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Netanyahu to Address Iran Deal; Location for North Meeting; Netanyahu Speech. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired April 30, 2018 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:00:00] OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Take one more shot, at least one more shot -- he has two more weeks after this -- against the Iran nuclear deal. And it's worth pointing out the meetings between the U.S. and Israel around this. In the last couple of weeks, the head of U.S. Central Command was here last week, Netanyahu and Trump spoke two days ago on the phone, the new secretary of state was here yesterday and, on top of that, Israel's defense minister is in the U.S. where he met the U.S. secretary of defense and the national security adviser.

So both of these governments are very much on the same page when it comes to Iran. Now we'll wait to see what Netanyahu comes out with as he continues lobbying against the Iran nuclear deal, not only to Trump, who is seen as his most open ear, but also to the European leaders and to the other signatories of the deal as well.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, Oren, all this comes amidst the really heightened tensions between the Israelis and the Iranians in Syria right now. You've seen the reports over the past day or so, that there were some missile strikes that went after some Iranian targets in Syria and Iranians were killed in the process. A lot of folks focusing in on Israel. What are they saying where you are?

LIEBERMANN: Well, Israel has its policy of ambiguity. When it comes to Israel's operations in Syria, overseas for that matter, when it comes to the Israeli air force, Israel neither confirms nor denies those. And yet, as you point out, this has all the hallmarks of an Israeli strike. It was against a Syrian military target with an Iranian presence at the base. The Syrian observatory for Human Rights, based in London, has said of the 26 people killed, a majority were Iranian nationals. And based on some video we've seen here, there was a very large explosion, suggesting it might have been a weapons depot or some sort of weapons facility that was struck.

That very much follows Israel's often repeated red lines, saying it will not allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria. It will not allow the transfer of weapons from Syria to Iranian proxy, Hezbollah in Lebanon. So even if Israel hasn't commented here, it certainly seems likely this was an Israeli air strike.

Wolf, it's worth pointing out that the last time a strike was attributed to Israel in early April against a different military base called T-4 in Syria, the Russians, the Syrians, the Iranians and the Lebanese were very quick to oust Israel. We haven't seen that in this case. There hasn't been much finger pointing at Israel yet. Perhaps that was changed. Iran, however, has denied that any of their nationals were killed in this strike. So it's still somewhat unclear in terms of exactly what happened and where the responsibility lies, but this certainly does have the hallmarks of an Israeli strike.

BLITZER: All right, Oren, we're going to get back to you.

We're standing by to hear from Prime Minister Netanyahu. We'll have live coverage of his statement. That's coming up.

We're also standing by to hear directly from President Trump. He's expected to hold this hour a joint news conference with the visiting president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari. We're going to bring you that live. It's the first visit by a leader from sub-Saharan Africa to the White House during the Trump presidency. They had a meeting in the Oval Office. You're looking at live pictures.

Besides hosting the African leader, the president is also weighing in on the immigration battle at the border, the Iran nuclear deal, his planned meeting with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, as well.

Let's go to chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta to set the scene for us.

Jim, the president tweeted today about possible locations for his get- together with the North Korean leader. Tell us what he said.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. He talked about perhaps meeting at the border between North and South Korea despite the fact that the administration has been quietly floating other ideas for locations around the world like Singapore and Mongolia, of all places, among many others. But the president did meet with the Nigerian president, Buhari, in the Oval Office just a short while ago. Not a whole lot of news coming out of that, but the president was asked at the very end of the spray, a pool spray with the president and the Nigerian president, about immigration. The president saying he plans to have a immigration plan soon.

It's not clear what he meant by that. He may be talking about that caravan of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border right now. That, obviously, is something he's been focused on over the last 48 hours or so. While everybody was focused on the White House Correspondents Dinner Saturday night, the president was giving a pretty fiery speech in Michigan. And he used that speech to really go after these migrants in these caravans at the border, describing many of these migrants as people who are just going to game the immigration system, flood into the country and vote for Democrats. That's, obviously, a mischaracterization of migrants coming into this country. But the president made it while everybody was focused on a dinner here in Washington.

The president is likely to be asked about that dinner. He's been talking about that as well. And my guess is, when we have this two plus two out in the Rose Garden, he may take one more swipe at the comedian, Michelle Wolf, who ignited a lot of controversy here in Washington on Saturday night. But as you were just talking about with Oren Liebermann, it's very

possible the Iran nuclear deal could come up. He does consider Benjamin Netanyahu to be a very close ally. And there's a lot of speculation as to what the president may ultimately do with the Iran nuclear deal. It's not all together clear that the French president, Emmanuel Macron, had much of any sway over the president last week, and it sounds like this administration is heading towards either scrapping it altogether or seeking some kind of major rewriting of the Iran nuclear deal, which would obviously upset the Iranians and send them packing in terms of complying with that agreement.

Wolf.

[13:05:23] BLITZER: All right, Jim, we're going to have live coverage of the president's news conference with the visiting Nigerian president. That's coming up later this hour, as you pointed out. They'll both be making statements. To questions from American journalists, two questions from Nigerian journalists. That will be coming up later this hour.

Let's bring in our panel right now as we await the prime minister of Israel. He's getting ready to make an important statement on the Iran nuclear deal.

Joining us are political analysts Josh Rogin, our senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson, and our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

You know, the president spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu over the weekend. He had a long meeting with the secretary -- the new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, in Jerusalem over the weekend. There seems to be a lot of coordination on the Iran nuclear front between the U.S. and Israel.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there is. And there -- and just last week there was a lot of coordination between Macron and Merkel and the U.K. in trying to tell the president, please don't withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Now you're seeing it from the other side. You're seeing Netanyahu lobbying from the other side here. And we'll have to see what the president -- what the president announces.

If there is some middle ground, which is what the Europeans seem to be looking for, they seem to be saying, you know, don't mend it, don't end it, to borrow an old phrase from Bill Clinton. And what Netanyahu is saying is scrap it. So we're not quite sure where the president is going to end up. We know he doesn't like it, but he's getting pressure from both sides.

BLITZER: As you know, Josh, the prime minister of Israel, he's been opposed to this Iran nuclear deal from day one. Even came to Washington in the midst of the debate in the Congress, addressed a joint meeting of Congress and made it clear that he strongly, strongly opposed it.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's right. We -- most recently, Prime Minister Netanyahu has said fix it or nix it, which is the Trump administration's stated position. If he's going to come out now and say that Iran is in violation of the deal and it should be nixed. Because this is so closely coordinated with the Trump administration, that gives us a huge clue as to where Secretary Pompeo and President Trump's heads are at on this, all right, because he wouldn't do that if he didn't have their OK with it. And that spells doom for the deal.

Now, what -- if he says there's a violation, the people who are against the deal are going to say, OK, let's get out. But the people who are for the deal are going to say, no, the violation means that we should stay in the deal because through the mechanisms in the deal, you can address the violation. So it won't really change any minds, but it will tell us where the administration is headed (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: As you know, Nia, President Trump has always opposed this deal. He hates it. He says it's one of the worst deals, if not the worst deal, ever.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Ever. In the history of our -- yes.

BLITZER: He talks about all the billions of dollars that were freed up for the Iranians as part of this willingness to have controls over its nuclear program.

But there's enormous pressure from the allies, the U.K., the Germans, the French, including China and Russia, all of whom signed that nuclear agreement with Iran.

HENDERSON: Yes, and we saw Macron here, right? As you said, as well as Angela Merkel, putting pressure on this president, particularly Macron, essentially holding hands with the president, really flattering him at times. Macron essentially saying, we need the U.S. in this deal.

BLITZER: Hold on a second. Here's the prime minister of Israel. I want to listen in.

Obviously they've got some -- they've clearly got, in Tel Aviv, some technical problems. We see the prime minister. He's getting ready to speak. But, clearly, we're not hearing him as of yet.

Let's see if this new microphone makes a difference. Nope. Clearly doesn't. Awkward moment for the Israelis, Josh.

ROGIN: Right. So if he's going to make this big announcement now and the question will be, how credible are the Israeli claims, whatever they are, and how will the Europeans react, all right? Are the Europeans going to have a negative reaction that could have them double down in their support of a fix? Or if the claims are credible enough, it could convince them for tougher measures.

BLITZER: All right, I think they fixed it.

[13:10:05] BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Tonight we will present the world never before exposed information and its intelligent achievements one of the biggest Israel has known. As I'd like the international community we hear what I have to say and understand it. And I will talk in English and afterwards in Hebrew.

NETANYAHU: Good evening.

Tonight we're going to show you something that the world has never seen before. Tonight we are going to reveal new and conclusive proof of the secret nuclear weapons program that Iran has been hiding for years from the international community in its secret atomic archive. We're going to show you Iran's secret nuclear files.

You may well know that Iran's leaders repeatedly denied ever pursuing nuclear weapons. You can listen to Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI KHAMENI, IRAN'S SUPREME LEADER (through translator): I stress that the Islamic Republic has never been after nuclear weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU: You can listen to Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN'S PRESIDENT (through translator): Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran's security and defense doctrine and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU: This is repeated by Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAVAD ZARIF, IRAN'S FOREIGN MINISTER: We didn't have any program to develop nuclear weapons. Any way we consider nuclear weapons both irrational as well as immoral.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU: Well, tonight I'm here to tell you one thing. Iran lied. Big time.

After signing the nuclear deal in 2015, Iran intensified its efforts to hide its secret nuclear files. In 2017, Iran moved its nuclear weapons file to a highly secretly location in Tehran. This is the Shahabad district in southern Tehran. This is where they kept the atomic archives, right here. Few Iranians knew where it was. Very few. And also a few Israelis.

Now, from the outside, this was an innocent-looking compound. It looks like a dilapidated warehouse. But from the inside, it contained Iran's secret atomic archives, locked in massive files, Actually, they're a little bigger than this, OK?

A few weeks ago, in a great intelligence achievement, Israel obtained half a ton of the material inside these vaults. And here's what we got, 55,000 pages, another 55,000 files on 183 CDs. Everything you're about to see is an exact copy of the original uranium material. You may want to know where are the originals? Well, I can say they're now in a very safe place.

Here's what the files included, incriminating documents, incriminating charts, incriminating presentations, incriminating blueprints, incriminating photos, incriminating videos. And more.

We've shared this material with the United States, and the United States can vouch for its authenticity. We will also share it with other countries, and we'll share it with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

So let me tell you the history of this material.

We've known for years that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program called Project Amad. We can now prove that Project Amad was a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons. We can also prove that Iran is secretly storing Project Amad material to use at a time of its choice to develop nuclear weapons.

Here's what Project Amad's explicit goal was, creating nuclear weapons. This is an original Iranian presentation from these files, and here's the mission's statement. Design, produce and test five warheads, each with 10 kiloton TNT yields for integration on a missile. You don't have to read Farsi to see 10 kilotons here, TNT.

[13:15:21] This is a specific goal of Project Amad. That's like five Hiroshima bombs to be put on ballistic missiles.

This is an original Iranian spreadsheet from the archives of Project Amad. Look at what it has here. Yellow keg production, centrifuge enrichment process, warhead project, simulation project and test. And indeed when we analyzed what's in these archives, we found that Project Amad had all the five elements, the five key elements, of a nuclear weapons program.

I want to take them one by one.

The first element is designing nuclear weapons. This is an original Iranian illustration of a weapon. Again, you don't have to read Farsi to understand this. This is U-235. That's enriched uranium right here at the core. That's the only place where you'll find in the core enriched uranium. And here's an Iranian simulation, original Iranian simulation, putting all these components together.

That's the first component.

The second component, developing nuclear cores. Here's a photo showing the casting process and a cast medal core from the archives. And here's the secret underground facility the Iranians were building to produce nuclear cores. We have hundreds of documents for each of these components.

Third component, building nuclear implosion systems. This is an original Iranian photo of a measuring device for implosions. And here's a simulation of a nuclear implosion.

Fourth element, preparing nuclear tests. Here's a map of five potential locations for a nuclear test in eastern Iran. One, two, three, four, five. We have many, many more such documents.

And fifth, integrating nuclear weapons on missiles. Here's a design for a nuclear payload on a Shahab-3 missile from the archive. Here's the warhead. Here's the bomb.

And I don't have to remind you, I think, that Iran is continually expanding the range of its ballistic missiles, it's nuclear capable missiles. They started with a thousand kilometers. They're now up to 2,000, roughly. They can reach Riyadh (ph), Tel Aviv, Moscow, but they're working on far, far greater ranges. They're planning much longer range missiles to carry nuclear weapons.

So these files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it says it never had a nuclear weapons program. The files prove that.

But here's what happened next. Iran was faced with mounting pressure in 2003. You remember that? That was following the Gulf War. So it was forced to shelve Project Amad, but it didn't shelve its nuclear ambitions.

So Iran devised a plan to do two things. First, to preserve the nuclear knowhow from Project Amad. And, second, to further develop its nuclear weapons related capabilities. That plan came directly from Iran's top leadership.

Here's another document from the archive. This is following the new directive of Iran's minister, Mr. (INAUDIBLE). Today he's the director of the national security council. Following the new directive of Iran's minister of defense, the work would be split into two parts, covert and overt.

A key part of the plan was to form new organizations to continue the work. This is how Dr. Musan Fahisida (ph), head of Project Amad (INAUDIBLE). Remember that name, Fahisida (ph).

So here's his directive, it's right here. And he says the general aim is to announce the closure of Project Amad, but then he adds, special activities -- you know what that is -- special activities will be carried out under the title of scientific knowhow developments. And, in fact, this is exactly what Iran proceeded to do, it continued this work in a series of organizations over the years and today, in 2010 -- or 2018, this work is carried out by Sepand (ph). That's an organization inside Iran's defense ministry.

[13:20:36] And you will not be surprised to hear that Sepand (ph) is led by the same person who led Project Amad, Dr. Fahisida (ph), and also, not coincidentally, many of Sepand's (ph) key personnel worked under Fahisida (ph) on Project Amad.

So this atomic archive clearly shows that Iran planned, at the highest levels, to continue work related to nuclear weapons under different guise and using the same personnel.

I want to give you another example of Iran's nuclear weapons-related activities that continued after Project Amad.

You all remember the Fordow (ph) facility? Can we show that? Fordow (ph), the uranium enrichment facility. This was a secret underground enrichment facility that the Iranians built under a mountain. You don't put a thousand of centrifuges under a mountain to produce medical isotopes. You put them there for one reason, nuclear weapons. Enrichment for nuclear weapons. But the file shows that Fordow was designed from the get-go for nuclear weapons as part of Project Amad.

Here's an original Iranian blueprint of Fordow (ph). And what happened was that Iran continued to build Fordow (ph) years secretly building years after Project Amad ended. Here's what it looked like. That's the entrance. It goes under a mountain.

You also will not be surprised that Iran insisted on keeping Fordow. And, amazingly, the nuclear deal enabled it to do it. It enabled it to do it, but this came with a hitch, Iran was required by the IAEA to come clean by the nuclear deal, to come clean to the International Atomic Energy Agency about its nuclear program. This was an explicit condition for implementing the nuclear deal. Iran has to come clean.

So in December 2015, the IAEA published its final assessment of what it called the military aspects of Iran's nuclear program. This is the report. This was Iran's chance to fully come clean to the IAEA. They could tell the truth. They could say we had this program, this secret program. It's over. We shelved it. It doesn't exist. We destroyed the material.

Here's what Iran actually told the IAEA. It said Iran denied the existence of a coordinated program into the development of a nuclear explosive device and specifically denied -- get this -- specifically denied the existence of the Amad plan. The material proves otherwise, that Iran authorized, initiated and funded Project Amad, a coordinated program aimed at the development of a nuclear explosive device.

Here's another document from the archive. This is a master plan of Project Amad. Iran said to the IAEA, no work has been conducted with multi-point -- this is multi-point initiation. You've got to forgive me, this jargon, this scientific terminology is something that is necessary to understand the production of nuclear weapons. But here's what they say. No work has been conducted with MPI technology in hemispherical geometry. But again the archive shows that this is a complete fabrication. Iran conducted extensive work with MPI technology in hemispherical geometry.

Here's an example.

Hundreds of more documents prove it. Iran said to the agency that it had not conducted metallurgical works specifically designed for a nuclear device. But the files again show that this is a lie. Iran conducted extensive metallurgical work specifically designed for a nuclear device. Here's an original Iranian photo. Plenty more in the archive.

[13:25:05] So what I've shown you tonight is just a fraction of the total material that we have. But even from this sample, you can draw four main conclusions. First, Iran lied about never having a nuclear weapons program. One hundred thousand secret files proved that they lied.

Second, even after the deal, Iran continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons (INAUDIBLE) for future use. Why would a terrorist regime hide and meticulously catalog its secret nuclear files if not to use them at a later date.

Third, Iran lied again in 2015 when it didn't come clean to the IAEA as required by the nuclear deal.

And, finally, the Iran deal, the nuclear deal, is based on lies. It's based on Iranian lies and Iranian deception. One hundred thousand files right here prove that they lied.

So here's the bottom line. Iran continues to lie. Just last week Zarif said this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZARIF: We never wanted to produce a bomb.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU: Again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZARIF: We never wanted to produce a bomb.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU: Yes, you did. Yes, you do. And the atomic archive proves it.

The nuclear deal gives Iran a clear path to an atomic arsenal. It does so because it gives them the three components that are necessary to produce this arsenal. First, unlimited enrichment in a few years, and they plan to do that. They plan to have several hundred thousand advanced centrifuges with which they can enrich mountains of uranium for that core that I showed you before, for many, many such cores.

Second, it completely fails to address Iran's development of -- continued development of ballistic missiles. And, third -- and this is new -- it completely fails to address Iran's secret nuclear bomb program and its advance work on weaponization. We just did.

So this is a terrible deal. It should never have been concluded. And in a few days' time, President Trump will decide, will make his decision, on what to do with the nuclear deal. I'm sure he'll do the right thing. The right thing for the United States, the right thing for Israel, and the right thing for the peace of the world.

NETANYAHU: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

BLITZER: All right, so there you hear the English portion of the prime minister of Israel's presentation going against the Iranians and going against the nuclear deal that was worked out back in 2015 between the U.S. and the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, as well as Germany. He went through all of the evidence, he says, that Israel has collected over the years that disputes the Iranian public assertion that it was never really interested in developing nuclear weapons. The prime minister of Israel says they have a ton of information there to dispute that, repeatedly calling the Iranian statements lies. He says the deal is a terrible deal. He pointed out that President Trump has until May 12th to decide whether the U.S. will continue to support the agreement. He says it should never have been concluded, and he adds, I'm sure he, the president of the United States, will do the right thing.

You know, Josh Rogin, you've been covering this story for a long time. What new information -- all of us, even though the Iranians, of course, always denied they had some sort of nuclear program, it was well known they did have a nuclear program. What did you learn from this presentation from the prime minister?

ROGIN: Right. Well, the first big takeaway we have to note is, the Iran deal is in big trouble, OK?

BORGER: Right.

ROGIN: Netanyahu was fix it or nix it. Now he's saying nix it. And he says, I'm sure Trump will do the right thing. He seems pretty confident that Trump's going to get out of the deal. That's the first thing we have to take away now.

Netanyahu made four big claims, right? Iran lied about their program. OK, that's not really news. We assumed that Iran was lying. That's why we had the deal in the first place. If they weren't liars, then we could just trust them not to do these things. So Iran lying, OK, that's one.

Iran preserved their nuclear know-how. This is interesting, but, again, you could see it as an argument for keeping the deal, or you could see it as an argument for nixing the deal, depending on where you come from. If they still have the know-how, are we better off with the deal so that we can see what they're doing, or are we better off without it.

[13:30:05] Third, Iran didn't come clean about these advanced weaponization, secret facilities. That's very interesting, OK, because that's a violation of the deal.