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Interview With IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi; Interview With Earth Scientist And Climate Activist Rose Abramoff; Interview With Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA). Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 18, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN. More people get their news from CNN than any other news source.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to AMANPOUR. Here is what's coming up.
A tragic helicopter crash near Kyiv. An on the ground report. Then --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFAEL GROSSI, DIRECTOR GENERAL IAEA: The priority right now is to ensure the security and the safety of the planet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Preventing nuclear disaster in Ukraine. I asked the U.N. watchdog chief, Rafael Grossi, why his call for safe zones around the plant
have so-far fallen on deaf ears.
Plus, fired for acting up about the climate crisis. I speak to Earth scientist, Rose Abramoff about what it cost her. And.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): I say we need an economic renewal production. We need to be clearly the best fast producing nation in the world and we can
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Rose tinted dreams or can these jobs really come back to America. Democratic Congressman, Ro Khanna, tells Walter Isaacson what it
will take to turn America back into a manufacturing base.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
For nearly a year, so much blood has flowed through Ukraine under withering Russian fire. The tragedy is never far away. And today brought more sorrow.
A Ukrainian helicopter crashed near a kindergarten in the Kyiv region. Killing a government minister and at least three children, among others.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who addressed the Davos World Economic Forum called it a terrible tragedy and says there'll be an investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Fourteen of Ukrainian families lost their loved ones today and many more families are losing daily because
of the war. And I shall ask you to honor the memory of every person Ukraine with a minute of silence, please.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: His government says, more than 9,000 civilians, including 453 children, have been killed in Ukraine so far with no end in sight to the
Meantime, search and rescue operations have been called off at the crash site. But many questions remain. So, with the latest from there, I'm joined
now by Correspondent Fred Pleitgen.
Fred, thank you for being there in the dark, in the cold, in the night. The search and rescue has been called off. Can we just get it straight, there
is no indication that this was an attack on this helicopter but a tragic crash, is that correct?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So far, Christiane, there is no indication that there was any foul play involved in
this helicopter crash or that it was shot down or anything similar to that. The Ukrainians have -- are saying that they are exploring all other
possibilities. For instance, mechanical failure. But then also, pilot error, possibly, as well.
One of the things that we do know is that there was very heavy fog in this area as this helicopter was coming through here and was set to fly over
this area. In fact, get me out of your way -- out of your way for a second. You can see the clearing operation is still well underway.
You mentioned very correctly that the search and rescue operation has ended. It ended quite a couple of hours ago. And now, it's that clearing
operation that's going on here. I was just a little closer to that area and was able to see those crews work there and the wreck really looks -- it
looks very bad. It certainly crashed right in front of a residential building after hitting a kindergarten. And then appears to have completely
What we are hearing from crews hear is at least one child was killed on the ground, several other people were also killed on the ground because as this
chopper was coming down on that building was a time when people were actually dropping off their children at the kindergarten. An eyewitness
that we spoke to said it didn't really look like the chopper was out of control as it was coming down. However, it was losing altitude and then
crashed into that kindergarten and then further went -- and came to a stop in front of that residential building.
The people who were killed in that helicopter was everybody who was onboard, and was, of course, the interior minister, Denys Monastyrsky, his
deputy, and then also the secretary of state -- the state secretary of the interior ministry, as well. So, certainly, a huge loss here for this
And you know we heard there, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking to the World Economic Forum. He was asking for a moment of silence for those who were
killed in this aircraft. It is a big, big loss for Ukraine. And we are seeing, you know, an outpouring of support for the victims and their
families. In fact, there was a group of clergy who was here a little earlier who were holding a small sermon at this spot for those who were
AMANPOUR: Fred, this was a horrible crash. They think an accident.
AMANPOUR: But the Russians have stepped up relentless attacks on civilians all over right now. And obviously, President Zelenskyy and his wife, Olena
Zelenska, both addressing Davos, are calling for more weapons at this crucial moment. Do you sense that there is a turning point moment now?
PLEITGEN: It's very difficult to say. I do think that right now the Ukrainians are sensing that the Russians are going to try and make a big
second push to try and attack Ukraine in a bigger way than they have before. Certainly, one of the things that we've heard from Vladimir Putin
over the past couple of days was that he believes that right now there is a certain shift of momentum towards the Russians.
Especially if you look at the area around Bakhmut, Soledar, in the east of the country where, of course, you have that private military company of the
Russians, the Wagner military group fighting there. And that really is one of the only places where the Russians have been able to make gains.
At the same time, the Ukrainians are saying right now that more weapons -- more sophisticated weapons are very important to them. And that's for
several reason. One of them is the fact that you have had a lot of civilians who have been impacted over the past couple of days.
In fact, right before coming here I was actually in the town of Dnipro, about 400 miles away from here, where a civilian building, a residential
building, was struck by a missile that the Ukrainians say was a Russian missile that's normally designed to destroy aircraft carriers. It
completely obliterated an entire house. Right now, the death toll there stands at 45.
And the Ukrainians are saying they would need more sophisticated air defense weapons. More, for instance, are the patriots that the U.S. is
currently training on the Ukrainians on. But if they look at the situation on the battlefield, they look at the fact that the Russians have mobilized
hundreds of thousands of people that are currently, apparently, in training or are already being brought to Ukraine and might be on the verge of
mobilizing even more. They say the big next up for them would be main battle tanks.
That's what the Ukrainians are pushing for right now. That is also what a lot of European countries, like for instance Poland are pushing for. The
big issue there right now is the Germans because the tanks that the Ukrainians want is, of course, the Leopard 2 main battle tank. And the
Germans would have to sign off on any sort of tank deliveries by any country in Europe. And there are a lot that have the Leopard 2 to be able
to give those to Ukraine. Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Right. And of course, all eyes again on the end of this week where all defense ministers, including Ukraine, the United States, all the
European countries, and there might be an announcement on precisely what you are talking about.
AMANPOUR: Fred, thank you so much for joining us from there.
And of course, it is precisely to prevent these kinds of tragic or actually even catastrophic incidents that the United Nations had sent a team to
inspect Ukraine's nuclear plants. It is the second visit by the IAEA chief Rafael Grossi. The objective, to establish a permanent presence of safety
and security experts at all of Ukraine's nuclear power plants. Like the one at -- the largest plant in the Zaporizhzhia as fighting rages around it.
Rafael Grossi is joining me now from Kyiv.
Mr. Grossi, thank you for joining us. You know, that tragedy that happened and as Fred talked about the, you know, the deliberate attack on the
building in Dnipro just shows how people are under such threat. And here we have fighting still raging around the powerplant that you are so concerned
about. Tell me what you expect to achieve with this current visit.
RAFAEL GROSSI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: Well, this visit -- first of all, it's a pleasure to talk to you again. Actually, my sixth visit to Ukraine
since the war started. This time, I have two main goals. One has been achieved and the other is still ongoing.
The first was the fact that we have set permanent missions at every nuclear power plant in Ukraine. We, of course, have been talking with you and
working on the establishment of a protection zone around Zaporizhzhia. We are going to discuss this in a second. But this week, I have been to
Chernobyl. I have been to Rivne. I have been to south Ukraine. We are setting up also in Khmelnytskyi, the other nuclear power plants.
Permanent missions which have been requested by Ukraine in order to provide technical support and assistance. Because even though these plants, of
course, are in Ukrainian-controlled territory, they are not free from the possibility of accidents. In fact, they have been in blackouts. They have
lost external power supply. So, they have been in emergency situations. So, we are wrapping up, if you want, our assistance to the country and setting
this permanent missions.
So, this was done now. We can say that the IAEA is deployed from Chernobyl in the northeast to south -- in South Ukraine, and also in Zaporizhzhia --
GROSSI: -- which is very important. So, this is one part of the effort --
AMANPOUR: Yes, but let's talk about the second part.
GROSSI: -- which is unprecedented for --
AMANPOUR: That is all great.
GROSSI: The second part is the work to --
AMANPOUR: Yes, let's -- uh-huh.
GROSSI: -- to establish the protection zone. At the plant, as you know, we do have people. There is a mission --
GROSSI: -- which I personally left then when I visited last September. And I have been working with Russia and with Ukraine, of course, to establish a
protection zone so to exclude the nuclear power plant from any military action. We have made some progress, but still this has not been agreed. And
this is part of my effort this time around.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me actually ask you about that because it's not been agreed. And not only has it not been agreed by the Russians, because I
assume the Ukrainians are on board, in fact they asked you to help them out with this. But even some Russians connected with the state, connected with,
you know, state run state energy organizations say, you know, that the IAEA does not have the statutory or technological or any other capabilities to
prevent a nuclear catastrophe. Therefore, from this point of view the presence --
GROSSI: I don't know who said that --
AMANPOUR: Well, I'll tell you.
GROSSI: I don't know whose state --
AMANPOUR: I'll tell you.
GROSSI: I don't -- frankly, I don't know who said that.
AMANPOUR: I'll tell you.
GROSSI: But whoever said that is completely wrong.
AMANPOUR: OK. Good. Well, because I was going to ask you --
GROSSI: Completely wrong.
AMANPOUR: They keep --
GROSSI: We have statute -- we are -- Christiane, we are the international organization that has a responsibility of nuclear safety and security. If
not us, who? So, we have the full statutory authority to do this. And we have, of course, the technical capabilities to do this. We do not run a
counterforce to avoid accidents. But we have this authority, we have the technical capability to do it, we are making recommendations to that
effect. And we, once the zone is established, we are going to be monitoring its implementation.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you have the statutory and the capability to be able to do it. But these people are clearly being rolled out to denigrate your
activities. They clearly don't want you to go in there and create some kind of safe zone. You know that Zaporizhzhia --
GROSSI: Well, you know -- let me say something.
GROSSI: I don't know about this statement that you are quoting. But let me say something to set the record straight. I have been working and
consulting, of course, for Ukraine because this is a Ukrainian facility, but I have been working with the Russians as well because it is absolutely
indispensable that I talk to those who are in control.
And you may recall that I met with President Putin in St. Petersburg back in October. So, to say that there is no interaction with Russia is -- would
be equally incorrect. I'm afraid to say. I have to -- you know, my job is to prevent a nuclear accident --
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes. Mr. Grossi, that --
GROSSI: -- which is very possible.
AMANPOUR: -- that's very clear. And I want to be very --
GROSSI: Possibilities there -- I have to talk to everybody.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I want to be very clear, I did not say there's no interaction. I said it appears that they don't want you to do what you say
you need to do, the Russian side. Tell me if that's true or not? Because we've been talking about this for weeks. You came on my program --
GROSSI: But we haven't -- they --
AMANPOUR: -- several weeks ago --
GROSSI: -- they haven't --
AMANPOUR: -- and it has not happened and there's fighting still around these plants. So, do you have any commitment --
AMANPOUR: -- from the Russian side --
GROSSI: Yes, of course.
AMANPOUR: -- to agree to this idea of a safety zone around a nuclear plant?
GROSSI: You know there is an unwritten or written law in diplomacy the says that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. There are certain
things that we have established. And some others that still need to be ironed out. So, at this point we are working. I would say it would be
inaccurate to say that we are unwanted there. I -- it would not be correct.
GROSSI: Of course, it is a challenging situation. This is a war zone. Zaporizhzhia is in an active combat zone, as you know. So, establishing any
form of exemption from military action is not something that you agree to very easily.
There are certain parameters, territorial parameters, obligations, exceptions, exemptions that are being negotiated. And I hope and my -- all
of my effort is put into having a successful outcome, which I believe is possible.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, that's good. But again, I interviewed you on precisely this in September, that's five months ago, when you told me that you
expressed a lot of hope that you'd be able to, "Consult very quickly and established the safety zone as an interim solution". You are going to
Russia tomorrow, I believe, to try to continue these negotiations.
Why do you think you'll have any more success or do you think you'll have any more success tomorrow than you have had, you know, in the last five
months that you've been trying to work this out? I mean, parameters, how long can they take to establish?
GROSSI: Well, it's of course a matter of a political decision. My responsibility as head of the IAEA is to put on the table a proposal that
is technically sound and that is viable. And it's my job to -- not to give up, to continue displaying any and every possible effort to get there. You
are right when you say that we started in September. It has taken time. It has taken far more time than I expected it would. But avoiding a nuclear
accident is worth of -- this time, isn't it?
AMANPOUR: Absolutely. I'm just trying to figure out whether it's real and whether they are genuinely engaging with you. But you've said what you've
Can I move to Iran which is another area I know of concern to you and of course to the rest of the world. You've also visited that country several
times. We hear from politicians now, particularly given the crackdown in Iran on human rights, on women, the public executions, the antidemocratic,
you know, nature of what they're doing right now. The violation of people's lives and sanctity.
That the idea of negotiating on the nuclear deal is just been cast aside. We hear it from Americans. We hear it from -- I heard it from Ursula von
der Leyen yesterday.
GROSSI: You were talking -- when we were discussing -- yes. When we were discussing Zaporizhzhia just now, you were talking about that it's taking
five months. And you, yourself, you've been following the Iran case for many, many years. And I have been working on this also for many, many
So, it is, of course, on such a long process the political backdrop is going to be changing. And again, I have to keep my eyes on the ball. And
the issue here is to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran and to ensure that the nuclear program in Iran remains in peaceful
GROSSI: So, of course, at this point in time when you compare with these other issues that you are mentioning, they are not part of my remit, of
course, human rights and other things. Of course, we are very concerned about that. They might be conspiring against the achievement --
GROSSI: -- of a political solution here. But we've seen similar circumstances, difficult circumstances, or easier circumstances in this
long process that has been accompanying the negotiation of the nuclear dossier in Iran.
So, I'm expecting to get a better, I would say, engagement from the Iranian authorities. It has been difficult these past few months. We have not been
getting their responses from Iran that we are expecting to get. So, I hope to be able to visit Iran and to reset what needs to be a relationship based
on trust which is faltering at this point in time.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. And I just want to ask you a non-political question, a totally factual question. While this time is elapsing to get Iran back into
the JCPOA, if anybody wants to do that and if Iran wants to do that, can you tell me what is happening with their enrichment schedule? And how much
concern do you have about their continuing to enrich uranium? And do you have a new, sort of, estimate about, so-called, breakout time.
You say -- obviously, your role is to keep it peaceful there. But everybody is worried, always has been. That as time progresses, Iran gets closer and
closer. So, what do you estimate as those key facts there now?
GROSSI: Well, that is true. That is true. And each one of the concerning factors that we have because as this negotiation is not progressing at the
pace that we would like --
-- Iran has been enlarging, has been getting more last generation centrifuges, is accumulating more material, five percent enrichment, 20
percent enrichment, and 60 percent enrichment. Which is, as you know, quite close to weapon grade enrichment which is 90 percent. So, these are all
factors that, as I have been telling my Iranian counterpart, (INAUDIBLE), and are configurating a situation that is getting more and more complex as
So, the concerns are there. It is getting, also, more difficult for us to assert in the situation there because our visibility in the Islamic
republic has been reduced because of the disconnection of some of our cameras and other systems that we had. This is why I have said that we need
to sit down at a political level, at the highest possible political level to talk honestly and to agree that this cannot continue as it is at this
AMANPOUR: So, finally, how much on the, sort of, dangerous scale would you assess both the possibility of an accident, you know, in Ukraine around one
of these plants if there is no safety zone? And, I guess, in Iran. Do you have a one to 10 scale you can use?
GROSSI: Well, on the first one it can happen any moment, any time. Today you can have a quiet situation and the next day you can have shelling, and
this has happened.
GROSSI: So -- and when shelling comes or when the external power supplies are interrupted and the reactors are no longer cooled, you can have a
meltdown. So, we can -- you cannot say it's eight out of 10, it could be zero, it could be 10. In 10 seconds. So, we need to act now.
With regards to Iran, the order or the magnitude is different. The speed is different. The movement is different. Because we should not forget that
Iran does not have a nuclear weapon. But it is important that they reengage on the right track, and this is not happening. So, it is -- these are two
very concerning situations.
The IAEA, I can assure you and reassure the audience that the IAEA is constantly looking and working so that we can prevent a nuclear catastrophe
that would come on top of the war in Ukraine and proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran which could make the -- already volatile region even more
dangerous and our world, in general, even more unpredictable.
AMANPOUR: Well, we want to thank you, Rafael Grossi, head of the IAEA. And wish you good luck in these vital security and safety issues. Thanks for
being with us from Kyiv.
And now, from preventing a nuclear disaster to an ecological one. Climate activists, Greta Thunberg, has been released after being briefly detained
by German police at a coal mine protest yesterday. An act of defiance and its consequences something my next guest knows all too well.
Rose Abramoff is an Earth scientist who chained herself to the White House fence demanding action on climate last April. She says, it cost her her
job. And she's joining me now from, Knoxville, Tennessee.
Rose Abramoff, welcome to the program. I mean, you can see how intensely Mr. Grossi is definitely trying to avoid a disaster. We saw, you know, the
nuclear disaster of Chernobyl all those decades ago that led to an ecological disaster, as well. I guess you -- I guess because of the action
that you've taken, you kind of identify with that. And particularly with your case, taking these emergency measures.
ROSE ABRAMOFF, EARTH SCIENTIST AND CLIMATE ACTIVIST: Right, I mean, I certainly feel the sense of impending disaster which is fully related to
the energy crisis, it was described in your previous segment. For me, it's much more global than that. I sort of see this energy crisis as part of a
larger energy crisis that our dependence on fossil fuels is degrading our natural and managed ecosystems and bringing us close to dangerous tipping
points and our ability to maintain a habitable planet.
And that's what led me to take a lot of the act of nonviolent civil disobedience that you described that I've done over the past year which
have, as you said, put my job -- have led directly or indirectly to my termination.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I'm going to talk about that in a second. But I just want to know when you decided to become an activist. To move from, you
know, the objective empirical facts of science and to put your fears into activism. You write quite movingly about you were -- you know, standing in
permafrost when it came to you. Tell us about it.
ABRAMOFF: Sure. Yes, I have written about my experiences, sort of, visceral experiences studying and doing fieldworks in these degrading
ecosystems, like, standing on melting permafrost. But I would say if I had to choose one tipping point, it would be last year when I participated in -
- I was one of the peer reviewers of the U.N. climate report, the IPCC sixth assessment report.
And just reading the passages that tell us exactly how much time we have left, our remaining carbon budget really underline that sense of urgency
and severity of the climate crisis. And that, more than anyone thing made me more worried about the future than I was for my career.
AMANPOUR: So, you said, I used to be a well-behaved scientist. And you said, I did not make the decision to become an activist lightly. I
recognized that my actions would have consequences. And I knew that I could face retaliation.
So, in your op-ed or your -- yes, for "The New York Times", you know, you said -- and you've just alluded to that either directly or indirectly, it
led to your termination from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory which is under the U.S. Department of Energy.
We asked them why they fired you. And they said the following, we do not comment on specific personnel matters, but we respect the right of all
employees to pursue their personal interest outside of work. Those actions, however, must be consistent with company policies, maintain public
confidence in our science as an organization, and avoid improper use of taxpayer resources. What do you say to that?
ABRAMOFF: Well, I think that that response brings up a lot of interesting questions, like, what should be and what is the mandate of Earth
scientists? You know, we've spent most of our careers, most Earth scientists have spent decades writing calm reports, peer reviewed articles,
and engaging in educational activities with no decrease in carbon emissions, really to show for it.
And I think a lot of us are really getting desperate. We're at 1.2 degrees Celsius above -- of warming above preindustrial, and we're rapidly
approaching 1.5. And we expect to breach that number at least, temporarily, within the next decade. Which, you know, makes a lot of -- which puts us in
a much more dangerous situation in terms of earth's habitability.
And so, I think it really calls into question, you know, what is the proper use of taxpayer funds? Is asking other scientists to speak up about the
severity and the urgency of climate change a misuse of taxpayer funds? Is commenting on the obvious policy implications of our research such as the
need to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels a misuse of taxpayer funds, or coming from a different angle, is it perhaps more of a misuse to
subsidize the coal, oil, and gas industry with billions of dollars knowing that existing fossil reserves are larger than our remaining carbon budget
to stay below the safe level -- safer level of warming? That, to me, is the true misuse of taxpayer money.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, it seems today at Davos, the secretary general of the United Nations, sort of, agrees with you, at least in part,
particularly in the involvement in the climate crisis of some big fossil companies. This is what he said during his speech there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: Some in big oil peddled the big lie. And like the tobacco industry, those responsible must
be held to account. Today, fossil fuel producers and their enablers are still racing to expand production knowing full well that this business
model is inconsistent with human survival.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, when he says that and he said it before, obviously things that you agree with and you've just alluded to, do you think it will fall
on receptive ears, eventually? He said, like, the tobacco companies which also lied and knew the consequences of what they were peddling, these
companies that do that need to be held accountable.
ABRAMOFF: I hope so. I mean, the lines of evidence keep building up. Just last week, on Friday, there was a new journal article published in the
Journal Science, adding another line of evidence which is what, you know, the U.N. secretary-general is talking about there. That ExxonMobil
essentially knew about this climate crisis very accurately well into the, you know -- since, at least, the 1970s and probably earlier than that.
It is, however, worrisome that, you know, despite all of this knowledge about the fossil fuel industries, you know, understanding that we are still
allowing the fossil fuel industry to have such a deep say in our climate mitigation policies. You know, one example is the recent appointment of the
Sultan Al Jaber to the -- as the host of COP28.
And, you know, senior climate officials have sort of -- are all, sort of, turning a blind eye or even tacitly supporting this appointment.
ABRAMOFF: And I think that, at the very least, you know, the Sultan Al Jaber would need to divest, you know, his stake in the fossil fuel company
that he heads, you know, at least rhetorical -- sorry. Sorry. He would really have to actually divest. But I think even rhetorically, it's
difficult for us to accept that were -- to allow fossil fuel interest to have such a deep say in COP28. And to have had such a large say in previous
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you then. As you say, he will be the president of COP28 as UAE hosts it next year. And as you say, he does have some
significant heavy hitting report. I mean, John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, who's not shy about calling, you know,
climate deniers and climate obstructors out. He says, I think that Dr. Sultan Al Jaber is a terrific choice because he is the head of the company.
That company knows it needs to transition.
And then we've got the equally bombastic Frans Timmermans also a leading, you know, climate activist. He, now -- for the E.U. says, they should look
into what he's been doing over the last years. He's been leading the charge to also take the oil and gas industry into a sustainable world. So, I guess
what they're saying is, he is legit. If not him, who?
ABRAMOFF: Right, and I understand this idea that to some extent we want people who understand energy and the energy system to be involved in this
energy transition. But I think having people who have so much money and so much of a stake in the fossil fuel industry really doesn't, you know, that
profit motive is extremely overwhelming and it's really resulted in a complete lack of movement. A complete lack of emissions reductions, you
know, since the industrial revolution, basically.
ABRAMOFF: And another thing is that I think there's a lot of friendly rhetoric from the fossil fuel industry about, you know, how they believe in
the green transition and they're planning to do it. But, you know, I'm an Earth scientist and I want to see numbers. And I haven't seen those
You know, in fact, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is still planning to increase its production of crude oil from 4 million barrels per day to 5
million barrels a day. While at the same time, the UAE is still saying that they're going to be carbon neutral by 2050. These two goals are
diametrically opposed to each other. And it's not clear to me how to meet one while still doing the other.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you about how you get results. So, we showed pictures of yourself, you know, chained to various places, including -- you
know, hoisting a banner saying ban private planes, and that was at the end of last year. Now, the Spanish party, Podemos asked the European Commission
to take action a month later.
So, they listened to you. We will see what the European Community actually does. But I wonder whether in closing, you have a vision of any areas that
are actually working. Is there any hope? Is there any movement that you can build on that is taking this, you know, this terrible acceleration of
climate change seriously?
ABRAMOFF: In a way, my getting fired has actually given me a lot of hope. It seems like it would have -- it should have a chilling effect. But the
fact that the actual action that I was fired for was essentially holding a banner saying, out of the lab and into the streets. Urging my fellow
scientists at an Earth science conference to take action.
If that scared these various institutions so much that they took such action, I can only imagine that -- what scientists can do if we all took
action together. Like, the mobilization that we can create. The policy change we can create. Because we have incredible leverage, especially when
we speak confidently about the policy implications of our research to our governments, to our scientific institutions. And so, I really think that
there is a lot of potential there. And I want people, you know, to try and take action in any way that they can.
AMANPOUR: OK. And very finally, in our last 30 seconds, you know, some would say you are, by being political, you know, chipping away at your own
credibility as a scientist. And you know how science is under the, you know, conspiracy theory attack, on the fake news attack. Does that worry
ABRAMOFF: It does but I have a rather different paradigm or way of thinking about how science and policy should interact.
So, I think one of the wonderful things about the scientific method is that it's pretty robust, even though scientists are humans, we are flawed. We
have thoughts, beliefs, and values. I think it's naive for us to pretend that we don't have thoughts, beliefs, and values.
And I furthermore think that this, sort of, western paradigm where we separate ourselves from our study systems, it -- it's a bit artificial. It
makes our studies a little bit less relevant to the vulnerable communities and ecosystems. And it also makes us forget to fight for our own survival.
So, I take issue with that.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, you are fighting for it. Rose Abramoff, thank you very much indeed.
And to Washington now where the Biden administration says that it will continue to cooperate with the Justice Department's investigation of the
president's handling of sensitive material. Around 20 classified documents from Biden's time as vice president have been found at his former office
Walter Isaacson has been speaking to Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna about this and about how his recent foreign affairs article about how the U.S.
can become a manufacturing superpower again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And Congressman Ro Khanna, welcome to the show.
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Thank you, Walter. I have read many of your books, so, I'm looking for to the conversation.
ISAACSON: You're on the House Oversight Committee. And Republican Chairman Congressman James Comer is going to look into the Biden documents. He's
issued some very strong statements. What do you think about that investigation? Should there be one. What are you concerned about?
KHANNA: Well, the investigation should be broader to say, why are classified documents being misplaced? I'm in the House Arms Services
Committee, Oversight Committee, when I go to look at classified documents, I go to the skiff (ph). I can never take those documents into my office. I
can certainly never take them into my home.
So, broadly, we need to have reforms for the executive branch so that these documents stay in the White House or the executive branch aren't going to
presidential, senators, people's homes. But in term --
ISAACSON: But what do you think about the President Biden situation now?
KHANNA: In terms of the specifics, President Biden fully cooperated, from what we are told. The minute those documents were found, he returned them
to the law enforcement agencies. He informed them. I do support Merrick Garland to have a special counsel to get all the facts. But I think what
the facts will show is that President Biden cooperated, followed all the procedures, unlike the former president.
ISAACSON: And do you think that undermines then the case against the former president?
KHANNA: I don't. I have never been one of the people going on television, excoriating the former president. What struck me though is wrong about what
the former president did, is he didn't just return the documents. I mean, when the National Archives said, look, these are sensitive documents. If he
had returned them, that would have been the end of the issue. He did not. He's willfully defied that. That, I do think, is a big issue. No person is
above the law.
ISAACSON: You wrote a wonderful piece recently in "Foreign Affairs" magazine called, "The New Industrial Age". And it was very much against the
offshoring of jobs. Democrats in the past 20, 30 years have been all in favor of free trade. But you're pushing that back a bit. Explain why you
think the offshoring of jobs happened and what we can do to reverse it.
KHANNA: Walter, we made a big strategic mistake in this country. And what we said is let's have the Nobel laureates, let's have the PhDs. But
production didn't matter. Let's -- let that go offshore. That's not something that we need to do here. We can become a knowledge economy, a
In the process, 70,000 factories closed in America. Town after town has been decimated. It's led to so many people losing the ability to have the
American dream. It has led to social discord. And it is compromising our national security. This was evident in the pandemic where people said we
don't make masks in America. We don't make enough baby formula in America. We don't even make Tylenol -- enough Tylenol in America.
I said, we need an economic renewal of production. We need to be, clearly, the best producing nation in the world and we can be.
ISAACSON: Well, tell me how you do that. Is that with tariffs or is that with subsidies to manufacturing plants?
KHANNA: All of the above. I had said nothing new. I've looked at what Hamilton did. What FDR did. And I said, how does it apply to the 21st
century? First, we've got a technological advantage, with digital technology, with sensor technology. This gives us a productivity advantage
in the United States. We need to use manufacturing technology and innovation in manufacturing processes for all the new industries whether
it's steel, aluminum, textiles, masks.
Second, we do need to have tariffs where you're having imports coming in from places that have child labor or no labor standards, or places that
have terrible environmental policy. Strategic tariffs and coordinated tariffs with our allies so that we are not acting alone.
Third, we need financing. I mean, these are huge capital expenditures but financing and cooperation with a private sector. In China they are all
state owned. In our case, we look at the CHIPS Act which I helped write. Intel or other companies have to get their private sector financing. But
the government said, we'll fund it if you build those factories in Ohio or in New York.
ISAACSON: To what extent was this problem because of China being allowed into the world trade organization?
KHANNA: That was a significant cause. If you look at David Autor's work at MIT, he talks about 3.7 million or so jobs lost because of the China shock.
The trade deficit, as you know Walter, ballooned from 1999 to about 2007, 2008 with China.
I mean, we lost industry after industry to China. And that was a mistake. It was a mistake because they were artificially holding too many of our
reserves and appreciating their currency. And they weren't playing on a level playing field. They were massively subsidizing their industry,
stealing intellectual property. While we, kind of, said -- shrugged. We said, well, we were prospering, like does it matter? Well, it does a matter
who is doing the production.
ISAACSON: Speaking of the House, Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, said that they're going to form a select committee to look at China, trade relations
with China, the deficit with China. Might you be on that special committee? And if you are, would it -- it seems like a bipartisan thing. What do you
want that committee to do?
KHANNA: I voted for that committee. I have respect for Mike Gallagher, the chair. We came into congress at the same time. He's a marine, Ph.D. We
don't always agree but I think he will do a serious job. And I have expressed my interest in being on that committee and I have confidence that
leader Jeffries will put a good diverse group on the committee.
The committee, I think, needs to do two things. One, focus on the national security issues to make sure that while we affirm one China policy, that
one China policy means that China cannot aggressively, militarily, try to take over Taiwan. And we need to make sure that with Japan, with the
Philippines, with New Zealand, and with India that we have adequate deterrence for that. Until we needed an economic rebalancing, I've called
for reducing our trade deficit with China every year. Both of those plights need to be done without engaging in xenophobia or China bashing or bashing
ISAACSON: The loss of manufacturing jobs or hollowing out of places where there used to be factories. How has that affected wealthy and equality in
America and democracy in America?
KHANNA: Walter, it has affected it profoundly. First, it has affected most people who don't have a college degree. Many of those blue-collar workers,
you know, they wanted a simple life. I've talked to many of them. I've been to Anderson, Indiana, Janesville, Wisconsin, and so many parts of the
country. And they'll say, look, we wanted to watch Friday night football, with high school football, or maybe watch football on Saturday or Sunday.
We wanted a house. We wanted to have our kids have a better life. And all of that is gone.
It's gone for many of them. And they couldn't just become software engineers. And then they look in my district and they say, Khanna's
districts got $10 trillion. And they say, his parents came here on the 1960s. I'm very proud of our immigration policy. But our parents, our
grandparents have been here for hundreds of years. They fought in the wars. Who -- what about us?
And that is part of the tension in this country. The social discord because so many people see themselves forgotten is -- in seeing the American dream.
I call for a new economic patriotism which says, celebrate the immigrants. We are going to need the immigrants, by the way, in the intel factories,
but make sure that they're not just creating the wealth in Silicon Valley. Make sure that they're the bringing new manufacturing jobs, the new factory
jobs to places that were decimated.
ISAACSON: You talk about economic patriotism, that's what you call it in the piece. How is that different from economic nationalism and the type of
things that gave us Brexit.
KHANNA: Economic nationalism, I think, is fundamental rejection of trade. I'm not for the rejection of trade, I'm for the rebalancing of trade.
Economic nationalism can vary into an anti-immigrant sentiment. As a son of immigrants, I'm not anti-immigrant. I think immigrants can help us rebuild
our manufacturing capacity with new technology.
Economic nationalism can reject our role in the world and veer towards isolationism. I'm not for that. I'm for America leading. Making sure we're
building relationships with countries around the world for our exports and so that America can still define the 21st century world order.
But I am for patriotism. I am -- I do believe this is -- America is the greatest nation in the world. I believe we're going to be the first
multiracial, multi-ethnic democracy in the world. And I believe we owe every American the opportunity to make a dignified living and we haven't
done that for 40 years.
ISAACSON: A lot of the big corporate leaders and world, you know, bankers are gathering in Davos today as we speak. Davos has always been, sort of, a
symbol of globalization into some extent, free trade. Is the World Economic Forum in Davos part of the problem or part of the solution?
KHANNA: More the problem, I think, than the solution if anything because it looks out of touch. I wish there could be a Davos in, you know,
Cincinnati, Ohio. A lot -- why don't we have someone convene all our business leaders, all our education leaders, government leaders in a place
like Ohio to say, how do we have the resurgence of American manufacturing.
If America succeeds in renewing our productive capacity. If we create jobs in places left out, we will become a better stronger democracy, and we will
be a better citizen of the world. But you can start by having a cosmopolitanism that is a cosmopolitanism for elites and forgets the
concerns of citizens in those nations.
A cosmopolitanism globalization has to be rooted. And I think what we had for 20, 30 years was a globalization that worked for some, who were flying
to Berlin, London, and around the world. But forgot about a lot of people who were living in the communities in this country.
ISAACSON: Your economic patriotism sounds a lot like an economic populism, which is something that was a strong part of the democratic party for much
of the 20th century. Now, the Republican Party or a wing of the Republican Party has become the economic populous. Do you think that the Democratic
Party ought to try to regain that mantle as opposed to being seen as the party of the elites?
KHANNA: Walter, yes. And I actually think this is what gives us the opportunity to be a governing party and a majority. I mean, I'm so proud of
my work with Senator Rubio where we've called for this creation of this economic development council that'll help the private sector and government
work to revitalize parts of this country that have seen jobs leave.
If the Democratic Party says, look, we understand why the working class is angry. We understand that they have gotten shafted with certain trade
policies with large corporations moving offshore. We understand we didn't focus enough on places like Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. But we have a real
vision to do it. And that vision is going to mean not just tax cuts that CEOs in my districts will pocket and send their factories to Malaysia.
That means actually government investment in places that are going to have new factories. And government investment in education that we can actually
help win. I believe and compete (ph) in these states, in the Midwest that we're currently losing, that Obama won. But more importantly, Walter, we
can become the manufacturing superpower because what I'm saying is what Hamilton said. What FDR said. We're the 21st century gloss. We just have to
look at our history and learn from what we need to do for the future.
ISAACSON: You've been a strong and steady voice on the question of Ukraine. Saying that we should aim for more of a diplomatic solution as
well as continuing military support. Do you think we should push more now that the winter has come just for a ceasefire or a way to try to take this
off the table?
KHANNA: Well, Walter, I have a, as you, know supported every aid package to Ukraine. I have said very clearly that Putin's war was unprovoked,
unjustified. And I supported President Biden and clearly Secretary Blinken who had helped allied the NATO world to defend Ukraine in terms of our
But I said, at some point, we need the war to end. The cost of the war not ending is more Ukrainian lives. The cost of the war not ending is more
energy crisis and economic crisis. And that means that we need to have constant communication with the Russians and diplomatic efforts side by
When I said, this you would have thought I uttered something that was totally crazy. But President Reagan talked with the Soviet Union at the
height of the Cold War. And what I am for is a just peace. One that does not see Ukrainian sovereignty but understands that at some point Ukraine,
itself, is going to have to sit down with Russia to find a ceasefire and to find a solution to this problem.
ISAACSON: You know Kevin McCarthy. He's part of your California delegations, spent a lot of time with him. Tell me what you think is really
going to be like with him as speaker.
KHANNA: Well, that depends which Kevin McCarthy. I mean, the Kevin McCarthy when I was a freshman who invited me to his office and talked
about his son who worked in Silicon Valley, (INAUDIBLE). And I still remember what he said. He said, Ro, anything that goes up in Washington
comes down. Be careful about taking shots at people. They can ricochet. That Kevin McCarthy, you know, there's room to work with.
If it's going to be Kevin McCarthy who has made deals to the extreme wing, who's always clasping to hold on to power. That would be very unfortunate.
My hope for the sake of this country, for the sake of this presidency is that we can get something done. Because ultimately, as I write in that
piece, our challenges remaining the worlds' economic superpower and worlds leader. And that's really what they've sent us to Congress to do.
ISAACSON: You've been a tribune of bipartisanship. You've worked on the CHIPS Act with Republicans. You've worked with Marco Rubio and others. Do
you think, given what's happened with Kevin McCarthy in the promises he had to make to be speaker, there is a chance of having a bipartisan center in
the House of Representatives that can get things done.
KHANNA: I do think there's a chance for bipartisanship, Walter, and it doesn't have to be in the center. You know, I'm a progressive Democrat and
I work with Conservative Republicans. It -- we've worked on bringing manufacturing back. We worked on cybersecurity. We've worked on data
privacy. I think, particularly, when it comes to rebuilding the industrial base of this country, it should be bipartisan.
But I'll tell you where I approach things, I grew up the sone of immigrants in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I was born in Philadelphia. I was growing up
at a time when the county was 95 percent white. I was probably only one of two or three Indian kids in a high school of 800 people. But people in
Bucks County believed in me. They gave me a shot. They believed that anything is possible in America. And they were Republicans, and they were
And I still believe most people in this country are decent patriots. They care about this country. They want this country to succeed and they're good
people. And that faith gives me a sense that if someone is here in the United States Congress representing 700,000 people, I owe it to their
constituency to listen to them. And not just label them as something not worth working with, but to listen to them as someone who's representing the
ISAACSON: So, how will you, as a member of the party that's in the minority in the House of Representatives, the Democrats, how are the
Democrats going to convince the Republicans to work together?
KHANNA: Walter, first in, their self-interest. If they look at recent history, when Republicans have overreached, when they have been
obstructionists, they usually don't stay in the majority. It's in Speaker McCarthy's interest to do things that are good for the American people. And
we can when it comes to manufacturing in the United States. When it comes to some deal on immigration. When it comes to data privacy. When it comes
to raining in the excesses of technology.
These are all areas that we can work on. If it's two years of investigations, well, this is not going to bode well for the country or for
the Republicans re-election chances. If it's getting things done, if it's good for the country, and frankly, it'll be good for them in 2024.
ISAACSON: Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you so much for joining us.
KHANNA: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, art and politics collide in my interview tomorrow with the Russian pianist Mikhail Voskresensky. An American -- and
the American composer Alan Fletcher who helped him to defect to America after the invasion of Ukraine. This is Mikhail's last recital in Moscow
playing and knowing that he could no longer live in Putin's Russia. The duo explains how they managed to undertake the daring mission outsmarting
Russian intelligence at times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN FLETCHER, COMPOSER AND CEO, ASPEN MUSIC FESTIVAL: It was very unusual for a musician like myself to suddenly be involved in spike raft and
sorting out which embassy would be best. Would Belgrade work? Would Warsaw be better? In the end, Misha (ph) and his family went to Naples in Italy to
wait for their visa. But not to be lighthearted about it, but during this period of complete uncertainty, whether it would work or not, we were doing
things like watching the third man and seeing ourselves as part of this genuine spy drama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: More from Misha and Alan tomorrow night. It was a bold operation that straight out of a cold war thriller. As I say, the full conversation
That's it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast, and across social media. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.