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Iranian president Hassan Rouhani sends the U.S. President a warning. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired December 26, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a special program, Trump's new nuclear challenges. The Iranian president Hassan Rouhani sends the U.S.

President a warning.

HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN: Exiting such an agreement I have will carry a high cost for the United States of America.

AMANPOUR: And the highest level Korean defector in 20 years gives us a rare glimpse into Kim Jong Un's regime.

THAE YONG-HO, FORMER NORTH KOREAN AMBASSADOR: Kim Jong is determined to reach the goal of nuclear status as well as ICBM kept with nuclear warfare.


AMANPOUR: Good Evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. 2017 started with a bang, Donald Trump

officially took power after his shock election to President of the United States. The new U.S. leader was now the one setting American Policy and

the one to answer the urgent question of what to do about global nuclear threats.

On North Korea, President Trump threw away the diplomatic handbook when he called Kim Jong Un rocket man and threatened Pyongyang with fire and fury

and on Iran, he mad good on his distaste for the nuclear deal that was hammered out by the Obama administration calling it the worst ever made and

refusing to recertify it.

But the stopped short of pulling the U.S. out. This none the less left Washington isolated from its allies and world powers who had all negotiated

and signed the deal and Iran's president Hassan Rouhani told me that the U.S. would pay a high price when we met in New York at the General


ROUHANI: 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 put 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 place in the United States of America.

AMANPOUR: What would you do? What would Iran do?

ROUHANI: We will have various options that are disposal, these will be the issue if the Untied States pulls out of the JCPOA and there has been quite

a great deal of salt 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 days. However, given that Mr. Trump's reactions and actions and policies are somewhat unpredictable,

we have had long thought and secessions about our reactions.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, because I've talked to other Iranian government officials, I've spoken to officials form 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: Well in anyway, it is a mess 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 is as a problem specifically. However, what he tweets at certain points doesn't

seen to be in accordance and in line with other status from other American officials and this, by it's nature, causes a certain deal of chaos.

AMANPOUR: What is your reaction to the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un with his six nuclear tests, with his ICBM missile test, 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: Our position has been very clear and remains clear via the nuclear weapons. We are against any type of weapons of mass destruction as

well as nuclear weapons, it was believed that they much 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 permanently. 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

it's if The United States wishes to withdraw from the 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 U.S. administration could step over or pull out of the

agreement achieved. So, the Trump administration such action, such potential action for the Trump administration will block such potential

roads to success in resolution of regional problems around the world.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: If you were to meet President Trump what would you say to him?

ROUHANI: The way in which currently in which thus far. The U.S. administration has chosen to stand against Iran and the GCPOA 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 in this engagement these would be the GCPOA. 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 distance 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: For the U.S. is it being former Secretary of State John Kerry who negotiated the Iran Deal spending countless hours going back and forth

with his counter part Javad Zarif. He told me that President Trump has got it all wrong. That he'll actually make the world less safe if he back away

from the deal. And he added in some words of warning on North Korea.


JOHN KERRY, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think what the President needs to do is make sure that he's not feeding into North Korea's fear of

regime change or of a unilateral attack or otherwise. It's given North Korea a reason to say hey we need a bomb because if we don't have a bomb

we're going to not be able to protect ourselves and they will come after us.

The Iran Nuclear agreement is working. That's the important thing. The world needs to embrace the fact that the region is safer. The world is

safer because Iran agreed to live by certain standards and the IAEA has eight times certified that Iran is living up to this agreement. So, why

would The United States be the moving party to try to break apart something that prevents them from having a nuclear weapon and it does prevent them

from having it.

So, let's not break that apart. Let's recognize the advantage and work to bring Iran to the table on the other issues of importance to the region.

AMANPOUR: Do you wish you could've got those other issues because that's exactly what the Trump administration said. That it didn't bring all the

relevant issues in and it has its sunset flaws.

KERRY: But the reason it didn't do that is very specific. If we had tied missiles or Yemen or Hezbollah to the nuclear agreement, you'd still be in

Vienna negotiating. There was only one objective. Get rid of the nuclear weapon. That objective was achieved and the world is better off

negotiating with a country that doesn't have a nuclear weapon.

Where there isn't that threat moving over you. Then you are with one, now with respect to this sunset. There's no sunset to this agreement. They

are misleading the world when they say there's a sunset. It is misleading to people to suggest that really relevant, impactful, penetrating

components of the oversight suddenly disappear. We have an ability to know what Iran is doing for the life of this agreement.

AMANPOUR: So what would you say a South Korean National Security Advisor to the President told me that if The United States -- if your

administration had paid even a fifth of the negotiating time and attention to North Korea, which was zooming along with it's missiles and nuclear

program as you did with Iran, we might not be in this situation right now, the whole strategic patience thing.


KERRY: With all due respect that's not accurate. I mean, we actually did a lot of things. We sent emissaries, we asked the Chinese to send

emissaries. North Korea actually, rebuffed our envoy and would not allow our envoy to travel to North Korea when we did a back channel under the

table, quiet effort diplomacy to try to move with the North. So, I think that's just not accurate. There were lots of efforts to engage and one of

the principle efforts, were our efforts to get China to do more.

China ratchet (ph) it up, its sanctions twice under our administration. And, we recommend it. President Obama recommended it and I recommended

publically and otherwise to the new administration, they need to continue to ratchet them up. But to have had tougher sanctions on Iran which

doesn't have a weapon then we do in North Korea which has been blowing up nuclear tests, just doesn't make since.

As I said earlier, the sanctions we have today against Iran, against the North Korea are not as tough as the ones that we had against Iran.

AMANPOUR: So, how do you access of what people in Washington and New York, and the foreign policy circles in the United States are putting the chance

of a war and U.S. preempt of action anywhere between 20 to 50 percent?

KERRY: I think it's impossible for anybody to say anything except, are there real risks and the answer is yes, they are real. Can I quantify

them? I'm not gonna try to do that, I don't think one can.

AMANPOUR: So, a real risk of a war, you say?

KERRY: Yes, there are risks but, but part of the risk right now is unattended consequence, the risk of tweeting yourself or insulting yourself

into a position where something happens.


AMANPOUR: Result the matter diplomatically is critical for the whole region, especially for North Korea's neighbor, South Korea with million of

people in the firing line. Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-wha (ph) told me that Seoul (ph) is not looking for a regime change but will never accept

North Korea as a nuclear power.

KANG KYUNG-WHA, IMISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF SOUTH KOREA: Well, our policy has been very clear on this. We do not seek a hostile posture (ph)

toward North Korea. We do not seek regime change, we do not seek artificial hurried (ph) recertification (ph), we do not seek to march

across the DMZ (ph).

What we seek is peace and for us to have that peace; we must obtain denuclearization of North Korea.

AMANPOUR: There's a lot of mixed messages in the public domain. Don't you have rehearsals for the assignation of Kim Jong-un?

KYUNG-WHA: Having contingency plan and having military options is one thing but how do you put all together in support of a diplomatic solution

is, is another.

AMANPOUR: Do you ever worry about blundering into, you know, the worst possible outcome which is war?

KYUNG-WHA: Well, I think that is precisely why we really need to show that we do have the, the defense posture, that we have robust military

preparedness just incase anything happens and we need to send a clear message to North Korea. Their dream of becoming, becoming and being the

knowledge of the, as the nuclear power is just a misguided notion that will the international community will never accept.


AMANPOUR: So, South Korea is adamant, saying the world will never accept a nuclear North Korea. But, some feel that ship has already sailed.

The former CIA Director, Michael Hayden, told me that the world has to accept reality now.



Intelligence community is convinced, that North Koreans are on this unalterable trajectory to have strategic reach and indignant (ph) ICBM (ph)

with an indignant weapon capable of reaching the United States. And, they are not going to sit down and talk to us until they have reached that


And, here is the dilemma, Christiane. I just told you what the bottom is for the North Koreans. The public statement of the Trump Administration

is, we cannot accept that circumstance. Boy, that's a real formula for some troubled times ahead.

AMANPOUR: So, that begs a question. Do you agree? I mean, I would say, yes, you cannot accept that kind of threat. Any American president

couldn't accept that kind of threat. But, on the hand, why not?

HAYDEN: North Korea is not the Soviet Union, North Korea is not China, North Korea is not even Iran, all right? So, I understand how difficult

this will be for any American president to digest and I understand why the Trump Administration is trying avoid that reality but let me give you what

I think is a truth, a very, very sad truth, the truth none the less. It is my judgment that it will be more dangerous to prevent North Korea to get to

that state than it would be for us to try to cope with the North Korea in that state.


AMANPOUR: So, the question of Kim Jong-un real agenda has baffled many across the globe but now, we're getting a much clearer picture.

Thae Young-ho (ph) once worked for the North Korean leadership. A high level diplomat, he was Deputy Ambassador to Britain. And when he defected

last summer, along with his wife and two sons, he became the highest ranking official to do so in twenty years.

This year, Thae headed to Capital Hill, and I spoke to him just after his briefings there when he urged law makers to step up an information campaign

into north. I want to start by asking you, you were in Congress testifying, why do you think it was important right now? What was the

message you were trying to get across to American law makers?

THAE YONG-HO, DEFECTED FROM NORTH KOREA, FORMER DEPUTY AMBASSADOR TO BRITIAN: I try to tell American law makers that before taking any military

actions against North Korea, we have to reconsider whether we have used all necessary non military means.

AMANPOUR: What do you think the United States and the west should be doing? And, do you think that the US is actually planning military

measures against North Korea?

YONG-HO: At this moment I think the move for possibility of military action is very high and North Korea is also - is going to provoke any

moment, any soon. And so, that's why I think it is very important to avoid any possible nuclear conflict on Korean Peninsula.

AMANPOUR: Well absolutely, that would be the worst possible development in the history of mankind. So, what do you think the US, the west should be


YONG-HO: I think, first of all, the US and the west should continue the current momentum of next month pressure and sanctions. But, on the

meanwhile, the west and the US try every possibility to open the dialog with North Korea in order to tell the North Korea that they would be

destroyed if they continue the current falling directions.

AMANPOUR: Now obviously, President Trump has said that so has Secretary Mattis, they've said that publically. Do you believe President Trump

should meet with Kim Jong-un?

YONG-HO: I think so. At least, President Trump, should meet Kim Jong-un at least once before taking any military actions against North Korea. Kim

Jong is determined to reach the goal of nuclear status, as well as, ICBM keep with nuclear war heads. That's why I think we should continue the

current momentum of sanctions and pressure, but if we should ever further extend the targeted sanctions against North Korea. In order to tell the

Kim Jong-un and North Korea regime that the nuclear status of North Korea can not break the sanction regime of the United Nations and if they are on

this direction then the final day of North Korea could be the total destruction.

AMANPOUR: So if President Trump, you know, talks about fire and fury and calls Kim Jong-un, you know, little rocket man. If Kim Jong-un is calling

President Trump mentally deranged dote hard. How is this going to develop? How is it going to end?

YONG-HO: I think we have to admit that all those unpredictability and rhetoric's made by Trump any how, are stopped in Kim Jong-un further

provocations of fire (ph) starters around Guam. (Ph) even indicated he can test for a missiles around Guam, but after the rhetoric verse by President

Trump like, a fiery and fire than he actually didn't provoke any missiles around Guam.

So that's why the unpredictability of President Trump worked to some extent. And, but now I think that kind of exchange of rhetoric warnings or

whatever are not necessary and the most important thing is to delivery the policy messages towards North Korea.

AMANPOUR: Why did you decide to defect? What was the turning point for you?

YONG-HO: Oh, it's a little bit complicated the reason, but mainly I did not want to let my sons lead a life like me, which is nothing but a modern


AMANPOUR: You have family still in North Korea. What do you think is their fate?

YONG-HO: I'm not quite sure what happens now but I was happy to watch the interviews made by CNN team during their visit here last April. They

interviewed my sister and my brother and so far I think they looked OK.

AMANPOUR: Even though they denounced you very, very violently to CNN.

THAE YONG-HO: Yes I watched all the interviews but it made me very happy because I was able to see anyway their faces and the place where the

interview took place, I learned that it was actually the house of my sister and I was very pleased to see their faces again. I never imagined that I

could see their faces again in my life. That's why I really appreciate for the work by CNN.

AMANPOUR: Well let me ask you this then, when you told your wife and your sons who were with you England that you were going to defect and life was

going to change, were they scared; were they happy; what was their reaction?

THAE YONG-HO: Oh they were very happy because my sons have a long dream of freedom and wanted to continue the freedom but as sons they cannot an issue

(ph) to tell their dreams to me, but when they heard my decision then they were very happy and they really appreciated that I decided to let them


AMANPOUR: And finally given the state of affairs between America and North Korea, where as a diplomat do you see the parameters for any negotiation?

THAE YONG-HO: North Korea is not the subject for destruction. I think we should regard North Korea as a subject of change and if our goal in Korean

Peninsula is peace, that's the why the means to achieve that goal must be peaceful and I think we should continue the maximum pressure together with

maximum engagement and United States should find a way to solve these issues in peaceful means.

AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world casually trading dire even atomic threats. Kim Jong-un's threats and President Trump's fiery

responses have made loose nuclear talk the new normal sending chills through Hiroshima's remaining survivors. As our Kyung Lah reports, they

are trying one last time to raise a red flag.


FUMIKO KATO: (Japanese).

KYUNG LAH: A childhood horror that never fades, at 87 Fumiko Kato still feels the moment her city of Hiroshima became the world's first victim of

an atomic bomb.

KATO: (Japanese).

LAH: We were all blown to the corner of the room she says, bodies on top of each other like a mountain, I was at the bottom.

KATO: (Japanese).

LAH: Kato was in a building less than a mile away from where the bomb fell. A concrete wall shielded her from the initial blast. Of the girls

pictured here, Kato was the only survivor on August 6th 1945. Japan remained at war with the allies ignoring final demands to surrender. The

atomic bomb dropped in the morning she explains, but suddenly it became night from the mushroom cloud.

KATO: (Japanese).

LAH: People outside, their bodies burned, their skin hanging down and pealing walking like they don't know where to go.

KATO: (Japanese).

LAH: I witnessed the terror of a nuclear weapon. In the war of words from North Korea to America's president, she hears the echo of history; in 1945

President Truman issuing a warning to Japan.

PRESIDENT TRUMAN: If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air; the like of which has never been seen on this


LAH: And now President Trump to North Korea.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

KATO: (Japanese).

LAH: Arrogance says Kato who has not just seen, but lived it.

KATO: (Through translator): I don't know why President Trump doesn't think of a peaceful solution, they don't understand the terribleness,

cruelness of nuclear weapons; Trump needs to educate himself.

LAH: More than 260,000 people would die in Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the nuclear bombs and their fallout.


LAH: They're treating this like it's some kind of a joke says Shozo Kawamoto.

KAWAMOTO (through translator): Trump and Kim Jong Un, he says, it makes me angry. They don't understand.

LAH: Kawamoto, just 11 years old when the bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his parents and three siblings. His entire family. Today this elderly man

spreads peace the only way he knows how. To President Trump and Kim Jong Un, he says.

KAWAMOTO (through translator): You're overconfidence is scary and ignorant.


AMANPOUR: These survivors are in their 80s and 90s now. Their generation is dying out and with them, the only first hand witness to the terrible

price of nuclear war.

That is it for our program tonight. And remember, you can listen to our podcast at anytime. See us at online at and follow me on

Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and good bye from London.