. And this is something irrespective of the kinetic power of whatever you are throwing at the plant is unacceptable in any way, under any safety
and security criteria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that was Friday. And today the IAEA has published its report saying that there is an urgent need for measures to prevent a nuclear
accident. And Rafael Grossi, himself, is joining me for his first television interview since the visit to the nuclear plant.
So, welcome back, Direct General, to our program. And let me just ask you out and out, is it safe? Do we risk a threat of any meltdown or radiation
leak of such thing right now?
GROSSI: Thank you very much. Good to be with you again. The situation is very worrying, continues to be very worrying. I was there, as you said,
last week. I returned. And the shelling continues. So, we, indeed, we are still facing a very great danger.
In your question, there were a number of things you mentioned in terms of a meltdown. I doubt it. But the mere fact that there is a continuity of
attacks and shelling, deliberate or not, wittingly or unwittingly, people are hitting a nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe. So, I must say
that the danger continues.
AMANPOUR: So, when you say people are hitting, can you make a determination as to who is hitting?
GROSSI: I cannot make that determination. We don't have the means to do that. There -- as you know, you would need to be looking or monitoring the
military operation in the region in all its vastness which is not only beyond the mandate of the IAEA but would require enormous capabilities.
What we know, and that is my responsibility, is to look at the safety and security of the facility. To determine what is really going on. And this is
why my visit there, the inspection there. And the fact that now I have people who have stayed there, so the IAEA is staying at the plant was
essential. Indispensable. The thing is now, what's next?
AMANPOUR: Well, both sides accuse each other of creating this danger and of hitting the plant. Just quickly, to say some of the things you report
today has pointed out that there is an urgent need for interim measure to prevent a nuclear accident. And that you are ready to start consultations
to establish a nuclear safety zone. That sounds, like, you know, so obvious that surely that should happen.
And yet, the Russian side refuses to entertain the notion of a demilitarized zone or some kind of safety perimeter or it has done. Have
you had any progress speaking to Russia about that?
GROSSI: I think we -- you're making a very valid point and you have to make a differentiation here. The concept of demilitarization is a wider
concept that has a geographical, it has an operational scope of a completely different nature.
What we are talking about here is the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone immediately. Which means something which is if you
want, perhaps, more modest than a full demilitarization of the area but extremely effective in getting commitment from all sites to avoid any
aiming at the plant, any shelling at the plant, any use of any means and calibers of artillery in a direction of the plant.
So, here, I have to make this distinction. What we need now, and it may be a step towards a full demilitarization or more ambitious thing like that.
But at the moment, what is urgently needed now, today, is that we agree on establishing a protection, if you want. A shield. A bubble around the
perimeter of the facility.
This is not something which is impossible to do. Not at all. So, the IAEA has the mandate to protect the safety and the security of the plant. Has
its people there. And I hope, and this is what I put in my report, that I will be able to consult very quickly and establish this as an interim
measure if you want. And I am calling it that in my report, in the hope that there will be further things.
But let not the best be the enemy of the necessary at this point. And what we need desperately is to protect this nuclear power plant because it's
being shelled now.
AMANPOUR: Do you think the Russian side, or indeed the Ukrainian side, would agree to what you're saying right now? This kind of interim half
measure. Not a demilitarized zone, but a safety protective bubble?
GROSSI: I think it would be, Christiane, very difficult to explain to the world that we do not agree to a measure like this. The IAEA is not in the
business of deciding about the military scope or the nature of the activities that are taking place there.
But I cannot conceive that any country would include in its menu, if I can use the word, of military options the shelling of a nuclear power plant. I
cannot believe this is the case in this -- even in this dramatic circumstance of this war. But now the IAEA has been there. We have
corroborated what is happening. And this is a measure that one way or the other must be put in place.
We can do it. We have the means to do it. And I would like to hear what would be the arguments to say that we should not protect the nuclear power
plant. I can imagine, as a diplomat, that you can come up with arguments, one side or another, against or in favor of demilitarization. How you
define this, et cetera, et cetera. It's not in my remit. What's in my remit, I demand nuclear safety is indispensable. Nuclear security is
indispensable. We are playing with fire.
AMANPOUR: Well, that, as suppose is, Mr. Grossi, that one or other side doesn't want to play with fire. As you've probably read, there are plenty
of articles and experts suggesting that what you have seen there, which is Russian military equipment and personnel is a way for President Putin to
create leverage, nuclear leverage to intimidate and hold everything, you know, hostage to demands. So, my question to you is, do you think that's
the case? And in which case, there's no reason for Russia to agree.
GROSSI: Christiane, I cannot afford to speculate. I know what is happening.
And I know what we should do to mitigate and to reduce dramatically the possibility of a major nuclear accident that will come to add up to the
tragedy of this war. Motivations, we can imagine many. And I think it's an exercise that, of course, analysts like you and others should do, perhaps
to enlighten people.
But in -- from my position, I am saying we can do this, let's do it. Let's do it now. Let's stop wasting time.
AMANPOUR: So, you went through this rather difficult and lengthy process to try to get access to the plant, and you did that last week with your
team. It is the first ever time in the IAEA history that you have expected a nuclear plant in the midst of active war. You have been to many different
places, North Korea, Iraq, you know, Iran, et cetera, but not in the middle of an act of war.
How difficult was the trip and under what pressure are your people, who you've just said, are remaining there?
GROSSI: Well, as you rightly recalled, it took me six months to be there. Because I was asking to go there from day one, practically. And especially
since the fateful night of the March 3rd to March 4th where there was fire, there was -- you remember, there was an episode inside the plant, which was
So, from that moment on, we have been insisting. There have been moments where Ukraine or the Russian Federation have been opposing. We were close
to one mission at some point. It was suspended. Then we continued pushing. And I think we came to a point -- because here, I must say, I need
everybody's collaboration. I need everybody's cooperation to get to do these things. Where it was evident for all that the mission itself should
So, I am counting on this modicum of common sense that allowed us to move in there and now, to stay there to do what's right the next step. Are we
going to stop here? What is the goal? What is the ultimate objective of my presence there? To make a better report? Of course. A better report is
indispensable. Because up until now, we had conflicting narratives. A, saying this happened. B, saying no. It's the opposite.
Now, experts -- and we have the best and brightest that they came with me. You can be sure. You were mentioning the other places that we -- where we
have been. And the best people came with me and I have left experts who are there, know what to look, how to ascertain -- assert the situation and draw
the necessary conclusions. So, I think --
AMANPOUR: So, very, very quickly, Mr. Grossi, very quickly.
AMANPOUR: Are you sure that they will get -- they will stay there permanently or is there an expiration date on their permission? And then, I
want to move on to Iran.
GROSSI: With all due respect, we are staying there. And if somebody wants us to leave, then let that someone explain why is the IAEA forced to leave.
So, I'm grateful for the cooperation that -- from Ukraine that allowed me to be there, to move into the plant. And also, the Russian side that worked
with the mission to make it happen. Now, we have to take the next logical indispensable step.
AMANPOUR: On Iran, you've spent a long time ascertaining and, you know, examining with your experts, as you said, and there was really some hope in
the latest days that there would be a nuclear deal signed. But the chief foreign policy official from the E.U., Josep Borrell, have said that he is
less optimistic about reviving this deal than he is -- than he was 28 hours earlier.
So, in your -- from what you know, is -- are hopes fading for a nuclear deal to be revived?
GROSSI: Well, there are a number of complications there. I am not party to negotiations itself. You know, I am the guarantor. I am the inspector of
the deal when it comes. I think it's important that we can verify the activities in Iran and a deal would provide us with that opportunity. We do
hope, as in any diplomatic negotiation, that the sites will come to see eye to eye. The IAEA, as always, is ready to help.
AMANPOUR: And a last question on Zaporizhzhia. I mean, everybody remembers Chernobyl and what a terrible, terrible disaster that was. And I am just
wondering whether -- as some again have suggested -- described the current situation as being akin to a potential dirty bomb. I mean, it could be
terrible if the whole thing did what you -- you know, what you say is the worst-case scenario. Just tell us, what is the worst-case scenario?
GROSSI: The worst-case scenario, of course, first -- I mean, you have any number of hypothetical things that can happen. You can have people
attacking the reactors themselves. You can have the -- a problem with the external supply so that the reactors would lose cooling. You have the
possibility of having an attack on the fuel, which is stored there. Well, there are many things that can happen.
The big difference now, if you compare with what happened in Chernobyl and in other places is this, we have an opportunity now, for the first time.
And you were saying this was a first. This is the first time that we are there not to pick up the pieces, but to prevent. Let's do it.
AMANPOUR: On that note, Rafael Grossi, thank you very much for joining us. Really urgent work out there. Thank you.
And turning now to the U.S. City of Jackson, Mississippi where Residents have been without running water for most of the past week. After flooding
hit a treatment plant, thousands lost access to clean water and they had to rely on the bottle stop. There is some relief as water pressure has been
restored and public schools have been reopened.
To provide an update on the situation, Jackson mayor, Chokwe Antar Lumumba joins Michel Martin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, thank you so much for joining us.
MAYOR CHOKWE ANTAR LUMUMBA (D-JACKSON, MS): Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: So, you are the mayor the state's capital, largest city. As we understand it, last week, most residents, including yourself, had no
running water. Certainly not enough to drink or wash their clothes, take care of necessities of life. What is the situation as we're speaking now?
LUMUMBA: Well, fortunately, we have more positive news to report. Pressure has been restored to our residents with the exception of a few outlined
cases that may have challenges at individual properties that are specific to that property.
The next stage in the process would be for the Health Department to give the go-ahead for testing to resume. There are approximately 120 sites
across the city that samples are pulled from. And if we get all 120 samples to come back clear for two consecutive days, then the boil water notice
will be lifted.
But I do want to say this, that we have been here before. We have been here two Februarys ago. We've had this challenge and we've restored pressure.
We've been able to lift the boil water notices. But that in no regards means that it is mission accomplished. Until it we have significant funding
to deal with the challenges for the three decades long of neglect and lack of investments in our water treatment facility, it is not a matter of if,
but it's a matter of when these systems will fail again.
And so, for me, this is kind of the more dangerous timeframe. The timeframe where everyone, you know, is kind of in a sense of comfort and, you know,
maybe even in a sense of complacency that it troubles me the most because I know just how threatened my residents are on an ongoing basis.
MARTIN: So, you're saying, attention spans around the country are short on an issue like this, but this problem has such a long tail that -- that part
of it to be understood, that this isn't kind of -- just a momentary crisis, this is a long-standing -- I don't know. What would you call it? Tragedy,
travesty? What would you describe that -- sort of think about the long tail of this problem?
LUMUMBA: Well, I think it is a tragedy. I think is a tragedy that we all have our hands in. And, you know, aren't truly revealing the best of what
governance should look like. You know, my view is that when we have these things take place, it is humiliating to communities. And so, I call this a
cycle of humiliation. And I think that the true scale by which we should grade our success and failure of cities and states as a nation is through
the sustainable development goals we reach, through our ability to provide communities dignity.
And so, our effort is to reveal a dignity economy. One that reflects the inherent dignity that every person should have. You know, you don't see
that when you go to, you know, bathe and you don't have sufficient water. You don't see that when you're trying to cook and you are concerned with
the quality of your water. You don't see that when men, women, children, our elderly are suffering in one way or another, one facet or another under
MARTIN: You are the mayor since 2017. Did -- how much time did you say of yours as mayor has been preoccupied with providing basic services like
LUMUMBA: Well, we have lifted up in one form or another since we came in office this challenge, this need for a continuous line of funding in order
to address, you know, the decay and, you know, the need for weatherization at our water treatment facility and in other infrastructure needs.
Sometimes, it was manifested in terms of asking for an extension and are 1 percent sales tax, which was passed under my father's administration, which
the residents passed by more than 90 percent in order to tax themselves, to go towards these ongoing infrastructure woes.
You know, what are residents have proven is that they're willing to make the sacrifice in order see Jackson progress. We have to demonstrate that
we're willing to meet them and willing to sacrifice as well. And that shared sacrifice can lead to these changes. An ability to extend the sunset
on that 1 percent sales tax was viewed early on as an opportunity to leverage those funds going forward for the critical repairs that are
necessary now in our infrastructure.
We've done it through direct legislative requests, specific to our water treatment facility. We are under an agreed order of consent from the EPA,
which is a detailed document, right, which outlines all of the challenges, the significant challenges, at our water treatment facility has. We have
presented that to the legislature. We have presented the need for funding in various forms.
And the most we've ever received is about $3 million, towards J.H. Fuel, which is the older of our two water treatment facilities. But actually, the
more reliable of the two. And J.H. Fuel serves downtown. And so, in essence, you know, we decided to support -- or the legislature decided to
support the funding to the water service that serves them and not the majority of our residents.
MARTIN: So, here's what I hear you saying. What I hear you saying is that your capacity as a city to fund these projects yourself is limited, what I
hear you saying is that those state legislator, which is dominated by Republicans, and your Democrat, and it's also majority white, and your
city's majority black, and what I hear you saying is that you're willing to take the steps as a city to take care of these problems yourselves but it's
beyond your financial capacity to do so and that the state legislator -- the state government, more broadly, has not been willing to give you the
resources that you need to take care of the problem. Is that it? Is that it in essence?
LUMUMBA: Well, I think you surmised it well, and our record is clear on that. And I think that we can't mistake, you know, an effort to come in and
take over the system as an effort to support it. Because --
MARTIN: Is that what the states are offering to do now? Is the state offering to, threatening to -- and I'm not sure which word you want to use
to take over the governance of the water system? Is that what is in play at the moment?
LUMUMBA: Well, I'll say that I have been, you know, calling that playbook out for a while now. And I will say that the governor, as recently as
yesterday, said that that is an option that is still on the table. Right.
MARTIN: Is that -- let me just ask you about that. I mean, you spoke about this, the whole situation being humiliating earlier, not just a -- it is
obviously a matter of basic health and well-being. having access to clean, reliable water is just a basic issue of health and well-being. But you also
talked about how it's humiliating to have to queue up to get bottled water in your home. It's not being able to brush your teeth with water that comes
out of the tap in the capital city of a state in the United States of America in the 21st century.
But if the state is willing to take on that responsibility, if you argue that, you know, the state, in fact, bears responsibility here by denying
appropriate resources to fix this problem along, what would be so wrong with that?
LUMUMBA: Well, first and foremost, I'm not absolving the state of any responsibility. The state has an obligation to the residents of Jackson
because they are Mississippians like everyone else. I don't want you to give me wrong in that regard. What I am saying is that an effort to take
over the revenue, ultimately, right? And often siphon off that revenue that should go to repairs that Jackson residents need, will lead them into a
deeper cycle of humiliation and take them from one state of misery to the next, right?
And so, I think that there should be consistent funding to help support. In fact, what we are asking for is often more of our own tax revenue in order
to go towards these challenges.
And so, you know, where I am making the clarification is, is there can be dedicated resources to help support the system versus decisions to take
over the system that is more geared toward how you profit off of it rather than how you support it. And I think we have to know that there is
extensive history and extensive literature on the threats of privatization on poor communities. Communities that -- the affordability of our water
treatment or our water billing is already a major concern for our residents.
And when corporations get involved like that, when the residents don't have the determination or the ability to decide who leads them and who makes
decisions over, you know, what the cost of certain services are, then it could potentially serve to harm them worse where they can't, you know,
afford the water that they so justly deserve.
MARTIN: Mr. Mayor, let me clarify this. I think many people are aware that there is an infrastructure bill that was passed by the Congress signed by
President Biden earlier. Under the bill, as my understanding, the State of Mississippi received $75 million to upgrade drinking water systems across
the state. An additional $429 million is to become available over the next five years. So, have you received any of that money? Has any of that money
LUMUMBA: I have spoken directly to the president. And he -- upon the passage of that, talked about what his hopes were for Jackson to receive
out of that. That I've talked to the administrator of the EPA and he talked about where their intent was for Jackson to receive its fair share of that.
And I have talked to Mitchell Andrew Bizzarro (ph), the infrastructure bill itself, who has talked about what his desires were for Jackson within the
So, what we are talking about is money that was intended for Jackson that is yet to reach our hands. So, you know, there have been things that have
said -- that they have said, well, we don't have a plan from Jackson. Well, one, that's not accurate. We've given different legislative requests and
told him what we wanted to commit it to. We have presented the EPA's list of priorities, which is an exhaust document that highlights the critical
needs of the water treatment facility.
And lastly, the state created a portal which requires that through the ARPA Funding, that all cities make their request through the portal. That portal
only opened up earlier this month, which was merely a few days ago.
Now, when we talk about the challenges or our concerns, Jackson, Mississippi is the only city in the state that through that legislation
that requires that we use this portal to make our request that has a duplicitous process. Not only do we have to request funds through the
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, we then as the only city in the state have to make an application through DFA, the Department of
Finance and Administration, which certainly doesn't know anything about water treatment or, you know, the validity of the process projects.
And so, you know, we have to ask questions, why outline a separate and distinct for Jackson, which has not been guilty, at least under this
administration, of any misappropriation of funds, of not putting things towards the absolute necessary projects that we have to take on?
MARTIN: So, what's the answer? You've asked the question. Why is there a special process for Jackson? What is the answer?
LUMUMBA: Well, I think that Jackson is treated unfairly. I think that it is political. And I think that when we're talking about water to people, to
businesses, this isn't the time for politics. And, you know, as I've said, it's not a Democrat or Republican thing, this is a human thing.
MARTIN: You know, I have to ask. You know, Mayor, I can't help but notice, you've avoided using some of the terms that some of the outside analysts
looking at this have used, like systemic racism. I mean, that's not a word that I've heard you say. Those are words that I had heard you say, and I
can see why. I mean, you still have to work with the governor and the state legislature who have control of your financing opportunities, who have to
intercede with the federal government on your behalf.
I know you talked to President Biden -- or rather President Biden called you to check in on, you know, the situation there. But this is not just --
this is obviously a health crisis and -- but it's also political crisis. What do you do in this situation where clearly, there are people who are
going to want to hear you say, this is racism, this is just racism? And I'm just interested in how you're thinking about that.
LUMUMBA: Yes. Well, I don't know that the moment requires me to state the obvious, right? And -- you know, and this moment, I have to be centered on
what collaboration can take place to ensure the best condition for my residents. And so, that's where I have to principally be aligned at this
But there is an extensive record of what I said and what I have lifted up regarding this challenge. And so, my residents know who I am. They know
that I am not bashful about stating those facts and being clear there. And so, it would only take, you know, just a short review of articles and, you
know, certain interviews to know that I have not been shy about saying what needed to be said in that moment.
And so, in the moment, we weren't receiving support in a moment where, you know, repeated requests from our legislature were being denied, in a moment
where, you know, instead of listening to our infrastructure requests, one state leader said, look, let's talk about you giving up the airport and we
can talk about the rest.
You know, I stated what that was. I talked about the nature of what Jackson residents were facing in this moment, when I had them at the table, then it
doesn't serve me nor does it, more importantly, serve residents of Jackson for me to be, you know, focusing on what they haven't been and, you know,
what my issues with them are. I want to encourage them to remain. I want them to realize that the Jackson residents are worthy of dependable and
sustainable and equitable water treatment.
MARTIN: So, before we let you go, Mayor, just two more questions. When do you see full water service being restored to Jackson? Water that people can
actually drink, use and bathe in.
LUMUMBA: Well, you know, based on the reports that I'm getting and -- we are optimistic. You know, while I can't say with all certainty, we do
believe, however, that it will be this week. We believe that by Wednesday of this week we could potentially see the water not only the pressure
having been restored, but the boil water notice being lifted. That is our optimistic timeline. But there are other factors that could come into play
that could delay that. And so, we have to, you know, reserve making that declaration.
MARTIN: The water crisis in Flint, Michigan which spawned criminal investigations, public officials' resignations, there was a class action
settlement of more than $600 million. What does accountability look like here?
LUMUMBA: Well, I think accountability, in its simplest form, is making sure that we can all look ourselves in the mirror and say that we have done
everything that we could to improve Jackson's water treatment distribution system, from me on up to the president.
And when I say the water distribution system, I'm not only talking at the water treatment facility and all of its necessary and critical repairs, I'm
talking about from that water treatment facility to the point of use. The City of Jackson, unfortunately, will become, you know, a part of a longer
and more frequent narrative of communities that are under invested in, that have critical infrastructure needs that need to be addressed.
At the same time, we have a waste water system, we have a stormwater system, we have roads and bridges infrastructure that needs to be
addressed, and that is part and parcel of what we're seeing across the country.
MARTIN: Mayor Lumumba, thanks so much for talking with us.
LUMUMBA: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, some relief for Jackson, but eyes need stay on there. And finally, just a note on what some have described as a chameleon like Liz
Truss. As Liz meets Liz, the first prime minister to be sworn in at the queen's Scottish residents, Balmoral, it's easy to overlook her youthful
Speaking at the liberal democrat's party conference, age 19, Truss called for the abolition of the monarchy. She now says those comments were wrong
and supports the monarchy as vital to Britain's democracy.
That is it for now. And if you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. You can find it at
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Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.