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World Powers Clinch Iran Nuclear Deal; Deadly Winter Storm Pushes East; Retailers Launch Black Friday Sales Early

Aired November 24, 2013 - 07:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: That's what's going to be worked out within that time. But this is the nuts and bolts of what we know. Iran's ability to enrich uranium will be limited. Iran will allow international monitoring and in return, sanctions on the oil revenues are going to ease.

Now, President Obama and top diplomats say this deal will help keep a nuclear weapon out of Iran's hands.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The international unity is on display today. The world is united in support of our determination to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Iran must know that security and prosperity will never come through the pursuit of nuclear weapons. It must be reached through truly verifiable agreements that make Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons impossible.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The purpose of this is simple, to require Iran to prove the peaceful nature of the nuclear program and to ensure that it cannot acquire a nuclear weapon.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Now, Iran is not the only nation with the nuclear program. Of course, a handful of countries do as well.

PAUL: But for decades, concerns grown that Iran specifically wants to develop a nuclear weapon.

And CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto takes a closer look at the landmark deal now that's coming out of Geneva.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): In Geneva, a historic deal is struck.

OBAMA: For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the process of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back. SCIUTTO: Designed to block Iran from ever building a nuclear weapon.

OBAMA: These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Simply put, they cut off Iran's most likely paths to a bomb.

SCIUTTO: After weeks of intense talks between Iran and six world powers in Geneva, crippling economic sanctions on Iran will be eased. In all, about $7 billion in relief.

In exchange, Iran agreed to halt enrichment of uranium above 5 percent, well below weapon's grade, and to dilute or convert its current stockpile of enriched uranium so it cannot be used for a weapon. Iran also agreed to stop building or operating its Arak heavy water reactor, a second potential path to a bomb. And Iran promised to be more open, allowing intrusive daily monitoring of its nuclear program.

In answer to a question from CNN, Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, said the deal gave Iran what is long sought, formal recognition of its freedom to a peaceful nuclear program.

(on camera): Some Iranian officials reclaiming that right has been recognized. You say the program has been recognized. The White House says there is no formal recognition of a right to enrich. How did you square that circle?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The plan of action, as we call it, in two distinct bases has a very clear reference to the fact that Iranian enrichment program will continue and will be a part of any agreement now and in the future.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Israeli's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu however was sharply critical of the deal, calling it a historic mistake.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Iran is taking cosmetic steps, which it could reverse easily within a few weeks and in return, sanctions that took years to put in place are going to be eased.

SCIUTTO: Secretary Kerry offered this assurance to America's closest ally in the region.

KERRY: The next step requires proof certain, a fail safe set of steps, which eliminate the current prospect of a breakout in the creation of a nuclear weapon.

SCIUTTO: Still, the deal also has its critics back in Washington. Republican senators including South Carolina's Lindsey Graham deeply skeptical.

REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA (via telephone): If all we've done is left in place what they've got, the question is, should they be allowed to enrich given their behavior at all? (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Jim Sciutto joins us now live from Geneva.

Jim, we heard live here on CNN just a few ago, comments from Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel about this deal. For those who are just joining us, articulate the strongest of the concerns from the prime minister.

SCIUTTO: Well, Israel's position is they don't want Iran to have a nuclear program whatsoever. They don't want enrichment to take place on the Iranian soil and they're not going to be satisfied with anything short of that.

The U.S. administration's position is, listen, this is more supervision, more than we have ever had from Iran's nuclear program, that is rolling back key parts of it and freezing others, while they discuss a longer term deal. You know, U.S. administration officials -- Kerry repeated this last night, or I should say, early this morning, that it's only a tactical disagreement with Israel. But, really, it seems to be more than that.

Last night, Secretary Kerry said this makes the world a safer place. This morning, Benjamin Netanyahu says it makes the world a more dangerous place. That's a pretty fundamental disagreement there, but it seems to be one that the Obama administration is OK with tolerating.

PAUL: You know, one of the things that I think everybody agrees on based on everybody that I've seen and everything I've read is that Iran, itself, is not trustworthy, Jim, so how do we move forward and how can we be certain that we are going to see everything we need to see, that the IAEA will see everything and that there isn't something still in hiding?

SCIUTTO: It's a question U.S. administration officials say they're going to -- they've been going into this with open eyes from the beginning, and that the proof will be in the pudding. The proof will be in next six month, does Iran abide by the terms of this agreement?

When you look at those terms, though, they are -- you know, the outline of the deal is something we would not have predicted a few months ago. This is going to be daily inspection, daily inspection by the IAEA of Iranian nuclear sites. They are freezing some parts of its program, rolling back others. I think compared to where we were just a couple months ago, it is a big change. Whether it's enough for Iran to abide by it, whether it's enough to truly put an end to the weapons side of its nuclear program, that remains to be seen, and that's the administration's position, that they need to watch this for six months to be convinced.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Jim, we've heard the questions from not only U.S. lawmakers, but lawmakers around the world, the criticism this morning. But who wins from this deal? SCIUTTO: It's a good question. I think both sides claim that they both win, right? Even the fundamental question of the right to enrich, the U.S. saying we haven't granted it. The Iranians saying, hey, the deal grants it.

So, from that perspective, both sides come away with something. Iran has given up something. They've given -- there are more intrusive inspections. They're rolling back key parts of its program.

But the U.S. -- the West is giving up something as well. They're giving billions of dollars in sanctions relief to the Iranians. It's a six month step. It's an interim step, but I think both can claim to have taken something away from this.

The proof is going to be after this six-month deal, because this is really just buying time to discuss a longer term, permanent status for Iran's nuclear program. And you can argue that the tougher step is now, because those questions, when you're working it out, not just for six months but for years and decades to come, those are going to be some difficult negotiations. I wouldn't be surprised, Christi and Paul, if we're back here in Geneva watching them.

PAUL: All righty. Jim Sciutto, well, we are glad you are there now. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

And a programming note, I want to let you know -- Secretary Kerry is going to join Candy Crowley this morning at 9:00 Eastern. So, you want to keep it here for "STATE OF THE UNION".

So, let's move on to Iran now. The country's president, as we've been talking about, seems to be contradicting Secretary Kerry on a very key point.

BLACKWELL: Yes, CNN's Reza Sayah is live in Tehran this morning.

Reza, the president there, Hassan Rouhani, says that the deal does explicitly acknowledge Iran's right to enrich uranium. Is he right? Is Kerry right? Who is right here?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they both can technically argue they are right in the case. This was fascinating to observe these contradictory statements this morning. Hassan Rouhani, Iran's president, saying this agreement acknowledges Iran's right to enrich uranium. Then, Washington and Secretary Kerry saying it doesn't.

Again, technically, they can both argue they are right. Here is why -- in this agreement, Iran will have the ability to enrich low enriched uranium, 5 percent. They won't be able to enrich 20 percent. That would make it impossible for them to obtain the fuel necessary to make a bomb.

However, they didn't get that right in writing in the agreement. And that's perhaps why Mr. Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state saying it doesn't explicitly acknowledge their right to enrich uranium.

This is an outcome of both sides spinning the narrative, spinning the agreement in their favor.

Here is what President Rouhani, here's how he described the agreement.


PRES. HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN (through translator): The second achievement is the enrichment right of the Iranian nation on the Iranian soil. Whatever interpretation, this right has been explicitly stipulated by the agreement, stressing that Iran will go on with its enrichment program. And for this reason, I announce to the Iranian nation that Iran's enrichment activities will proceed similar to the past as in the past.


SAYAH: So both sides claiming that they got their way in using precisely the same language. Both Secretary of State Kerry and Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, saying anyone can interpret it how they want, but we got what we wanted. It's an indication of how complicated this is. Both of these sides are spinning it their way, cranking their PR machine.

But many Iranians, despite having lost the ability to enrich uranium to 20 percent, they are happy they have taken the first step in easing the sanctions.

BLACKWELL: I wonder if they'd be too cynical to think that even this ambiguity and the statements after were orchestrated as part of this deal. I guess we'll have that conversation with some of our experts.

CNN's Reza Sayah in Tehran with reaction for us this morning -- thank you.

Still to come on NEW DAY: a deadly winter storm pushing its way east now, and this spell a lot of trouble for Thanksgiving travel.

PAUL: OK. But does this make you happy? Black Friday, maybe?

BLACKWELL: Yes, indeed.

PAUL: Bargain hunters, are you ready to shop? What retailers are doing to lure you in?


BLACKWELL: All right. Coming up on a quarter after the hour -- at least two deaths are blamed on the deadly winter storm that's sweeping across the U.S.

Now, in Texas, a lot of people are waking up to snow and ice covered roads and bridges. You know you're not used to it when you're scraping with the piaster (ph).

PAUL: Yes. That doesn't work. The storm is expected to cause delays in the Northeast, of course, just in time for you to get there, for Thanksgiving.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis. I had to use a credit card once because I didn't have a scraper.

PAUL: Did it work?

BLACKWELL: Yes, I did, but the card didn't work after that.


KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's one or the other. You just have to go for it.

All right. We're going to take you through the Thanksgiving big holiday rush week. Let's start out with Monday, and show you what's happening. Well, that deep area of low pressure kind of gets amalgamated and we'll see an area of low pressure along the Gulf Coast, poor driving conditions also for airlines,. Watch out, you might some expect delays in Houston and Dallas.

Dallas metroplex area, you might see an icy mix, more so, not midday, but as you go towards mid-afternoon. Poor weather conditions wrapped around the Great Lakes region as well. Well, for Tuesday, what's going to happen? We'll start to see that moisture make its way further along the Gulf Coast, then we see that pink-shaded right area along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains.

For Atlanta, we are still on the border of things being iffy. We have to play it by ear. We might see a cold rain, possibly a mini, icy mix.

How about Wednesday? Lots of people are trying to get away. What is going to happen for Wednesday? Good weather conditions across the U.S. fair across the Mississippi Valley. Poor for the mid- Atlantic, and the Northeast.

And, Victor and Christi, the reason why, we're still tracking that storm because the snow and interior sections of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic.

PAUL: All right. Karen Maginnis, thank you so much.

I want some snow here.

BLACKWELL: Yes, nobody sings about icy mix. Nobody has a song about that.

PAUL: Icy mix, that doesn't work.

BLACKWELL: Hey, the breaking news this morning, and overnight, Iran agrees to limits on the nuclear program. An historic handshake in Geneva seals the deal. We're going to dive into what this agreement means for the U.S. That's next.


BLACKWELL: The historic deal with Iran temporarily freezes much of Iran's nuclear program. Iran must allow what's called intrusive monitoring, and in return, it gets some -- just some relief from the sanctions.

PAUL: Yes. But despite blistering criticism from some Republicans in Congress, President Obama insists this interim arrangement is a good thing.

BLACKWELL: Joining us now is Ramin Asgard, a former U.S. diplomat and expert on Iran.

Ramin, it's good to have you with us.

Talk to us. We talked about what this means for the U.S. with our Jim Sciutto in Geneva. Talk about what this now means, the win for Iran.

RAMIN ASGARD, FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT: Thank you very much.

For the new administration of President Rouhani, this is a big win on the international stage. They have been able to credibly engage the international community and solve probably the most pressing problem facing both the international community and Iran. The hope is that they are now perceived inside the country as an effective, at least on the foreign policy level, effective government. It's a big positive for them.

PAUL: OK, but can they enrich uranium? I mean, can they make a bomb?

ASGARD: Well, they can enrich uranium under this interim agreement at 5 percent. With 5 percent uranium, of course, there's no way to make a bomb. So, what the agreement seems to foreclose pretty much any path to enriching bomb grade uranium, which means they would have a great deal of difficulty and take a long time to move anywhere towards making a bomb.

BLACKWELL: You know, just a few weeks ago, we were talking on this very show the excitement for some of the potential of a handshake between the two presidents at the U.N. General Assembly, then the news of the phone call was huge, breaking news. Now, this.

What has changed in Iran over the last year that would, one, lead to the election of this president and now this ground breaking deal?

ASGARD: Well, really, it is, as you put it, the sanctions had a significant effect. The Iranian economy shrank in 2012 by over 5 percent. And they faced some pretty significant challenges economically. You know, that's what the voters really voted for was a big change in the way that Iran addresses their economic situation.

I think they correctly assess that that involved trying to not have these sanctions -- comprehensive sanctions impacting every part of the economy. So, that's really a big change. You have a government that took it seriously and went out to responsibly engage on however they could deal with it.

PAUL: You know, we keep talking about the fact this is phase one. This is a six-month evolutionary deal and we're going to have to reassess in six months.

Based on what you know of this new president as well, where do you foresee Iran to be six months from now with this?

ASGARD: Well, that's a very good point. It is a temporary agreement, a temporary agreement which gives, deals with the most pressing issue the West had to address, which is Iran using negotiating time to race towards some sort of breakout capacity and a nuclear weapons capacity. Now, this negotiating time, it's impossible for Iran to do that. So, that issue is pretty much addressed.

Meanwhile, inside Iran, they can focus as well on some other challenges that are facing that country that have to do with the rights of its citizens and its activities in the region that have concerned some of the neighbors. So, this opens up a little space inside Iran for other types of progress.

BLACKWELL: All right. Ramin Asgard, unpacking the diplomacy of all this -- former State Department official and expert on Iran. Thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you.

ASGARD: Thank you. Thank you.

PAUL: Still to come, retailers are trying hard to compete for your money this week. I don't know, are you going to stay home? You're going to go online? What's your plan?

We are going to tell you about Black Friday mania, next.


PAUL: All right. We are still less than a week away, but Black Friday mania is already here. This Friday, the busiest shopping day in the U.S. the million or billion dollar question, where are you going to go?

BLACKWELL: Alexander Field is live at Herald Square in New York.

Hey, Alexandra.


Look, whether you are brick and mortar store or an online retailer, the goal this time of year is to get people to spend money. Thanksgiving comes late this year, the shopping season is shorter. And so, yes, you guessed it, the sales start even sooner.


FIELD (voice-over): The mad dash used to start on Black Friday, shoppers crushing for steals and deals. This year, bargain hunting is beginning a week earlier.

Wal-Mart is slashing prices for a pre-Black Friday sale that started on Friday. That's seven days before the shopping holiday that keeps creeping up on Thanksgiving Day.

KATHY GRANNIS, NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION SPOKESWOMAN: We know last year, 35 million shoppers were out, in stores and shopping online on Thanksgiving Day. We are fully expecting to see just as many people this year.

FIELD: On Thursday, Wal-Mart will open its doors at 6:00 p.m. Toys "R" Us opened at 5:00 p.m.

But how do you entice shoppers to come inside? Big box stores are luring shoppers in with prices and more price-matching with competitors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's better to be first in line than to be last, and wondering if you're going to get something that you really want something.

FIELD: At this Best Buy in Ft. Myers, Florida, they are already camping out for Thursday sale. The same thing with Akron, Ohio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Couple of us are looking for TV, you know, presence for family.

The National Retail Federation says millenials are driving the Thanksgiving Day shopping trend, but it isn't for everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's absolutely crazy. They do it every year and every year, I say the same thing. It's just crazy.

FIELD: Black Friday still draws the biggest numbers, 46 percent of consumers will hit those sales, and 34 percent of shoppers will be back in stores on Thanksgiving weekend.

So, had enough yet? Of course not. Cyber Monday is around the corner and it isn't just for Monday anymore.

: Last year, the days, Cyber Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, were all over $1 billion online.


FIELD: And while the sales are starting earlier this year, consumer experts say, again, you'll still be able to get the best deals after Christmas, if you are willing to sacrifice on some of the options -- Christi, Victor.

PAUL: Alexandra Field, happy shopping at Herald Square there in New York. Thank you.

We are going to see you back here at the top of the hour, 8:00 Eastern for another hour of NEW DAY SUNDAY.

BLACKWELL: "SGMD" starts right now.