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Trump Urges Reform at First U.N. Appearance; Rouhani: High Cost for U.S. if Exits Iran Deal; Swedish Foreign Minister Talks North Korea, Trump; Discovering the Vikings' Warrior Women
Aired September 18, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, from the United Nations in New York, my exclusive with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who
tells me that if the U.S. pulls out of the nuclear deal, it will cost them greatly and it will do nothing to reign in North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT: If the United States wishes to withdraw from the JCPOA, why would the North Korean waste their time in order to sit
around the table of dialogue with the United States?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Also ahead, Trump uses his first general assembly to blast U.N. red tape. Can it be cut? I'll ask the Swedish foreign minister, live.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour at the United Nations General Assembly here in New York.
It's the annual gathering of world leaders and all week they will be turning up to this building behind me to discuss and debate the biggest
challenges facing our world and to get the measure of Donald Trump in this multilateral forum, an organization that he's previously slammed for
causing problems, not solving them.
In his first appearance today, he laid out this vision for reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To honor the people of our nations, we must ensure that no one and no member state shoulders a
disproportionate share of the burden. And that's militarily or financially.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Among the big crisis facing world leaders this year, of course, is North Korea. But while the threat of its nuclear weapons continues to
antagonize and alarm, an important nuclear deal could be in peril. The one painstakingly hammered with Iran as supreme leader there warned his country
will react to any, quote, "wrong move" by the U.S. on this deal.
I sat down for an exclusive interview with President Hassan Rouhani who's here. I asked him what Iran's reaction would be.
AMANPOUR: Mr. President, welcome back to the program.
ROUHANI (through translator): Thank you very much. Good to see you.
AMANPOUR: Things seem quite different than they did last year and the year before.
What will happen do you think if President Trump pulls the United States out of the nuclear deal, JCPOA?
ROUHANI (through translator): Well, the JCPOA as a multilateral agreement ratified by the United Nations Security Council, exiting such an agreement
would have -- would carry a high cost for the United States of America. And I do not believe that Americans would be willing to pay such a high
cost for something that will be useless for them.
It will yield no results for the United States, but at the same time it will generally decrease and cut away and chip away at international trust
placed in the United States of America.
AMANPOUR: What would you do? What would Iran do?
ROUHANI (through translator): We will have various options at our disposal vis-a-vis this issue if the United States pulls out of the JCPOA. And
there has been quite -- a great deal of thought given to this possible scenario regarding our reaction.
And if such a thing were to happen, quite swiftly the world will see Iran's steps and reactions. This action will take place in a matter of a few
However, given that Mr. Trump's reactions and actions and policies are somewhat unpredictable, we have had long thought and discussions about our
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you because I've talked to other Iranian government officials. I've spoken to officials from around the world, what do you
think of President Trump's Twitter diplomacy?
Do you see a strategy? Do you see policy? Do you see chaos? What do you see?
ROUHANI (through translator): Well, in any way, it is a method that Mr. Trump has started. He knows better than anyone. He wishes perhaps to
enter into certain announcements actively and be ahead of the media.
I don't see it as a problem specifically; however, what he tweets at certain points doesn't seem to be in accordance and in line with other
statements from other American officials and this by its nature causes a certain deal of chaos.
[14:05:20] AMANPOUR: You see what's happening between Burma, Myanmar and Bangladesh, Rakhine State, the Rohingya minority, the Muslims being thrown
out of Myanmar.
What is Iran's position on this? And how dangerous is it in terms of it being yet another cause, yet another Muslim cause for the terrorists to use
as an excuse to create more terrorism around the world?
ROUHANI (through translator): Recent developments are fairly unprecedented under which 400,000 people have been run from their home and their houses
set ablaze by the Myanmar security forces so it is a human tragedy and it is a genocide that is taking place.
And I believe that not only Muslims, but all countries from throughout the world must vis-a-vis the Myanmar government and the Myanmar armed forces
stand steadfast against their current actions and render a great deal of support and aid to the refugees currently entering Bangladesh.
AMANPOUR: Is it a magnet to recruit terrorist?
ROUHANI (through translator): These actions, oppression against people, running them from their homes, genocides always lay the grounds for
extremism and violence. And it is possible for terrorist to wish -- to use such an atmosphere and such a foundation, but it is up to us to not allow
them to use these for -- to use these as tools to draw people as a magnet.
And certainly once their defeat is ultimately achieved and driven from the Syrian and Iraqi battlefield, they will certainly focus elsewhere and it is
of great danger not only for us, but the rest of the world as well as Europe, of course.
AMANPOUR: What is your reaction to the leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un with his six nuclear tests, with his ICBM missile tests, with sending
missiles over Japan, threatening American territory?
What is your reaction to what's happening there right now? And he has nuclear weapons?
ROUHANI (through translator): Our position has been very clear and remains clear vis-a-vis nuclear weapons. We are against any type of weapons of
mass destruction as well as nuclear weapons. And we believe that they must be destroyed throughout the world.
So our opinion, our positions are clear. Arms races are not acceptable to us in any region. And we see that as extremely dangerous.
However, from the other side, the positions and the actions of the United States as well as other nations against the North Korean country has not
been very positive. And I don't think there is a military solution to this. Only diplomacy is the tool that will resolve this problem
AMANPOUR: A security adviser to the president of South Korea told me that if the Obama administration had spent one-fifth of the time it spent with
you and Iran on North Korea's nuclear program, it may have had some success.
It hasn't spent any time -- very little time has been spent trying to make a deal with North Korea.
ROUHANI (through translator): In many ways North Korea was on track of toxin dialogue and those roads were block and both sides chose non-dialogue
And I think what the Iranian experience shows is a good experience that can be replicated elsewhere and executed elsewhere. But keep in mind please
that if the United States wishes to withdraw from the joint JCPOA, why would the North Koreans waste their time in order to sit around the table
of dialogue with the United States? Because they will think that perhaps after years of talks and potential agreement, the next year's
administration could step over or pull out of the agreement achieved.
So the Trump administration, such action -- such potential action by the Trump administration will block such potential roads to success in
resolution of regional problems around the world.
AMANPOUR: President Trump will make his first address to the United Nations tomorrow, on Tuesday. He's expected to talk a lot about Iran as
well as North Korea and other issues, but a lot about Iran.
What do you expect to hear? And if you were to meet President Trump, what would you say to him?
[14:10:15] ROUHANI (through translator): The way in which currently, in which thus far the U.S. administration has chosen to stand against Iran and
the JCPOA has been the wrong one. And the proof has been experienced by previous administrations in the United States.
And the conclusion is natural to reach that what the Obama administration did in order to achieve success and this engagement vis-a-vis the JCPOA and
Iran drew upon the unsuccessful experiences of previous administrations.
However, the road, the path undertaken today by this U.S. administration is a return to the past, to a distant past that goes all the way back to
President Bush number one as well as President Bush, the son, number two.
So these paths have already been traveled upon. They have been unsuccessful. And soon, Mr. Trump, will see that this was the wrong path
that he had chosen.
AMANPOUR: On that note, Mr. President, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
ROUHANI (through translator): I'm also thankful, grateful for being here. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And later in the week, we will have more from President Rouhani on what he's doing to try to contain domestic opposition at home. What
he's doing in Syria. He basically claims that thanks to the Iranian forces and Hezbollah, the Syrian forces of Bashar al Assad have militarily won
there. We'll talk a lot more about many other regional issues.
But after a break, more from the corridors of power here at the U.N. General Assembly. The Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom joins me
to discuss a world of crises and Sweden's feminist foreign policy. That is after this.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, live from the United Nations in New York, where President Trump made his debut today at a reform meeting. And
he called on the U.N. to reduce bureaucracy, something that the Secretary General Antonio Guterres also stressed in his opening remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATION'S SECRETARY GENERAL: Someone recently asked what keeps me up at night. And my answer was simple: bureaucracy;
fragmented structures, Byzantine procedures and endless red tape.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, there are five permanent members of the Security Council and a rotating number of other countries. Sweden is one of them.
Recently took its two-year seat here on the Security Council, and its an opportunity to have a direct say on global crisis such as the threat from
The country has long adopted what the foreign minister Margot Wallstrom described as a feminist foreign policy.
And she joins me now.
Welcome to the program.
MARGOT WALLSTROM, SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you very much for having me.
AMANPOUR: Before we talk about the feminism part of it, let us talk about what you heard from president Trump today.
Was he as anti-multilateralism and hostile to the U.N. as he has been in the past, or did you feel a different sentiment today?
WALLSTROM: No, I think the starting point today was the one of supporting the U.N., but the more effective and more maybe legitimate United Nations,
cutting on bureaucracy and just dealing more effectively with the crisis we see around the world.
[14:15:00] AMANPOUR: Do you worry that there are going to be cuts in U.S. contributions and that might affect the very multilateral efforts that you
say are necessary?
WALLSTROM: Yes, of course we do, but because we have seen it already and we've seen that for example the support to sexual and reproductive health
has been cut and that affects women and girls around the world in a very unfortunate way. But I think this was not the starting point today as they
describe it, but to see that the money is used in the best possible way.
AMANPOUR: Do you get a sense -- first, let's talk about the Iran nuclear deal. I know that Sweden wasn't a formal signatory to it, but most of the
countries support it.
Do you get the sense that President Trump is going to pull the U.S. out of it or not?
WALLSTROM: Well, we can only judge from what has been said. And, of course, this is another worry that that might happen. You know as a member
of the European Union, we have spent years to invest in getting this deal.
And I think also today, we can say that the Iranians are living up to it. Apparently, that is what the atomic energy agency says. And I think this
is a deal that actually improves security not only in that region, but also in the rest of the world. So we care a lot about this agreement with Iran.
AMANPOUR: And of course sorry to interrupt you, but it's happening right in the middle of this nuclear crisis with North Korea. The Iranian say if
the U.S. pulls out, it sets a very bad precedent.
What do you say about whether there are any new ideas inside the Security Council, at the U.N., the UNGA for trying to deal with North Korea?
WALLSTROM: That's the topic of the day. So, of course, in every meeting here, North Korea is on the agenda. And I think that there is -- it's a
very determined atmosphere here to see what can we do first of all to implement the sanctions that have already been decided on.
But also hopefully to be able to offer a kind of diplomatic, political way out and way into the future. And that is as important because I don't
think that a war on words will add to deescalate the crisis or to make it less tense.
AMANPOUR: Do you feel -- I mean, obviously, you know, you've put new sanctions, the U.N. Security Council has but you don't have a united front.
And everybody says there needs to be a united front if North Korea is going to pay attention.
Members of the Security Council disagree. I mean, China and Russia do not agree with the rest of the permanent members.
WALLSTROM: Well, I think after all, this has been placed firmly on the agenda. The Security Council, there have been constructive meetings and
decisions on further sanctions. The toughest sanctions which we have seen against North Korea.
So now it is really a matter of making sure that they are lived up to. And implementation is key. And it doesn't happen for one day to another. Most
of the effects of this. But I think in parallel, we have to look at what are the diplomatic, political ways we can find to engage in a debate that
has to be won about the whole region because they all want security arrangement. So that is something that we should be also concerned with.
AMANPOUR: I mentioned Russia. Let's move on to Russia.
Russia is holding its military exercises very close to the European front here. Europe is quite scared. NATO has been quite worried about what it's
doing. You, Sweden, a non-NATO member have held your biggest military maneuvers with NATO help in two decades.
What are you scared of?
WALLSTROM: It's not NATO's help. It's actually the United States of America that are being invited. And we do have cooperation including with
the NATO and also with a number of European countries and others. And, of course, in the region.
No, we have seen a very provocative behavior in our neighborhood. We have seen that against our Baltic neighbors, but we've also seen of course the
most serious breach of the European security order when Russia illegally annexed Crimea and also the aggression in Eastern Ukraine. So that is the
starting point of all of this.
AMANPOUR: But, I mean, Sweden must be, you know, being pretty -- I mean, you sound alarmed. And we've just been obviously showing the pictures of
the Russian games and President Putin was there.
But you've also reintroduce transcription. I mean, what's going on in your region, because we know that the NATO secretary general, you know, had to
speak to the Russian Chief of the General Staff to make sure nothing bad happens across this border.
[14:20:08] WALLSTROM: We don't feel sort of an immediate military threat towards Sweden. But we realize that if something happen in our
neighborhood, in the Baltic area, we would also be affected by that.
But we have decided, in this government, that we will stay militarily non- aligned and that means also that we will invest in our own defense capacity. And that is what we are doing exactly.
And we also believe that cooperation with other organizations and other countries is the way forward.
So we are -- we have engaged on all these fronts. And these are the three pillars of our security policy.
AMANPOUR: And part of that is Russia's interference in a lot of elections, not just in the United States allegedly but also around Europe.
Do you feel that the recent elections in Europe, whether it's in France, whether it's upcoming in Germany, previously in the Netherlands and
Do you think populism has been defeated? Or are you still trying to, you know, defend the liberal world order so to speak?
WALLSTROM: Well, there are two things to say about this. First of all, that the first line of defense might not even be foreign policy, but it
might be cyber security. You know that we can see that there is disinformation that there is interference in electoral processes in
different countries. So this is very important to be vigilant and to really look out for that.
But I also think that we need to continue to fight populism. We are -- we haven't got ridden of populism, but we see more of extremism -- extremist
positions also politically and that is something we have to take into account and also design our policies accordingly.
AMANPOUR: This also happening obviously in the context of Brexit and many other things.
But I want to ask you about the feminist foreign policy that you staked out. And, you know, you took that message to Saudi Arabia as well as other
countries with a very poor record on gender equality.
How is that working out for you?
WALLSTROM: It's working out really well.
WALLSTROM: Because it is not something mysterious. It's about ensuring that women enjoy the same rights as men all around the world. And that is
of course a legal responsibility.
Secondly, that they are represented. That they are around the table even in peace keeping operations or where decisions are being made. And,
thirdly, that resources are also put aside to meet the needs of women and girls.
So it's really a method. It's an analysis of what the world looks like and it is also a method. And these are the tools that we need.
AMANPOUR: And what about the countries that remain hostile to that kind of method?
WALLSTROM: Well, I think here, even countries that might sound hostile to begin with, they realize that women make up half of the world's population.
Without women, they will not achieve a sustainable peace in any country. And we know that more women means more peace.
And I think as somebody said, you know, feminism is really the radical notion that women are human beings so I think that's what we have to do.
AMANPOUR: I think at least half the population will agree with you.
Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, thanks so much for joining us.
WALLSTROM: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And from forging a future of feminism to imagining a long, long history of strong Swedish women. Viking warriors, no less, rising from the
past. We'll explain next.
[14:25:40] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, you just heard the Swedish foreign minister on her country's feminist foreign policy.
Well, now we imagine the rise of the Valkyries. No longer just the stuff of Nordic mythology, but real flesh and blood warrior women who fought as
In the Swedish town of Birka, a scientific investigation by the University of Stockholm has discovered a female Viking fighter for the very first
time. Not only that, she is particularly high ranking.
Found buried with weapons and horses which are customary for a professional soldier. She was also buried with an ancient board game and this signifies
that she would have been a tactician or even a commander.
These bones discovered in the 19th century were long believed to be the body of a male soldier. Only new research digging into the bones found two
"X" chromosomes marking her spot in history.
And that is it for our program. Tune in tomorrow for another exclusive interview when I sit down with the French President Emmanuel Macron for his
first English language interview.
For now, remember, you can always listen to our podcast, you can see us online @Amanpour.com and you can always follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching and good-bye from New York.