Return to Transcripts main page
Hala Gorani Tonight
Iran Moves Downed Flight Remains; Interview with Gerard Araud; Internal Boeing Employee Messages Outline 737 Max Concerns; Iranian Military Leaders Promise "Big Operation" Of Revenge; U.S. Announces New Economic Sanctions Against Iran; Protesters: Government Has Neglected Climate Crisis; Trump Announces U.S. Environmental Policy Overhaul; British Tabloids target Duchess Of Sussex In Headlines. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired January 10, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.
Tonight, Iran stands firm, denying that it had anything to do with the downing of Ukraine Flight 752, calling the accusations a, quote, "big lie."
Then, the U.S. slaps even more sanctions on Iran after a week of brinkmanship. But what is there left to sanction? We're live in Tehran and
Plus this, the U.S. Navy accuses Russia of aggressive moves in the Arabian Sea. Find out what happened next in this tense encounter.
Well, the United States is now officially joining other countries in saying an Iranian missile was likely the cause of a deadly plane crash near
Tehran. Iran is denying that, accusing Western powers today of psychological warfare.
Before we get to the investigation, we want to show you new surveillance video that shows the moment the Ukrainian airliner crashed, exploding on
impact. And I'd like to warn you, it is disturbing because all 176 people on board that flight lost their lives. The plane was heading for Kiev when
it went down, shortly after departing Tehran International.
This is security footage, and it shows the debris being blown at very high speed, the fiery debris from the crash. Many people want to know why Iran
allowed any civilian aircraft to fly at all, so soon after it launched missiles at bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq.
Today, the U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, was asked what might be the consequences if indeed Iran is responsible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We do believe that it's likely that that plane was shot down by an Iranian missile. We're going to let the
investigation play out before we make a final determination. It's important that we get to the bottom of it.
I've been on the phone -- I was on the phone with President Zelensky just before I came here; I was on the phone with my Canadian counterpart. They
are working to get their resources on the ground to conduct that thorough investigation. We'll learn more about what happened to that aircraft.
And when we get the results of that investigation, I am confident we and the world will take appropriate actions in response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, where the blame lies and who various countries are accusing is falling, once again, along geostrategic and geopolitical lines. The U.S.
and other countries believe the plane was shot down by mistake. Russia, a close ally of Iran, is coming to Iran's defense today, saying there's no
basis for blaming Tehran.
I'm joined now by Jeremy Diamond at the White House and Fred Pleitgen in Tehran. So before we get to the sanctions, I want to ask you, Fred, about
what Tehran is saying. It is now willing to share the contents of the black box and give access to some -- more investigators on the site of the crash.
But how -- it is adamantly still denying that one of its missiles is responsible.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what the head of Iran's Civil Aviation Authority said this morning, Hala.
He was asked flat-out, what about this intelligence information coming from the U.S., coming from Canada, other countries as well?
And he called that theory, as he put it, "invalid." There were really two reasons that he kept naming because of that. First of all, he said that he
believed that if the plane had been hit by a missile mid-flight, that the plane would not have been able to try and make a turn back to Imam Khomeini
Airport to try and get back there. He said it would have fallen straight out of the sky.
The other thing that the Iranians are saying -- or that this head of the Aviation Authority was saying -- is that he believes that if the plane had
been hit by a missile, that the debris field would have been a lot bigger than it actually was, if it would have been destroyed in midair as well.
As far as the investigation is concerned, the Iranians are saying that they're granting full access to the Ukrainians. They also invited, of
course, the NTSB representative along as well, and other countries also.
The latest word that we're getting is that they are now trying to get the information off the black boxes. The information that we've gotten is that
apparently there's some damage to the flight data recorded, and the Iranians are not sure whether or not they have the capability to actually
download that data or whether data was lost.
They say they might have to ask other countries for help, like for instance France and Canada and Russia. So they're trying to do that. They do say,
however, that no matter what's on that flight data recorder, they are going to let the world know. That comes also from the head of the Civil Aviation
Authority here in Iran, Hala.
GORANI: All right. Even though we're getting reports that the debris field has been tampered with already, that big portions of the plane even have
Jeremy Diamond, it's notable that the U.S. has --
PLEITGEN: I -- I asked them about that. I --
GORANI: I'll just get right back to you. I'll get right back to you, Fred, I just want to get Jeremy Diamond there --
GORANI: -- on what the U.S. is now saying. Because they are joining their allies, Canada and other countries, and saying they believe Iran is
responsible. Is this based on U.S. intelligence, or are they just going along with the conclusions drawn by Canada and others?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it does appear to be based on U.S. intelligence. We had gotten those initial reports from
sources at the Pentagon, that the U.S. had basically been able to determine that the plane was indeed hit by a missile, based on infrared imaging and
other intelligence sources that the United States used, technical sources that the United States uses.
Today was the first time that we had seen a senior U.S. official come out and say publicly, yes, it likely was Iran -- an Iranian missile that shot
down this plane.
Now, what we have not heard yet is directly from the president of the United States, or frankly even from Pompeo or other officials, a kind of
definitive announcement that, yes, we believe strongly without any question that this is how this plane was downed.
And, frankly, it is notable that we haven't heard from the president yet, even go so far as Mike Pompeo did. Yesterday, the president had been asked
-- because these initial reports were trickling out about this -- and he suggested that he didn't believe the initial explanation that this was some
kind of a mechanical failure, which suggests he is siding with what the U.S. is determining here.
But, again, we haven't seen that kind of public presence to say, look, this is what happened, any kind of condemnation, frankly --
DIAMOND: -- of what happened from the top U.S. official.
GORANI: And, Fred, you were just about ready to answer that question about these reports that the crash site has been tampered with, that it hasn't
been cordoned off. You asked questions to officials about that, what did they tell you?
PLEITGEN: Yes, absolutely. That essentially debris had already been cleared from that debris field, so that obviously is outside of Tehran. I
also asked the head of the Civil Aviation Authority about that as well, and he actually did confirm that, yes, a lot of debris had been removed. He
said all of the large parts of the aircraft and many of the smaller parts as well have already been taken away from that debris field.
The Iranians are saying the reason why they did that is because they brought all of that debris into a hangar, they say, where forensic experts
are going to try and reconstruct the aircraft to better find out what happened to it.
We know, of course, from similar investigations in the past, that looking at the debris is very important to see whether or not there was some sort
of outside influence, like for instance a missile that might have punctured the outside hull of the plane or the engine of the plane or the wings.
So the Iranians are saying that they are going to grant access to that debris to the Ukrainian experts who are already on the ground here. In
fact, I think the Ukrainians might have already been in that hangar. They say that's the reason why they did that.
Nevertheless, of course, we know from some experts that it is a little bit unusual for debris to be cleared that quickly and before international
investigators are able to look at it. But that was the reasoning that the Iranians gave for it.
And, Hala, the Iranians, also saying that the bodies have already been removed from that site as well. They say they're in a forensic unit for DNA
testing, which of course is necessary. It is a very painful process, of course, also, for the loved ones and for those who have lost their loved
ones as well -- Hala.
GORANI: Yes, and they're going to have to test for explosive residue and other things. Jeremy, Fred, stay with me.
I want to focus on the other angle of this story, the continuing tensions between Iran and the U.S. The Trump administration has just announced new
economic sanctions against Iran, saying they will cost the Iranians billions of dollars. And they include sanctions against Iranian leaders and
officials, against the Iranian mining, manufacturing, textile and construction industries.
TEXT: New U.S. Sanction Targets: Eight senior Iranian leaders; Six senior Iranian officials; Mining, manufacturing and other industries; Older
sanctions remain in place
GORANI: Older sanctions remain in effect. The secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, says those sanctions have been working.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF TREASURY: I think we have a hundred percent confidence, and we are consistent in our view that the economic
sanctions are working, that if we didn't have these sanctions in place, literally, Iran would have tens of billions of dollars. They would be using
that for terrorist activities throughout the region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, I want to go back to Jeremy and Fred. So, Jeremy, what is left to sanction here when it comes to Iran?
DIAMOND: Yes, they certainly are running out of items that they can sanction because this administration has already imposed such stringent
sanctions on Iran over the last couple of years. They re-imposed all of those sanctions that were lifted under the Iran nuclear accords, and
imposed several other additional sanctions, hitting, frankly, the most significant sectors of the Iranian economy, the oil and gas sectors.
Now, what we're seeing, frankly, I think had the administration not exhausted so many sanctions, we would have probably seen something much
more severe today. But the fact is --
DIAMOND: -- that this administration has already issued so many significant sanctions. So what we saw today, instead, was a focus on -- in
Iran's metal production and mining companies, 17 companies that were sanctioned here as well as eight senior Iranian officials, mostly officials
around the supreme leader, the Ayatollah, who were also sanctioned.
And the president also signed an executive order today, authorizing the Treasury Department to implement additional sanctions, including second-
tier sanctions that would hit individuals who are doing business with Iran --
DIAMOND: -- and the Iranian economy.
GORANI: And, Fred, critics of the sanctions strategy say it's not hurting the leadership, it's hurting the people. They can't get the medicines they
want, they can't get the spare parts they need for planes, for factories, et cetera. Is that what you are observing on the ground?
PLEITGEN: Yes. I mean, certainly, you do see that the sanctions are having a massive effect on ordinary Iranians. And I think those two sectors that
you mentioned are absolutely key, the medical sector where a lot of the industries or a lot of the goods there aren't sanctioned directly.
But because of all the financial restrictions -- and quite frankly, because a lot of companies now --
PLEITGEN: -- internationally are afraid to do business with Iran because they're afraid to get into trouble with the U.S., there's a lot of
hospitals that can't get the medications, the drugs they need, they can't get the equipment that they need either.
And then of course in the airline sector, it's very dangerous because a lot of these airlines can't get the spare parts that they need for their planes
But in general, the sanctions are having a massive effect on ordinary Iranians because the economy is really in tatters here, a lot of people
have lost their jobs, the currency is in a freefall, a lot of goods aren't available. So they certainly are having a big effect.
The one effect that they haven't had, so far, is that the Iranians still say they're not going to sit down and talk with the United States under
these circumstances. They're still calling on the U.S. to go back to the nuclear agreement before there's going to be any sort of talks taking
place. And they simply say they are not going to change their policy at all because of these sanctions -- Hala.
GORANI: Fred Pleitgen in Tehran; Jeremy Diamond in Washington, thanks.
The U.S. Navy says a Russian warship aggressively approached an American destroyer in the North Arabian sea. Russia's defense ministry is denying
that, but we have -- well, we have video of the incident. You can decide for yourself. That is the Russian ship, behind the U.S. Navy vessel. It
came as close as 55 meters, and that is very close for vessels that large.
Let's bring in CNN Pentagon correspondent Ryan Browne for more. What is the Navy saying happened here?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, Hala, they say the Russian ship, surveillance ship, approached the U.S. Navy destroyer in an aggressive
manner, that it came -- a Defense official, saying that it came in within 55 meters or so. At this speed, that it was a very dangerous effort.
They said that they warned -- the U.S. Navy says it warned the Russian ship, multiple times, using a series of Naval horns and then of course a
radio bridge-to-bridge communication. They say the Russians ignored several initial warnings, increasing the risk of collision. But eventually, once
they got them on the radio, the Russians did eventually avert course. And you can see video of that there.
Again, these instances do occur, but they've been increasingly rare in recent months. We haven't had a situation like this since June.
Of course, the Russian Ministry of Defense was pushing back on the U.S.' allegation, saying that it was the U.S. ship acting unprofessionally.
Again, this U.S. ship is actually part of an aircraft carrier task force, and the ship is tasked with actually kind of keeping an eye on any
potential enemy ships from getting too close to the aircraft carrier.
So it's a ship that's already on hypervigilance. To have another ship, a potential enemy ship, come this close very much would cause some concern
among the commander of that vessel.
GORANI: All right. And we have video, there, of that moment, released by the Navy. Thanks very much, Ryan Browne.
Let's discuss all these geopolitical tensions we've been covering. For that, I turn to Gerard Araud, he's the former French ambassador to the
United States. Thanks for being with us, Ambassador.
First of all, let me ask you about the E.U. foreign ministers' meeting today, still desperately clinging on to this Iran nuclear deal, including
the French, saying it's not dead, it's not dead. How can it possibly be revived at this stage?
GERARD ARAUD, FORMER FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, I think the situation of the Europeans is pretty dire. Because on the one side, they
share the concerns of the Americans about the nuclear activities, about the malign activities of Iran in the Middle East. And for them, of course, the
stability of the Middle East is critical.
But the other side, the American administration basically doesn't care. It doesn't care about the American -- the European interests, it doesn't care
about the European analysis. So the Europeans -- and that was the meeting of the foreign ministers of the European Union -- are going to try to be
the go-between between both sides, and to try to see whether it's possible to launch a negotiation.
GORANI: Yes. Is it possible, do you think? I mean, do you think this last week of flirting with open conflict has set some sort of stage for
discussions, or do you think that is still very much, you know, not in the cards for the two countries?
ARAUD: Well, and you know, even if you have one chance out of 100, you have to try. But to be frank, I would be quite skeptical. I don't think
that, now, Iran, after the death of its iconic chief, Soleimani, is ready to negotiate --
ARAUD: -- with the Americans, who have claimed the assassination. So my fear is that we are entering a plateau of very high tension in the Middle
East, and we will depend on any provocation, any accident, unfortunately, in the Gulf.
GORANI: And what about these new sanctions? I mean, the economy of this country is really hurting. If there was -- if the Europeans could somehow
convince the Iranians that these economic pains could be eased for them, could that be a way to go diplomatically, do you think? What's the solution
ARAUD: Yes, that's what -- that's what we have tried. Because, you know, the nuclear deal was based on a quid pro quo. You accept the monitoring of
the program, and we open the trade with you. Now, the quid pro quo is not here anymore.
Because the Americans are telling the European companies, you have the choice. You choose between the Iranian market and the American market. And
European companies don't hesitate 30 seconds. And so the European states have done their best to bring back European companies to Iran. But
unfortunately, it doesn't work --
ARAUD: -- our companies, of course.
GORANI: Yes. Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. But you heard, I'm sure, Donald Trump when he took that diplomatic off-ramp a few days ago and said,
you know, Iran has suffered, they've paid the price.
And the question is now, for Donald Trump, what is the end strategy here for the United States? I mean, what is it that the United States wants to
achieve with these moves, do you think? Knowing the administration, knowing U.S. politics.
ARAUD: I think -- I think the American strategy is very clear. They are twisting the arm of the Iranians and they are expecting the Iranians, you
know, basically to cave in. Unfortunately, it won't happen.
GORANI: But it's not working.
ARAUD: You need --
GORANI: It's not working.
ARAUD: -- exactly. You need a diplomatic strategy. And that's what is missing with this administration. You need to have somebody to negotiate.
Who is going to negotiate for the Americans? You need to have a quid pro quo. What are you going to demand from the Iranians and to give to the
Iranians, and so on. And that's something which is dramatically missing.
GORANI: But ultimately, is this a victory or did this work out in favor of the United States? I mean, now Iraq is asking for U.S. troops to leave.
Iraq has basically gone almost fully under the control of Iran. How is this to the benefit of the United States?
ARAUD: Well, at the same time, you know, really, you have to lower your expectations. What happened could have led to a major confrontation. It
didn't lead to a major confrontation because something we have discovered - - or we should have known something -- is that Iran is very weak. Its economy is crumbling, its population is rebelling and Iran, facing the
Americans, you know, Iran knows that it can't provoke a military confrontation.
So for the moment, it's, I should say, if you look in terms of a schoolyard vision, it's a victory for the Americans. But a victory, which is, as I've
said, which is leading to a new plateau of high tension --
ARAUD: -- and any incident can lead, really, this time, to a confrontation.
GORANI: All right. Gerard Araud, thank you very much, the former French ambassador to the United States, joining us from New York.
Still to come tonight, newly released documents from Boeing show employees questioning the safety of their own planes. Their damning words, next.
GORANI: Well, back to our top story, that Ukrainian Airlines flight that crashed in Iran Wednesday. Though the plane was going from Tehran to Kiev,
many people on board were planning then to catch flights to Canada. More than 60 of the passengers were in fact Canadian citizens.
CNN's Paula Newton has more on the mourning inside Canada.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the smiles that are so searing, an indelible reminder of all that's been lost.
At this vigil in Toronto, friends, families, strangers tried to take in the magnitude of the tragedy.
ROSIE (PH), FRIEND OF CRASH VICTIM: Words cannot express the sorrow and the pain that the family are going through. It's just unbelievable.
NEWTON (voice-over): Rosie (ph), who did not want her last name used, could not believe her family friend Mohammad (ph) Iliasi (ph) was married
in Iran just last week, and then boarded Flight 752.
For many here, the grief is still so raw. And then they learn the airliner may have been shot out of the sky by Iran. They can't make sense of it.
ROSIE (PH): How are they going to respond to the parents of the children of the loss of their son, daughters, husbands, wife? It's -- this is so
NEWTON (voice-over): At least 63 Canadians died, but the vast majority of the passengers, 138, were connecting to Canada, many returning to lives
NEWTON: Vigils like this are going on right across the country. So many Canadians can really relate to the stories of these victims, people really
living their dreams, trying to make a better life in a second home.
NEWTON (voice-over): Many of them called Edmonton home. And there, they mourned students, academics, doctors, people whose life stories as new
Canadians resonated with so many.
Hamed Esmaeilion says he still can't believe his wife Parisa (ph) and his daughter Rira (ph) are never coming home to him.
HAMED ESMAEILION, HUSBAND AND FATHER OF CRASH VICTIMS: So I usually call her (ph), when she is absent, usually she is not. And I told them that, OK,
Rira (ph), will be absent forever. So that was a hard moment for me.
NEWTON (voice-over): In Montreal, the Canadians joined the Edmonton Oilers in a moment of silence, a scene repeated during games across the country.
Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, joined an Ottawa vigil with others looking for comfort.
ARDY GHARAGOZLI: We were family friends. I used to call her "Aunt."
NEWTON (voice-over): Ardy Gharagozli is heartbroken, losing Benaz (ph) Ibrahimi (ph) and her son Ramtin (ph). But he's also angry about the
politics now intruding on his grief.
GHARAGOZLI: But even if it's Iran, the blame is on USA. If President Trump wouldn't order the drone strike on Qassem Soleimani, all this wouldn't
happen. We wouldn't be here today, grieving, you know?
NEWTON (voice-over): The implication? These precious lives are now collateral damage in an American-Iranian conflict still being waged.
GORANI: And that was Paula Newton.
With more on the crash investigation, we're joined by CNN's aviation safety analyst, David Soucie. What do you make of what's coming out now, the fact
that you've been able to, I'm sure, look at pictures and video. What are your thoughts, a couple of days after this crash?
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It's just horrific. And what makes this so painful to watch and hear is the fact that with MH17 six years ago, it
was the same situation when it was shot down and the missiles were denied and not denied, and no one would claim responsibility for it.
And but -- my analysis of what's going on now and the trajectories of the cameras and the videos that we've had that I validated and CNN has
validated, unfortunately, I have to concede that it was a military weapon and a missile that shot down this airplane, horrifically.
GORANI: And many people are asking, how do you make such a huge mistake if it was unintentional?
SOUCIE: You know, these weapons are underestimated. They're -- and I didn't even know this until recently, that there's actually automatic modes
on these weapons, on these missiles --
SOUCIE: -- and that would explain why there were two of them shot. They can be left in automatic, and then anything that comes in the range -- and
they're not sophisticated enough to determine what it is that they're shooting at.
Obviously, this airplane didn't look like a military, it was flying away from them, it was flying up and away from what was going on. It was not a
military threat in any stretch.
GORANI: And if it was a surface-to-air missile, as you mentioned, sometimes they're guided, the missiles are guided and they could have --
but the big question is, then why did Iranian authorities allow flights to take off so close to a surface-to-air missile launch location?
SOUCIE: I think -- I can't imagine, I can't imagine why. I mean, this was only within just minutes of an airport, of this airport. Why were they
there, why were they even being -- monitoring the sky there? I don't understand it. It just shows to me incredible lack of responsibility and
understanding of the massive impact that this kind of weapon can cause. I can't imagine why this was allowed to happen at all.
GORANI: Yes. Hopefully we'll speak again soon, once we have more details, perhaps, coming from investigators. Thanks very much, David Soucie.
And speaking of airlines and airplane manufacturers, Boeing has released some troubling internal documents that were criticizing the 737 Max. In the
e-mails and messages, employees expressed doubts about the plane's ability to safely fly. One message read, this airplane is "designed by clowns, who
in turn are supervised by monkeys," unquote.
CNN business editor at large Richard Quest joins me now. And, I mean, this is remarkable. And Boeing is -- released -- the company itself released
these messages. What more are we learning from them?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes. Boeing says it's doing so out of transparency, but more people think it's because they're forced to do so
and the mere release of them has caused great criticism that how much more has Boeing got, hidden away.
These are employees who were working on the certification of the Max. One said that he would go face-to-face with any regulator that wanted to
introduce simulator training. Ironically, Boeing has done exactly that in the last week, and said that they will introduce simulator training for the
Overall, you get a taste of the distaste that many in Boeing had for the way this plane was designed, built and the training that was being put in
place. Finally, Hala, Boeing says that this is not indicative of the company, its culture and its employees, how and who -- putting it in
Boeing's language, "who we are."
But you've got to say, if it's not indicative of them, it was Boeing employees that wrote those messages.
GORANI: And one of the messages from 2018, "Still haven't been forgiven by God for what I covered up." That is extremely troubling.
QUEST: It is. It's a reference, of course, to one of those Boeing employees who kept saying that he told regulators lies just to keep them
happy before they were able to do it.
I think the most telling of all is the question one asked another, "Would you go on a Max train simulator plane with your family?" And they said no.
GORANI: Richard Quest, thanks very much. We'll see you at the top of the hour. And we will be right back.
GORANI: The U.S. President is making good on his threats to punish Iran's economy. His administration is hoping new sanctions announced a few hours
ago will deal a billion dollar blow to Tehran. But that's not stopping Iran's military leaders from seeking further revenge for General Qassem
Soleimani's death. Brian Todd explains.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A top commander in Iran's notorious, Revolutionary Guards, vowing Iran will exact, quote, harsher
revenge on the United States following the missile attacks on American positions in Iraq.
Another Iranian general saying Iran's covert war against America is nowhere near over.
GEN. AMIR ALI HAJIZADEH, IRANIAN ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (through translator): This, indeed, was the beginning of the big operation, an
action that, God willing, will continue.
TODD (voice-over): America's top military commander has sounded the alarm himself, warning of further retribution for the killing of Iranian General,
GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I and those of us in uniform and those in theater fully expect Shia militia groups to conduct
terrorist operations against U.S. forces and coalition forces in Iraq and perhaps even elsewhere.
TODD (voice-over): From the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, similar warnings about the capabilities of Iran and its lethal proxy
forces, like Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based organization designated a terrorist group by the U.S. and several other Western nations.
MATTHEW LEVITT, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Hezbollah has operatives in -- both in the United States and in Canada, and South
America, as well. And they have the capability to do surveillance, and they have the capability to carry out attacks.
TODD (voice-over): In a new bulletin, FBI and Homeland Security officials say there's no specific threat at the moment, but that operatives accused
of working for Iran and Hezbollah have been arrested in recent years inside the U.S. conducting surveillance of military and law enforcement
facilities, critical infrastructure, public landmarks, and Jewish centers.
Hezbollah has been supported financially and logistically by Iran and specifically by Qasem Soleimani for decades. But analysts say the group
also operates like a mafia family.
LEVITT: Hezbollah also has a much larger logistical, financial, criminal network around the world, including in the United States. The majority of
their operatives here will be involved in credit card fraud, in mortgage fraud, in all kinds of different criminal schemes to raise funds.
TODD (voice-over): And Hezbollah is adept at revenge attacks. After the killing of one of its top commanders, it was believed to have bombed
Israel's embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, killing nearly 30 people. An attack two years later at a Jewish community center in the same city killed
And U.S. officials accused Hezbollah of acting on behalf of Iran in the 1983 truck bombing of the U.S. Marine compound in Beirut, killing 241
American service members. Iran denied involvement, but terrorism experts say the attack benefited the regime in Tehran.
PAUL BERGEN, AUTHOR, "TRUMP AND HIS GENERALS": We, the United States, did not really respond to that, other than just a withdrawal from Lebanon. So
it was a huge success as far as Iran and Hezbollah was concerned, they got us out.
TODD (on-camera): Experts point out that Iran and its proxies are not invisible in carrying out plots against the U.S. In fact, some of their
more recent operations on U.S. soil have either been foiled or simply failed.
And the chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff says that with Qassem Soleimani no longer around, some of the training, the weapons and other
support for those proxies could be compromised, but experts say those groups still have plenty of capability and certainly now the motive to hit
the U.S. somehow.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
GORANI: It has been a wild roll rollercoaster of a week, to say the least. And it's not over yet. Let's talk it over with Hassan Hassan. He's the
director of the Non-State Actors Program at the Center for Global Policy, and he joins me live from Washington.
So, Hassan, as we are -- it's Friday. So it's the end of the workweek, anyway, in the western world. What should we make of what just happened in
the last few days? Who's come out as perhaps on top? The U.S., Iran, any other non-state actor? How do you see things?
HASSAN HASSAN, DIRECTOR OF THE NON-STATE ACTORS PROGRAM AT THE CENTER FOR GLOBAL POLICY: Well, I think there's no doubt that the U.S. has come on the
top, and over the past week. You have to remember this is a, you know, part of a long series of back and forth between the United States and Iran.
If you remember over the past six, seven months, Iran conducted a few attacks that had no response from the United States, and this is really
kind of establishing a new turn.
And I think despite what happened over the past few one week of like alarmism of Iran's supposed retaliation inside Iraq, I think moving
forward, Iran has got the message that the U.S. is serious about rolling back and kind of having a new policy towards Tehran, at least under Trump.
GORANI: But then ultimately, Iraq is going to ask U.S. forces to leave. The sphere of influence of Iran hasn't changed as a result of this, has it?
HASSAN: Yes, absolutely. This is the most important -- if it happens, I think it would be the heaviest blow to the U.S. policy if the U.S. is
driven out of Iraq.
I don't think that's going to happen realistically, looking on what's at stake for the United States and for the -- even for the Europeans. The
United States will, as we saw in Syria a few months ago, and Trump said we're going to leave and then the dynamics really kind of forced him to
change his mind. The same will play out in Iraq.
I think the tone today from the Department of State is that we're not going to leave Iraq. And if we are forced out of Iraq, Iraq will pay a heavy
price in terms of economic, military, and security support for the United States.
So they really were saying this is part of a package deal. If we leave, Iraq will suffer. And I think that -- the Iraqis will get the message.
GORANI: But you sound like you're saying that Donald Trump played his cards right here.
HASSAN: I do think so. I think -- I think two things happened. One is that the U.S. hands were forced to take the action. Remember, the events just
before the killing of Soleimani, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad was being stormed by the Iranian proxies but also by -- under the orders of Qassem
A few days before that, the U.S. civilian contractor was killed under the orders of Qassem Soleimani. So a response was at least seen as a necessary
to stop that cycle. But also --
GORANI: Because -- but as you -- sorry, go ahead. No. I was just going to say, his critics said listen, this is super reckless, because here you go.
You killed the most important military commander Iran has on Iraqi soil. The domino effect is unpredictable. You're playing with fire. That this was
not -- that this was kind of shooting from the hip. That was kind of the criticism level that Trump -- that it wasn't a coherent strategy, and that
if it turned out in the U.S.'s favor, it was purely accidental.
HASSAN: No, absolutely. I think it was not accidental. I think it was -- I don't expect Iran to do anything for the U.S. I think Iran has a small menu
of options when it comes to retaliating against the United States.
Remember, the U.S. doesn't have heavy footprint inside Iraq. It can protect itself. But that's a legitimate concern, because -- and that's really why
previous administrations didn't take that action against Qassem Soleimani despite the fact that it has been considered over and over before.
But I think two things -- like I said, the U.S. hands were, at least partly, forced in this case.
GORANI: Yes. And quickly, a word on the sanctions, because the strategy of the United States, if it has a clearly defined one, is maximum pressure. I
mean, they've said it explicitly. We're going to make them suffer until they have no choice but to come to the table and abide by our terms. I
mean, is that wishful thinking? It doesn't seem Iran's game for that at all.
HASSAN: You see, I think this is all part of the story. The reason why Iran has been lashing out at the United States and allies like the Saudi Arabia,
even the UAE and the Gulf, the Persian Gulf, is because of the maximum pressure.
Iran has been feeling the pressure, and is lashing out because it's becoming more and more anxious because the U.S. is imposing more and more
bites and sanctions against Iran, but also taking action, military, kinetic action against Iranian militias inside Syria as well as inside Iraq.
So Iran is suddenly feeling this administration is taking a whole new level, and we have to respond at some point. So they -- and they said it, I
think Khomeini he said, the Supreme Leader of Iran said this is an economic war against us, so we have to respond.
So that pressure led to the episode over the past few weeks, and past week. And I think the result of that, the outcome, in my opinion, is that Iran
now feels that it has to stop trying to escalate against the United States. And they're going to go back to revert to their old traditional ways of
doing business which is proxy wars and trying to evade sanctions and so on and so forth.
GORANI: Hassan Hassan, thanks very much.
HASSAN: Thank you.
GORANI: Always appreciate having you on the program.
Can you imagine five months of no internet? That is the reality for people in Kashmir after more than 150 days, the people of Kashmir might be closer
to getting their internet access back though. India Supreme Court has given the government one week to review the suspension.
Kashmir has been under an internet blackout since mid-august when the Indian government exerted greater authority over the disputed region. An
internet advocacy watchdogs has the blackout in Kashmir is the longest ever imposed by a democracy.
Still to come tonight, growing outrage in Australia as thousands of activists demand the government, do more to fight against wildfires.
We'll be right back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The scientists predicted this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Welcome back. It's been another grim week for climate news around the world. Devastating fires ravaging large parts of Australia and now
Just minutes ago, a new report came out warning that wildfires could burn through huge parts of the Amazon as well. And the U.S. president, meantime,
has announced that he's rolling back regulations that protected the environment.
Let's begin with news from Australia where the bushfire crisis is getting even worse. Hot, dry, windy conditions have caused two massive fires on the
border of Victoria and New South Wales to merge into one giant fire, covering more than half a million hectares.
And anger against the Australian government is growing. Thousands of protesters are demanding that officials do more to stop the bushfires and
take real action on the climate crisis.
Will Ripley was there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will fight. I'm going to win.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST (on-camera): I'm here in Sydney, Australia, one of the number of cities across this country where thousands
of people are turning out for protests against climate change and what they call criminal negligence by their prime minister, Scott Morrison.
The anger out here is palpable. People say that Prime Minister Morrison who has been very vocal in his support of Australia's coal industry fossil
fuels and general, saying it's vital for this country's economy.
The point that people out here are making, you can't have an economy with a dead planet. And they're living the effects of climate change here in
Australia right now. An unprecedented bushfire season. The fires continuing to burn as we speak. People have died. More than two dozen of them.
Millions of animals have died here in Australia directly linked to climate change, whether it'd be their natural habitat drying up in unprecedented
historic drought. All of these things have people out here saying it's time to wake up and it's time to act.
I'm mere with a 13-year-old climate activist, Izzy Raj-Seppings. You're an eighth grader, going into eighth grade, and yet you're out here and you're
going to speak in front of all these people. What do you want to tell them?
IZZY RAJ-SEPPINGS, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: Basically, I'm outlining the inaction of our government and saying that we're tired, we're done, it's time for
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is cold. Don't be afraid. Don't be scared.
RIPLEY: This image is what infuriates so many people out here. That's the prime minister, Scott Morrison, holding up a lump of coal famously in
Australian parliament telling people, they don't need to be afraid of fossil fuels. Saying how important they are to the economy here in
But what Izzy, the activist we just spoke with, and many others out here are demanding, is a transition immediately from reliance on fossil fuels to
completely renewable energy resources. They say that is the only way to stop this climate crisis from getting worse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The scientists predicted this in 2007.
RIPLEY: The point you were making is that Australia, you think, should be much farther ahead.
JESSICA CAIN, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: We should be at the front of the headlines. We've got all the scientists we've got, the research for 30 years now. We
should be the leading person in renewable energy now.
RIPLEY: But she and so many others out here say Australia is not at the forefront. They accused this country of being addicted to coal. An
addiction they say is helping fuel the climate crisis and putting thousands of people's homes and lives in danger. But the bushfires expected to
continue burning throughout the weekend and beyond.
Will Ripley, CNN, Sydney.
GORANI: Well, in the Amazon last year, wildfires burned at record rates, you'll remember. And now, a new study is warning that future fires could be
even more intense and damaging for the planet.
Scientists project that as temperatures and deforestation increase over the next 30 years, the amount of wildfires will double and another 16 percent
of the Amazon will be lost.
Now, that's a very dangerous scenario, since the Amazon soaks up billions of tons of heat, trapping carbon from the atmosphere and stores it in trees
and in the ground.
Now, when the rainforest burns, a huge burst of carbon is released back into the air, and that causes temperatures to spike. And we know what
impact that has.
In the United States, climate activists say the White House is gutting essential safeguards to air, water, and wildlife in the United States.
This week, in fact, President Trump announced a new policy that he says will speed up infrastructure projects.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These endless delays waste money, keep projects from breaking ground and deny jobs to our nation's
incredible workers. From day one, my administration has made fixing this regulatory nightmare a top priority. And we want to build new roads,
bridges, tunnels, highways, bigger, better, faster, and we want to build them at less cost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, let's take a closer look at all of these issues. Our chief climate correspondent Bill Weir joins me now.
So let's talk first about this administration rollbacks. What are they? What will their impact be on the environment?
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Trump has proven in his first three years that he's never met an environmental
regulation he didn't hate. And as a sort of a creature of Manhattan real estate, he sees environmental impact studies as an unnecessary hurdle to
growth and profits.
So the National Environmental Policy Act has been in place since the 1970s. What the Trump administration wants to do is basically gut that and make it
much harder for local governments or environmental groups to protest pipelines or major infrastructure projects that could have, you know,
detrimental effect on not only environment but a rapidly heating planet.
But it's not a done deal yet. There's a 60-day public hearing period, and everyone from the American Lung Association to the Audubon Society is
expected to fight this with everything they've got.
GORANI: And the Amazon report is really worrying. How can this be prevented? I mean, what needs to be done? Because, for instance, in Brazil,
there's an argument made that, you know, you need that land for agriculture, that communities who depend on those -- that land for their
own livelihoods, you know, need to clear some of the forest.
I mean -- so there's an economic argument made there. So how can this be avoided? This horror scenario?
WEIR: Well, I think the thing that people lose sight of, President Bolsonaro, who like Trump and Scott Morrison, is a climate skeptic. And
what too many ranchers and farmers fail to realize is that when you remove the forest from a rainforest, you also take away the rain.
Not only are these carbon sinks, as they suck that out of the air, but they also create their own weather system, drawing moisture out of the soil.
And, you know, less than 10,000 years ago, there was forest in the Sahara. It was the biggest lake in the world, and it went away in the space of a
couple hundred years. If that happens to the Amazon, the results would be cataclysmic.
So maybe short-term profit is being sacrificed but the long-term game of life, as we know it, is in the balance.
GORANI: So the big question for Australia is, you know, these bushfires happen every year, but they're a lot more intense. There -- this bushfire
season is becoming longer. There too, what is the solution? Because, you know, people there are starting to get very angry at their -- at their
WEIR: Well, that's the thing. I mean, the double-edged sword is that in a hotter planet when the average high temperature at one day in December was
almost 42 degrees Celsius, 107 degrees Fahrenheit across the entire continent. So controlled burns even in the wetter winter months aren't
We're seeing this in North America as well, in California as well. So it has to be a reeducation how you live with fire. You can't prevent a brush
fire. You can prevent a house fire or a city fire. So the resources that maybe battled them way out in the wilderness could be spent fortifying
communities and making people understand that is sometimes it can be a tool if used properly.
GORANI: All right. Bill Weir, thanks very much.
Still to come tonight, a shakeup in the royal family and the British tabloids launched a new round of attacks on Meghan.
We'll be right back.
GORANI: Meghan is back in Canada after she and her husband Prince Harry made the surprise announcement they'll be stepping back from royal life.
Prince Harry is still in the U.K., as the source tell CNN, the royal family is holding talks to find a workable solution.
Hadas gold joins me now with more.
And it took them 24 hours, but the tabloids are going after Meghan once again.
HADAS GOLD, CNN MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: I mean, obviously, this is such a huge story that it's not surprising. This has been all over the U.K.
media. But Meghan Markle, specifically, has been a target of certain parts of the British press for quite some time.
And, actually, the couple mentioned that as one of the reasons why they are stepping back and why they're actually removing themselves from what's
called the royal road. It's the pool, essentially, that gives special access to the U.K. newspapers to the royal family.
And some of these newspapers have been, pretty much, in sort of a long drawn out battle with the couple for a while. To point that, actually, two
of, you could say, the worst offenders here. We've got The Sun, which today was all about...
GORANI: The Murdoch tower (ph).
GOLD: Yes, the Murdoch tower. "Meg's Mugged Us Orf". All about Meghan saying, even that they left Archie in Canada, making it sound like they
kind of left their baby behind.
And then the Daily Mail, "Meghan Flees to Canada." And in fact, these two newspapers, in particular, when you're reading them inside the covers, it's
beyond just the kind of explosives front pages. The columnist insider, some of them are saying it's her fault. She's the one that drove him to do in a.
It's her California ideals. It's a lot of sort of saying she is the outsider.
And what's even more interesting, the couple are actually in legal proceedings against the owners of both of these tabloids. So, clearly,
there's a lot of bad blood there.
GORANI: What more do we know about how they'll split their time between North America and the U.K.? I mean, do we have any more details about
GOLD: That, I think, is all being worked out right now with the families, with these meetings that are taking places between all of the palaces.
Because the queen, Prince Charles, Prince William, they'll have their own sort of set of staff.
And there's a lot of questions still to be -- for example, they said they're going to spend their time in North America. Does that mean Canada?
Does that the U.S.? It's possible they don't even know yet. There's also the question, not only of the financial independence and how that will
But also, what about the staff? Will they retain the sort of official royal staff? Will they hire their own? How will they work with the royal staff?
There's still so many questions to be answered. And I think because we understand that Max Foster, royal correspondent, has learned that the --
all the staff have been told to work at pace, which means get this done quickly. They cannot have this be dragging out for months at a time to
figure out exactly what their roles will be.
GORANI: So, is there some sort of war room, conference room situation unfolding at Buckingham Palace?
GORANI: Who is participating?
GOLD: As far as we understand, it is the staff for all of the major royals to figure out exactly what this relationship will look like. Because I
think it's going to be rather difficult. If they still want to be involved in charities like they've said.
If they still want to be involved in public life, how do you that balancing that out, what the royal family is doing with their official duties? What
will this mean, even with their titles? Would this mean that they're still going to show up to official royal events if they're doing something
charity-related? Are we still going to see them, you know, for the queen's jubilee? I'm sure that ...
GORANI: Is that up to the queen or ...
GOLD: I think it -- I mean, ultimately, she is the head monarch, but I think she is, especially, keeping in line the line of succession. And I
think that's why we've seen, especially, in the last few months the focus, for example, on Prince Charles and Prince William. And I have a feeling
that a lot of what they say will be very important in this.
GORANI: All right. Well, actually, we have a little bit more time here. But I was -- I saw a tweet earlier this morning showing how differently these
tabloids cover Kate and Meghan. Specifically one where they're both cradling their pregnant tummies. And in one case they attacked Meghan for
doing what Kate was praised for.
GOLD: Yes. So you see this -- you see this in particular. So in the Daily Mail, for example, the front page is "Meghan Flees to Canada." And the
second page in is all about Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and how she has always done her work without the complaint.
It's very -- it's very clear -- I mean --
GORANI: Some people don't like it when we've been complained. And there you have it.
GOLD: It's very interesting to see the contrast.
GORANI: It certainly is. And even before this, there was a -- there was definitely a huge contrast.
Hadas Gold, thank you so much.
Thanks for watching. I'm Hala Gorani. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.