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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Are you saying that President Rouhani in this heightened atmosphere of tension would still be willing here at the General Assembly
to meet with President Trump?
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Provided that President Trump is ready to do what is necessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: As world leaders gather at the United Nations, will President Trump offer diplomacy or warfare with Iran? I speak with that country’s
foreign minister, Javad Zarif, with a response from Brian Hook, the State Department’s Special Iran representative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAOMI KLEIN, AUTHOR, “ON FIRE: THE (BURNING) CASE FOR A GREEN NEW DEAL”: We’re not talking of preventing a climate crisis, we are in the climate
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: As a Climate Action Summit kicks off the annual U.N. meeting, author and climate activist, Naomi Klein, makes the case for the green new
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in New York.
Today, the world is meant to focus on the global climate crisis as the United Nations convenes a climate action summit in New York. It is the
most significant such meeting since the Paris Climate Summit back in 2015.
And while the White House previously announced that President Trump would not attend, he did actually pop in to hear remarks from Indian prime
minister, Narendra Modi, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Though the climate crisis may not be President Trump’s first priority at the U.N., responding to the attack on Saudi oil facilities this month is
right at the top of the list. The Trump administration though is sending mixed messages on how it plans to hold Iran accountable.
In one interview this weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the United States will respond “in a way that reflects the act of war.”
But another said that the Trump administration’s mission set is to avoid war. So, how are these confusing messages playing in Iran? And has Iran
now alienated even its allies who are trying to broke resolution to the crippling U.S. policy of maximum pressure?
The issue will be front and center here at the U.N. this week with a very distant chance of a diplomatic breakthrough. I spoke with Iran’s foreign
minister, Javad Zarif.
Foreign minister, welcome to the program.
ZARIF: Good to be with you again.
AMANPOUR: You have said there’s a possibility of all-out war. Can you expand on that?
ZARIF: Well, I said, if there is an attack on Iran, there will be an all- out war. But all I am trying as diplomat and I think every other diplomat including my American counterpart should be trying the same as to avoid
war. This is our job.
AMANPOUR: And do you think war is in the air? Do you smell war or do you smell a retreat from a military offensive?
ZARIF: Well, I do not like to call it a retreat. I want to call it prudence and I hope that prudence will prevail. Accusations will not be
conducive to a solution in our region. There is a war going on for four and a half years in Yemen.
AMANPOUR: But the UAE is actually pulling back.
ZARIF: The UAE is sort of hedging. But they are moving in the right direction. We hope that Saudis will also understand. Nobody wants a
humiliating situation for anybody because that is not sustainable. We want a situation where everybody feels that they have won.
AMANPOUR: Now, I know, because you’ve been doing a lot of interviews, that you deny point-blank that Iran was responsible either for the tankers in
June/July or for the Saudi oil fields. Are you just going to say it again that you didn’t do it despite the evidence?
ZARIF: There is no evidence. And it would be a miracle to produce evidence because it didn’t take place. Had we been behind this, it would
have been disaster for Saudi Arabia, nothing they could have repaired. The reason I’m taking this to Yemen is because it is Yemen. It is the Yemeni
AMANPOUR: Do you think the Yemenis did it?
ZARIF: They said they did it.
AMANPOUR: They said they did it.
ZARIF: They said they did it.
AMANPOUR: But very few people believe it.
ZARIF: Well, because very few people are not prepared to say that the most sophisticated American weaponry has been defeated by the Yemenis.
AMANPOUR: You say you didn’t do it and you’re not going to sit here and make a mea culpa and confession to CNN or PBS, but I want do you react to
some of the statements coming from Iran. One of your top commanders in response to all of this has made threats to the United States and U.S.
bases within range. Why would they be making threats if they’re not engaged in this kind of offensive action or you might call it defensive?
ZARIF: Because the United States has threatened to use force against Iran. This is a practice of the United States to say all military options are on
the table. Secretary Pompeo was the first, which is absolutely incredible for a diplomat to make an accusation against Iran hours after
the incident in Saudi Arabia.
I’ve said it too. We’ve said it in a note to the United States that if the United States starts a war, it will not be the one ending it. But we won’t
start a war. I could promise you that our military will not start a war. But we are very clear that if we are attacked, we will defend ourselves and
there won’t be a limited war.
AMANPOUR: Another one of your commanders seems to be taunting the U.S. a little bit saying the U.S. has seen essentially nothing yet. We still have
so many cards on the table. Again, these statements seem to suggest that if it’s not your government, maybe the Revolutionary Guard or the more
hardliners are, in fact, you know, happy to take on the U.S., Saudi, other facilities, tankers.
ZARIF: That’s their job. If the country is attacked, then they have to defend the country. And the threat is coming from the United States, so we
have to respond to the threat.
AMANPOUR: I don’t know whether you read the Sunday “New York Times” but the —
ZARIF: Not yet.
AMANPOUR: — front page says, aborting an attack on Iran shocked aides Trump. So, this was the one after you shot down the drown.
AMANPOUR: And as you know, President Trump said, we are cocked and loaded, ready to go, and then he announced that they had pulled back. This,
apparently, according to the “New York Times” has shocked American aides, much less other people.
So, I want to know how you read that. How does Iran read President Trump’s red line and then failing to cross the red line, little Obama-esque?
ZARIF: I’m not comparing American presidents to each other but I believe that it’s none of any business. But what happened was that I think
President Trump had been misinformed that this drone was hit in international waters. We made it very clear to a note that we sent to the
United States through the Swiss that, first, the drone had been shot over our air space, over our territorial waters, and that we would respond to
And I think president, in spite of the advice that he might have received from a certain somebody that this would be a one-time operation found out
that this would be the beginning of something.
AMANPOUR: Is the certain somebody beginning with B? Is it a member of your famous B-team?
ZARIF: That seems to be the case.
AMANPOUR: So, now that that certain somebody, John Bolton, former national security adviser, is no longer there, do you feel that the B-team has been
defanged? Do you think that there’s a new opportunity for diplomacy?
ZARIF: Well, I always have to believe as a diplomat that there is a new opportunity for diplomacy.
AMANPOUR: You’ve been sanctioned yourself?
ZARIF: Well, that’s not important. I think what is important is to stop terrorizing the people of Iran through sanctions that are targeting the
people of Iran, the sanctions that are targeting food and medicine for the people of Iran.
So, if the United States were serious about this offers of diplomacy, they wouldn’t have taken the measure they took the day before yesterday, putting
our central bank under new sanctions. Because, as you know, our central bank has been under sanctions for over a year.
AMANPOUR: But the United States feels that it’s either sanctions or war.
ZARIF: Well, sanctions are war. Because in a war, usually military targets are chosen. In sanctions, civilians are the targets. So, it’s
war. It’s more than war.
But let me go and address the United States saying that they want negotiations. The re-designation of our central bank has made it almost
impossible for the United States to remove the central bank from this. That means that not only this president but even the next president are
boxed in this scenario of perpetual hostility against Iran.
So, what is there to negotiate about if this president is incapable of undoing something that he did the day before yesterday?
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, are you saying that there’s a plan afoot to close the doors to negotiation by the U.S. president?
ZARIF: I think it only reason they would re-designate our central bank is to make it impossible or very difficult for this president or his successor
to remove their name from the list. The ball is very high now. And I think those who propose this to President Trump wanted to close the door to
negotiations, not during his presidency but even after his presidency.
AMANPOUR: Some are saying that actually a hardline element, like the one you’re describing in the United States, in Iran also wants to see doors to
ZARIF: Yes, there maybe people. But the leadership in Iran is more prudent to fall in their trap.
AMANPOUR: So, let’s just sort of take that piece by piece. I just first want to ask you one thing about the president having said that they were
going to respond militarily and then calling it off at the last moment. In public, alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he floated this notion
back then that it wasn’t an order from the government, that this was a commander who shot down the drone. He was trying to say that this was a
stupid act. I’m not going to respond to it because I bet it wasn’t the government’s intention.
Was it the government’s intention to shoot down that drone?
ZARIF: The government does not take a decision on a case-by-case basis because you don’t have time to make a decision. You need to have a general
order to the military person sitting in front of a missile system or behind the missile system depending on how you want to shoot it, through the
computer or through the person to call somebody and then they call somebody.
AMANPOUR: But this is an American drone. This is in a maximum pressure. You think —
AMANPOUR: — a commander has its own authority?
ZARIF: A commander has its own authority to shoot down an invading vessel.
AMANPOUR: Even if it’s American?
ZARIF: Even if it’s American. Even if it’s American. Because anybody who violates our air space are subjected to being taken down. We send two or
three warnings to that vessel, to that drone, and once it didn’t heed the warnings, it was shot down.
AMANPOUR: Back to the Saudi oil fields. Are you surprised that such an important piece of infrastructure, such a massive piece of the global oil
economic puzzle seemed to have been left without any air defenses?
ZARIF: I’m not surprised because I do not believe that military capability alone can prevent disaster. That is what we’ve been trying to tell the
Saudis, that they cannot buy security by purchasing more and more weapons. It’s a much easier road if they simply start talking to their neighbors,
stop bombing the Yemenis out of existence. We believe we need to start working together for peace, for confidence building, for de-escalation, for
exchanges and even for a nonaggression pact.
AMANPOUR: Are you extending a new olive branch?
ZARIF: The olive branch has always been on the table, but we’re showing it again.
AMANPOUR: We also hear from your commanders, military commanders, that they’re shortly to begin naval exercises, joint exercises between Iran,
Russia and China in the North Arabian Sea, in that very critical area, very close to the Straits of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf.
ZARIF: Yes. It’s not a hostile act against any country.
AMANPOUR: It’s the first time.
ZARIF: It’s the first time that we are conducting a joint military exercise, but it is not like building a coalition for war. It simply
engaging in a friendly action with two of our closest partners.
AMANPOUR: And actually, additionally, it seems that you have prepared, according to what has been written in the “New Yorker” quoting you, that
are prepared to offer some more detail about the existing Iran nuclear deal. For instance, the Iranian parliament would enshrine the idea of the
supreme leader’s fatwa against nuclear weapons, enshrine it in law.
AMANPOUR: That you would agree to sign on to the additional protocol, which is most intrusive inspections several years earlier than stated. Is
that correct? Had you offered that?
ZARIF: Yes, we did offer that and that offer is still on the table, provided that the United States would also do what they’re supposed to do
in 2023 now, and that is to lift the sanctions though U.S. Congress. We are prepared, if President Trump is serious about permanent for permanent,
permanent peaceful nuclear program in Iran and permanent monitoring of Iranian nuclear facilities, as you said, through the most intrusive IAEA
inspection mechanism that exists, in return for what he has said he is prepared to do and that is to go to Congress and have this ratified, which
would mean Congress lifting the sanctions and —
AMANPOUR: Is there any chance that Presidents Rouhani and Trump could meet at this General Assembly? President Trump has been tweeting. He sent out
another tweet saying, I have no plans but, you know, nothing is ever off the table but maybe but maybe not. Are you saying that President Rouhani
in this heightened atmosphere of tension would still be willing here at the General Assembly to meet with President Trump?
ZARIF: Provided that President Trump is ready to do what is necessary.
AMANPOUR: Analysts say that what is going on now is Iran sending a message to the United States, take us seriously. I spoke to many analysts who
believed that under this policy of maximum pressure, Iran would keep moving, making it more painful, showing that they had the ability to affect
the global economy in order to be taken seriously. Are you being taken seriously, do you think?
ZARIF: We are a serious country. We’re an old country. And we will be taken seriously.
AMANPOUR: And some hardliners in Iran describe President Trump more as a paper tiger or in the words of one of your senior analysts there, he’s not
a lion, he’s a rabbit.
ZARIF: I wouldn’t describe a foreign leader as something like that.
AMANPOUR: And one final question, because it does go to the heart of maybe what is happening now. It seems from the outside that there’s yet another
realignment between so-called hardliners and moderates. Your government is a government known as a government of moderates who want to make deals that
go to the security and the economic health of your country.
Many people have been very upset about the self-immolation of the so-called blue lady, the young girl who went to a football match and then was
threatened with arrest and trial and conviction and sentencing. And she poured oil over herself, gasoline, and burnt herself to death. What can
you say about the internal dynamic inside Iran right now? What do you say about that girl’s death?
ZARIF: It was an agonizing disaster. And everybody, no matter their political persuasion is sorry about that. Everybody, including the court
people believe that it was a misunderstanding, that she was told or she understood something that was not the decision of the court, but there is
going to be an investigation by the head of the judiciary.
The president has ordered the minister of sports and youth to open football stadiums to ladies. Because ladies already participate in volleyball games
and as spectators. And today, in the capital derby, it was announced that next time ladies will be in.
AMANPOUR: Into soccer stadiums, for matches?
ZARIF: Into a soccer stadium.
AMANPOUR: That’s progress. Hopefully her life is not in vain. Foreign Minister, thank you very much.
ZARIF: Good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Now, so much at stake for Iran. But also, for Washington, much is at stake. Its hardline policy on Iran, its credibility as a defender of
its allies and interests in the Persian Gulf and President Trump’s instinctive reluctance to start another war in the Middle East.
I’ve been discussing all of that in an exclusive interview with Brian Hook, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran.
Brian Hook, welcome to the program.
BRIAN HOOK, U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAN: Thanks for having me on.
AMANPOUR: I think I’m probably not wrong in saying that the Iran, U.S., Saudi basic the Iran issue is going to be front and center at the U.N.
General Assembly or in meetings between world leaders this week. What do you expect to come out of these meetings? What is the U.S. end game for
this week, at least?
HOOK: We think it’s important that the international community defend international norms like protecting sovereignty and freedom of navigation.
We think that the world needs to diplomatically isolate Iran for violating Saudi sovereignty, for repeated attacks on freedom of navigation. There’s
an important role for the U.N. Security Council to play. There’s an important role for the European Union. I met this morning with European
Union diplomats and called on the E.U. to match our sanctions on Iran’s missile program so that we can help restore deterrents in the Middle East.
AMANPOUR: Are you also trying to take this moment to say to the Europeans, well, there you are. We told you so. Our policy of maximum pressure is
the correct one. You don’t like it. You blame us for this escalation by pulling out of the JCPOA, the nuclear deal. Are you saying now you’ve got
to come on to our side not just on missiles but on sanctions, as well?
HOOK: Well, you ask a very good question. One year ago, I was here in New York for the General Assembly. I met with European diplomats and I said
that we are accumulating risk of a regional war if we don’t get serious about deterring Iranian aggression, and I think the facts have born that
out. We have put in place a policy of economic pressure and diplomatic isolation because we have to deny revenue to the world’s leading sponsor of
There’s — this is a clear violation of so many of the international norms that countries around the world claim to defend. Iran crossed the line in
its attack on Saudi Arabia. There have been over 40 attacks since May alone on threatening freedom of navigation, terrorism, failed
attempts, maligned behavior. It’s important that the world hold Iran accountable.
AMANPOUR: So, Mr. Hook, can you tell us what exactly is the forensic proof and evidence you have. Because, obviously, you all believe Iran did it.
Iran denies it. But there surely has to be a bar, right, a level of proof before you engage at the very most in military intervention.
HOOK: Even John Kerry said that Iran was behind these attacks. The U.K. foreign minister said Iran is behind the attacks. Saudi Arabia has said
so, the United States.
AMANPOUR: But what’s the proof, Mr. Hook?
HOOK: Other countries will be joining us.
AMANPOUR: What is the proof?
HOOK: Well, the proof is —
AMANPOUR: Can we see the evidence?
HOOK: Well — yes, the evidence has already been released. These missiles came from the north. If you look at the satellite imagery of what we
released, it’s very clear that these drone attacks and the missile attacks came from the north.
The Houthis claim that they did the attack. It’s impossible for missiles to be launched from Yemen and to hit from the north. And Iraq has said —
the Iraqi government has said — made very clear that the attacks did not originate in Iraq.
The missiles that were used in the attack would not have sufficient range to hit Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia if they were launched from Yemen. And we
will be declassifying more intelligence. But anybody who has seen the intelligence reaches the very quick conclusion that Iran is behind the
AMANPOUR: Well, that’s what I was trying to get to you because you talk about satellites that have been released. As you very well know, those are
commercial satellites. Pretty available to those who are inclined to download those or look at them. As you know, much of this is in the
context of the fake evidence in the occasion of the war in Iraq.
So, are you saying that a military intervention in Iran, some kind of response, would rest on what’s already out there that you claim or further
HOOK: I think you’re getting well ahead of our process. What we’re trying to do is establish the facts. The United Nations team is in Saudi Arabia.
There are also some European teams in Saudi Arabia looking at the site, doing site exploitation. Looking at the missiles, looking at the drones.
And this is going to be released in due course.
But the missiles that were used and the drones aren’t even in the Houthi inventory. These are Iranian weapons. They were launched from the north
and they weren’t launched from Iraq. And so, even the satellite imagery that you speak of, if you look at the spheroids that were attacked on the
oil facility, all of the burn marks are from the north. So, we know the attacks came from the north and didn’t come from Iraq. This certainly
wasn’t an attack that was committed by anybody else except Iran.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let’s now talk about possible reaction or retaliation or defense of your allies in the Middle East. So, as you know, foreign
Minister Javad Zarif has given a number of interviews in which he has said any attack on Iran would be leading to all-out war. He also said to me and
you’ve seen the interview that the United States might start a war but it would not end a war. Give me your response to those statements from
foreign Minister Zarif.
HOOK: I think Iran has a demonstrated 40-year history of creating conflicts and then pretending to be the peacemaker. And that’s happening
here again. As I said earlier, there have been over 40 attacks reported by the media since May. We’re aware of another 40, including failed attempts.
So, Iran has been in a steady state of escalating tensions through military aggression. The United States has asked Iran to meet diplomacy with
diplomacy. They have met diplomacy with military force.
And Iran has rejected diplomacy too many times. We have made it clear over the last two and a half years that we want to resolve our issues with Iran
diplomatically. The Iranian regime has consistently said that they’re not interested in that. And so, they continue to conduct attacks around the
Middle East and in Europe. And it is important that we not let Iran get away with it again.
We do believe that they have crossed a line with the Saudi attacks and we need to defend the international principles of sovereignty and freedom of
navigation and a range of other challenges so that we can promote peace and stability in the Middle East.
AMANPOUR: OK. I just want to go through point by point then. Let us play this bit of a soundbite from President Trump. It was this weekend and this
was about the military option.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We are by far the strongest military in the world. Going into Iran would be a very easy decision, as I said, before,
it would be easy, the easiest thing. Most people thought I would go in within two seconds but plenty of time. Plenty of time. I think I’m
showing great restraint.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, there are a few things contained there, great restraint and very easy. I mean, I don’t think anybody really thinks it would be very
easy to start a war and the president seems reluctant. But I want you to address what I’ve been told by officials in the region, specifically, that
they are telling the United States very clearly that they don’t want the U.S. to start another war in the Middle East, both Saudi officials, and
they’re on record, and also UAE officials who are right there where they could receive response retaliation from Iran.
Are you saying that your allies in the region want you to defend them militarily or that there’s another way?
HOOK: I think the United States has had plenty of conflict in the Middle East. We are not looking for conflict or any military dimensions. In
early May, our intelligence community was receiving multiple threat streams that Iran was plotting imminent attacks against American interests in
multiple theaters. We enhanced our forced posture in the region and we have helped to deter and disrupt many of the attacks that we have feared
were going to be happening in May.
So, we have put in place a much stronger presence in the region to defend ourselves if Iran decides to make good on its threats to attack America or
its interests. I would take you back to the president’s first trip as president overseas to Saudi Arabia where there were over 55 Arab and Muslim
nations that gathered there. And the president said that it is important that we improve the competencies and capabilities of our regional partners
to be a counterweight to Iran.
Iran has been running an expansion as foreign policy for many decades. And over the last 10 years, they’ve made it a lot of gains to create this
Iranian crescent of power. And so, we are working very closely with the Saudis, the Emiratis, Bahrain, a number of Israel, a number of countries
who are on the front lines of Iranian aggression so that we can make them stronger and try to help restore deterrence in the Middle East.
AMANPOUR: Many people have pointed out that they were surprised that given the threat that you talk about and America’s promises that you talk about,
the Saudis were clearly, evidently, left without the kind of air defenses that they needed to deter that kind of attack that they received on their
So, they’re also concerned that President Trump did not cross that red line that he himself talked about in June during the tanker frigate attacks
where he said he called back a military intervention at the last minute. So, there seems to be some mixed messages all around.
And so, I want to ask you about diplomacy because a former commander in the region has said that there is a way back to peace and security and that is
by reentering the deal that’s currently on the table and that is the Iran nuclear agreement. Before I get your answer on that, I want to play this
bite from your boss over the weekend in the region, Secretary of State Pompeo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Like a peaceful resolution deed. I think we’ve demonstrated that. And they’ve taken down American UAVs and
have conducted the largest attacks on a globe’s energy in awfully long time, and we are still striving to build out a coalition.
I was here in an act of diplomacy while the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all-out war if the fight to the last American. We’re here to
build out a coalition aimed at achieving peace and a peaceful resolution, I guess that’s my mission set. President Trump certainly wants me to work to
achieve. And I hope that the Islamic Republic of Iran sees it the same way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that’s from the secretary of state about trying to enact diplomacy. You heard the foreign minister of Iran tell me that they want a
diplomatic resolution and that they are prepared to offer more in terms of the Iran nuclear deal, as you saw in training (ph) the fatwa of the supreme
leader, bringing the intrusive inspections of the additional protocol up by several years. And they’ve even talked about potentially, possibly some
kind of meeting between the president and President Rouhani.
Are any of those, you know, a goer as far as the United States is concerned right now?
HOOK: Well, the president said — he has been saying this for some time now that he is more than happy to meet with President Rouhani because we
would like to resolve our differences diplomatically. The Iranians have consistently rejected that offer. It’s not just to the United States, keep
in mind. Prime Minister Abe was the first Japanese prime minister to fly to Iran in this Islamic Republic.
And while he was there, Ayatollah Khomeini rejected his diplomacy and then bombed a Japanese oil tanker while he was still in Iran. They’ve also
rejected the French. And so, this is becoming a very troubling pattern of behavior for the regime but it’s consistent with how they’ve behaved over
We do know that Iran never changes or moderates its behavior unless you have economic pressure, diplomatic isolation, or the threat of military
force. That is something which if anybody who studies the last 40 years of Iranian behavior, you need one or more of those three things.
We have kept our diplomacy squarely within sort of the diplomatic track, the economic pressure piece, but Iran is going outside of it. So we would
very much welcome an entirely different approach that Iran has been showing for sometime now.
Foreign Minister Zarif does a very good job of misrepresenting the true nature of the Iranian regime. They are very committed to their campaign of
exporting violence and exporting revolution, undermining the sovereignty of other countries. So we continue to leave a door open for diplomacy, and in
the meantime our campaign of economic pressure will continue.
AMANPOUR: Brian Hook, finally there is a big story in The New York Times saying that to try to retaliate in some meaningful way, the United States
is upping its cyber warfare against Iran and it has plans to attack via cyber. First of all, can you confirm that and are you worried that that
will launch a counterattack through cyber?
HOOK: Iran’s security concerns are entirely self-generated. They have a very well-known cyber capability. David Sanger has written about this from
The New York Times, and they use it offensively. It certainly isn’t intended for its defensive capabilities.
We very much have condemned the kind of cyber attacks that Iran has waged over many years. We don’t preview any of our decision making or discuss
our deliberative process on this. We are committed to reversing Iran’s power projection and to get them back to their own borders and to start
behaving more like a normal nation and less like a revolutionary cause. And it’s going to be important that we get number of countries to join us.
I would just point out that FIFA played an important role in opening up soccer stadiums to Iranian women by pressuring Iran after the tragic story
of the woman who was denied – she was arrested and sentenced to jail for attending a soccer game. FIFA stood up to Iran and they pressured them,
and now their regime is starting to let women attend some of these soccer games. We’ll see if they follow through on it, but this is the kind of –
it’s a very good example of how the international community should be following sort of the same process that FIFA has.
AMANPOUR: Indeed that was my last question to the foreign minister. Very interesting that you mentioned that. Brian Hook, thank you so much.
HOOK: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And we’ll see where these hardening positions lead. Now as we mentioned earlier in the program, this week’s and, indeed, this
generation’s big story is the global climate crisis. After mass protests around the world on Friday and with more planned, dozens of world leaders
have descended on the United Nations here for the climate actions summit that kicks off the U.N. general assembly tomorrow.
Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned heads of state that they shouldn’t bring beautiful speeches but concrete plans of action.
ANTONIO GUTERRES, SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS: This is not a climate talk summit. We have had enough talk. This is not a climate
negotiating summit because we don’t negotiate with nature. This is a climate action summit. From the beginning – from the beginning, I said the
ticket to entry is not a beautiful speech but concrete action.
AMANPOUR: So a powerful opening statement, but the spotlight was stolen by the 16-year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg, again who made this
impassioned call for action.
GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young
people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.
AMANPOUR: It’s really a lot of emotion and a lot of pressure there for something so serious. Now, in her new book, “On Fire: The Burning Case for
a Green New Deal,” the progressive journalist and author, Naomi Klein, is throwing her weight behind legislation that would address climate change
and radically overhaul the U.S. economy. She sat down with our Hari Sreenivasan.
HARI SREENIVASAN: You’ve been writing about the climate crisis for years now. Why this book? Why now?
NAOMI KLEIN, AUTHOR, “ON FIRE: THE BURNING CASE FOR A GREEN NEW DEAL”: I wanted to make the case for a transformative approach to the climate
crisis, one that is really about building the next economy, not a little carbon tax or a little cap and trade, but really a vision for how we’re
going to live if we are going to respect the limits of what the planet can take.
SREENIVASAN: You know, backing up a second, where kind of are we in this climate crisis arc? I mean, I looked at my inbox last night, I get e-mails
from NOAA that say literally, this — it was stunning. I mean, the last three months were the second warmest on record.
SREENIVASAN: And then you go back, the warmest on record were in 2016.
SREENIVASAN: And in 2018 we tied the record for high tides, and that record was tied from the year 2015. I mean, these are happening right in
front of our face.
KLEIN: Yes. We’re not talking about a threat off in the future, we’re talking — we’re not talking about preventing a climate crisis, we are in
the climate crisis. And we are — we are — we’re a minute to midnight in terms of the ability to do what is necessary to prevent truly catastrophic
climate change. Right? And even words like that are troubling to me because if you live in the Bahamas, the catastrophe is here.
SREENIVASAN: It’s already happening (ph).
KLEIN: It’s here. Right?
KLEIN: But I think when scientists tell us, you know, we must do everything to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius — we’re now at one
degree Celsius — you know, what they’re talking about is protecting swaths of the earth that are still compatible with human civilization. You know,
we know that large parts the earth are already becoming uninhabitable. That’s why so many people are moving from places like Guatemala, because
they can’t grow their food. So we’re already in it, but we’re talking about protecting, you know, a habitable space for humanity.
SREENIVASAN: You contend in the book that really, the Green New Deal is the way through this. I mean, there are still areas to be filled in, this
is a framework. Why is this the right path?
KLEIN: Well, it’s the right path because it’s holistic. It isn’t — it isn’t just looking at a narrow approach to carbon, like a — like a — like
a tax or cap and trade. And I think that those market mechanisms have to be part of, you know, a — a basket of policies. But the difference with a
Green New Deal is that it’s — it is a paradigm for the next economy. It is a governing framework. It takes its name from FDR’s original New Deal,
right? Which was not a single policy. Right? It was — it was regulating the banks, it was introducing social safety nets like Social Security and
unemployment insurance, it was massive infrastructure investments that directly created 10 million jobs, also planted 2.3 billion trees,
transformed the way Americans live. That is the kind of big picture thinking that we need.
We also need to protect workers, we need to give people something that they’re working towards. So, you know, I think one of the things when we
know we have just 10 years to really do this, we can’t afford a backlash. And so we have to learn from climate policies that have failed, like
Emanuel Macron introducing a narrow price on carbon that increased the cost of living for working people who are already under tremendous stress at the
same time as he’s giving tax giveaways to the very wealthy —
SREENIVASAN: And they took to the streets.
KLEIN: They took to the streets. They said why should we bear the burden of this when polluters are — are — are let off the hook. The chant in
the streets in French was, you care about the end of the world, we care about the end of the month. So I think the most important thing to
understand about the Green New Deal is everybody has a right to care about the end of the world and the end of the month and the time of asking people
to choose is over.
SREENIVASAN: In this era where we cannot even agree on the same set of facts or information —
SREENIVASAN: — where people don’t see the same newscasts, way — where they don’t even acknowledge the other politician’s almost right to exist,
how does something like this bridge that?
KLEIN: By meeting people’s daily needs. By creating really good jobs. By speaking to the anger that — that — that that polarization feeds off of.
Not just speaking to it but actually providing release solutions, not scapegoating. You know, one of the lessons of FDR’s original New Deal is
when he rolled out of the one of the most popular programs under — it was called the Civilian Conservation Corps. — and people often don’t remember
that the New Deal wasn’t just addressing an economic crisis, the depression, it was also addressing an ecological crisis, the Dust Bowl,
right, and massive deforestation, land erosion.
So the Civilian Conservation Corps. was created very quickly, it employed more than 2 million young men to go out, plant 2.3 billion trees, work with
farmers to — to — to battle soil erosion. But if you map where FDR put those camps — and there were hundreds of them — he put them very
strategically in parts of the United States that didn’t vote for him the first time.
He improved services in those communities, and lo and behold, next time FDR ran he won many of those districts.
OK, so you can say that’s poor politics, whatever. But, what I see in that, is that when people have a sense of mission it can break through
these political divisions that seem so intractable sometimes.
SREENIVASAN: How does this Green New Deal kind of connect the dots between the ideas of sort of ecological catastrophe, white supremacy, war and
equality? I mean, you’re talking about a holistic approach.
SREENIVASAN: Connect the dots on why these other things are happening because we’re not dealing with this issue that actually is underlying all
these other issues.
KLEIN: Right. Right. I mean, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that as the climate crisis goes from being some future threat that you have to worry
about for your kids or your grandkids to being this banging down the door reality. And we see this reflected in the polls. People understand that
And at the same time, we see the rise of the sort of demagogues around the world who specialize in creating an in-group — and insider group of
protected, real Americans, or real Indians, or real Israelis, or real Italians, I mean, it’s happening everywhere, right? And then other, the
And they’re the threat, the security threat, the invader, right, the monster at the gate. And this model, I think, is happening because people
have the sense of scarcity, OK, that they understand, even if they are denying the reality of climate change, they understand that people are
moving at an unprecedented levels.
And so, we’re at a cross-roads. This isn’t just about things getting hotter and wetter, it’s also about things getting meaner and more brutal.
And we face a question about what kind of people we’re going to be.
What sort of values are going to govern us as the world gets hotter, as we face the reality of water scarcity, are we going to hoard and fortress,
because that’s — that’s the paradigm we’re seeing right, were thousands of people allowed to drown in the Mediterranean, right, and the in the deserts
in Arizona and the off-shore camps, whether it’s in Libya or whether it’s in Madison Nauru (ph) off of Australia.
I mean this is not syfy, this is happening right now. Or are we going to say we’re in this together, we — this is a crisis created by the wealthy
world that is being felt and worst by the people least responsible for creating it. We can rise to this challenge and create so many jobs, our
biggest problem is going to be a labor shortage.
And this is why the vision of the Green New Deal that says we have to invest in healthcare, we have to invest in education, we have to invest in
the care in economy, it’s so critical because if we don’t invest in that infrastructure, then we are going to turn on each other when the storms
I was in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit and as we all know the — what cost so many lives in Puerto Rico was not the storm itself, it was the
collapsed infrastructure after the storm, right? And people not being able to plug in their oxygen machines, their dialysis machines, right? So, of
course we have to invest in the public sector, in the face of a rocky future, and I don’t think we want to tip into that vision of climate
barbarism that we are already catching glimpses of.
SREENIVASAN: In your essay about Puerto Rico it says, God isn’t the one who laid off thousands of skilled electrical workers in the years before
the story, God didn’t give vital relief and reconstruction contracts to politically connected firms, God didn’t decide that Puerto Rico should
import 85 percent of its food, this archipelago blessed with some of the most fertile soil in the world. God didn’t decide Puerto Rico should get
98 percent of its energy from imported fossil fuels, these islands bathed in sun, lashed by wind and surrounded by waves, these were decisions made
by people working for powerful interests.
KLEIN: You know, one of the things I’m really trying to do with this book is, is counter this claim that this is all sort of the result of human
nature, right? Because our real fatalism is creeping in. I think climate change denial is receding, like outright, like the science isn’t real, but
climate change defeatism and sort of like, it’s too late, we’re just too flawed as humans, that’s really surging.
And so, what I try to do is make visible that these are choices, that this is — there was nothing inevitable about building an economic system that
relied so heavily on fossil fuels and treated our atmosphere as a waste basket or garbage bin or whatever you want to call it. I mean, these were
very profitable decisions, they had to be lobbied for by very powerful interests. People resisted these policies at every turn. And the policies
that are making us more vulnerable to the climate shocks, as in Puerto Rico, to — the designing of a colonial economy to the benefit of the
I mean, that is the absurdity that, you know, an island that is so fertile would have to import so much of its food. Why? Because they’re a captive
So these relationships of dependency are set up, right? So we have to make visible the systems and show that, OK, these are a series of human-made
choices. We can make other choices. We can design, you know, different kinds of economic structures that build in resilience.
SREENIVASAN: So you’ve heard some of these critiques before of the Green New Deal, and I think it’s worth sharing –
SREENIVASAN: — your counters to them. You have this good quote. It says, “this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse whose belly is full
with red marks is socioeconomic doctrine.”
KLEIN: Yes. This is the accusation from the climate change denial movement in the United States, and I went to ground zero of that movement
for some of the reporting in this book. And what’s interesting is often, you know, it gets reported on as a scientific disagreement, right?
You have some scientists who say this is real and then there are other scientists who say it’s not. And if there’s a dispute, there is doubt.
But if you actually go to the engine of the climate change denial movement, which is the Heartland – annual Hearthland Institute conference, what’s
clear is that this has very little to do with science.
This is a free market think tank, the Heartland Institute, and many other free market think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, you know,
the Heritage Foundation, the (inaudible) Institute, I mean, you know all of them. They’re all over D.C., right?
These are not atmospheric scientists, right? These are people who have devoted their lives to advancing a vision of the world that is based on,
you know, maximum profit for corporations, deregulation, privatization of the public’s fear, very low taxes, cuts to public spending.
Why are they so obsessed with climate change is the question, right? They’re obsessed with climate change because they understand and understood
early that if it is true that our economy, which is built on fossil fuels, if it continues with business as usual, we’ll destabilize the habitability
of our planet. Then their whole ideological economic project is doomed because there is no way to address that crisis without breaking every rule
in their rule book. You need massive investments in the public’s fear to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. You need to invest in housing
in a huge way so that we have energy efficient housing. We need to reimagine how we live in cities so we’re not choked in traffic and we’re
able to use public transit and bike.
I mean, all of this requires planning, not laissez faire economics, right? You know, I interviewed the Head of the Heartland Institute, Joseph Bast,
and he said that he understood that if climate change was real it would be the best thing that could ever happen to the left. So he said I took
another look at the science.
So they’re motivated by the threat it poses to their ideology, but you know, is say in the book, look, it’s also a threat to the left because
large parts of the left have really just been arguing over redistributing the spoils of the extracting of the wealth of the Earth, right? I mean, if
you think about various petro-populist states, that’s what the argument is about.
It’s not about whether or not we’re going to dig up the oil. It’s about whether the profits from the oil or the gas stay at – you know, with the
small minority at the top or whether the poor are going to get a piece of it. And that’s a legitimate debate to have, but those of us on the left –
and I am on the left – we haven’t reckoned enough with the fact that there are natural limits to how much we can consume.
SREENIVASAN: You know, one of the other concerns with whether or not the Green New Deal moves forward is that there’s always this idea of don’t let
the perfect be the enemy of the good, right? There’s this – a certain centrism and a certain incrementalism.
SREENIVASAN: And you’re literally saying, no, the house is on fire –
SREENIVASAN: — as Greta Thunberg also says famously.
SREENIVASAN: It’s too late for this incrementalism.
KLEIN: I have to point out that the perfect left the station, you know, quite some time ago, right? I mean, we lost the Great Barrier Reef. You
know, we’re losing Arctic sea ice, and we’re losing huge spots (ph) of the Amazon Rainforest. These are major features of our planet that we are
breaking or have already broken.
So like let’s not be silly. We are not talking about perfect. We’re talking about survival and it is true that there is a ideology that doesn’t
really speak its name. You know, the right-wing think tanks are open. You know, they’re free market fundamentalists, you know? They believe in that.
But there is another ideology and this is – this often goes unspoken and this is the sort of the ideology of the serious center. You know, we don’t
like – you know, we split the difference between all these extremists out there, right? And we pride ourselves on finding that middle path.
That’s — that’s what makes us serious, that’s an ideology and it’s very well represented in media, very well represented in different centrist
political parties, and it — I think there’s a case for it in a lot of different circumstances.
I don’t deny that extremists at various ends of the political spectrum have done huge damage throughout history. But as Greta (ph) says, the house is
on fire, and the reason why you’re not supposed to scream fire in a crowded theater, is because people will run if the fire is not real. But, you
actually are allowed to scream fire in a theater if there is a fire, right? And I think the serious interests have forgotten that part.
SREENIVASAN: Supporters of the statuesque are also going to talk about the costs as one of the big hurdles here. I mean, I heard the young climate
activist, Greta Thurnberg, say to you on stage recently, if we can save the banks then why can’t we save the planet.
SREENIVASAN: How much is this going to cost? Or maybe is should say, how much does this cost to implement the Green New Deal versus inaction?
KLEIN: Right. Look, inaction is so much more expensive than action. It’s all expensive, there is no root that is — that doesn’t involve dramatic
change. I mean, this is something that I think is hard for us to get our heads around, right?
But if we stay on the course we’re on, then business as usual, just doing nothing, that sort of no sudden movements, just statuesque root, leads to
radical changes in our physical world. It leads to warming of triple, quadruple what we already have and we’re already seeing the multi-billion
dollar storms under — with one degree Celsius warming.
We do nothing, we get to four to six degrees warming, OK? So, that is hundreds of trillions — it’s unimaginable amounts of money. We can spend
a lot of money, not nearly that much money now, building the next economy, creating huge numbers of good jobs, building better — better public
services, and saving lives.
I honestly don’t think this is cost-benefit analysis question. This is a question of whether or now we are going to allow a barbaric future to just
slide into being because we can’t manage to swerve.
SREENIVASAN: Naomi Klein, thanks so much.
KLEIN: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: So, clearly the price of not swerving is unsustainably high. Join me later this week when I speak to someone whose pioneered action on
climate change for decades, and that is former Vice President Al Gore. As people around the world rise up for change, he told me that some of the
reasons he’s hopeful for the future and why President Trump’s vocal anti- climate policy stance may be encouraging the uprising we’re seeing today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Well, were President Trump is concerned and in some ways having him serve as the face of climate denial, has had an
interesting effect in stimulating this uprising at the grassroots level. We saw the children marching around the world on Friday. We’ve seen an
explosion of activity in every country and here in the U.S. There’s an old rule in physics, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction.
AMANPOUR: So, you think that the current activism we’re seeing on the streets, paradoxically (ph) is also — almost like a backlash to the denial
that’s going on?
GORE: I think partly that’s true. I remember decades ago when Ronald Reagan, as a candidate, inspired fears of a renewed arms — nuclear arms
race, and all of a sudden a nuclear freeze movement sprang up and it changed the political tone. I think we’re seeing something like that
again, but it’s going to have to be a set of solutions brought from the people at the grassroots level. And I think we’re beginning to see that.
AMANPOUR: What do you identify as the hopeful things out there, beyond what we’ve just talked about?
GORE: Well, first of all, it’s true that some people go straight from denial to despair without pausing on the intermediate step of actually
addressing the crisis.
GORE: That’s right. And despair is just another form of denial. And there — there are reasons for significant hope. When you look at the two
largest sectors of the economy producing all this global warming pollution, the production of electricity and transportation, cars and trucks, in both
of those sectors the cost reduction of the new technologies electric, vehicles, solar and wind and battery storage, they’re coming down in cost
Give you a quick example, five years ago on the eve of the Paris Summit on Climate, solar and wind was cheaper — a cheaper form of electricity than
new fossil in one percent of the world. Today, five years later, it’s the cheapest in two-thirds of the world, for new electricity. Five years from
now it’s going to be cheaper everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So reason to hope. And you can see more of my interview with Al Gore later in the week. We’ll be digging into the details around the
climate crisis and the former vice president does give me his take on President Trump allegedly asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe
Biden’s son. But that’s it for now. Remember, you can always follow me, Hari, and the show on Twitter.
Thanks for watching Amanpour and Company on PBS, and join us again tomorrow night.