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Iran Nuclear Deadline Looms, Roadblocks to Deal Remain; Afghanistan's First Female Supreme Court Nominee; Imagine a World. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired July 9, 2015 - 14:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: another deadline, another chance at history but will world powers sign that elusive Iran

nuclear deal? Standing by live with the very latest from Vienna the E.U. foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.

And we'll get the lowdown from the Iran side: former negotiator Hussein Mousavian joins me.

Also ahead, my interview with the first woman ever to be nominated to the Afghan supreme court.

But what does her rejection mean for women's rights?




AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

The clock is ticking towards yet another deadline in Vienna where Iran and six world powers are trying to hammer out a deal that would curb Iran's

nuclear program in exchange for international inspections and sanctions relief.

The new deadline is Friday; but despite marathon negotiations, the two sides are still struggling to close that deal. President Obama reportedly

now says chances are less than 50-50 and just a few moments ago, this update from the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is not open-ended. President Obama made it very clear to me last night, you can't wait forever for the

decision to be made. We know that. If the tough decisions don't get made, we are absolutely prepared to call an end to this process.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Meantime, Iran's top negotiator and foreign minister, Javad Zarif, penned a column in today's "Financial Times" and

took to social media last week to say this:


MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: At this 11th hour, despite some differences that remain, we have never been closer to a lasting

outcome. But there is no guarantee. Getting to "yes" requires the courage to compromise, the self-confidence to be flexible, the maturity to be

reasonable, the wisdom to set aside illusions and the audacity to break old habits.


AMANPOUR: So amid reports now of heated discussions inside the negotiating rooms, what is happening behind closed doors?

The E.U.'s High Representative to the talks and its foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, joins me now for an exclusive interview from Vienna.

Welcome back to the program, Ms. Mogherini.

What is going on?

FEDERICA MOGHERINI, E.U. FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: Thank you. Thank you, Christiane.

It's going on that, first of all, let me thank you very much for this invitation. It's a pleasure to be back and it's a critical time indeed.

It's a critical time because we have put a lot of very detailed texts on the table. The negotiating teams are working literally day and night, six

months actually. But in the last weeks in an incredible way. And now we have a couple of highly political issues on which decisions need to be


So indeed, this is the time.

AMANPOUR: So political issues, not technical issues.

So tell me, what are the political issues?

MOGHERINI: You will understand that in this critical time, I will not go into the issues that are open for negotiations. This is because the time

is crucial but also for my role. My role is to protect, to facilitate the process, the negotiation and to try to make sure that this brings to a

result if a result is possible and a good one.

But I can tell you that talks are sometimes, yes, heated; that's normal. But the work of the teams and of the ministers is very constructive and has

produced, as I said, a lot of detailed already technical texts, which are not only technical, also political. So we are as close as we could get and

we've never been that close. And I think everybody now is extremely committed. Everybody understands what is at stake.

Still as both ministers, you've heard before, have said, decisions need to be taken now.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you about the tempers and the heated discussions. There's a report -- I'm sure you've seen it in "The Wall

Street Journal" --


AMANPOUR: -- that suggests both the foreign secretaries, Kerry and Zarif, shouting at each other. And not only that, you threatening to leave and

Mr. Zarif saying, hey, don't threaten an Iranian.

Is that true?

MOGHERINI: You know, you wouldn't expect an Iranian and an Italian negotiating in a cold way. That is, I would say, part of our culture. And

it is quite normal that after 22 months of this process and in the very last days, hours, hopefully, of this process, the tensions sometimes get

heated, yes.

So sometimes we have heated exchanges. But mutual respect is always there. This also means to me that the relationship is open and frank and based on

mutual respect. As it happens in relationships that are open and frank and based on mutual respect, you say things as you think them and this doesn't

mean that you don't work together in a constructive way.

On the contrary, sometimes we have that kind of exchanges. But then this allows us to move forward, to overcome some misunderstandings or some

obstacles and then to go to the drafting because, at the end of the day, it's better to be, again, open and to tackle the issues as they are, which

means difficult and historical and important and then move forward. Sometimes it's needed.

AMANPOUR: President Obama is reported to have said to his team and to Congress people in the United States that the chances now are less than 50-

50. You know, there was meant to be some kind of an announcement by midnight tonight or tomorrow.

Is that likely to happen?

MOGHERINI: It is still possible. It is still possible. I would not give numbers because as I said, we are very close. But if the important

historical political decisions are not made in the next hours, we won't have an agreement.

On the other side, it's very clear for everybody that making that difficult decisions in one week, two weeks, three weeks from now will not be easier.

It will be much more difficult for everybody.

So you know, difficult to say, under 50 percent, more than 50 percent. It's not -- that's not a game. But we are close and it is possible. And I

think everybody understands the responsibilities, I would say the historic responsibilities that everybody sitting around this table today has, which

is building trust among partners, among countries that have not had relations for a long time, building trust possibly in a region that is

affected by many conflicts and tensions and most of all building one historical non-proliferation, nuclear non-proliferation agreement that

would make the region and the world much more secure.

AMANPOUR: You say that you won't get into the nitty-gritty. I understand that. But did the Ayatollah Khamenei last minute red line the demands he

put out on social media and in the speech in Tehran last week, has that made it more difficult for you? And are you surprised that that happened?

MOGHERINI: You know, we worked very hard already in March to get an agreement on the parameters of the agreement or the final agreement. That

was very tough. It was very hard. But it was very useful because now we're working within that framework. We all agreed that we do not move

back from what was agreed in March in Lausanne.

We implement that kind of framework agreement into the details. So there are not new elements raised and should not be the case by the different

parties. We are still working on the framework that was agreed in Lausanne and it is also my job to make sure that this is the case because you don't

negotiate twice and you don't go back to texts and parameters that were agreed already.

That is a common tense, rule, I would say, especially at this stage of the process, which is the final night.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you then, you say you don't change places and change negotiating tactics in the middle. This is what Foreign Minister

Zarif has tweeted in the last hours.

"We're working hard but not rushed to get the job done. Mark my words, you can't change horses in the middle of a stream."

Is he trying to say that you're trying to change the negotiating parameters in the middle of a stream?

What do you think he means by that?

MOGHERINI: Maybe my English is not good enough. What I focus on is the first part of the tweet, which is exactly the same words that Secretary

Kerry used a few minutes ago. We are committed. We are not rushed into a deal.


MOGHERINI: But we are there and we can make it. So I think that now we also have to be -- try to understand that domestic politics, public

opinions have their fair share. We have many hundreds of journalists that are staying here in Vienna for many weeks now, that also need to build

stories about what happens inside.

So I take this as part of the negotiating game. What is relevant to me and what is relevant for all the six that are sitting at one side of the table

-- and, by the way, let me say the process have proven be extremely constructive, extremely useful. All the six have played a very good role

so far. And the unity of the group has been excellent.

But what I see, what is relevant to me and what is relevant for all sitting around the table is that in closed door, at closed doors, when it gets to

discussing the political issues, the technicalities, the deal itself, the atmosphere is extremely constructive --


MOGHERINI: -- as I said, we can be very frank.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you finally when will you know that it's not working anymore or how will you know that this is not going to happen? You know,

Secretary Kerry said we can't go on forever like this. We can't have this open-ended, extended deadline forever.

And do you think the Iranians might need to go back to Tehran one more time?

Is that in the cards?

MOGHERINI: This is something you should ask them. I wouldn't expect so. I think the proof will be in the moment when -- and this is going to be

extremely soon -- the difficult historical political decisions will need to be taken on this couple of issues that are still open. And at that point,

it will not be a matter of, you know, getting to the wording or drafting or something like that. At that moment, you will have the ministers around

the table and we will need to say, yes, we're ready to compromise on one side and have a good deal and have this historical step done or, no, on one

side in particular, there's no political space for taking that decision and then we will not have a deal. I think that moment of truth will come

extremely soon, next hours, I think. And that's what Secretary Kerry, I think, meant when said it's not an open-ended process because now we are

there, text, as I said, we've been working very hard, especially with European Union team, to put text on the table. That's done. That's

already there. So now it's a matter of yes or no. We have -- they have -- the parties have the political space to take that political decision.

AMANPOUR: You say it's a matter of a few hours. We'll be watching very closely and we appreciate your coming to talk to us today, Federica

Mogherini, the E.U. High Representative and foreign policy chief, thank you for joining us from the talks in Vienna.

And we're going to try to get an inside look from the Iranian side. Seyed Hossein Mousavian is a former Iranian ambassador and nuclear negotiator.

He joins me from Princeton University, where he's now a research scholar.

And we turn to you many, many times, Mr. Mousavian, because we know that you're in touch with negotiators and people who do know what's going on.

So welcome back.

Can I ask you the same question that I asked Ms. Mogherini, to explain to me what Javad Zarif has tweeted.

"We're working hard but not rushed to get the job done."

OK, I understand that.

"Mark my words, you can't change horses in the middle of a stream."

What's that mean?

SEYED HOSSEIN MOUSAVIAN, FORMER IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO GERMANY: First of all, they have made real progress as John Kerry said 10-15 minutes ago. I

believe to my understanding 97 percent of the draft is finished. They have agreed.

What Ms. Mogherini said, technical issues are resolved and some political issues need to be decided is about the fact that all technical issues

related to inspections, whatever is related to IAEA rules and regulations, non-proliferation treaty, international laws, are already agreed and


Political issues are, as I told you in my last interview, are about the U.S. demands for beyond non-proliferation treaty.

What Javad Zarif said, I just can give you one example. On April 2nd, 2015, they agreed on framework agreement principles every single agreed and

you saw in the U.S. fact sheet that about for no --


MOUSAVIAN: -- they agreed Iran would decrease the number of centrifuges from 3,000 to 1,000. It was agreed; it was published by the U.S. But when

American negotiators, they went back for the final deal, they changed their position and they asked Iranians although you have agreed already on 1,000,

we are asking you to agree on 300 instead of 1,000.

The U.S. practically changed some of its position. That's why it made the situation more difficult.

AMANPOUR: All right. And what about from the position of Ayatollah Khamenei, who put out these demands and these new red lines and also the

demands from the Iranian side, apparently to lift arms embargos on ballistic and other such technology.

Is that part of it, too, or is it just about the centrifuges and the timing of the sanctions?

MOUSAVIAN: I think more is about sanctions. As you know, they already agreed within the final agreement, all nuclear related sanctions would be

lifted. All U.N. resolutions, unilateral sanctions, multilateral sanctions, all nuclear related sanctions would be lifted. This is what

they have already agreed, once on November -- in November 2013 and the second time on April 2nd, 2015.

But now the U.S. is playing a game, is saying, look, the nuclear related sanctions are twofold. Onefold is about economic sanctions like banking,

insurance, oil; they have no problem to lift it. But some part of the nuclear related sanctions are about proliferation issues like arms. And

you want to keep them for a long period. And the Iranians, they say, look, Mr. Kerry, already we have agreed that all nuclear related sanctions would

be lifted.

AMANPOUR: All right, Mr. Mousavian. We're slightly out of time. In one word, tell me, will there be a deal by the deadline, yes or no?

MOUSAVIAN: I believe yes.

AMANPOUR: On that note, thank you very much indeed for joining me from Princeton.

Now ever since 9/11, Iran has played a crucial political role with the West against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

So will new Afghan Taliban peace talks finally end the war there?

And what will such a deal do to women's rights?

We ask the first female ever to be nominated to the nation's supreme court with a twist though: religious hardliners have barred her from taking her

seat. That's next.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

As we wait to know whether there'll be an Iranian nuclear deal and what that might mean for resolving regional crises going forward, Afghanistan is

suffering from an upsurge in Taliban fighting as the United States has pulled much of its troops out of the country.


AMANPOUR: But Pakistan sponsored talks this week between the Taliban and Afghan government officials were reportedly quite positive. Potentially

they might open the way for some formal peace talks in the future.

Afghanistan has a long way to go on its road to stability and democracy and a key barometer has always been women's rights. There were high hopes when

President Ashraf Ghani nominated Anisa Rassouli as the first woman ever for the supreme court. But they were dashed when hardline conservatives

scuppered her bid by voting against her.

She joined me earlier from Kabul to talk about what it all means.


AMANPOUR: Anisa Rassouli, welcome to the program.

ANISA RASSOULI, AFGHAN JUDGE (through translator): Thank you.

AMANPOUR: You were about to make history. You were nominated as the first woman to the supreme court but you were a few votes short and therefore you

failed to make it on the court.

How does it make you feel?

What do you think it means for your country right now?

RASSOULI: Well, it's clear it was a good -- it was a step forward in democracy -- for democracy and if this would have happened, it would have

been very effective and there would have been a hope for women.

AMANPOUR: What does rejecting your seat on the supreme court, what message does that give to other women in Afghanistan?

RASSOULI: I don't know what has happened that I should be rejected. I have not contacted them; I have not talked to them and I have not seen them

so that at least I could -- I would have asked what was the reason that I was rejected.

I had all the qualifications and the relevant things that I should have.

AMANPOUR: So what do you think women will think now that you have been rejected?

RASSOULI: The women who know me and they are committed that I'm a judge, I was honest, I was clean, 27 years I have spent, worked for the purity of

the -- for justice. I've spent my life.

It gives a negative impression to other women.

AMANPOUR: Anisa, the Afghan constitution says that men and women should have the same rights. But as we know in practice, it doesn't work like


What do women need and how long a road is it for women to get their rights?

RASSOULI: Well, we can't say the timeframe. It is not easy. But however, it's a lot of work is required so that women know their rights, at least to

know what rights they have. And after that, they should know through which means or which ways they can get their rights.

Of course, it will take a long time.

AMANPOUR: What are the biggest problems for women right now in practice in Afghanistan?

RASSOULI: One of the main problems in Afghanistan for women is not having self-sufficiency; because economically they are not self-sufficient and

they're -- they are in need and vulnerable and that's why they want to fulfill those needs through men.

If the women go get self-sufficiency and get the opportunity to get an income, I'm sure that the situation will be different and it will change.

AMANPOUR: The Taliban had a terrible history when it came to women and others in Afghanistan but especially to women. Now there are new peace

talks happening between the Afghan officials and Taliban officials.

If there is a deal, what will that mean, do you think, for women's rights?

RASSOULI: The women will continue their struggle and they will not let any deal take place where the women's rights are trampled underfoot.

And those rights will not be sacrificed for the sake of these talks or negotiations. They have to consider the women's rights because the women

in Afghanistan, they contribute half of the society and in no way half of the society is (INAUDIBLE) but the law is not being taken decision upon.

Really that society will not be a healthy society.

AMANPOUR: Anisa Rassouli, thank you so much for joining us from Kabul tonight.

RASSOULI: Thank you very much and very kind of you.


AMANPOUR: So while President Ghani finds it hard to win over his own parliament on this crucial subject, after a break, we imagine a world where

Iran is charmed by a U.S. spokesman.


AMANPOUR: Mixing Persian poetry with politics -- next.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where high-powered diplomacy gets spiced up with some Persian poetry. That is Alan Eyre's

way. He's the first-ever Farsi speaking spokesman for the U.S. State Department, which is an extraordinary fact when you consider that Iran has

loomed large in U.S. diplomacy one way or another for decades.

Eyre developed a taste for the language when seeking the real flavor of his favorite Persian poets and he now briefs U.S. negotiators on how they're

perceived by the Iranian media and he answers Iranian reporters at the talks in their own language.

And instead of fobbing them off with a dreaded "no comment," he likes to quote the 13th century Persian poet Saadi.

"A knowing man will not utter every word which occurs to him. It is not proper to endanger one's head for the king's secret."

Well, that's one way of putting it. Eyre has, of course, never been to Iran but he's already got more than 100,000 followers on Facebook.

And so that is it for our program tonight. Remember you can always see the whole show online at, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.