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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Source: Iran Nuclear Deal is Done. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 14, 2015 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:06] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning: a nuclear deal with Iran has been reached. Negotiations heading late into the night. Live team coverage breaking down the latest ahead.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. It's a very big morning for you this morning. It's Tuesday, July 14th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

We welcome all of our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, as we're covering this breaking story.

Breaking news right now, word from the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, that they have reached a deal -- a deal after weeks after difficult negotiations between Iran and Western powers.

Standing by live for us in Vienna, senior international correspondent Nic Robertson with the latest.

Nic, it looks like this is going to happen. Tell us the basics here. What are we expecting in terms of an announcement in the next hour or so, next half hour or so? What did -- what did western negotiators get? And what did Iran get?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, those details we will begin to hear in about half hour's time. There will be a final plenary session of all the participants here. Then, the E.U. foreign policy chief and the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, will take to the stage. They will make the announcement.

After that, we can expect further press conference and likely get more details from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Very significantly, one of the stumbling blocks has been the possible military dimensions, that is questions that Iran hasn't answered if it used nuclear technology to try to build a weapon.

We heard here just a couple of minutes ago from the director general, Yukiya Amano, of the International Atomic Energy Agency. That's the world's nuclear watchdog. That's the organization that will be following up on whatever Iran commits itself to in this deal.

He said that he now has commitments from Iran that he believes will answer these very vexing questions. These PMD, possible military dimension questions that have been outstanding for years. He believes he will have all of the answers by the 15th of December later this year.

It is a commitment he says that is just signed and agreed with, with Iran. This is one of the significant steps paving the way to get to this agreement -- Christine.

ROMANS: Nic, we have seen deadlines come and go, move forward. We've seen right up to the very last minute, problems on both sides trying to get a deal done. It feels, though, on the ground, though, this is really going to happen.

ROBERTSON: Oh, boy. You are putting me on the spot, aren't you?


ROBERTSON: Because I have been here watching this come and go.

Look, I really do feel and I feel that is the absolute sense here that this is it, we're on the final, you know, there's a half hour to go. Is there going to be -- somebody going to try fancy footwork and get something else out of this? It feels not. But I think we've learned here that it's not done until it's done.

But I think the very fact that we just heard from the director general from the IAEA come out on camera and say that he's got the statement, say that he's got this signature from Iranian officials, that's a significant step. Hopefully, hopefully, I think everyone is crossing their fingers here. We won't get anymore slips in the next half and hour or so. I wouldn't rule it out, but let's say it's unlikely.

ROMANS: I know. Diplomacy can always be tricky right up to the last minute, no question. Let me ask you about. Let's zero in on the Iran side of this thing. We are watching oil markets, down 2 percent this morning because the assumption is that a lifting of sanctions will mean Iran will be more of a global player. It will have more -- you know, more flexibility in its economy and be able to sell its oil on the global market.

This is a country that has been crippled by sanctions for many years. What is the hope for Iranians? What do they want to try to modernize their economy here?

ROBERTSON: Well, Iran has the world's single largest reserves of gas and oil. That puts them in a huge position. So, there are a lot of companies. We know Shell, for example, is in Tehran, very recently to talk about what sort of deals they might be able to make.

So, what's at stake here for Iran and the world is to open up their economy. I don't think anyone is expecting, however, that there could be an immediate inflow of money and immediate selling and flowing of oil. That's going to take some many years to sort of bring Iran's oil and gas infrastructure up to, you know, current world standards. They have fallen decades behind.

But the expectation is this can really boost their economy and there are certainly many companies waiting to help them to exploit that.

[04:05:04] ROMANS: Certainly, there are many people in Iran who would like to see that money flowing. Maybe of that just a view from the Iranian side.

All right. Nic, we're going to let you get back to your sources as we wait 25 minutes for this announcement. Nic Robertson in Vienna, he has been covering this as no one else has for weeks now.

Let's try to get a read on the Iranian perspective on this deal. Fred Pleitgen also has been covering this. In fact, he's been in Tehran for a whole lot of time over the last several weeks. You know, after nearly a decade of those sanctions as we talked with Nic over the nuclear program, there must be some celebrating this morning in Tehran.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, there is expected to be. One of the interesting things, Christine, that's happened over the past couple of days is the mayor of Tehran made a public announcement saying that he does expect that there will be celebrations, that there are actually preparations also for celebrations set to take place, of course, in Tehran and many other places as well.

Now, one of the things that Nic said is very interesting is how fast will sanctions relief reach regular people in Iran? How fast will there economic situation improve? And that's something where some people are skeptical. They say this could take a bit of time before investment actually happens.

Also, of course, depends on how quickly a lot of the sanctions are lifted. But I can tell you from traveling around Iran a lot in the past couple weeks, that people are very much looking for it. I was in a factory that made auto parts and they said a lot of their equipment is from the Soviet Union, so about 30 years old. And even for that, they couldn't get spare parts.

But what you have is I think the key is how quick will Iran get its oil and gas industry up to speed because a lot of investment is needed there and certainly there are companies from the West just lining up to get in there. You can tell every time you fly into Iran that the business class of those planes is full of Western companies looking to get a foothold in there -- Christine.

ROMANS: Very interesting, the question of how long it will take for regular people to feel a lifting of the sanctions, how quickly they'll left those sanctions, and from the perspective of people who are critical of this deal and there are many critical of a deal with Iran, how quickly you can turn it around if Iran is not a fair and honest broker in this deal.

Do we know anything about the ability to be able to put the pressure back on Iran if they don't play fair?

PLEITGEN: Well, I mean, certainly, there are many people in Iran who are skeptical of the deal as well who felt Iran shouldn't have given an inch to Western negotiators. And there are some people who say, look, we are more than willing to live with the sanctions. I think it's going to be very, very interesting to see what exactly this it deal entails, because there are things that hard liners have been demanding for a long time.

One of the things is they don't want access by foreign inspectors into any of its military sites. What's the language there? They want sanctions relief as fast as possible. They also say, listen, they want a conventional arms embargo against Iran lifted immediately. The U.S. says that's the red line for it, because it doesn't want additional weapons to go into places like Hezbollah in Lebanon and also to Hamas in Gaza if Iran has easier to those weapons.

It's going to be very interesting to see how those compromises are going to be made and also how the Rouhani administration, of course, is quite moderate, is able to sell all this at home -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much for that, Fred. You spent so much time in Tehran in the recent weeks. We're so fortunate for your perspective and your reporting. Thanks, Fred.

Joining us now with some more expert perspective on this, this nuclear deal with Iran is Flynt Leverett, who is also in Vienna, following the talks there. He's now a professor of international affairs at Penn State, served before that as a Middle East expert at the CIA, the State Department, and the National Security Council.

So, who got the better deal here in your view, Mr. Leverett? Was this an Iranian win, a U.S. and Western negotiators win, or because both sides still grumbling about what they're giving up, does that mean both sides won?

FLYNT LEVERETT, FORMER SENIOR ANALYST, CIA: I think it does mean that all of the parties have won. There will be aspects of the deal which are politically controversial in Iran. There are aspects of this deal -- there are aspects of this deal which are going to be politically controversial in the United States.

But the issues going to be, can national leaders, can President Rouhani, Ayatollah Khamenei in Tehran, President Obama in Washington make the case to their publics for why this is really in their country's interests.

ROMANS: You know, Mr. Leverett, we have been talking for some weeks about deadlines and are they -- you know, are they almost here -- what are -- where are in the negotiations? We've been talking for so long, sir, about process in these negotiations. I think it's important to talk about how historic this is.

You have the United States and Iran sitting down at the same table talking about forging a new partnership.

[04:10:00] Talk to me a little bit about what a moment this is for Iran and the United States.

LEVERETT: I think this could potentially be a truly historic moment. I'm someone -- my wife and I both in government and in years since we left government, we have long advocated that the United States needs to formulate its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran as thoroughly as it did its relations with People's Republic of China in the 1970s.

This nuclear agreement is -- could be a critical first step in that process. We have to wait and see if the Obama administration is willing and able to use it for that purpose. I think there are people in the administration who understand the potential, but I'm skeptical that there's really at this point the kind of consensus in the administration and a willingness to spend the political capital necessary to use this nuclear agreement as the springboard to a fundamentally different U.S. and Iranian relationship more broadly.

ROMANS: And what would that relationship be? What would be -- if you have the consensus in Washington to formulate that relationship in your -- in your view, what should that -- what would you like that relationship to be?

LEVERETT: I think two things are going to be critical. One, the United States has long relied on partnership with Israel and Saudi Arabia to -- as a key part of its strategy in this part of the world. Those relationships are going to continue to be important, but the reality is they are becoming in many ways dysfunctional for U.S. interests.

The United States needs to be able to engage all of the major players in the region. The major player that needs to be engaged is the Islamic Republic of Iran. We cannot pursue any of our key objectives, whether it's conflict resolution in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria, in Yemen fighting the Islamic State. We simply cannot achieve what we want to achieve in the Middle East without a more productive and positive relationship with Iran.

ROMANS: You talk about Israel. We're going to be talk more about that in just a moment. But, obviously, this is not sitting well with our allies in Israel. Flynt Leverett, thank you so much for that. We'll check in with you again very, very soon. You're there on the ground where these negotiations are happening in Vienna, and again, just minutes away, folks, to an announcement of an Iran nuclear deal agreed to in Vienna.

What happens next in Washington?

In a nutshell, both houses of Congress has 60 days to review the deal and hold hearings. While that's happening, the president cannot waive sanctions against Iran on his own authority. If Congress does vote to reject the deal, the president would most likely veto that measure, 2/3 of each house could then vote to override the veto. If that override fails, the president can seal the deal.

A nuclear deal with Iran not cause for celebration everywhere. Harsh words this morning out of Israel on this breaking news of a deal. We're going to head to Jerusalem for the view there, after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:16:24] ROMANS: Our breaking news this morning, there is now a nuclear deal with Iran. Officials say the U.S. plus five world powers have reached a deal to limit Iran's nuclear program. That deal in exchange for lifting Western sanctions. Due to begin talks in Vienna just in a few minutes. The final plenary session to be followed by a news conference at which an official announcement is expected.

So, again, about 14 minutes, that final plenary session in Vienna will begin underway, and barring any last-minute complications, this deal will be done. We're going to continue to update you throughout the morning on these developments, these important development in Vienna.

Now, while those Iranian Western diplomats are maybe congratulating themselves, there is utter fury in at least one world capital, Jerusalem. The Iran nuclear deal realizes one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's darkest fears, an accord he says will pave the way to a nuclear armed Iran.

Joining us now with the latest on Israel's reaction, CNN's Erin McLaughlin in Jerusalem for us.

And the prime minister -- Prime Minister Netanyahu campaigning Congress directly, telling the world that he thinks this deal is such a bad deal it will only empower Iran to build nuclear weapons.


That's right. We are already hearing from Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning. He met with the Dutch foreign minister here in Jerusalem, in which he called the agreement, quote, "a historic mistake." Members of his government also speaking out.

We are hearing from his deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely tweeted this morning in Hebrew the following. She says, quote, "This agreement is historic surrender agreement of the West to the Axis of Evil headed by Iran. The state of Israel will take all measures to try and prevent the approval of the agreement."

So, already, we're hearing from his government ministers, despite the fact that presumably, as they have yet to read the text of this agreement in detail. Israeli officials I have been speaking to outline that they say are very serious concerns. They are very concerned that this agreement will leave Iran with what they characterize to be a formidable nuclear infrastructure to leave Iran in a position of a nuclear threshold state, they say capable of producing not just one nuclear weapon, but an entire arsenal.

They've also been telling me that they're very concerned that the inspections and that intelligence that this agreement is based on will not be enough to prevent Iran potentially from cheating. So, already prior to the agreement formally announced, we are hearing from Israeli officials continue with strong rhetoric against this agreement -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much for that, Erin. We will let you work your sources and get reaction from the Israeli government.

In the meantime, Erin, we are going back to Vienna where those nuclear talks have completed a nuclear deal. That's where our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour joins us now.

Good morning, Christiane. Such a busy morning and now here at the final hour of these negotiations, minutes away from the final plenary session.

What are the diplomats telling you, Christiane?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christiane, you can imagine the atmosphere here is completely different to the atmosphere that Erin was reporting from, Jerusalem. Of course, there are very big fears from the Israeli side.

[04:20:02] And most diplomats here know that the next phase will be almost tougher than these last two years of negotiations. In other words, selling the deal than the atmosphere Erin is reporting from, Jerusalem. There are big fears from the Israeli side and most diplomats here know that the next phase will be almost tougher than the last two years of negotiations. In other words, selling the deal and making it clear that this deal, as they say here, is a win-win situation for all sides.

Remember, it's not just Iran and the United States. Iran plus all of the European world powers and plus China and Russia. Diplomats point out that having that kind of negotiation, over more than 22 months, with the world powers means that there has been as they say, a lot of progress and it is a good deal for all sides.

And Iranian officials today told me and some other reporters that this is a historic day. This is a good day for world peace.

Now, we are not bringing out details yesterday yet. There's a lot that's still under embargo, until the officials make the final statement at the press conference, and we expect to hear from the E.U. chief, Federica Mogherini, standing alongside the Iranian chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, laying out exactly what has happened and then we'll hear from the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. And then we will have very similar to what happened in Lausanne at the beginning of April when it was the interim and frame work accord announced. We will have the documents, the details, the papers of all that has been agreed made public.

And remember this, we are told, either 100 or 80 pages long with at least half of that as annexes. It is incredibly complicated.

The one thing we do know for sure, because the IAEA chief, Mr. Amano, has said that this morning, is that he has signed a deal, an agreement, and the papers with his Iranian counterpart, or rather with the Iranian counter chief of the atomic energy there, Mr. Salehi, to have a road map to exploring and investigating and finally coming to terms with what Iran may have done in the past.

This is a deal that's been signed by one crucial issue, what Iran may or may not have done in the past regarding nuclear and military activity. And the Iranians are saying that, you know, and so is Chief Amano saying that they signed that road map, and that is part of this deal -- Christine.

ROMANS: We talk about selling this in the U.S., too. You know, there is also the sticking point of selling arms to Iran -- lifting an embargo against selling arms to Iran, Christiane. Selling arms to arm, a country that is at odds with the U.S. and some of the most dangerous places in the world, via Hamas and Hezbollah. What do we know about that?

AMANPOUR: Well, that has been and we have been reporting this, one of the crucial and tricky issues in the last few days. This was part of the original framework agreement, the idea of the arms embargo that exists under the United Nations on Iran.

Now, we can't tell you the details right now, but we understand that has been resolved in a sort of progressive and timed manner. And we will be able to tell you that in those specific details later on. But that apparently has been resolved.

The crucial issue over the last few days, as I reported yesterday, was the text and framework of the new United Nations resolution that will enshrine everything that's happened in these discussions over the last 2 1/2 years. In other words, Iran is under a very strict U.N. embargo, U.N. sanctions, as well as all the other unilateral U.S. and other European sanctions.

But the very tough ones have been in the U.N. Security Council resolution and now a new resolution has to be drafted and apparently has been worked out. That's why a deal has been reached to enshrine this process going forward.

So, basically, limitations on Iran's nuclear capability for a period of 10 to 25 years, depending on what aspects we're talking about, in return for lifting of the sanctions and in return for movements on the arms embargo.

ROMANS: Remarkable.

All right. Christiane Amanpour, we know you're working your sources, talking to diplomats and time ticking down here. Another six and a half minutes until this plenary session begins. Christiane in Vienna, thank you.

The nuclear deal with Iran will have a major impact on the price of oil and markets around the world. We're going to break that all down next.


[04:27:40] ROMANS: Breaking news: oil prices diving this morning on news of a deal with Iran. Crude oil prices down 2 percent right now. Down to $51 a barrel. After inching up at the beginning of the year, oil prices have been falling for a month -- for a month as a deal gets closer. Iran has the fourth biggest oil reserves in the world. That oil has been blocked from world markets by sanctions. Smuggled oil has been able to get out. This will change, though.

If Iran increases its exports, it will mean supply. It could take sometime for Iran for fully ramp up production. But eventually, a deal could add 1 million barrels per day to global markets. There's already a huge surplus. Almost 2 million barrels a day above demand. Adding more oil to the market will push prices lower.

Oil export Tom Kloza says oil could drop back into the $40 range. Gas prices, gas prices could turn to $2 a gallon.

We are following the breaking news of the morning: an Iranian nuclear deal, it has been reached. Live team coverage breaking down all of these fast-moving developments, next.