Word of progress in Vienna ahead of Tuesday’s target date for a nuclear deal with Iran.
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SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: We have a lot of work to do. We have some tough issues. But there’s a genuine effort by everybody to be serious about this and to understand the time constraints that we’re working under.
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BREAM: Secretary of State John Kerry striking a cautiously optimistic tone as he and world partners work toward the latest Iran nuclear deal deadline.
We’re back now with the panel. Juan, it seems that they are inching closer. We’re getting updates that seem that the talks are continuing, they are hammering out we understand at least some ideas about sanctions, which leaders there, Iranian leaders have said they all need to go or there is no deal.
WILLIAMS: I think it’s sanctions and inspections, that comes down to sort of the nitty-gritty, the final steps here. But it does appear that they are in intense, head-to-head conversations that would lead you to conclude that something is coming.
BREAM: We want to also play a little bit of what we’re hearing from Iran’s foreign minister. This is what he says about why world powers are now even at the table with Iran.
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MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Now they realize that the most indiscriminate and unjust economic sanctions against my country have achieved absolutely none of their declared objectives, but instead have harmed innocents and antagonized a peaceful and forgiving nation.
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BREAM: Jackie, obviously, officials on our side say it is the sanctions that got them to the table.
KUCINICH: Right, well, this is about letting everyone to save face so they can walk back to their respective countries and say, look, we got something that’s good. Iran gets to say, look, they lifted the sanctions right away. The West gets to say, look, we are going to lift sanctions, but these are under a certain number of conditions that they have to make, or this is not going happen. That’s what it’s about.
BREAM: Our most recent polling shows that plenty of Americans are skeptical about this. 63 percent of them say they think it’s unlikely that this deal, if one comes together, will actually stop Iran from getting a nuke within ten years. Perhaps sensing some of that skepticism, George, this is what Hillary Clinton had to say. She is talking tough on Iran this week.
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HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: They are taking more and more control of a number of nations in the region, and they pose an existential threat to Israel.
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BREAM: Is the former secretary of state trying to put some daylight between herself and the administration on this issue, do you think?
WILL: I think she is. She was there when we began to retreat on the subject of ballistic missiles, the right to enrich, what would happen to enriched uranium, where the inspections would be allowed to take place and on what notice. So she was there while we did a number of retreats, and she seems to be saying, enough retreating now. But so far as I can tell, Juan, I can’t think of a subject on which we haven’t retreated, and therefore one on which we will not continue to retreat.
WILLIAMS: I think the key here, George, is changing the way we think about the Middle East, because it hasn’t been working obviously to have Iran there as an irritant, backing Hezbollah, backing all sorts of terrorist groups, angry, threatening Israel. So the idea is to get them into some kind of international partnership. That may be a fool’s errand, I can see your eyes, but I think that you know what, it’s worth the try, because things are so bad in the Middle East.
HUME: Assuming they get a deal, along the terms that have been discussed, does anybody seriously think that an Iran, newly enriched compared to their current economic status, will not accelerate the very conduct that has made them a pariah in much of the world and made them the biggest source of trouble and terror in the Middle East?
WILLIAMS: (inaudible) the sanction threat continue to be real for them, Brit, they don’t want to go back.
HUME: Once you undo a sanctions regime, Juan, reimposing it is extremely difficult, and the Iranians know that. And that’s really what this is about. They want to get the sanctions lifted. And they want a deal that will not ultimately prevent them from having a nuclear weapon, and they want to get back to business as usual, with more money, and that seems to be the direction in which we’re heading. And the administration’s conduct throughout this whole process has suggested that contrary to what the president and others say, we will not walk away from almost any kind of a deal.
WILLIAMS: I think they would be damaged in the international community if they did this, and they would be damaged with Israel and lose any leverage they have with the rest of the Arab world.
HUME: One thing to watch is, you heard what Hillary Clinton just said, that we played. Let’s see what happens when there’s a deal, see if she criticizes that.
BREAM: Well, if (inaudible) gets this done, they will count it as a feather in their cap, because that’s been something they have been working for, for years. Something else that happened this week, Cuba, the president talking about reinstituting ambassadorships, diplomatic relations with that country. There are some mixed feelings about that. Here’s a bit from both sides.
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OBAMA: I believe that American engagement, through our embassy, our businesses, and most of all through our people, is the best way to advance our interests and support for democracy and human rights.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, R-FLA.: He says it’s a new chapter. It’s a one-way chapter of the United States changing our policy, but what will that produce for the U.S. and what will that produce for the Cuban people? Nada.
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BREAM: Jackie, one of the other reactions we saw was GOP contender, Senator Marco Rubio, saying he’s going to block any ambassador to Cuba until serious human rights violations by his definition are addressed. So who wins here? Does this give a topic to the GOP?
KUCINICH: Particularly because Hillary Clinton also has backed lifting the embargo since she was secretary of state. This is one of the policies that she’s not going to run from President Obama on. Something she pushed. She’ll have to own this. I would expect to hear this throughout this cycle from the GOP and from Hillary Clinton.
BREAM: Does anybody think that it plays well for the president as a legacy measure? Is that something he’s looking for at this point? We’re talking about rolling back of decades of U.S. policy.
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I’m not a big supporter of rewarding the Castro brothers in any way, but you’re right, it’s a legacy issue, because it’s been 50 years, and again, there’s an opportunity here. And boy, what a rush of American business and American intellectuals and American cultural institutions to Cuba.
BREAM: Who thinks that transparency is going to happen?
HUME: Transparency is going to happen?
BREAM: That exchange of ideas and —
HUME: There will be an exchange of ideas, but the main elements that have isolated Cuba are still in place. The trade embargo requires congressional action, which is not going to be forthcoming. So that continues. So what we’ll have is we’ll have an embassy, sort of a diplomatic presence there. They will have one here. Travel restrictions will be eased, so people can go back and forth. But an awful lot of what hemmed Cuba in remains in place and is likely to for some time, and I think that is a good thing, because it will give the next president, who presumably will be a serious person, some further leverage to try to get something done about the conditions inside Cuba.
BREAM: All right. Today we’re also watching this vote play out in Greece. The financial economic future of the country there. They are voting on a referendum that a lot of people say may not even be still on the table, because the deal they were offered expired earlier this week when they didn’t make the debt payment. George, how significant is this vote not only there in Greece and in Europe, but ripple effect to here as well?
WILL: Well, I think the markets probably already discounted Greece, which has an economy the size of South Carolina. It won’t disrupt the global economy.
Greece lied to get into the euro. It has lied about its negotiating tactics ever since. Its drill has been extend and pretend. Extend the negotiations forever, and pretend that the creditors will be paid some day, which of course they’re not going to.
The Greeks have worked out a division of labor. They shall live far above what the productivity of their economy justifies, and the German taxpayers will pay the difference. The Germans are tired of this and it is going to come to an end.
BREAM: Well, we see in the latest polling, which cut off 24 hours before the vote, but it looked pretty even, Jackie, going into this.
KUCINICH: It sure does. It’s just a matter of time. We’ll see what happens. We’ll have to wait and see a little later today.
BREAM: How do we think Germany reacts?
HUME: I think they are seized with this quaint notion that if you borrow money, you’re supposed to pay it back. They’ll have to learn — they’ll have to get over that to deal with Greece.
BREAM: All right, thank you so much, panel. We’ll see you again next week. Up next, a final word.
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