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U.S.-Russia Reached Deal on Syria; Colorado in State of Emergency;

Aired September 14, 2013 - 09:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christi Paul. Thanks for being here.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. 9:00 here on the East Coast, 6:00 on the West. This is NEW DAY SATURDAY.

We have breaking news from Geneva. The United States and Russia have agreed this morning on a broad plan to dispose of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

PAUL: Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Syria has one week to submit a complete --

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: ... we have breaking news from Geneva. The United States and Russia have agreed this morning on a broad plan to dispose of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Secretary of state John Kerry announced that Syria has one week to submit a complete inventory of the chemical weapons. Listen to this.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The world will now expect the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments. As I said at the outset of these negotiations, there could be no games, no room for avoidance or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime.


BLACKWELL: Let's go to CNN analyst David Kay, former chief weapons inspector in Iraq. Good to have you with us. And I want to go specifically to something that Foreign Minister Lavrov said that he wants this to happen quickly and as practical as possible. How quickly can you get rid of what we understand is a huge stockpile of chemical weapons?

DAVID KAY, FMR. CHIEF WEAPONS INSPECTOR IN IRAQ: Not very quickly is the short answer. For example, Libya started - agreed and started dismantling its weapons nine years ago. It is not yet complete. PAUL: Well, can you give us any sort of comparison to what we're looking at from Libya to this? We've heard anything from what was it? Fifty tons or 1,000 tons of chemical weapons in 50 different locations.

KAY: Well, that is one thing we're looking forward to in the declaration. The standard sort of guess is 1,000 tons, which is much larger than the Libyan and more complex and has got nerve agents VX and sarin and some other elements there. The 50 locations strikes me as unusually large.

Before the outbreak of the trouble, it was estimated there were five locations that were pretty well known. We do know the Syrians have moved weapons as the opposition has gained foot holds very close to those five previous sites. So we will have to see. The more sites, the longer it's going to take.

BLACKWELL: So do we believe that the Syrians will be continuing to move, as you say, they moved them out. The Free Syrian Army says they moved them out to friendly countries, neighboring countries. Do you believe that in this week that they can move out more weapons if that is what they are doing?

KAY: Well, one would hope that they would not. That they would live up to terms of this agreement. Realize we have not seen the detail terms of the agreement. I don't know if the Syrians have seen it. But no, you want to stop in place. The only exception is if some of those sites are very near contested areas. You can monitor it by satellites and other means of movement. Ideally, you don't want movement during this period.

PAUL: And that is going to make it so tough because of the civil war there. It is not as though they are walking in there with free rein that we know of. I mean, Syria has not complied with this. How likely do you think it is that they will and once they do, who is going to go in there? I mean is it an engineer that facilitates this?

KAY: Well, you're absolutely right. That doing this in the context of a civil war with a considerable amount of force being used on both sides makes it very difficult. Whether they will comply or not, you know, that is the $1 million question right now. One hopes the Russians will assist and enforce that they will comply. Who goes in? That is one reason the agreement says it will be November by the time the inspectors get there. It is very hard to find the right people.

First of all, the people will have to go - be able to go in to chemical weapons storage areas and check the inventory the Syrians provided against reality, ground truth. You also need someone who understands chemical weapons production and disarmament. There are people like this. It's going to take a time to assemble them. Quite frankly, given my experience in Iraq, some of those people are not going to want to go into a combat zone.

PAUL: All right. David Kay, thank you so much for walking us through. We appreciate your expertise today.

KAY: Happy to be with you.

PAUL: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Let's go now to the site of these talks and the remarks today. CNN chief national correspondent Jim Sciutto in Geneva. Jim, you were in the room for those remarks. There were a lot of people who were skeptical that a deal was possible. Outline what the U.S. and Russia have agreed to.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you say, this is a very dramatic development considering just a few days ago this was not even a prospect of a peaceful resolution. We were talking about the possibility of military action here.

Just a few headlines, one, the Syrian government is going to have to declare its full chemical weapon stockpile by next week and allow complete and unfettered access to inspectors soon after that. Here is how the time line will work after that.

First, they will complete these inspections of declared site by November. Second, they will destroy the production facilities as well as the mixing and filling facilities for chemical weapons by November and complete elimination of all chemical weapon sites, et cetera, by the first half of next year. So very aggressive timeline. Secretary Kerry made the point that there are hard gateways all along the way to see how Syria is going to comply.

PAUL: So what happens, then, Jim, if the Assad regime does not comply?

SCIUTTO: Well, here is where there is something of a (INAUDIBLE), because as you know the U.S. and Russia have a strong disagreement about he use of military force. The U.S. wants to keep that option on the table. Russia does not want it on the table. In fact, Foreign Minister Lavrov just a short time ago says that would be catastrophic. So here's how they left it. There will be chapter seven consequences if Syria does not comply anywhere along the way.

One of the options under Chapter Seven is the use of force. It is not the only option though. And Secretary Kerry said he granted that if there is non-compliance by Syria, they would have to go back to the UN Security Council to debate next steps and measures, including force. So if there is going to be force with U.N. approval, they're going to have to go back to the U.N. security council and get everybody to agree on that. That said, if they can't do that, Secretary Kerry again made the point that President Obama reserves the right to act on his own. So that is how it's laid out. It's a bit of a (INAUDIBLE) but it's probably the best agreement that they could get on the use of force.

PAUL: All righty. CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto live for us there in Geneva. Jim, thank you so much.

The other thing that we are really watching today is all these folks in Colorado. And what really their misery. And there are thousands of people that are devastated by the massive flooding. The pictures are astounding.

BLACKWELL: Yes, there is that flood warning now for the entire Denver area, north to Ft. Collins. It's a huge area of Colorado and more storms are predicted all weekend. Raging water already blamed for at least four deaths. More than 200 people still unaccounted for.

PAUL: So in two towns specifically cut off by swollen waterways and debris, we know that National Guard troops used helicopters and high water trucks to evacuate more that 800 people in those areas. A lot of people have gone days without water or running power by that points. And thousands more have heeded calls to get out. But some are being told, they are not going to be able to return for a month.

BLACKWELL: A month away from home.

PAUL: Can you imagine? A month.

BLACKWELL: President Obama has declared an emergency for three counties around Boulder. That really allows FEMA to launch what is becoming its largest rescue deployment in Colorado history.

PAUL: There was this brief break in the rain Friday, yesterday, that really helped crews to get to some of those stranded residents, but it also gave some of these weary families a chance to tally up their losses.

BLACKWELL: We got our Nick Valencia there in Longmont, Colorado. Close to Boulder. The sun is coming up there. Tell us what you are seeing now on this new day of misery, unfortunately, for the people there, in Longmont.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the drama and trouble for these residents affected by the floods, Victor, is ongoing but there is some good news specifically where we are standing. This is the exact spot where I was standing last hour. I was ankle deep in water. You could see that's not the case right now. This water has receded quite a bit. And continues to do so as the morning develops.

But Longmont, let's not be confused. It was a hard-hit area. 7,000 people remain evacuated. 2,000 are still without power. And that is the case for a lot of these surrounding mountain side hamlets that have really caused a lot of problems for first responders to try to access them. Roads have been impassable. They have only been able to get to residents by air. We've learned that 162 people were air lifted out of Jamestown, which is just west of Boulder. Ongoing evacuations are also in existence for the town of Lyons which is just north of here.

And those mountain side hamlets, Victor and Christie, they've just caused so much difficulty for the first responders. Earlier, officials spoke about those issues.


COMMANDER HEIDI PRENTUP, BOULDER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: We have lost several structures in the county. Most of them have been residences on the side of mountains that have collapsed or been impacted by mudslides or their foundations being washed away.


VALENCIA: And although the sun is up and as I mentioned, the waters here are receding, the anxiety has not faded among these residents. They are very anxious as they hear from local meteorologists and others that there is another round of rain expected this weekend and this afternoon and perhaps overnight. Just the slightest bit of rain, Victor and Christi, could cause a very big problem for these residents that have already seen enough of it. Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right. Nick Valencia there, just outside Boulder, Colorado. Thank you.

We just spoke with a couple two minutes ago who lived in Lyon. And they said that the only way that they could get out was by hiking two miles up a ridge with their eight-month-old toddler. So fortunately that they were able to make it out. Their home is still safe.

PAUL: They did and they're fine.

BLACKWELL: And here they are. Christine and Mandy there from Lyons. And we're hoping that the 200 plus people who were unaccounted for and that phrase is chosen specifically, unaccounted for that they are just in places where they cannot make a phone call.

PAUL: Right. Right. And you know, obviously cell service is most certainly interrupted.


PAUL: - in some thing like this. So we're hoping it is just a lack of communication and not that something has happened to those people. But that is a number that we're obviously going to be watching today. And not only are we watching Colorado, but, you know, New Mexico is facing what some are saying catastrophic floods. Flooding in three counties, we know, that has forced the government to declare a state of emergency there. We know there are evacuations ordered in Eddy, Sierra and San Miguel counties and that hundreds have been evacuated by boat, the air and the ground.

The governor's order does provide some desperately needed state funds to local officials there. So hoping that that's going to help them today.

BLACKWELL: So we covered Colorado and New Mexico. There is also Texas. They know what the other states are going through.

PAUL: Yes, I mean, apparently it has its own natural disaster to deal with. So let's bring in Alexandra Steele here. How severe is it in Texas today, Alexandra?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you can see synoptically, synoptically, it is the same scenario. Here's Colorado, New Mexico, southwest Texas, it's being inundated with the same aspect of this weather. So here is the water vapor imagery. We use this as meteorologists to see where the moisture content is highest in the air.

And here's the deal, synoptically it is set up so it's perfection for the incredible amount of moisture to sit in place and not move. Here is the area of low pressure. Now normally areas of low pressure and high pressure all get moved by the jet stream. But the jet stream is so elevated to the north, this cut off low is acting independently. So there is no movement to it.

Here is the low. Here is the high. The air between it is just kind of inundating this area with all this moisture. The good news, the worst is over in terms of the amount of rain. Area of low pressure finally now moving to the north and east. Still, though, more scattered showers and storms and another one or two inches.

But when you see numbers that are this incredible. Boulder, Colorado, over 14.5 inches just in the last couple of days. On the whole, on average, they see 1.6 inches of rain for the entire month of September. Six inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet. You can see six inches also going to the bottom of the wheels and can move a car. So an credible amount of rain and an incredible amount of water. And you guys, told (INAUDIBLE) but inland flooding is the number one weather killer here in the U.S..

PAUL: All righty. Boy, Alexandra Steele, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Still to come on "New Day," we will put the Syrian deal in perspective. Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley weighs in on the U.S.-Russian agreement reached today in Geneva. Stay with us for that conversation.


PAUL: So glad to have you with us. Fast moving developments we need to let you know about out of Geneva. A few hours ago, the U.S. and Russia agreed on a broad framework to get rid of Syria's chemical weapon arsenal.

BLACKWELL: If Syria, complies with this over the next few months, the deal could very well head off a U.S. military strike.


KERRY: We have reached a shared assessment of the amount and type of chemical weapons possessed by the Assad regime. We are committed to the rapid assumption of control by the international community of those weapons.


BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this development with Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University. Good to have you with us, Professor.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, RICE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF HISTORY: Good morning. BLACKWELL: Good morning. So there were skeptics not only here in the U.S., but really around the world. They were skeptical that there could be some deal between the U.S. and Russia. Now that the deal has been agreed to, what does this do for the president?

BRINKLEY: Well, it's a big leap for President Obama. He found a way out, at least a temporary way out of the box he seemed to be in. Look, this is the beginning of a Geneva process. This is excellent new and let's hope that we get compliance that these chemical weapons will be destroyed and that Assad regime lives up to what they are promising right now.

But there are many other issues we're going to deal with with Syria. We have a flood of people pouring out. Millions getting in boats in the Mediterranean and going to Italy, children fleeing without parents. People going through Turkey and Egypt. It is still an international crisis zone, Syria. We still have a problem of Assad as dictator. He is massacring doctors and nurses and killing people. He is a thug. Nevertheless, this is a great first step and I think President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry deserve a lot of credit for getting us this far along the path to some kind of semblance to border in Syria without dropping bombs.

WILLIS: OK. Let's really look at this plan deeply. Because I know it calls for Syria to come up with an inventory, a full inventory of the chemical weapons in a week's time. If that doesn't happen, we know the UN Security Council could consider the use of force. But Russia could veto that. So at the end of the day, you look at this and you're like - who won? Who won here?

BRINKLEY: Good question. I'm not sure anybody has won, per se. But we must start thinking that perhaps it is in Russia and Assad's benefit to get rid of these chemical weapons. By Assad actually being an open broker and saying here they all are and really doing this in an honest way, it might be able to stay on the power for decades to come. He will be proving as somebody you can do business with on the world's stage.

For Russia, they have been very worried about chemical weapons, about Islamic militants getting them, about their own problems in Chechnya. If these chemical weapons (INAUDIBLE) flew into there. They got an Olympics set. They want to host in Russia. It is a big moment for them to show that they are this great world power. So there may be an interest in Syria and Russia to actually get rid of these chemical weapons. That's the hope.

BLACKWELL: You know, two years ago, President Obama said that Assad must go and now the president is agreeing through Secretary Kerry to working with Russia to get these weapons out of Assad. I don't see anything out of this deal that says Assad must go. In a historical sense, how will history look back at that comment by the president and what seems to be not an about face, but huge change in the approach.

BRINKLEY: Well, it's a wonderful, important question. Well, look, Assad isn't going anytime soon. President Obama's going to have to live with that quip just like he to lived with the red line. You have to be careful what you put out there when you are president. But this is a beginning of a process with Geneva. A process trying to de-fang the Assad regime in Syria. And so it's a step in the right direction.

I've said already the word process like five times. It is not a one- shot deal here. This is the beginning of something we're going to have to monitor for a year, for years or possibly a decade. But many people are feeling relieved today because the idea of a Tomahawk missiles and blowing up suburban Damascus and all of the problems that a war would have incurred, this maybe a saner and better way to go.

There was never any good options. There was never any winning ticket here. But I think what we got going now is a process that is positive and now we have done a little bit of trusting and now it's the verification process begins.

BLACKWELL: That process. Process, it all continues. Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University. Good to have you with us.


BLACKWELL: Still to come on "New Day," it was 1977 when NASA launched Voyager 1 into space. Three decades later, another major milestone, the Extreme Boundary it just broke.



ROBIN EMMONS: There's magic in gardening that you can drop a seed into the earth and from that, there is an amazing fruit that is delicious and so good for your body. That's a miracle to me.

Here in Charlotte, 73,000 people live in low-income neighborhood and don't have access to these fresh fruit. You can call this is the miracle mile or desolate in the way of healthy food options. There are barely any supermarkets. Once they get there by bus or a neighbor's car or on foot, they are paying a very high price for the food.

I'm Robin Emmons. I believe everyone should have access to fresh food. So I grow it and bring it to communities in need.

We want our market to be abundant. So let's hit it.

We have about 200 volunteers that come out and harvest the food. These are heirloom tomatoes over here. We're bringing the food to the community and cutting the costs in half compared to what they would pay at the grocery store.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Six months ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Let's see if we can find something a little bit - I'm unemployed right now. So sometimes you have to buy the cheaper things. I could not believe all these fresh vegetables. The prices are phenomenal. It's making me and my family healthier.

EMMONS: I started growing food in my backyard. Today, I grow on nine acres of land. Since 2008, we have grown 26,000 pounds of food.

Thank you.


EMMONS: I feel like I'm giving them a gift. A healthier, longer, more delicious life.



PAUL: Thanks for watching today.

BLACKWELL: "YOUR MONEY" starts right now.