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tv   U.S. Policy Toward Iran  CSPAN  July 16, 2018 12:09pm-1:08pm EDT

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young as 12 years old going door knocking, and how powerful is that when a 12-year-old says, excuse me, i can't vote, but you are voting for my future. so we found that young people have been incredibly instrumental, really, in moving their parents and that's another really important strategy as well as starting earlier with the pre-reg so people are ready when we get to 18 if we can't get 16 as the voting age. >> please join me in thanking our incredible panel. >> thank you. >> take a group shot?
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our live coverage continues now with u.s. policy on iran. we join it in progress. >> you know, finding the voice of the iranian people and sort of economic warfare against iran. these are old tropes that officials fall back on when they don't have a creative new strategy of their own. trump's, i think, opposition to iran and the iran deal doesn't come from a kind of rational assessment of u.s. interests and the threats to our security. i think he has an intense hatred of the jcpoa because it was a success of his predecessor. not because of the details.
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i'm sure until this day he's read it and can't explain to anyone in the room about what is actually in the deal. so it's a lot of incoherence. just think about how these policies towards iran blend with what u.s. interests might be. is it in our interest to destabilize one of the most important countries in the region? is it in our interest to foment internal unrest which is essentially the default policy of the administration? is it in the trump administration's interest to harshly reimpose sanctions on the iranian government while also at the same time claiming that their primary concern is the voice of the iranian people. sanctions are going to hurt the iranian people far more than they're going to hurt the regime itself. furthermore, trump officials and associates, as jamal said, are meeting with the mek and speaking on their behalf.
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this is an iranian exile group that has close to zero support among the iranian population. so this notion they're actually concerned about democracy in iran is bunk. it's silly, it's based on nothing except for a lack of policy at the top that has its origins in trump's oppositions to the jcpoa for political and not substantive reasons. >> to follow up on that, you've got the president on one hand who you say and others say is motivated politically to unravel this deal because of his predecessor and things like that. what about the rest of the administration? is there any coherent policy that is perhaps being put together outside the purview of trump, or is it just total incoherence? whoever wants to. >> just one point of incoherence before i hand it off. there is kind of almost a
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perfect laboratory test going on to see whether or not trump's opposition to the jcpoa is based on substance. he's gone to negotiate directly face to face with north korean leader kim jong-un, and he's praised himself for the success of those discussions. he says there is no longer a north korean threat. we're working on this. they've made certain commitments to denuclearize and so on. but, you know, the criticism of the jcpoa prior to this opening with north korea was that it only focused on nuclear weapons and not on human rights violations or not on the regime's regional policies. no part of the joint communique that i could discern focused on human rights abuses, which is on an order or magnitude worse than iran does. same goes for policy in its own region. there was no inundation planned for that kind of aspect, it's
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only focusing on nukes, which is what the jcpoa did which goes against their own rhetoric. >> first thanks to niac for allowing me to be here with you. i know there is another meeting in helsinki that might be of interest to you, but this is a critically important issue, so thank you all for coming. to get back to your question on strategy, i don't think that dls a strategy towards iran. at least not a coherent one. i agree a lot with what john has said. but one element i really want to dive more deeply into because i do think there is some coherence around this point, and that is the onus that the trump administration is putting on sanctions as the tool that they believe will ultimately get iran back to the negotiating table to achieve the sort of myth cal better deal that they've laid out as their objective. this is where i think some of the confusion and incoherence comes in.
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the trump administration is framing sanctions as a strategy and sanctions are not a strategy. sanctions are a tool that can be used as part of a broader strategy. so just to unpack the sanctions question a little bit more, i think it's important to look back on how the obama administration used sanctions in the lead-up of the negotiations to the jcpoa. despite what iranian officials say, i do think sanctions played a role in pushing iran to negotiate on its nuclear program, and they played a role because the united states put a great deal of effort into its sanctions diplomacy. meaning it got states like russia and china on board with enforcing these sanctions that were not necessarily in the economic interest of those countries. the obama administration, for instance, managed to persuade putin, you know, not to sell certain armaments that were not even covered by international security resolutions to iran leading up to the jcpoa. so just an example of the very careful diplomacy that went into
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crafting and building that sanctions coalition. now you fast-forward to 2018 and trump has essentially alienated key u.s. allies, he's alienated jcpoa partners and blatantly disregarded their security agreements by violating it and reimposing sanctions. so the idea that the trump administration is going to get this same international support to build any type of pressure regime, i think, is ludicrous. but you still see the administration continuing to talk about building the strongest sanctions regime in history, and that will eventually sort of pressure iran to bring them back to the table and get involved in this sort of better mythical deal. so it's not a strategy. what we have done is the reverse, and i think we have harmed the ability to use sanctions in the future. essentially what we've done by reimposing sanctions on europe now while they're still supporting the deal and trying
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to sustain it is invited them to take steps to circumvent to u.s. sanctions. what we have done is play into a deep-seated frustration in europe that u.s. sanctions violate sovereignty, and now that they've been imposed in an area where the eu expressly asked the united states to refrain from reimposing these sanctions and continue to implement the deal, i think further along, even when the u.s. does want to impose secondary sanctions that you might agree with, we could have trouble bringing along our european allies even when our goals are the same. so really all we've done is imperil the deal and shoot ourselves in the foot when it comes to using sanctions down the road. >> i want to get back to sanctions, but i want to ask you, reza. i think if we take it at face value what the administration has said, there has been this, we're going to bring them back to the table. i don't know how credible that
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is given, you know, how difficult it will be to reestablish those sanctions. what do you think, reza, as far as the administration strategy, whether it's the president's strategy or elements within the administration? what do they want from iran? what is the goal here? >> they want capitulation. plain and simple. they want capitulation and they want regime change. it's just regime change by different means than the bush administration. we should make no mistake about this, it's less than honest to assert anything other than they are trying to collapse the iranian economy. they're trying to overthrow the iranian government. they don't care about the iranian people because sanctions disproportionately punish iranians. it creates a whole black market
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thatiranians on the street and this administration, they don't view geopolitics. they don't view foreign policy the same as really any of its predecessors. it is the crudest, sharpest, bluntest example of american hygeminy. they view the world in black and white. they split it by good and evil. it is not an example of freedom of religion. if it was, we would not be fighting with saudi arabia right now. do you accept the fact that america and its closest partners in the region, israel, saudi arabia and the uae, are going to set up rules of the game for how security is going to work.
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if you accept those rules of the game, then we let you treat your people however you want. again, saudi arabia a prime example. but if you don't accept the rules of the game, then we do everything in our power to weaken, destabilize and overthrow. so is there a policy, is there a strategy? no. and you don't have to take my word for it. beyond regime change, no. career u.s. government officials tell me there is no policy coherence, there is no strategy. they're throwing jell-o at the wall to see what will stick. there are disagreements inside the administration about what the policy should be and how to go about it. so it's dangerous on all the levels that my esteemed colleagues to my right were outlining previously, and it's going to be incredibly difficult, incredibly difficult for any successor to the trump administration to put humpty-dumpty back together. i'm deeply skeptical as to whether or not they can. there will be tremendous damage
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inside iran and the region that results from this needless and unnecessary abandonment of diplomacy. we're back to this paradigm where instead of talking to eu, we're talking about eu. and that paradigm produced no positive results, whether republicans or democrats, because they're both guilty of this in the past. that paradigm brought no interests whatsoever. >> the thing that reza started out with is exactly right. what the trump administration is after is capitulation. the fact the iranians know this is the core reason why none of this is going to lead to some kind of deal. nobody wants to engage in negotiations if they'ir understanding of success is going to be full surrender on my side. diplomacy is about mutually agreed-upon concessions and compromise to reach some better end at the whole.
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you're not going to get that with the policy of capitulation. part of what's wrong here is that trump sees the world -- he's a machine for confirmation bias. so when north korea came to the white house and said -- or sent through their s through their subkorean counterparts, we want to meet face to face. talking to twitter scared them so much they were willing to come to us and capitulate. now they're buddies. there was so much other that brought north koreans to the table, mostly that they completed to their satisfaction a viably nuclear current and they could sit across the table with us. but the fact it rathe iranians we're out for capitulation on
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their side, that will not make for diplomacy. and with the comments lately about yemen, they're actually claiming what no human who looks at the issue thinks, which is the humanitarian catastrophe in yemen is iran's fault. they are shooting missiles over into saudi arabia, so pompeo, for example, is condemning iran for what's going on in yemen. it's ridiculous. it's delusional. the people of yemen are suffering because saudi arabia has been relentlessly bombing an impoverished and largely defensive country for years with iran's help. it leads to starvation. this is our fault and the gulf arab state's fault and iran is a bit player in yemen at best. so this kind of absurd politicking and throwing crazy
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allegations around is not going to lead to some kind of jcpoa 2.0 or some future diplomacy down the line. that just signals to iran that trump isn't interested in the negotiations. >> so for the u.s.' options here, i think there is a question is an effective sanctions regime necessary for the united states to pursue whatever this goal actually is? so what is the mood among european officials as well as -- i mean, we could broaden it and say china and russia, but to start with, among european officials, what is the mood, what is the reaction? i know it was just reported that blocking mechanisms were approved to attempt to protect european companies from u.s. sanctions snapping back. what is the mood? how effective will europe be in pushing back against this? how effective is the united states going to be in actually
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ramming these through, and then how is that going to be felt in iran? i want to hear from kelsey and then reza on the impact inside of iran. >> i think the policy community here in washington has to be very careful not to underestimate just how upset the europeans, particularly the british, the french and the germans are over the u.s. move to reimpose sanctions. and one thing that i think became abundantly clear in the manner in which trump pulled out of the deal on may 8th by reimposing all sanctions when there was no legitimate reason for him to reimpose sanctions and express defiance of our partner's security interests was that it did, i think, incentivize and build momentum in europe to take steps that were not really on the table for europeans prior to trump's actions. that includes steps like this blocking regulation that jamal just mentioned that the foreign
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affairs council endorsed today. this is a very important step, because essentially what it does is within the european union's regulations, it forbids companies from cooperating are u.s. secondary sanctions. so it essentially provides a more secure channel for them to continue to do business with iran. the europeans have also taken steps to try and change the mandate of the european investment bank. so that could facilitate some loan activity to facilitate transactions. now, the question, though, the europeans have taken these steps and i think it sends a very important political message to iran that europe is willing to do this, but will it be enough? because if you look at how the united states has pursued sanctions against iran in the past, it has been very heavy on the penalization phase. the united states has had very high construction costs for
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sanctions on iran, and that has cultivated a fear and threat that when companies are weighing kind of their cost benefit analysis of doing business with iran, even if they can competitively do so, companies may steer away from those business opportunities because they're concerned about the emphasis that the u.s. has put on compliance and those questions of reputational concern. so even though the europeans are taking these steps, i don't think it's sufficient at this time to actually provide iran with access to some of the relief envisioned under the deal in order to kind of sustain the agreement in the long term. so i think the europeans are going to need to be more creative as well as the russians and the chinese to find similar secure banking channels so that transactions can be facilitated in a way that does not touch the u.s. financial system because that's a real target for u.s. sanctions. so the businesses that are willing to go into iran can
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continue to do so. >> i couldn't have said it better. kelsey did a really good job of outlining a variety of important issues here. i don't wa i want to build off of that because -- i spent almost two months in europe, and to say that they are livid would be an understatement. to say that they are bewilderred would be an understatement. to say this is in any way, shape or form good for americans to trash and irreparably damage trans-atlantic operations that were constructed in world war ii, to say that is anything less than a calamity would be foolish. the europeans are actively discussing things they never thought they would have to consider. and once you construct something, once you build political and economic infrastructure outside of america's domain, outside of
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what america has built, controlled and enforced for the past 70 years, you have zero incentive to destroy it, to deconstruct it when trump's successor comes along. so this is not a situation, ladies and gentlemen, where, ah, things are just going to go back to normal when trump's successor comes. no, it's not. and the scary thing is, the europeans don't know how to do this because since the end of world war ii, no political official in europe -- mind you, political official, i'm not saying diplomat or bureaucrat -- had to figure out what it's like to achieve european interests outside the cko construct of american hygemity. they're figuring it out as they go. and the response from the treasury, the white house, the state department -- you don't have to take my word for it,
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google it -- is we're going to punish you. how dare you try to do business that is legitimate with iran? how dare you try to keep this nuclear deal alive? yes, we will punish your companies, yes, we will punish your governments. we are actively destabilizing european governments right now. actively destabilizing european governments and koezing icozyin the leaderships, particularly the hungarian leadership. if people sit there and tell you with a straight face that we're on the same page with the europeans and all is well, it couldn't be further from the truth. this is a disaster, an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions, okay? let's be crystal clear about that. now, in terms of what's going on inside iran, it's not good. the economic situation in iran wasn't good prior to the trump administration withdrawing from the jcpoa. and a repositioning of sanctions, even if the russians, the chinese, europeans,
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japanese, koreans, et cetera, even if they find ways to create work around that don't presently exist, the economic situation is going to continue to be bad. but the question is, what's the goal? what's the metric for policy success that the united states has together with the israelis, the saudis and the arabs? trump doesn't have magic powers that all of his predecessors didn't have in the pursuit of regime change in iran, which literally all of his predecessors dating back to 1979 tried in some iteration, okay? can they collapse the iranian economy? is it in china's interest? is it in russia's interest? is it in the european interest for the iranian economy to collapse? i would argue no. i think most people would argue no. so you have the situation in iran right now where mike pompeo will come out or trump will come out or bolton will come out and they'll say the people are sick
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of the regime, okay? this is something that has been said every year since 1979. i'd like to think that the iranian people are smart enough to think two things simultaneously, meaning, yes, our political, economic and social aspirations have been long unmet by our government. however, when we look at all of the countries that surround us, at least we're not that. at least we're not iraq. at least we're not syria. at least we're not afghanistan. at least we are not these countries that the united states has dreirectly or indirectly helped destroy the political, economic and social fabric of these countries. they just did a poll -- who was it, the arab center, washington, d.c. -- just did a poll where they went and polled the broader arab world about unpopular governments. guess who was number one? us. iran was number four. that's not a good place to be, but us, we were number one.
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lots of times we say, well, the iranian people are the most pro-american country in the united states. i would say they are the least anti-american. you should want your government to fulfill your actions while simultaneously not appreciating the united states of america trying to strangle you economically. so value your currency and destroy the fabric of political economic and social inside the country. the iranians are capable of taking both sides. >> what do we anticipate the iranian response if the sanctions go on in august, if europe and other countries continue to pull out whether it's on the nuclear front or other fronts? what do we expect iran to do, because so far iran has remained within the jcpoa. what are we expecting as their recourse? >> so what we've seen iran do
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over the past few months in response to both trump's very provocative statements about pulling out of the deal and his decision to pull out of the deal is to announce additional steps on the nuclear program that do not violate the jcpoa. but i think given indication of how iran could advance its nuclear program if it no longer felt constrained by the deal. some of these we saw early on, iran expressing an interest in naval nuclear propulsion. iran can do some preliminary research on that. that's not a violation of the deal. we saw iran decide to announce that it was going to construct a new sub terunofuji facility. as long as iran is not building the sub terunofuterfuges, this violation of the deal. there have been a number of announcements in iran and the
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government on what iran will do if they do not come through, if they're not satisfied with the european package. that includes steps such as returning to higher level enr h enrichme enrichment. under the deal, iran is set to a lower level of enrichment, 4.6%. they talked about bringing more advanced subterfuges back on line to enrich uranium. that would be a concern. i think if iran does decide to pull out of the deal in response to u.s. violation, i don't think we're going to see any quick dash to a nuclear weapon. i think what we might see is iran kind of start to kind of move against some of the edges of the agreement. we might see them, you know, disagreeing with certain interpretations, perhaps producing a little bit more heavy water than they should and
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then maybe taking steps toward ramping up its enrichment program again. i just want to underscore what a difficult position the international community would be in if iran starts to take some of these steps on enrichment. you need to remember we need to negotiate this deal to begin with because iran had violated its mtp commitments and there was concern about the intent and motivation behind the iran nuclear program. the deal blocked iran's pathways to nuclear weapons. but if we get back to that kind of gray zone where there are questions about iran's nuclear intentions and we have no established international c consensus on how to do it or respond to that, iran has alienated key allies. we would be in a very damaging place in a nonproliferation place. when you have doubt about iran's nuclear intentions hanging over
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the relationships in the region and just the broader nonproliferation agreement at large. >> any other -- anything else that you would expect? john, you? >> well, i'm -- that's the most plausible scenario. i think iran, under the worst circumstances, if they really feel the pressure, they'll push up against some of the edges of the jcpoa without making a mad dash for the bomb. i don't think they would do that in their interests, but let's back away and simplify this for a moment. trump unilaterally withdrew from a successful and incredibly robust nonproliferation agreement with iran. if we expect the result to be something other than iran ramping up its proliferation capacity, we would be very dumb. it's a successful deal. iran was in full compliance
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according to the joint commission, the rest of the p5 plus 1, according to u.s. intelligence, according to u.s. military in this country, the u.s. cabinet. this is why it took trump a long time to back out of this deal. he had to fire higher officials in order to get sommer of minimum consensus within his own cabinet. the expert committee, most of the international committee all felt we shouldn't be complying. so if we're complying with a deal that rolled back their nuclear program, we should not expect continued compliance into the indefinite future. there is -- i think right now iran and the p-5 plus 1 are waiting to see what happens, see if iran makes any big moves. but unless something changes, unless a new route is taken or unless in two and a half years
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we have new leadership, you're going to continue to see a proliferation risk in iran because of what we did. >> let's open this up to questions. i want to start with congressional staff. we have microphones going around. can you raise your hand and give us your name and your affiliation? any questions? >> can i make a point while we're waiting for questions, because i think this is a particular critical point to hear while we're talking about sanctions. this often has gone overlooked, but given the purpose the jcpoa was blocking weapons, reimposing sanctioning weapons, we are putting ourselves in a position of the chinese and russian firms that are doing some of the modifications that would prevent iran from being able to produce weapons material down the road. i just want to throw that out there, because if we sanction
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the company that's modifying the iraq reactor, the chinese company that's doing those modifications and they are unable to complete that conversion, the unfinished reactor poses far more of a proliferation threat. so just thinking about how sanctions are applied, this isn't just about economic pain, there are actually nonproliferation consequences for how these measures are reimposed. >> and this is an open question now as to -- >> as to whether or not the u.s. will actually sanction these entities. i think it's critical that at least we try and waive sanctions here so these nonproliferation contracts can go forward. >> hi. i am an intern in the office of mclean custer from new hampshire. this is a question for all three of you, i suppose. assuming that the administration were to right now drop its current policies and listen to your advice, what would be the
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optimal strategy from this day going forward on how to deal with the proliferation, economic, social, political situation in iran, and how do you think the administration's policy in reality will differ from what you see as the most optimal plan? >> can we put the trump toothpaste back in the tube? that's a great question from the great state of new hampshire. there are a couple things here. let me try to unpack it for you as best i can, okay? this is not just a trump administration problem. this is a republican party, foreign policy establishment problem. this line of thinking, the way the trump administration sees the world really isn't that different than what the bush guys were doing. so this is a republican party thing like the colin powell old school realist republican.
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they're dead, man. they are a deep and significant minority in the republican reform policy establishment. so the policy that we see now probably wouldn't be that different if donald trump was never born and it was some different republican president. yes, there is a personal disdain for anything that resembles barack obama, his name, never mind his achievements. and yes, there is this affinity for the israelis and saudis that borders on uncomfortable, frankly. i don't think it's good to outsource our security and become a mercenary for our client states in the region. for all intents and purposes, you can do what the obama administration did, you can go down that path of dialogue and diplomacy on points of contention, and then if the dialogue and diplomacy doesn't bear fruit, you can use other tools in the foreign policy and national security tool kit of the most powerful country in the
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world. or up front, you can disregard, throw out the window critical components, critical tools in our national security tool kit and only emphasize one, which is the military aspect. the rest, warfare, all of these other things just kick the can down the road and delays the inevitable choice between war and diplomacy. the dirty little secret that most folks in this town don't tell you, sir, is that everything that happens before diplomacy, including war, is for leverage to try to stack up as many bargaining chips as possible for the inevitable day you have to sit down and negotiate. >> so i have such a dramatically different preference in terms of u.s. foreign policy toward the middle east that if i were to utter it in front of a trump administration official willing to hear me out, it would surely fall on deaf ears. we are way overextended in the middle east as a whole.
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we have somewhere between 30 and 40,000, maybe approaching 50,000 troops there on the ground at all times. it's hard to calculate because some of them are in constant rotation. we have bases, overseas military bases peppered throughout the region. we constantly patrol the persian gulf streets of navy warships. trump has doubled down on our alliances which is saying we're just subordinating our own set of interests to their perceived interests in the region. we need to stop meddling, stop pretending like we can pull the strings of this entire region and yield outcomes that are actually preferable. tomorrow if i had my say, we would come back into compliance with the jcpoa, work on lifting sanctions in an effective way, make sure iran sees the economic benefits from the sanctions they made and agree to long-term limitations, and we should step back in general and let the
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countries of the region take care of themselves as opposed to us being constantly involved in a way that's simply a recipe for endless low-level violence in yemen and syria and iraq and a lost quagmire in afghanistan. i could go on and on and on. >> if the trump administration said tomorrow they would get back in compliance with the iran deal, who would believe them? given the statements trump has made against the deal, given his animosity toward the country, toward the government, and given his long history of broken promises in the foreign policy space, i just don't think you would have -- you would have business entities that would be willing to trust the trump administration was actually going to stay the course. because again, this agreement comes back to the fact that it was a transactional deal. it exchanged -- increased monitoring, strong prolific
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standards, limits on material production in exchange for sanctions relief. if iran is not feeling the sanctions relief because the countries don't trust that the u.s. would actually keep the sanctions relief in place, you're not going to be able to sustain that. even before trump's announcement that he was going to violate the deal and reimpose sanctions, you already had countries hesitant to go in, you had countries cutting back their oil supplies. and before even seeing what the eu package was, you had countries winding down contracts in iran. i've never tried to put toothpaste back in a tube, but i don't think it's possible in this case. >> i'm an intern for congressman frank pallone representing new jersey. i know that you, mr. marashi, slightly touched upon saudi arabia, but just to, you know, make sure what your thoughts are
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on the matter of this, how effective do you think the united states relationship with saudi arabia plays into the whole sanction plays against iran? i know there are specific things that president trump is doing that the previous administrations may not have been doing, but i feel like a lot of things from the travel ban focused on iran and syria, to the united states having previously a much harsher approach towards iran but not necessarily saudi arabia who has violated a lot of human rights abuses. i just want to hear, do you think that the united states, you know, the current administration puts pressure on iran but turns the other eye to saudi arabia and is currently making all these moves simply to do a better relationship with saudi arabia? or, you know, allow doing it with saudi arabia. thank you. >> it's a good question. let me be very clear. it's actually in america's
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interest to have a functional working relationship with saudi arabia. but what the trump administration is doing goes far beyond that. and frankly, what all of the predecessors to the trump administration have done has gone far beyond a functional working relationship with saudi arabia, okay? saudi arabia is one of the most powerful countries in the middle east, thus it makes sense for the united states to have a functional working relationship. but guess what the other regional powers, iran, this is why every other global power tries to have a functional working relationship with both, because if you have options that gives you greater leverage. the united states sees all of its leverage and as a result has no options except to become overly reliant on a set of countries that repeatedly take steps that damage american security interests. it just doesn't make sense. nobody can look you in the eye and tell you any different. and now we've reached an absurd level in u.s.-saudi relations
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where they essentially become a mercenary for saudi arabia. they're telling us what to do instead of the other way around. who is the superpower here? it doesn't make sense. you can be critical of saudi arabia, and you should for a variety of reasons, while still wanting to have a functional working relationship with them. okay? now, what should that look like going forward? i think that having a political, economic and security dialogue with the saudis is important, but there has to be a cost imposed when the saudis, the israelis, the emeratis take any unusual steps that damage security. i am aware of no such steps. we are rewarding bad behavior and we are conditioning countries like saudi arabia, israel and, euae to believe this kind of behavior brings results.
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>> partial president of noac. thank you for a very direct and frank communication. i have a question of what will happen fail to keep the deal in place, and both from the nonproliferation perspective and the geopolitical perspective and the adviser to the putin said to put money into the deal, and what happens if we do not, and we fail. and instead, china and russia do. under those circumstances, iran is goi is going to move deeper into the sphere of influence in russia and china, and the question is, what will that do geopolitically in the region and what is that going to do to any effort to put nonproliferation back on the agenda, because the chinese and the russians were never as gung ho as about or as concerned about the iran nuclear program
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as the europeans and the americans were, and why would the iranians need to the scale back the nuclear program if the russians and the chinese don't care about it that much. how do you see the prospects of that scenario? >> all right. i'll start. it is a good question. i think that the scenario that we could very likely see in part because if you are looking at can china. china is one of the few countries that actually has the banking sector and the finances to facilitate transactions and to fund investments in iran in a way that does not actually touch the u.s. dollar system. the way that the chinese financial sector has been set up is posing a huge proliferation pr problem writ large not just in iran, but also in north korea and other place, because of the way that the sek or the is in some ways insulated from the u.s. financial system and thus
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the insulated from penalties. so i think that there is a r very real concern give n the chinese and russian investment in iran that we could end up in that scenario where we have the iran more closely aligned with china and rush sharks and pointed out that neither of the countries are studying the same proliferation standards and the same standards for the nonproliferation that the u.s. has. so essentially the u.s. is ceding the leadership on a security critical issue, nuclear nonproliferation to the chinese and the russian, and i wanted to complicate it a little bit by adding into it the fact that the united states is now negotiating a nuclear cooperation agreement with saudi arabia, and i bring it up particularly, because congress has the prerogative to review these agreements, and i think that it is something that congress needs to pay attention to, because if you are looking at saudi arabia, you know, saudi arabia has the barest minimum of the safeguards in place with the
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international atottic int international agency and they do not abide by the intrusive measures known as the protocol which iran is putting in the protocol, and saudi arabia is trying to allow enriching and processing sort of in the country, so we could end up in a scenario where we have iran sort of pushed into the arms of russia and china. and, you know, we have enabled saudi arabia to try to match their nuclear late tent capabil by enriching this program and while we won't see a sprint to the bomb by either country, the enrichment of the capabilities in the middle east can be deeply stabilizing, both, because it could spur come petition, and i is raising the risk of proliferation to other country, and just the question that we might see states trying to grow up and match those capabilities. so, again, i think that for the
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members, or for the congressional staffers here closely watching that agreement and trying to ensure that it does not allow saudi arabia enrichment and reprocessing and ensuring that the nonproliferation standards are high, and that is going to be something critical for stemming any further proliferation concerns in the region. >> i would word it slightly differently and i agree with the substance, but kelsey said something about if iran were to tilt towards russia and china because of the u.s., and if the treatise scenario pulls out because of the ob city nance -- abstinence in the region, and because leadership has been one of the fundamental problems or pretentiousness to leadership is one of the problems. but the united states is incredibly safe despite the threat inflation that sort of occupies this city to such an extent. one of the things that we have
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trouble doing is ceding ground, and something called prospect theory, and something that says that giving up what you have hurts much more than the prospect of future gains. we have under the conditions of the unipolarity where we are the only big name in town, and the world so hedged on and we have overinvested in the region whose strategic importance has been exaggerated for decades. if sit is the case that the til toward s and by iran towards china, it is going to createt a region which is prock proxy for war, and fueling the efforts and energy on the u.s. side to mach sure that whatever gains or the perceived gains on the russia and the china side in the region are pushed back against. that is a recipe for a decades' long cold war with the russia and china and with the middle east, one of the most unstable regions in the world.
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the kind of the arena for that. and so we don't want to be pulled into that mess. it is far better, especially on the matters that are not as important as our core security to just cooperate with russia and china and iran and the europeans around and the threats in the region are vastly minuscule compared to what they are talked about, and we should take a arm's length approach to the are region, and e emphasize the value of diplomacy and de-emphasize the military commitment to the region. >> can i respond to one thing, and certainly, i will not take john on in the u.s. leadership in the region and i will pull back and say that my specific point is about the u.s. nonproliferation region. and in the broader sort of the nuclear policy regime. >> and where is the u.s. nonproliferation leadership vis-a-vis israel and indian? >> well, i would argue that the u.s. view toward israel is a
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mistake and it is a -- >> and you have been critical on this point. >> yes, with israel and iran, yes, i agree, but in trying to set the stronger nonproliferation standards and guidelines, here the u.s. has played a much more critical role than the countries like russia and china and when we have superbed for not only the more important protocol, but pushed for the intrusive and state-level concept and looking beyond the nonproliferation, and looking at the nuclear safety, and we have in the are region, many civil and power programs, and iran, because of this, the situation around the deal is going to be looking to russia and china to expand its nuclear power reactors, and can do we trust russian and chinese leadership, and the nuclear safety and nuclear safety? i don't.
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and china has made some steps, and taken important steps, but they lag far behind the united states, and the other european countries in terms of the standards and actually in getting iran into the place where it could be to better abide by guidelines and treaties on the nuclear security. that is something that the nuclear deal could have facilitated and should have facilitated if we had actually implemented it. so, you know, here i would say that, you know, in negotiating the nuclear deal with iran in trying to ensure that, that the sort of the future of the iran civil nuclear program, and not strong guidelines the united states played a important role in the deal, and the loss of the u.s. leadership could be a deficit go g fing forward. >> and so we need to wrap up, so i want to ask one last question. i will start with reza, and hear
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from all of the panels, what is a viable best case scenario for the rest of 2018 and what is the worst case scenario. >> the best case scenario is that we make it through 2018 without starting a war and with the jcpoa kept alive to some functional degree by the europeans and the russians and the chinese and together with india and japan and south korea and other countries that are not p party of the agreement but very much see it in their interests for the nuclear deal to remain alive is the best case scenario. the worst case scenario is that the europeans are unable or unwilling to step up to the plate and keep this deal alive. it dies a slow death. iran takes, and by the way i agree with the approach that you outlined with regard to the nuclear program, and the trump administration will try to frame it as iran dashing towards the bomb even though it is factually inaccurate, but the factually inaccurate statements are nothing new no the
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administration, and this we will see a push for war. i think that we are already seeing a push for war, folks. i think that we already are and we should be crystal clear about it. again, if you are not on the diplomatic track, you are on the only other track that will there is confrontation. and these guys feelle like the second term bush administration, and the obama administration ruined what they were doing in the region. ruined their good efforts in iraq, and ruined their good efforts in afghanistan, and they saw iran as the big prize and they are going for it. we should be crystal clear about that. and this is extremely, extremely dangerous time, and extremely dangerous group of people, and really no idea of what they are doing. >> while i agree with reza, that the worst case is coming in and convincing bolton that the tracer policy has not work and the war is the only outcome left
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available to make sure that iran cannot pursue nuclear weapons, and of course sh, we know that there is no military solution, but that is the worst case scenario that is not unrealistic. in terms of kind of the best case scenario, i think that a lot of the what iran may decide to do and how this is going to play out going to be coming down to oil sales. looking at where iran's economic sectors have rebounded since the jcoa have been implemented a lot of it is coming down the dramatically ramp up the oil sales. if it is possible for iran to continue to sell oil to the europeans, to the chinese, and to india, and you know, possibly to south korea and japan on smaller level, i think that is going to provide enough economic incentive for the agreement to kind of limp through. and for, you know, iran to at least claim enough benefit that it is staying within the boundaries of the deal. we will still see some actions in the nuclear space, that don't violate the deal.
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maybe we will see a lot of the new additional centrifuge production facilities create and more nuclear being create and this is the best viable scenario. >> just quickly, because i cannot help myself. u.s. leadership on the nonproliferation issue also was with iraq, and that massively incentivized the rogue actors the to gain weapons, and iran's leadership on libya and taking out the gadhafi regime after they had given up the massive program massively deincentivized companies and that is a major reason that north korea decided to get nuclear weapons to protect themselves. abandoned by the u.s. is the best scenario. no, really, it is the europe
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getting the gump shtion to set regulatory angles and it is not just europe that trump is trying to wrangle here, because 30% of the imports from iran for europe, and other countries, and if the they decide it is better to pursue our own economic and security interests separate from the united states which is acting irrationally, and therefore sustaining at least some salvageable core components of the scjoa, and of course war which is possible. >> thank you, guys. thank you all. please join me in giving a round of applause for our panelists. thank you to the sponsors and all of you for coming. hope you join us next time.
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earlier today, president trump met with russian president vladimir putin in helsinki, f finland, the last of the week-long european trip. you can see the events tonight at c-span and also on or the free c-span radio app. tomorrow, federal reserve chair jerome powell is going to testify before the senate banking committee about monetary policy and the economy. it starts at 10:00 on c-span3 or or listen free with c-span radio app. >> wednesday, federal chair jerome powell is also going to be on capitol hill testifying before the financial services committee about monetary policy and the economy. that is 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span and li
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free with the c-span radio app. and coming up thursday, the senate banking committee is going to hold a confirmation hearinging for the nominees to lead the consumer national bureau and the export/import bank. live coverage at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span3 and also online at and the free c-span radio app. the con gregressional inter caucus held a caucus on the recent supreme court ruling that states can collect sales tax on retailers who don't have a presence in that state. brick and mortar businesses talked about the next steps that congress would take in response to the court's decision.


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