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Prosecutor: Co-Pilot Once Had Suicidal Tendencies; Official: Remains of 78 Crash Victims Identified; Prosecutor: Co-Pilot Once Had Suicidal Tendencies; Just Hours Until Deadline for Iran Deal. Aired 5:00-6:00p ET
Aired March 30, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, suicidal tendencies. We have chilling new information that reveals the co-pilot of Flight 9525 was once treated for having thoughts of killing himself. He also complained of eye problems before the last two flights. Were those -- were those physical problems real or imagined?
Final moments, the disturbing transcript of the cockpit audio is leaked, showing the last minutes of terror as the captain pounds on the cockpit door and passengers begin to scream.
NSA shoot out. Two men dressed as women trying to ram the gates of a to-secret spy agency. One is now dead. What were they trying to do?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Disturbing new details are emerging about the final moments of Flight 9525 and about the co-pilot who authorities say deliberately crashed the airliner into a mountain, killing all on board. A prosecutor confirmed that Andreas Lubitz was treated for suicidal tendencies, but that was years ago before his aviation career. Officials say there's no recent evidence of that nor of the physical condition.
An eye doctor has said to have ruled out a vision problem. At the same time, officials are not disputing a shocking leaked version of the cockpit audio transcript. A summary published by the German newspaper, "Bild," reveals the long minutes of terror as the captain frantically tries to get back into the locked cockpit, and screaming passengers realize what's about to take place.
Our correspondents, analysts and guests are all standing by with the latest developments. But let's go live to CNN's Will Ripley. He's in Dusseldorf, Germany, with the very latest -- Will.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, tonight there are some stunning new developments in this investigation. Specifically, we're learning more about the severe mental problems this co-pilot had been dealing with years before he became a pilot.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RIPLEY (voice-over): A chilling glimpse of Andreas Lubitz in a
cockpit seven years ago, as German investigators confirmed severe mental health problems in his past, revealing Lubitz was suicidal at some point before he got his pilot's license.
CHRISTOPH KUMPA, DUSSELDORF PROSECUTOR SPOKESMAN: He had at that time been in treatment of a psychotherapist because of what is documented as being suicidal.
RIPLEY: The prosecutor's office says there's no evidence that suggests Lubitz was suicidal or acting aggressively in the days before he put Flight 9525 on a deadly collision course with the French Alps. But Lubitz clearly had medical problems. A European government official tells CNN a doctor declared Lubitz was unfit to work on the day of the crash, in part because he complained of vision problems that were diagnosed as being psychosomatic.
KUMPA: We don't have any documentation that says that, regarding his site that this is caused by an organic illness.
RIPLEY: Investigators are pouring over evidence, including materials seized from Lubitz's home. So far, they haven't found any notes or conversations where he shared his motives or confessed to plans to bring down the plane.
Tonight authorities aren't disputing a disturbing new time line of the crash, though they won't confirm the details either. The German newspaper "Bild" publishing what it says is a summary of the audio on Flight 9525's cockpit voice recorder.
According to the report, the captain, Patrick Sondheimer, told Lubitz soon after takeoff at 10 a.m. that he hadn't gone to the bathroom in Barcelona. Lubitz replies, "Go any time."
Around 10:27, the plane reaches cruising altitude, and the captain asked Lubitz to prepare for landing. And after the landing, Lubitz repeats, "You can go now," and the captain is heard getting up and saying, "You can take over." The cockpit door is locked. Lubitz is alone, and he reprograms the autopilot to take the jet straight toward the Alps.
At 10:32, air traffic control tries to contact the plane after detecting the aircraft's descent. There's no answer. An alarm goes off inside the cockpit, "Warning, sink rate."
Then a loud bang on the door. The captain screams, "For God's sake, open the door." Passengers are also heard screaming.
At 10:35, metallic noises, as though someone was trying to knock the door down. Another alarm goes off: "Warning, terrain. Pull up."
This time the captain yells, "Open the damn door."
At 10:38, the sound of Lubitz breathing. Two minutes later, the scrape of the plane's right wing on a mountaintop. Then more passenger screams. The report says those are the last sounds on the recording as the jet goes down and is obliterated.
[17:05:15] RIPLEY: Tonight here in Germany, Wolf, investigators are horrified that the transcript of the cockpit recording was leaked, because the families had to learn through reading it in a tabloid that their loved ones on that plane, 149 innocent people, were helpless and aware that something was seriously wrong for a full eight minutes, from the time that the captain started banging on the door as the plane descended closer to the French Alps. Just horrifying details, Wolf.
BLITZER: There may be a lot of leaks coming to the news media about what happened, Will. But the prosecutors official sources, they're giving out a lot of public information. Certainly a lot more than we would get here in the United States from the National Transportation Safety Board in the aftermath of a crash like this. Is that normal? Are they used to giving out so much information so quickly to the public out there?
RIPLEY: They're doing that in part, Wolf, because of the fact that there's been so many leaks, that there are these news outlets, we believe, paying sources for information. And so there's been a lot of information flooding out, and investigators have been trying to get ahead of it and trying to confirm or deny facts that are out there, whether they're accurate or not, because you're right. There has just been so much, some of it true, some of it not true. All of it extremely upsetting for the people involved, the people closest to this, the families.
BLITZER: Yes, it's a good point you're making. Some of those news organizations are willing to pay people for this kind of information. Will Ripley on the scene for us. Thank you.
At the crash site today, bad weather slowed and complicated recovery complications. A direct path to the wreckage isn't finished yet. Road builders have about a hundred yards to go.
Many passengers, relatives that they are in the area, specialists have identified remains from 78 of the 150 people aboard the jet. Some bodies may never be found, we're told.
CNN's Karl Penhaul is joining us from the crash site with more. What else can you tell us, Karl?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the good news is tonight, Wolf, that the mayor of the local village, he says that that track to the crash site could be ready as soon as tomorrow. There's just 100 yards to go. That will smooth things up. It will smooth things up, because it will enable all-terrain vehicles, and recovery teams to get into the crash site and bring out human remains and bring out fragments of the plane over land instead of using helicopters, which they've been doing up until now.
With the weather as it is now, very windy, flying has been treacherous. The other thing, as you rightly point out, there may be less consolation for some families, because already the forensic teams are saying that the speed of that crash was such that perhaps some of the bodies were pulverized, and their relatives may get nothing back to give a decent burial to.
This afternoon also, a small Israeli eight-man team arrived on site. They're experienced in rescue and recovery. We're seeing what part they will have assigned to them, and we're also awaiting the arrival of two German rescue helicopters. They could be here tomorrow, Wolf.
BLITZER: They still haven't found the flight data recorder. They have the cockpit voice recorder, but the other black box they haven't found, right?
PENHAUL: They certainly have found no sign of that yet again. As we know, even looking at the cockpit voice recorder, that was severely mangled;' and it could be that the data recorder be buried somewhere else along the hillside.
Also, when I hiked up to that area a few days ago, the sides of that mountain are rocky. They're very shaley. I'm just wondering, with the speed of that impact may be data recorder be buried somewhere under the rock and that will, of course, take a lot longer to find, Wolf.
BLITZER: Karl Penhaul on the scene for us. A gruesome recovery operation continuing.
We're just getting in some new information now. A little bit more about the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz. Let's go to our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown. She's joining us live from his hometown of Dusseldorf, Germany.
Pamela, I understand there's an annual exam that all the pilots there are required to pass. Do we know if he did, in fact, have any vision problems?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here's what we've learned, Wolf. Andreas Lubitz passed that annual exam just this past summer. His vision was thoroughly checked as part of that exam. We're told, however, if he was having vision issues as a result of a psychosomatic disorder, that wouldn't have necessarily turned up.
What's interesting here, though, is that he had to fill out a questionnaire at the time of this exam. Here are a few questions as part of that: "Are you taking any medications? Have you ever attempted suicide? Do you have any psychological, psychiatric or neurological diseases?"
Lufthansa says that he never reported any issues -- mental health issues, any physical issues -- to the airline, and it would have been up to him to self-report, not a private doctor. Now, as we know, he saw doctors through the years for psychotherapy treatment.
So it's really interesting to note, Wolf, that all of this is coming to light that he also tried to commit suicide before he got his pilot's license, and Lufthansa says it didn't know about that either.
BLITZER: We've learned a lot about this co-pilot, but we haven't learned that much about the actual captain, who was desperately trying to get back into that cockpit, based on the flight -- the cockpit voice recorder. What do we know about the pilot?
BROWN: Yes, you know, Wolf, he's really the hero in all of this, because as you point out, he was trying to get through, break through that cockpit door.
And here's what we've learned. In fact, our team has spoken to his grandmother. She was very emotional on the phone to us. She said he was only 34 years old. We had two young children, one in kindergarten. Apparently, the grandmother saying he deserves the German Medal of Honor, saying that he is a hero, and he was a loving father. There was a memorial service not far from where I am here in Dusseldorf on Friday. He was beloved by a lot of people, Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm sure he was. All right. Thanks very much. Pamela Brown joining us from Germany.
Let's get some more on what's going on. Joining us now, our law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes; the forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Lisa Van Susteren; and our aviation correspondent, Richard Quest.
All these leaks that are coming out, plus all the official information that prosecutors and others are releasing, how does that play out in terms of this investigation? We obviously know 150 people are dead.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, it shouldn't change the investigative results at all, but it does just create havoc for the families and for everyone else to have this level of leaking going on. And unfortunately, it seems up till now, most of the leaks have been accurate. For me, this is unprecedented to have that level of leaks in this sensitive of an investigation.
BLITZER: Let me ask Richard Quest, how unusual is it, Richard, for example, that cockpit voice recorder transcript to be leaked to that newspaper, the German newspaper "Bild"?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Very unusual. Because normally, the transcript is being held by the investigative authority, the air investigators. And I have no evidence of this, but I'm guessing it wasn't the BEA that leaked it. They are -- they are extremely good at this sort of stuff and rarely reveal material that they shouldn't.
It kind of summed it up. It's distressing for the families. It is unnecessary in many ways. And here's the point, Wolf. Because as a journalist, obviously, I want all the information out there. But what we're learning isn't adding anything, because it's going to come out in the investigation anyway. We've got the prosecutors giving press conferences telling us. We've got the BEA. We've got the information. All it's being is sprinkled onto it is titillation. BLITZER: Stand by, guys. Everybody stand by, because we're
getting some more information. I want to take a quick break. We'll resume our special coverage right here in THE SITUATION ROOM right after this.
[17:17:42] BLITZER: Breaking now, new details about the co-pilot blamed for intentionally crashing the Germanwings airliner. German prosecutor now says medical records show he was suicidal years ago before he actually obtained a pilot's license. More recently, he told one doctor he was too stressed to work, and when he visited an eye doctor, complaining of vision problems, he was told the cause was psychosomatic.
Our experts are here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Let's continue analysis.
Lisa, unfit to work, psychosomatic. Could that effect his vision, in effect, if he were going through some major mental issues?
LISA VAN SUSTEREN, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Absolutely. Psychosomatic illnesses are well-known to sometimes be absolutely dramatic. You could be blind. There's psychosomatic blindness; paralyzed. All sorts of things, so yes.
BLITZER: Explain exactly the psychosomatic condition, what that means.
VAN SUSTEREN: It means that you're psycho soma. It means the mind and the body. So what's happening in the mind is, and we also call it a conversion disorder. It's converted into a physical manifestation. So a great stress or anxiety. Converted into a physical manifestation.
BLITZER: So if you're going through major stress, it could affect our eyesight.
VAN SUSTEREN: That is correct. It's certainly not common, but it can, yes.
BLITZER: And obviously can have other effects, as well.
Richard, you know, the passengers, the 149 people on that plane, the crew members, how do you know you're safe on a plane if a mental health screening isn't part of the certification of a pilot's license?
QUEST: Well, it is, as you know, Wolf, from the coverage, the part of getting the job. And the self-reporting mechanisms that are in place have worked extremely well until now.
You've got to understand in this case, Wolf, or it's really important that we're dealing with an exceptionally rare, unbelievably seldom example here. This man lied. He cheated. He didn't reveal what he should have revealed. The suicidal tendencies were before he joined the airline. He did everything possible to avoid the truth coming out. And we don't even know probably half the story of what he told those doctors that he went to see.
You cannot put in place a penalty of bureaucracy that's going to always necessarily pick up this person. You just can't.
BLITZER: But you agree -- you agree, Richard, this guy should have never been allowed in the cockpit of a plane like that.
QUEST: He probably shouldn't been behind the wheel of a car, never mind flying a plane. But this is not about depression. This is not about mental illness. This is about somebody who was so ill and was such a state that really, the system failed to pick him up, to be sure.
But it's questionable. You cannot tar the entire airline community or pilots generally and put on top of them a sort of restriction because of this particular individual case. It won't work.
VAN SUSTEREN: But Lisa, how did he manage to deceive so many people? His colleagues, his friends, his bosses or whatever? He came across as relatively normal, and he clearly wasn't.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he may have come across as relatively normal to them, because they weren't looking for anything. If he didn't show anything dramatic, they let it go. But that doesn't mean that there wasn't anything.
And I think what's really important here is to know that this guy is a murderer. He was a cold-blooded mass murderer. We cannot talk about this the way we do being a depressive illness. I think we need to get off that, because people who are depressed are not going out and bringing 149 people into the side of a mountain. We know that the brains of people like this are very different.
BLITZER: If he had been your patient, Lisa, and he had come to you and said he's depressed and he's suicidal and he hates his company, he wants to bring down a plane, under the rules, are you allowed to go to authorities and reveal what he has told you?
VAN SUSTEREN: Here's what it is. It's called the privilege of privacy ends where the public peril begins. That is our ethical standard.
BLITZER: So that means you could have gone to them?
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, of course.
BLITZER: You could have gone to Lufthansa.
Very quickly, Tom, in your opinion, different rules, right?
FUENTES: We don't know. We haven't heard specifically what the German rules are about privacy and about medical people informing the authorities if someone's suicidal or homicidal.
BLITZER: Do you know, Richard, the answer to that? QUEST: There are ways in which the information could have been
provided. Absolutely. And of course, there is still a right in many cases to provide whereas -- where public peril at state.
This assumes the doctors he was seeing knew he was a pilot. We're not talking about his aeronautical examination. We're talking about the private clinics and the physicians he visited. Did they know he was a pilot that was about to get behind 100 tons of steel with 149 other people on board? If they didn't know that, then there's no way that this could have ever come out.
BLITZER: I'm going to have all of you stand by, because we have new information coming in, as well. Our justice reporter, Pamela Brown, she's in Germany. She's speaking with crash investigators. She's standing by. She's got new details.
Also ahead, two men wearing women's wigs, they tried to crash the gates of the National Security Agency here in the D.C. area. Stay with us. We have new information.
[17:27:24] BLITZER: Breaking now, new details about the co-pilot blamed for intentionally crashing a Germanwings airliner. A German prosecutor now confirming Andreas Lubitz once had suicidal tendencies and underwent psychotherapy before he obtained a pilot's license. More recently, he went to doctors complaining of stress and eye problems.
Let's go back to our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown. She's following the investigation in Germany for us. We're getting some more information, Pamela. What have you learned?
BROWN: Well, we've learned from the German prosecutor, Wolf, that Andreas Lubitz had mental health issues dating back to before he became a commercial pilot. Back in 2013, today the prosecutors saying that he exhibited suicidal behavior way back then.
More recently, Wolf, we've learned that Andreas Lubitz thought he had eye issues. He was having some vision issues, so he went to the eye doctor, and apparently, he was diagnosed with a psychosomatic disorder at that point.
So essentially, Wolf, there was nothing wrong with his eyes. And it was all actually in his head, according to a source I spoke with, with firsthand knowledge of the investigation.
Also, we learned that he went to a neuropsychologist and told that doctor that he was overburdened with work and that he was very stressed out. Apparently, he never made any mention of wanting to commit suicide or any aggression toward others.
And in fact, Wolf, investigators had been in and out of his apartment. We've learned they haven't found any suicide note, any confession. The prosecutors saying today it's very much a mystery as to the motive. He didn't have any personal problems, apparently, with his girlfriend or family members. At this stage in the investigation, still a lot of unanswered questions. Still very much a mystery, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Pamela, stand by, because we're going to get back to you.
I want to bring back our aviation correspondent, Richard Quest, and the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes. Also joining us, the former FAA safety inspector, David Soucie.
Richard, take us through this time line that we now have. The plane started to descend at around 10:29 a.m. local time. Screams are last heard at about 11 minutes later, 10:40 a.m.
If a pilot is going to intentionally bring a plane down, is that how he or she would do it?
QUEST: Well, the idea that you would just put the nose down manually and just crash it that way, the Airbus 320 has various protections in it that might prevent the pilot from doing so.
Now, we don't know whether Lubitz was thinking in such clear thoughts, because, you know, everyone wants to know why this whole drama of turning the autopilot or doing a slow rate of descent. For the simple reason that the plane won't let you crash itself on its own. That's one of the reasons that he may have done it.
But this extremely complicated way, this awful way in which he would have executed it, yes. I mean, he knew what -- he was a pilot. He had 600 hours flying experience, 100 on type (ph). He knew what he was doing. And God help him. He executed it with precision, and that's the result.
BLITZER: Yes, certainly, a tragic result.
Tom, how are the investigators now, based on what they know from the cockpit voice recorder -- they have a transcript; they've actually heard all the sound in the cockpit -- how are they going to piece together and eventually learn what his real motive was?
FUENTES: I don't know they'll ever know his real motive, Wolf. I mean, they'll know that he did this on purpose. I think they know that now.
As far as the controls of the plane and what dials were touched at what point, they need the data recorder to reveal that. So right now they're just going on what they've heard over the sound of that recording, and that's really about all they have, plus what the police are finding in his apartment and in his medical records. Otherwise, I don't know.
BLITZER: Should authorities and airlines, for that matter, David Soucie, do more formal psychological testing for these pilots?
SOUCIE: Well, I think they should, Wolf. And they do when they're initially hired, but it seems -- it appears as though that might have escaped them -- escaped them in this case. But now what I'm concerned with is the continuing surveillance,
the continuing monitoring of these types of psychological conditions that just rely on self-reporting. So I do believe there needs to be more analysis done in that area.
BLITZER: Should the airlines do it, David? Or should some government agency? For example, here in the United States. Who should do psychological testing for recertification, for example, a pilot's license?
SOUCIE: Well, I think the recertification needs to fall, the burden of that should be on the medical examiners themselves. However, we need to designate psychological medical examiners that are qualified to do that. And we currently don't do that on a broad basis. So I think that's where the focus is going to have to go.
BLITZER: Richard, Lubitz had passed his annual pilot recertification medical examination last summer. He had been to a medical clinic as recently, though, as this month. He was seemingly being monitored, but how is that not a red flag as far as the airline is concerned?
QUEST: Because we don't know if the airline knew or what clinic he went to, the university clinic. That university clinic he went to, if he hadn't told them he was a pilot, they had no way of knowing, Wolf, that he shouldn't be flying a plane.
They said he was unfit for work, but they've never told us what work they thought he was unfit for.
This issue of continued psychological testing. Of course, it's going to come in. You can't avoid it after the events that have taken place. But, according to the German Pilots Association, you might say -- they would say this -- but according to them, to date, it's by no means clear that it would have picked this up.
Now, that's not an excuse not to do anything. All I'm saying and suggesting is we've got to be exceptionally careful of coming up with a kneejerk reaction to what is one of the most heinous aviation incidents that any of us can ever remember. The kneejerk reaction will not solve the problem.
BLITZER: And I assume all the investigators, Tom, they're going around interviewing almost everyone he knew, especially for example family members and his former girlfriend.
FUENTES: Yes, because so much of this goes back even before he tried to become a pilot. They're going to have to go back at least 10 years, interviewing people that were with him, associated with him, classmates, instructors, plus girlfriends, people that are close to him.
BLITZER: And that's going to continue. I want all of you. Coming up, we have more information coming in on the final moments of 9525. The personal background of the co-pilot authorities now say was once treated for suicidal tendencies. Also other major news including the deadline for an Iran nuclear
deal framework only a few hours away. Is Iran playing last minute games? I'll ask the State Department deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf. There you see here. She's standing by live. She's in Switzerland.
And two men said to be disguised as women, they try to ram the gates of a top-secret spy agency here in the Washington, D.C., area. One of them is now dead. What were they trying to do?
BLITZER: The clock is ticking talks to reach a blueprint for a nuclear deal with Iran. The deadline now only a few hours away, but Iran may be digging in its heels on what to deal with its potential bomb-making material.
Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, has the latest -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we started talking about adding more time. Maybe the Tuesday dead line is not so hard and fast. Also talked about a watering down of what to expect tomorrow. Perhaps a general outline verses something more formal. Clearly, there's pressure on both sides to make an agreement.
SCIUTTO: With just 24 hours to the deadline in Switzerland, America's top diplomat has only questions, no answers, on a final deal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think you'll get a deal by deadline?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could well be (ph)?
SCIUTTO: Russia's foreign minister left the talks for home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you everybody, very much.
[17:40:13] SCIUTTO: And Iran supplied an 11th-hour surprise: rejecting an off-discussed plan to shift its stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country for reprocessing into a safer form.
A senior Iranian told CNN, quote, "That's true. We do not intend to ship our material out. The stockpile is one of the subjects of our discussions, and we will deal with it in the talks."
U.S. officials insist that shipping the material abroad, possibly to Russia -- was always only just one option. The world's most skeptical observer, Israeli prime minister, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, believes the talks are headed in a dangerous direction.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Disagreement as a default is fulfilling our deepest fears and even worse.
SCIUTTO: Sending what experts say is around nine tons of enriched uranium out of the country is one way to ensure its so-called breakout time. The time Tehran would need to build a nuclear weapon extends the Obama administration's goal of one year.
RICHARD EINHORN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: There are other options under discussion I'm sure, but the best approach would be if Iran were to agree to ship out its stocks of enriched uranium to Russia.
SCIUTTO: Other remaining sticking points: how quickly the west lifts economic sanctions and how much nuclear research development Iran is permitted to do while the deal is in effect.
Republican lawmakers make it clear who they believe will lose out in the last-minute wrangling.
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: It doesn't seem to be headed in the right direction, and clearly, with a deadline of Tuesday, I'm concerned with what we might give away. The Iranians don't seem to want to conclude this.
SCIUTTO: I asked a senior Iranian diplomat about Iran's resistance on the remaining issues of disagreement. He countered that it is not Iran that is resisting. He says it's the west, including the U.S. being, in his words, intransigent. Whether that's a negotiating tactic or possibly a signal that these talks might not reach an agreement, in about 24 hours or so, we'll find out -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Sciutto reporting for us. Thank you very much.
Joining us now from Luzerne, Switzerland, the State Department deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf.
Marie, thanks very much for joining -- joining us. The deadline only a few hours away. Will there be a deal?
MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN: Well, Wolf, I can stand here and say tonight that I actually don't know. We can see a path forward and to concluding this political understanding by this time tomorrow night. But I don't know if we'll get there.
We have put proposals on the table that meet our bottom line of getting Iran to a year breakout and cutting off their four pathways to nuclear material for a weapon. But we don't know if they can say yes to that. I think we'll see a lot in the next 24 hours. Then we'll really know how this process goes forward from here.
BLITZER: What's the major sticking point right now?
HARF: Well, all of the issues that we've talked about are really related to each other. So obviously, Iran cares quite a bit about the pace of sanctions relief, not just U.S. sanctions but U.N. sanctions, E.U. sanctions.
And on our side, we want to be very clear that whatever number of centrifuges they're left with, whatever stockpile they're left with, whatever they do with that, whatever research and development they're allowed, that our bottom line is met, that we get to that year breakout time, up from about two to three months right now.
So we're trying to put together the right equation to get there. We think we have a number of different ways we can get there, but we don't know if the Iranians will say yes.
BLITZER: Apparently, there was a lot of consideration that even a plan for Iran to give up a lot of its stockpile of uranium and send it off to Russia. Has that completely gone away now?
HARF: No. Well, that's always been one option for how you deal with the stockpile that they would be getting rid of, which is part of the equation that gets us all the way to a year breakout.
There are other options: diluting that uranium in country, as they've done under the joint plan of action for at least (Ph) -- that's another option.
So what matters to us is less how they get there but really that they are able to dispose of that stockpile in a way that they cannot use it to get to a nuclear weapon. That's what we're most concerned about, and that's what we're focused on.
BLITZER: These negotiations have been going on for 18 months. Why is it taking so long these final hours? It's either make or break.
HARF: Well, these issues are incredibly complicated, not just on the technical side, although if you just look at that, the scientific know-how, all of the different pieces of how you enrich uranium, how you get to a plutonium pathway. All of that is incredibly complicated. And each piece of that, there are thousands of decisions you have to make at a technical level and then at a political level. And those are all part of this agreement here.
And Iran does have some tough decisions they have to make, and I think we will see, in the next 24 hours, whether they are able to. Often, you know, at the end of negotiations, the toughest issues, it's down to the wire, those are the most difficult conversations. And we really don't know if we'll be able to get this done.
BLITZER: I want you to listen to then-President Bill Clinton. This happened 1994 when the U.S. then worked out a similar nuclear deal with North Korea, supposedly getting rid of any intention for North Korea to ever have a nuclear bomb. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Today all Americans should know that as a result of this achievement on Korea our nation will be safer and the future of our people more secure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I remember covering those negotiations when I was CNN's White House correspondent. Wendy Sherman who's now one of your lead negotiators, she was deeply involved in negotiating that deal with North Korea. That didn't work out so well. North Korea not only has a nuclear bomb but they have missiles capable of using those bombs, and a lot of people are concerned the same thing is going to happen with Iran right now.
Why shouldn't they be so concerned?
MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN: Well, just from a technical standpoint we're at completely different places when we look at Iran's nuclear program today than we were with North Korea's. And if you just look at the facts that to the last months we've been negotiating, we've been living under the joint plan of action where Iran's nuclear program is frozen, it's rolled back in key areas and the IAEA has confirmed they've lived up to their commitments.
That's very different than the situation we were in North Korea. We're also talking about much more transparency, much more verification, much more monitoring, and we will not take a bad deal, Wolf. If we get one, it will be one that we can talk about publicly, that we can defend publicly and that it will be confident, meets our bottom lines here. That's what we're working towards. We can still get it done. We just don't know if we'll be able to.
BLITZER: Well, I've got remind you because remember covering the aftermath of that deal with North Korea. There was a lot of optimism. This was a new chapter in U.S.-North Korean relations. The Korean Peninsula was going to be a different place. North Korea gave up its ambition to have a nuclear bomb but of course they backtracked, they cheated, and they have a nuclear bomb right now.
That's what a lot of people including the House Speaker John Boehner who told our own Dana Bash yesterday that the sanctions have been working and it was a major blunder to ease up on those sanctions allowing billions of dollars to flow into Iran. Your reaction to what the speaker said you should have kept the sanctions going even intensify the sanctions to squeeze Iran.
HARF: Well, the sanctions are what brought us to the negotiating table. And members of Congress who voted for them and these were very important said that they were doing so in order to get Iran's to the negotiating table. So why then, when Iran is there, would you take steps to undermine that?
Look, the sanctions have been an incredibly important piece of this. And under the Joint Plan of Action, the core architecture of our sanctions has remained in place. That hasn't gone anywhere. Most of Iran's currency is still frozen overseas, they still aren't able to access it. They will not get the comprehensive sanctions relief their economy needs unless we get to a comprehensive agreement.
And I think we owe it to the world, Wolf, to see if we can get this done diplomatically. We know that's the best way to do it, we know it's the most durable, it gives us the most eyes on Iran's nuclear program. We owe it to everyone, to our partners, to Israel, to see if we can get this done and that's why we're working so hard. BLITZER: We'll check back with you tomorrow.
Marie Harf, thanks very much for joining us.
Coming up, disturbing new information on the medical background of the co-pilot who crashed his airliner into the alps killing all 150 people on board.
And a deadly shooting at a top secret spy agency. Officials now say two men dressed as women tried to break through the gate. We have new information. Stand by.
[17:52:55] BLITZER: A deadly encounter at the gates of a top secret spy agency. Officials say two men apparently dressed as women tried to break through barriers at the NSA. The National Security Agency just outside Washington, D.C.
Our justice reporter Evan Perez is getting new information.
What happened here, Evan?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, this began as one -- when a scary National Security incident at the NSA headquarters has turned into just a strange incident.
Around 9:00 two men tried to drive into one of the outer perimeter gates of the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade. They drove in through what is normally an employee entrance off the highway there. They failed to follow instructions from NSA police officers and allegedly tried to ram a second gate. That's when an NSA officer opened fire, killing one of the men and injuring a second.
Now from the scene there we have pictures that appears to be a wig -- according to the NSA authorities there, one of the -- both men were wearing -- were dressed as women, women's wigs. And what appears to have happened is that a man went to police earlier this morning and reported that he went partying with a couple of men dressed as women and this morning he found his car missing which happens to be the same Ford Escape that was found right there at the NSA headquarters.
They found cocaine inside this car. And so now authorities believe, Wolf, that perhaps these men were under the influence and made a series of very bad decisions.
BLITZER: But there's no indication this could be terrorism or anything along those lines?
PEREZ: The FBI says that there's no indication of terrorism. They're still looking through everything but it does appear that this was a series of mistakes that caused this very scary incident there.
BLITZER: Were these two men with the wigs armed?
PEREZ: They were not -- they were not armed. They had drugs in the car and perhaps they reacted -- you know, made some wrong decisions when they were confronted by police, Wolf, again probably because they were under the influence.
BLITZER: Because Fort Meade, where the NSA is, is headquartered -- it's a huge area.
BLITZER: And there are a lot of entrances.
PEREZ: There's a lot of entrances. But this entrance is an employee entrance. And frankly if you're driving down the Baltimore Washington Parkway, you can mistake this for an exit, a highway exit. So it's possible under the influence you could have made that mistake.
[17:55:06] BLITZER: Maybe they made a horrible blunder.
BLITZER: All right. Maybe that's what happened. We'll find out.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that, Evan Perez reporting.
Coming up, chilling new information reveals how the co-pilot of Flight 9525 was once treated for having suicidal tendencies. What was behind his complaints of vision problems?
And a leaked transcript of the cockpit audio shows the final minutes of terror as the captain pounds on the cockpit door and passengers start to scream.
BLITZER: Happening now, secret diagnosis. New information about why the co-pilot of Flight 9525 was declared unfit to work on the day he crashed the plane. What did the airline know about his psychological problems?