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Connect the World

CNN Speaks with Co-Chair of African Vaccine Delivery Alliance; Iran Resumes Nuclear Talks with United States & its Allies; Iran Nuclear Talks Resume After Long Break; Omicron is Already the Dominant Variant in South Africa; Tribute to U.S. Dancer, WWII Spy, Civil Rights Activist. Aired 11a- 12p ET

Aired November 29, 2021 - 11:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNNI HOST: This hour what we know and what we don't know about the new Omicron variant. I'm Becky Anderson, hello and welcome back

to "Connect the World".

The World Health Organization warns the global risk of the variant is "very high". C-Coronavirus, strain first detected in South Africa. It has now

been found in more than a dozen countries dozen other countries on nearly every continent and it has scientists in a frantic race frankly for answers


Some countries are taking all out measures to control the spread. Japan, Israel and Morocco marked in yellow here are closing their borders

completely. Australia delaying reopen its international borders and in pink, our country's imposing travel restrictions.

You see U.S. travel bans being imposed, marked in red. We are expecting to hear from Joe Biden, the President later this hour. He spent Sunday

evening, huddling with advises and does plan to speak on the situation from the White House soon.

We're not going to apologize this hour for making the point that there are more questions than answers on this variant. Can it spread more easily than

other Coronavirus strains? Is it more dangerous if you're infected with it?

And how well do existing vaccines work against it? These are all unanswered at present, it could take weeks before scientists know the answers. The

fact is we just don't know what Omicron is truly capable of.

What we do know is an unequal distribution of vaccines to developing countries and refusal amongst those who do have access to vaccines to

actually give some up may have played a role as they've given this virus opportunities to mutate.

Despite the W.H.O begging developed nations to share their vaccines before giving boosters just this last hour, for example, we've heard from the UK

vaccine Advisory Board, which has recommended the government open up its booster program for all adults 18 and up, joining an increasing list of

nations around the world who do have sufficient supplies to do so.

Let's bring in Salma Abdelaziz in London with the rising Omicron cases there and cross Europe. And Eleni Giokos, who is usually based here in the

UAE. She's currently stuck in Johannesburg, where she was working because of these travel restrictions.

Let me start with you, Eleni, you've been caught up in this travel ban, which the South African President has described as unjustified. He said it

unfairly discriminates against our country and others in southern Africa, governments Eleni around the world, frankly not wanting to be flat footed

by this variant. And there are so many questions unanswered at this stage on them?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Look, it makes sense that you want to ensure that you protect your country from a new variant. But the

W.H.O has said that there's no scientific evidence to say that these travel bands actually work in the theories that Omicron might have already spread

quite significantly around the world.

And as you say, already, it's founded on almost every single continent, to what extent it has spread is now the big question. And the general sense

here that is, Becky, that South Africa is being punished for its genomic sequencing and the fact that it has very advanced scientific research with

regards to variance.

You'll remember that it also identified Delta, similar travel bans were instituted over that time, but by then already, Delta had spread quite

significantly. The president yesterday said he was disappointed that it it's discriminatory.

And he also reminded the G20 that they broke many of the commitments to try and assist Southern African countries to get back on track and to get their

tourism sector back on track equal to the immediate lifting of these bands. The Malawian president also came out and said this is Afro phobic. This is

not scientific, these travel bans are not going to help anyone but there's absolute panic that is spread globally.

And let me tell you Becky, it's hard to get out. I mean, I was meant to be in Dubai already. These travel bans happen so quickly, so aggressively,

that we could not get a flight out over this weekend.

There were routes that were available, but flights were completely booked out. And then you've got to consider are you going to be stuck somewhere in

quarantine in a so called safe country? Are they going to let you board and so many people have been left stranded at the airport with very little

certainty about what's to come in the next few days.

ANDERSON: Salma, we've just heard from the UK's Health Secretary and from the Advisory Board on vaccines. What are they saying?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Well Becky, they're moving ahead with their strategy that boosters and vaccinations is what's going to give a layer of

protection to the population here, if there is a surge due to this new variant.


ABDELAZIZ: So now the booster program, or rather this advisory program, saying the booster program should be expanded to all those over 18 should

be offered their booster shot.

They're also recommending that the period between your second vaccine and that booster shot can be reduced from six months to three months are also

recommending for the very young children as well 12 to 15 years old to get their second shot, so a real big expansion here of the vaccination program.

And you heard the deputy chief medical officer really appealing for calm. He said, we still don't know what this is, we need a few more weeks. And

we're really asking people to bear with us. He went on to say, look, it's not all doom and gloom with this new variant.

There is a possibility, of course, that scientists still don't know what it means in terms of transmissibility severity. But they're operating on that

assumption, again, that vaccinations and booster shots that's going to offer a layer of protection that at the very least, will prevent people

from getting seriously ill and ending up in hospital.

Also, we heard that there are two more cases now in England that brings the total to about 11 cases. So in addition to this vaccination program, the

authorities also putting into place other measures, a mask mandate on public transport and indoors that goes into effect tomorrow.

Now, PCR testing will be required for all arrivals that stretching it up from a lateral flow test. And as well, of course, travel bans expansion of

the read list to South Africa and several other neighboring countries. And you're going to see this model reciprocated across the European region.

We heard from the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, that scientists are in a race against time that they still need two

to three weeks before they understand the severity of this, but governments again, stepping in expanding restrictions.

This is a region that was already in the midst of a COVID surge. And now you're seeing countries like Italy, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Germany,

all reporting cases, all putting in new restrictions against South Africa and neighboring countries as well.

And even in places like Norway, where they're taking offensive measures, Becky, measures before they've even identified cases. That's how high the

concern is here, Becky.

ANDERSON: Travel bans, mask mandates and enhanced vaccination programs Eleni and Salma, thank you. These enhanced vaccination programs, of course,

are in countries where they have sufficient supplies. That doesn't apply to Southern Africa.

And that is the real story here. The one of vast inequality since the very first COVID vaccines came out, rich countries have been hoarding them,

leaving developing countries to mostly fend for themselves.

According to the World Health Organization, only about seven and a half percent of people in low income countries have received at least one dose

of a COVID vaccine. And you can see exactly what that looks like on a world map. Africa has been left behind. Here's what Dr. Richard Lessells, the

South African Infectious Diseases Specialist told me on Friday.


DR. RICHARD LESSELLS, SOUTH AFRICAN INFECTIOUS DISEASES SPECIALIST: What I found so disgusting and really, really distressing, actually from here was

not just the travel ban being implemented by the UK and Europe. But that was the only reaction or this, the strongest reaction.

And there was no word of the support that they're going to offer to African countries to help us control the pandemic. And particularly no mention of

addressing this vaccine inequity that we've been warning about all year, and that now we're seeing the consequences play out and that I find really



ANDERSON: Well, that sentiment is also shared by my next guest who tweeted "Omicron Variant G7 meets, is it time for a global coordinated shutdown? We

call on the G7 to recognize the gross injustice, admit variants have arisen due to their failure to urgently #VaxTheWorld and stop these punitive


Dr. Ayoade Alakija is Co-Chair of the African vaccine delivery alliance and she joins me now live. I spoke to the head of the W.H.O recently. We may

hear from him during this interview. He called vaccine inequality immoral. Has the world failed Africa during this pandemic?


AYOADE ALAKIJA, CO-CHAIR, AFRICAN VACCINE DELIVERY ALLIANCE: Hello, Becky, thank you very much for having me. The world has failed. The global system

has failed, the global infrastructure has failed, not just Africa, but all low income countries of this world. I would definitely call this a failure.

ANDERSON: The problem that we face today is not a shortage in vaccine production is it. But rather it's the unfairness of distribution, and I

want to bring up some numbers here. This, by the way, is not the first time that we've done this story. I've been reporting on this story now, for

probably about 16 months since these vaccines first came out.

For the eight countries now being blocked off from the world these percentages show how much of their populations they can vaccinate, given

the total amount of doses they have each received, the lowest Malawi with 7 percent, the highest Botswana just under 50 percent.

Although that sounds high that is low compared to the developed world. And a briefing today the Head of W.H.O said COVAX has shipped more than 530

million doses, including more than 200 million in the last two months.

That is more than it shipped in the first seven months of this year. I want our viewers to consider some of those numbers at which you will be well

aware of. That's just not enough. Is it? Can you hear me?

ALAKIJA: I absolutely hear you, can hear me?

ANDERSON: I think we can get the guest best. I can hear you. Fantastic. I wasn't going to leave until and move on until I knew that I completely lost

you which I haven't because this is so important. So I hope you just heard some of these numbers that I just provided for our viewers. I'm just going

to ask you straight out, that's just not enough, is it?

ALAKIJA: No, it isn't. And I'm glad it's you who is actually saying those numbers and not just us that what we're dealing with here is supply is - of

course the supply is ramping up. But we have failed in the initial instance, to get vaccines into these countries. I'm also pleased to hear

you mentioned Botswana and Malawi, Botswana; you have to understand bought most of their own vaccines because they're an upper middle income country.

And they bid on the open market and paid way above what most countries paid for their vaccines. And yet they were thrown to the back of the queue by

Moderna and some of the other pharmaceuticals.

What we've got going on from the high income countries is the fact that we don't have a global coordinated plan. We are ad hoc, we are fragmented. You

know, there is no, we're dealing with global domestic politics and we're responding to domestic politics, as opposed to dealing with this as a

global community.

Your show is called "Connect the World" were supposed to be connected as a world that we are becoming ever more disconnected and ever more fragmented

within this vaccine equity crisis.

What we need is a global solidarity to pull us all back together. We need the vaccines but also importantly, Becky, we need the support for countries

and the advanced information for countries to be able to plan mass vaccination campaigns, and this is not happening. They're coming in dribs

and drabs and causing chaos for our supply chains and also really stressing already stressed health systems.

ANDERSON: Yes, and off times these are supplies that when they do arrive are near to or have expired. You are the co chair of the African Union's

vaccine delivery alliance. And as I understand it, you work closely with Gavi, who's the - which is the global vaccine alliance, of course.

What are you guys doing to get these jabs into people's arms to get them into country and to get them into people's homes? And what more can we do

as a show to help provide some momentum for that?

ALAKIJA: Well, first of all, I want to say thank you, actually, to the media, because without the media, Africa's forms would have been lost in

all of this. And so thank you for asking what you can do because there is a lot.

We do work with Gavi, we work with Gavi, through COVAX to try and initially it was a lot of pressure, there was a lot of, you know, push and trying to

get them to get these vaccines, even just in the supply chain.

Now you talk about getting vaccines into arms, I call it ports to arms, getting vaccines from ports to arms, because when they arrive in country,

they don't necessarily just magically arrive at a vaccination site.

As I said earlier, most of these countries, I'm dealing with 1.53 billion people from 54 countries in Africa, that is the remit of the Africa vaccine

delivery alliance. We are supposed to vaccinate as many of those as possible.

And you'll also recall that we used to talk about herd immunity, but that now that is no longer a thing because obviously these variants, I mean, now

we're on Omicron and we will soon if we're not careful, be on omega and be in real trouble. So that the logistics and what you mentioned about the

short shelf life is really causing us a lot of grief in Africa.


ALAKIJA: In Nigeria, Abuja where I sit today, you know, Nigeria, we have 1.5 million vaccines that were pretty much dumped on us, in the last few

weeks because high income countries didn't want them to export their shows that are about to expire in the next week or two.

So all vaccinations from Moderna and the others that was supplied by the U.S. government, who have been incredibly responsible, and have supplied

vaccines with a seven month shelf life. Those have had to be parked in cold storage whilst we try and rush out these short shelf life batteries.

And this is why the g7 today, it is critical that they have a coordinated response not just to travel restrictions or testing, but also to

vaccination, donations or deliveries to COVAX into the low income countries of the world.

ANDERSON: The Chinese reporting today that they have offered a billion vaccine doses to those that need the most. Is that what you're looking for?

Are you applauding that move?

ALAKIJA: Becky, I'm applauding any move that brings any vaccines into people's arms. Because what we're dealing with right now, is these new

variants that we have no idea how they're going to turn out.

I mean, I said the other day, the only thing that we do know about this new variant is that we don't know. But it could be bad. And it could be not so

bad. But what could be coming down the line in these unvaccinated populations, as we've already seen is that we are breeding grounds for

variants in countries where should suppliers short.

And it's very disingenuous of some members of the global community who keep saying, well, you know, it's vaccine hesitancy, that's a problem. There is

no vaccine confidence without vaccine equity. So you can't plan mass campaigns if you don't know when your next supplies coming in. I can't open

up the equivalent of the Royal Albert Hall, in Abuja or in Lagos or in Kinshasa.

And if I know, I have to shut it down next week, because we don't have enough supply. And that has been the problem. So the Chinese move is a

clue. Everybody's move is applauded. We need to work as a global community.

We are not --we're not enemies, we're not fighting each other. We're fighting this awful microbe. And there's really there's that moment of once

in 100 year moment that is really, really significant because there is an awakening. It's a health security crisis, but it's also becoming a peace

and security crisis as people are beginning to rise up in an inequity and then the injustice that they're seeing.

So it is an urgent and one in which we must all play our part to ensure that everybody in the world gets vaccinated as quickly as possible.

ANDERSON: We'll have you back on you know; I wish I didn't have to offer that as an opportunity. But if things don't improve, we will have you back

on again to remind people just how important this issue is for the time being. Thank you very much indeed for your insight and analysis this


If you want to find out more about the latest as far as the Coronavirus Omicron Varian is concerned and travel restrictions as a result of it, do

head to for updates as countries put the brakes on opening back up.

Well, the controversial Co-Founder and CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey stepping down. Dorsey is stepping back from his executive duties at Twitter though

he is expected to stay on as CEO of his other company, which is known as Square which is a major player in the digital payments arena.

Dorsey like other social media executives has been accused of not doing enough to control the spread of misinformation on his platform. CNN's Paul

R. La Monica is in New York. Well, it can't be comfortable for Jack Dorsey to see that the stock in his country in his company rose as much as 10

percent on this news. I mean, a lot of people knew this was coming. So why, why now and why that reaction from investors Paul?

PAUL R. LA MONICA, CNN REPORTER: Yes, I think investors Becky have been clamoring for some sort of change for a while now. Jack Dorsey, as you

mentioned, had been running both Twitter and Square. And it had mystified many people as to how he could effectively run these two publicly traded

leading technology companies effectively without much help.

So now that he is, you know, passing the reins to the Chief Technology Officer at Twitter, Parag Agarwal. I think that this is a sign that Twitter

recognizes that it has to double down on technology to fight some of the, you know, bad actors on this platform that you mentioned.

And I think having things like machine learning and other big technological advancements hopefully can do that at Twitter. And I think investors - on

that you have someone that is more technologically savvy than maybe media savvy running this company.


ANDERSON: Fascinating, Paul, thank you. You're watching "Connect the World". I'm Becky Anderson, still ahead talks restarted expectations

guarded, at best, the big challenges facing the United States and Iran as they return indirectly, of course to nuclear talks.


ANDERSON: Back at the table with an unclear path forward, the Iran nuclear talks resumed today in Vienna. The goal revive and restore the deal that

was greatly diminished after former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of it in 2018. Iran's foreign ministry says its negotiators are looking to

make progress.


SAEED KHATIBZADEH, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON: Government has shown its willingness and seriousness by sending a quality team known to

all. And the other side shows the same willingness, we will be on the right track to reach an agreement.


ANDERSON: Well, despite that seeming optimism both Iran and the U.S. teams do appear entrenched in their positions and there are no direct

negotiations of course between them, not yet at least. Our senior International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson filed this report a bit

earlier on why expectations for this seventh round of talks are so uncertain.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Iran's uranium enrichment, a possible path to making a nuclear bomb is way beyond

internationally agreed levels.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iran has been using this time to advance its nuclear program.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Talks to head this off stalled late June with the election of a new hard line president in Iran, but will finally restart

Monday. The outcome is uncertain, the stakes high, the U.S. insisting Iran must move forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This window of opportunity will not be open forever.

ROBERTSON (voice over): The 2015 Iran nuclear deal called the JCPOA Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was a signature achievement of the Obama Biden


BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Years of fraught negotiations cut Iran's pathway to a bomb by limiting uranium enrichment and committing them to international

inspections. It wasn't perfect, but U.N. monitors confirmed it worked until 2018 when President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the JCPOA.

DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Iran's responses up its uranium enrichment stymie some inspections. Tensions rose the U.S. killed Iran's top general.


ROBERTSON (voice over): Tehran strikes back at U.S. forces in Iraq. Iran's top nuclear scientists mysteriously shot dead. Tehran blames Israel

confirmed by the U.S.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Diplomacy is the best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Since getting into office, Biden has been trying to get back into the agreement and limit Iran's missile program. Iran has been

playing hardball six rounds of negotiations stalling even as they ramp up enrichment.

ALI BAGHERI KANI, IRANIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: The main issue in upcoming negotiations is actually removing all the illegal sanctions

against Iran.

ROBERTSON (voice over): And since the last round of talks, and added uncertainty, Iran has a new U.S. skeptic government with new negotiators.

ROBERTSON (on camera): At the recent g20 summit in Rome, President Biden met with European partners to firm up a plan if the talks stall again. And

for sure Iran will exploit any differences. The clock is ticking. And so far Iran's calculation appears to be the talks for lack of them are going

in their favor.


ANDERSON: Nic Robertson joining me now from London, and we're going to do more on this with somebody who's very, very close to the Iranian team, Nic,

just after the break to find out what the perspective is from Tehran going into these talks.

And certainly from the U.S. and western point of view, expectations are being sort of damped down. So what needs to break at this point, I mean, we

this is the seventh round of talks were more than 140 days, away from the last set of tools.

Iranian certainly wanted something from the Biden Administration out of the gate back in January, they didn't get it. So what needs to break here?

ROBERTSON: I think it's in the sequencing. And also, of course, in the trust, you know, and sequencing is designed to build trust, but both sides

are starting from a position of a deficit of trust.

ran has very strategically, very carefully since President Trump pulled out of the JCPOA, all that time ago, incrementally increase the amount of low

enriched uranium and then more highly enriched uranium and then using more sophisticated a better devices to perform that enrichment, the centrifuges,

all of which had agreed not to do.

Iran has been as I say, very careful, very strategic, how it's done that, but they've been very effective in applying the pressure to President

Biden's Administration. And saying, look, the only way that we're going to come back from that is if you pull the sanctions now, we don't know the

precise nature of what sequencing has been talked about in the past.

But it was very interesting. Last summer, within a week or so of the talks, breaking up two Iranian scientists, I suppose one can call them who were

working on a part of a missiles program for Iran, were removed from a sanctions list.

I mean, at the time, that appeared to be the United States sort of putting something, call it sequencing, call it a step expecting another step on the

table. So really, where the United States is at right now is they feel that all these things that they can put on the table sequencing ahead of what

Iran is expected to do come back into compliance.

It has to be Iran's move now. They're saying very clearly, when the Iranian negotiators sit down with all the others, not the United States at that

table, they must move forward from that position in July, despite having a new government, they must move forward. And that really is the acid test,

Becky, but again, in oversimplified terms, it's all about the sequencing.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. All right, well, we'll do more on these talks just ahead. Thank you, Nic. I'm going to talk to our regional expert who says it

is the United States that can't be trusted and for good reason he says that is next.



ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. I'm Becky Anderson and this is "Connect the World", our top story this hour the emergence of the Coronavirus Omicron

variant that is quickly spreading around the world.

The UK now recommending adults get a booster vaccine to help stop the spread of the Omicron variant and that's what's happening in a number of

nations around the world who have sufficient supplies.

Meantime, scientists are scrambling to learn just how severe the variant is and how effective vaccines will be against it. Omicron is now the dominant

Coronavirus strain in South Africa less than three weeks after it was first detected there.

The UK along with a number of countries have placed travel restrictions on several African nations will soon we'll hear from U.S. President Joe Biden

on the matter. You'll get that here on CNN as you would expect.

Before that, let's get you on to the resumption of the Iran nuclear talks an extremely important story. A seventh round of talks began today in

Vienna, as Iranian negotiators met with representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the EU.

So far no direct talks, of course between Iran and the United States. Well, my next guest tweeted this quote from Iran's top nuclear negotiator. From

our perspective, the principle of mutual compliance cannot form a proper base for negotiation since it was the U.S. government which unilaterally

left the deal.

Then going on to say, after Trump left Iran continued with its obligations, ultimately halting obligations was based on articles 26 and 36. Those

articles incidentally tied to the re-imposition of sanctions and the breaching of commitments.

Look, I want to bring in Seyed Mohammad Marandi, who is a professor at the University of Tehran. Importantly, he's been a previous rounds of nuclear

talks between Iran in the P5 plus 1 and is accompanying the Iranian delegation in Vienna, from where he joins me via Skype this evening is very

important to have you on.

Thank you very much indeed for making the time for me this evening. We've heard a lot of posturing ahead of these talks, with a lot of the narrative

being that they are doomed to fail, at least, I've got to say from the U.S. side at least, is that the mood on the ground?

After all, this is about more than just the US and Iran, the Europeans or Chinese the Russians have a seat at the table. Is there a real seriousness

to get a deal done here?

MOHAMMAD MARANDI, NORTH AMERICAN STUDIES PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEHRAN: I think it really depends on the United States because after all, as I

pointed out in that tweet, the United States left the deal under Trump. And the Iranians continued for a year to abide by all of their commitments,

even though the Americans and the Europeans were violating all of theirs.

And then only gradually did the Iranians decrease their commitments within the framework of the deal, because in article 26 and 36, it allows Iran to

decrease its commitment when the other side is violating the deal.

So Iran has never violated the deal or left the deal. So what Iran is saying is that the other side has returned.

What is important for Iran is that the United States and the Europeans recognize that Trump failed in forcing Iran to submit to new demands. We

have a deal, we have the JCPOA the Iranians are willing to commit itself to the JCPOA.


MARANDI: But we have to see if the other side is willing to commit itself to the JCPOA. So far--

ANDERSON: Yes. Sorry, I was just wanted to say what Iran has done is significantly increased its enrichment and whether or not you buy this, you

know, that there in the U.S. and in the West, that really, really worries people that there is an intention to build a bomb here.

But the focus coming from Iran's top negotiator is the removal of sanctions. Is there a world in which Iran will accept some sanctions over

others, in order for the U.S. to get back into the deal and for Iran, to get back into compliance.

MARANDI: There are three things here, one is that the Iranians have said repeatedly if that they - if they wanted to build the bomb, they would have

had it many years ago, but Iran has no intention to make a bomb.

Secondly, the Iranians expect the U.S. to go back to the JCPOA. They can't have new sanctions, and then expect Iran to go back to where it was in

2015. But what I can say is that, because the meeting has just adjourned a few minutes ago.

And what I can say is that, according to the meeting from what I'm hearing, is that there has been a constructive and forward looking atmosphere. So

interpret that as you may.

ANDERSON: Well, that's good to hear. And thank you for that. The Iranian negotiators are seeking, as I understand it, specific guarantees that if

the U.S. does return to the JCPOA, and at least this sounds constructive in the first instance, on the first day, that they won't back off again in the


And whilst I'm sure there are viewers who can understand Tehran's position there, is that realistic? Is it realistic to ask a U.S. president to

guarantee no jumping out of this deal? Once again, after all, I think you could argue that, that it's not.

MARANDI: Well, I think the problem is that the United States wants the Iranians to understand their position. But then they expect the Iranians to

commit themselves to the JCPOA in full. Whereas in Iran, you know quite well that politics in the country are very complicated, and that the

Iranians feel all the different political groups, that we've already made huge concessions.

That's how we got to the JCPOA in this very same building that I'm carrying out this interview. The JCPOA was a result of the different sides giving

concessions. And the United States under Obama began to violate the deal from day one, effectively, until the very last day of Obama's presidency,

Iran central bank was unable to function.

And that was in violation of the deal. And the United States was telling banks behind the scenes not to work with Iran, all of that was a violation.

And then of course, Trump came, and everything turned upside down completely.

So what the Iranians are saying is that look, first of all, if you want us to go back, you have to go back. Second of all, this time around, you have

to verify how you're going to implement the deal.

The Iranian side, the verification was easy. The IAEA came in, said the Iranians were doing what they promise. But the other side, the banking

system didn't work. Iran couldn't sell oil and bring in the money. But there was no system for verification.


MARANDI: This time around the Iranians are saying that everything has to be crystal clear. We have to - it has to be fair, the Americans cannot expect

new connections.

ANDERSON: OK. Sorry, I don't want to cut you off. But I do want to get as much as much done in this interview as possible. So my sincere apologies

that I think I was I absolutely understand where you're at with this.

You're no stranger to the Iranian talks, the Iran talks. You're in Vienna alongside the former Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif. I remember that when

he was in charge.

Do you believe that the current Iranian negotiating team will have an easier time getting support from the Supreme Leader, the IRGC and other

members who make up the - as they hail from the same political camp?

MARANDI: I don't think that was ever the issue. The issue was crossing red lines of sovereignty, whether it's this team or the previous team. Last

time around some concessions were given by the team, which made many people in Iran unhappy. But now the whole situation has changed. This team is

saying whether the JCPOA was a bad deal or not it's not relevant.


MARANDI: We're here to implement the JCPOA because we've accepted that, but we expect the other side to implement it as well. The Americans can't say

you have to understand our situation, and then not expect and then not understand the Iran situation.

The JCPOA was a bad deal for many in Iran, but Iran accepts it. So this administration and the previous administration, the main difference, in my

opinion, is that this administration is going to be more steadfast in demanding the other side, implement what it has agreed upon, maybe I would

say the previous administration, President Rouhani was more flexible.

But this administration is saying, no, we had a deal. And just like when you sell a house, you expect the other side to abide by its commitments.

That's how this administration is - this situation.

ANDERSON: And let's be quite clear, this administration, you know, like it or not needs, they certainly need these sanctions lifted. I know that they

say that extreme pressure hasn't worked from the Trump Administration.

But quite frankly, domestically, things are really, really tough in Iran. While I've got you, let me just report what we are hearing. And you told us

that you felt that what you'd heard from these talks today was encouraging.

And the EU's Yosef Burrell has just said that he feels extremely positive about what he heard. Sorry, I'm just being told who is this? Enrique

Morell, I'm sorry. I mean, he's on the European team has just said that he feels extremely positive about what he's heard in the room today, we -

Chief of Staff to Burrell of course.

We are still hopeful that diplomacy can find a way but if it cannot find a way, we are prepared to use other options, said Brett McGurk, who is the

White House coordinator on the Middle East recently at a meeting in Bahrain.

He went on to say, when it comes to military force to prevent a country from obtaining a nuclear weapon, that is a very achievable objective. What

did the Iranians read into that?

MARANDI: To be very blunt, the Iranians don't take it seriously. After Afghanistan, the Iranians feel that the United States is facing grave

difficulty. And it's not just Biden, President Trump before him also wanted to leave Afghanistan.

And there are many reasons for that Iran is a much more powerful country than any other country than any other country in this region. And Iran to

allies across the region are very powerful.

So a war or a strike against Iran is not really achievable, because the response would be very heavy handed. And those countries in this region

that have American basis would be devastated. No one wants that.

I don't take these I don't think anyone in Iran takes these threats seriously. But it only hurts the U.S. image in Iran. The Iranians want the

deal. And you want as you were saying earlier, the Iranians need the deal because they need to - pressure on all the Iranians.

However, you also are correct that the maximum pressure campaign didn't work. And Trump's attempts to bring Iran to its knees failed. And what

happened, Iran's nuclear program made greater advances; Iran to allies across the region is stronger. Iran's relations with Russia and China are

much better. That's in the long run.


MARANDI: That is going to make the U.S. influence in this region and the ability of the United States to hurt Iran decrease. So the smart thing for

the United States to do is to find the reasonable solution.

ANDERSON: Mohammad, it's been extremely valuable having you on tonight. And thank you very much, as I said at the beginning of this for making time for


Let's talk again, as we continue to monitor what is going on around that table from those who are directly involved in these talks. But as we say,

when you get the sort of sense, certainly on the first day, at least, there is some positive or certainly a positive atmosphere around that table. It

bodes well, I think at least. Thank you, sir. We'll speak again.

MARANDI: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Still to come, get ready for more shots when I tell you which country is now advising another vaccine booster as it tries to hold off the

new Omicron variant. We are waiting to hear from President Biden who is expected to speak momentarily on the new Coronavirus variants, stay with




ANDERSON: Well, let's get you back to our top story this hour, what we know what we don't know about the spread of the Omicron Coronavirus variant.

You're looking at the White House where in just a few minutes U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to speak on that.

Meanwhile, health officials in South Africa now say the variant is the dominant virus spreading in the country. And that's just weeks after being

discovered there. Of course, it took me highly contagious Delta Variant a few months to become dominant there.

Meanwhile, UK health officials now say they want all adults to get a vaccine booster shot and they think severely immuno suppressed individuals

should probably get an additional booster shot full shot to help them hold off Omicron.

CNN Health Reporter Jacqueline, how does the employer have the research on Omicron? That which exists at present, of course and takes a closer look at

that for us now. What have you been learning at this point?

And when we spoke Friday, we were reporting on the emergence of this South Africans very quick out the gate with their fantastic genomic sequencing.

They by the way, feel punished and feel like they're being punished as a result of declaring to the world that they had sequences, new variant, what

do we know at this point?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Yes, there's still a lot left to learn. I've been kind of keeping track of what we found so far. And

research is still underway in this regard. But it is interesting, Becky, how you mentioned that South Africa was quick to alert the world about this


And yet they now feel like they're being punished because of some countries implementing travel restrictions. And the World Health Organization's Dr.

Margaret Harris just said moments ago that South Africa deserves a gold medal for how quickly the nation alerted the world to this variant. Have a



DR. MARGARET HARRIS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: South Africa should get a gold medal for the quality of its science and the quality of its

transparency. As I said, we have not seen nearly enough of that of the transparency particularly.

And indeed to then make South Africa feel that doing all the right things leads to a very bad outcome is not good. Not just bad for South Africa and

South Africa it's bad to the world.


HOWARD: And Becky, she said it's bad for the world because this kind of sends a message for some nations to be a little more tightly lipped around

data and variants that they find because of the fear of travel restrictions.

So that's an interesting conversation that's happening right now and separately, scientists are working to learn more about this variant. What

we have yet to learn is specifically how transmissible the variant is, how a sick it may cause people and how well our vaccines work against it.

So you see here, there's this list of questions that we still have to answer. One piece of data, the World Health Organization said there could

be the possible risk of re-infection with this variant but that requires more research as well. As far as what we do know we do you know that this

variant has a large number of mutations at least 50 overall and at least 30 of those mutations are on this spike protein.


HOWARD: That's the structure of the virus that it uses to attach to our cells. So that's the research that we do know it's really fascinating that

we can quickly understand this but yet, we still need to see what this means as far as risk for all of us risk of spread risk of illness. Becky.

ANDERSON: Thank you. Just ahead on "Connect the World" from Americas St. Louis to the - in Paris, Josephine Baker was not only a superstar, she put

her life on the line for freedom. Find out how France is honoring her.


ANDERSON: Josephine Baker will soon be the first black woman interred in France is Pantheon, one of the country's highest honors in 1940. The U.S.

born cabaret dancer was the toast of Paris. She was also a French Intelligence Officer. Well now France is paying tribute to her work during

World War II. CNN's Jim Bittermann --just a story.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At the American Center for Arts and Culture in Paris, expats from the United States

gathered to celebrate one of their own, a dancer and singer famous in France for her scanty stage outfits and signature dance moves.

But equally known here for the uniform she wore after serving as a French spy in World War II. It was all part of the extraordinarily rich life of

Josephine Baker, a young African American girl who fled the discrimination of the slums of St. Louis, Missouri, to become at age 19, a star of French

music halls with her flamboyant dance routines and lyrical songs.

A biographer says that after the ugliness of World War I, the wild and Footloose American provided a welcome distraction.

EMMANUEL BONINI, AUTHOR, "LA VERITABLE JOSEPHINE BAKER": She was crazy, she was going a little crazy. In the United States, she was not allowed to do

what she wanted to do because the segregation era she found liberty freedom.

BITTERMANN (voice over): In France too, she found a more serious purpose. After the country was invaded in the Second World War, she used her stage

performances and travels to secretly provide the French Resistance and intelligence services with information about the Nazi occupiers.

After the war, Baker who couldn't have children used her fame and fortune to begin adopting kids from around the world. A dozen of them she called

them her rainbow tribe. One was a refugee for the French Algerian War, who today can easily pick himself out in the old videos. In the theater where

his mother wants performed, he explained why she wanted to take on the burden of so many children.

BRIAN BOUILLON-BAKER, JOSEPHINE BAKER'S SON: She wanted to be family with a lot of kids. And in her hand, she wanted to have an example for the world,

an example of universal brotherhood.

BITTERMANN (voice over): In both Europe and the U.S. Baker began a campaign against racism and for human rights.

JAKE LAMAR, NOVELIST AND PLAYWRIGHT: She gained more and more recognition throughout her life and she is I think the only or certainly one of the few

if not the only woman to speak at the March on Washington in 1963 with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


BITTERMANN (voice over): Lamar will be among the invited guests here at the Pantheon in Paris where preparations are underway for President Macron to

immortalize Josephine Baker, with the most prestigious tribute France can offer.

BITTERMANN (on camera): The French call it pantheonisation - the process by which a person is honored and made eternal by being buried in the crypt

below the 18th century pantheon of the Paris Latin Quarter.

Over the last 230 years, only 80 people have been so revered, and only a handful of them have been women. And never before has there been an African

American woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But France in particular, they look to African American culture, African American people who've succeeded against the, whatever

racial obstacles that were in the society, and they're inspired by that.

BITTERMANN (voice over): In what was her signature song, Josephine Baker seems to sum up her life. I have two loves, the song goes my country in

Paris, at least one of her loves is returning the affection. Jim Bitterman, CNN, Paris.


ANDERSON: What a remarkable story. Well, the fashion world is paying tribute to influential designer Virgil Abloh who has died after a long

battle with cancer. He founded the luxury street wear brand off white.

And in 2018 became the first American African American artistic director at Louis Vuitton overseeing menswear for the French fashion house. You may

recognize him as the designer of Serena Williams's French Open Tennis outfits in 2019.

You'll see created the wedding dress for model Hailey Bieber, Virgil Abloh was just 41 years old. Well, a quick reminder we are standing by for U.S.

President Joe Biden to speak on the new Omicron Coronavirus variant.

We will of course bring you that live for now. From us at least here on CNN from Abu Dhabi it's a very good evening. "One World" with Zain Asher is up

next from New York.