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Us Withdraws From Iran Nuclear Deal, Aired: 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 8, 2018 - 14:30   ET


JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, CNN: ... it contradicts the already public US threat assessment about Iran's nuclear program, then he owes the American people an explanation as to what that new intelligence is and in fact, the relevant committees in Congress, the intelligence committees, Senate Armed Services Committee need to call back the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats to say, "Do you stand by what you said in March?" Or Secretary of State Pompeo now on his way to North Korea, does he stand by what he said in April?

Because if that is true, then there's something new the President knows that the American people need to know and Congress needs to know. If not, it raises a question as to whether the President is accurately presenting what US intelligence is regarding Iran's nuclear program.

The other point I would make is this, the President said that Iran will now want to sit down at the table and negotiate a new deal. It makes the case for that.

America's European partners who are party to this deal, they don't believe that's the case. I met with a Senior European diplomat yesterday who said they delivered that very same message to the President, that the pressures inside and outside Iran are such that it's extremely unlikely that they would. They have got domestic political pressures. The idea of going back to the table, our European allies just don't see that as a realistic option.

DANA BASH, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Can I just add to that, I just was texting with the Senior European diplomat who was watching the President's speech, to echo what Jim just said, he called it a disaster. And I said, "Well, what about this notion, could he - from your perspective crazy idea that just ripping it up and starting over may actually work?" And the response was, "How could it? We have no leverage anymore?"

This was the leverage to get to this point. We have seen the so- called madmen theory at least start to make inroads in a place like North Korea, and o thought it was very interesting and noteworthy, and obviously not an accident that he connected Iran to North Korea because a lot of the questioning of the President pulling out of Iran was, what is the signal that North Korea is going to take from this, that the US doesn't stand by its deals, why would North Korea make a deal with you?

And he tried to turn that on its head. And I just want to also say one more thing. I interviewed then candidate Trump the day that this deal was signed in July of 2015, about a month after he announced. And from that minute, without even knowing the details, he said, "Bad idea. I should be President and I should rip it up and do it differently." He also said that the Persians are great negotiators at the time, and he stands by that.

GLORIA BORGER, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Jason, can I ask you this question?


BORGER: Doesn't this give Iran a propaganda win?

REZAIAN: Of course. Two points that I want to make really quickly. One, the President mentioned Americans - hostages held in Iran over the years and also the hostages currently being held in North Korea.

I don't see a way out for these people now. There is no more - no more mechanism to negotiate with the Iranians.

DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: You're talking about the hostages in Iran...

REZAIAN: In Iran right now.

URBAN: Not North Korea.

REZAIAN: Not North Korea. The five Americans that are currently being held in Iran, and Bob Levinson, who we haven't heard about in about 11 years, these people are going to get lost in the shuffle, unfortunately.

Secondly, the people of Iran were very supportive of this nuclear deal in 2015 when it started because of the promise of a better economy - better economic situation coming out from under the weight of sanctions. If we re-impose those sanctions right now, their situation is going to get much worse.

Yesterday, the Iranian currency hit its lowest rate against the dollar in history. That's going to get even worse. So, I think the rhetoric coming out of Tehran will be very strong, but I also think that there will be a lot of disappointment among the Iranian people.

TONY BLINKEN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE WHEN IRAN DEAL REACHED IN 2015: This is a gift to the hard liners unraveled. Whatever leverage we had, the President just destroyed it by blowing up international unity. It took years to put together an international coalition to exert the kind of pressure to get Iran to the table. That in plus year and 10 minutes is gone. There is going to be profound disunity, not just with the Europeans, but with the Russians, the Chinese, countries around the world that buy oil from Iran.

That means that our only solution is going to be to go after our own allies to sanction them, to stop them from doing business with Iran. So, we are actually turning this into an internal battle among the good guys, instead of keeping the focus on Iran.

And to the extent, there is a polishing that is needed to put pressure on Iran for all the bad things it's doing in the region and beyond, that's gone, too.


WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: Tony was involved in the Obama administration helping put this deal together.

URBAN: I have been friends with Tony for a long time, since the Senate days. Since this deal was inked, not one thing has been done to roll back the IRGC and their efforts around the world; is that correct? I mean what are the European allies - what has anybody done to halt the proliferation of Hezbollah, Hamas, sponsoring terrorism, acting as a proxy for Iran.

BLITZER: That's where the bigger deal comes in. The President had an opportunity to bring Europeans...


URBAN: Nobody has done anything since then, so we waited and waited, just hoping and wishing something was going to happen, it didn't. I think now something will happen.

DAVID GREGORY, POLITICAL ANALYST: Can I make a point about that? I think one of the big challenges for the President is exactly on this point, which is why not use what coalition you have to target the bad actions, the support for terrorism, the destabilizing of the area? Maybe he loses an opportunity to do that now and that is a significant challenge.

On the other side of this, if the President and his team believe there was an original sin here and that was the deal that you were involved with negotiating, then why not try different course?


GREGORY: I don't think that we should accept as fact that because there has been a big disruption here that everybody walks away and goes home that the Europeans won't do business with us. Now, come on.

The Europeans do lots of things that are not on the side of the United States. They did it before the Iraq war where they want to do business with these countries, and maybe a tougher line needs to be taken with them and maybe something else could be constructed, or maybe not.

I'm saying this is hard, and I think there is an establishment reaction to this saying, "Oh, well, wait a minute, he has broken some china here, and only a disaster follows." I don't know that that's the case or not the case, but I think his supporters, and opponents of this deal who are not all supporters of Donald Trump, may say, "Maybe we can take a new look at this and do something different." BLINKEN: But, David that's exactly what was happening and President

Macron of France came and said, "We can do a bigger deal, and we can put more pressure on Hezbollah. We can put more pressure on the IRGC defense force. We can put more pressure on their missile tests. We will keep the nuclear deal in place and then we will build on it." That was the bigger deal that President Trump actually had a chance to leverage. That's now gone.

I think he's blown up that proposition.

URBAN: But, Tony my simple point was why hadn't that been happening since the deal started? Why did they come to that conclusion last week?

BLINKEN: So, actually, a lot of things were happening including from us, imposing sanctions as we said from the beginning of this deal. Sanctions on Iran's other nefarious activities could and would continue.

The Obama administration imposed them. Actually, strangely, this administration held back on imposing them. Hard to figure out. So, the bottom line is, that opportunity, which you are right, David, there was an opportunity, and it was moving in that direction. Now it would seem to be gone.

GREGORY: What's wrong - if we know, and your reporting bears this out that they have not violated the deal. Now, you could believe they are ambling toward a nuclear program, but they have not made progress under the grip of this deal.

What is the basis, aside from just being opposed to it in principle to stopping it in its tracks now?

URBAN: I think it is basic original sin. I think there is - there was never any mind meld there that this was a good deal to begin with. As Dana points out, when it was inked - but look, this is a very controversial - the JCPO, the JCPOA was super controversial from the get-go.

I mean, go look at - you can pull the statements from Minority Leader Schumer, so many other Democrats, this was not widely accepted as the best solution.

BASH: So, why not fix it?

URBAN: Oh, I understand "the fix it, not nix it" deal, but this President believes...


URBAN: He wants to lead, right? He wants to - as Dana points out, it didn't just happen to drop in there that Mike Pompeo will be and landing in North Korea in an hour just a happenstance. I think he's saying, "Look, we'll do it this way. We're going to do it my way, and we're going to get a better deal." SCIUTTO: David, on that point, because this idea that it's for this

good. I asked a senior European Diplomat yesterday, the question, as you have these conversations with Trump administration officials, are they making the case to you that it's a risk to stay in this deal? Right? That national security is threatened, et cetera. And the assessment from this European diplomat was, it's more about politics, right?


BASH: Yes.


SCIUTTO: If there was a campaign promise made, fair enough, as you said, a commitment made and to be clear, give him credit for sticking to that commitment, but from their perspective, and again, these are close US allies, right? These are not folks out in orbit somewhere, from their perspective it isa domestic political drive pushing this decision rather than...


URBAN: But I would also push back on that that our friends in the Middle East, whether the Israelis or the Saudis who are having missiles lobbed at them from Yemen think otherwise.

BORGER: So, what are the - this is a question I have. I don't know the answer. What are the hardliners going to do in Iran now? Are the hard liners going to say, "Okay, let's get back to uranium enrichment?" Or are there others in Iran who are going to say abide by the deal.


BLITZER: Let me ask Christiane Amanpour, who has been to Iran many times to answer that question. Christiane, what do you think of the so-called hard liners revolutionary guard among others in Iran are going to do now that the President has said that the United States is withdrawing from this agreement.

CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, I did actually interview Iran's Ambassador to Britain, and he laid out a very clear scenario which was that this would empower the hardliners, that the moderates, whatever you might think of the relative moderates or hardliners, there are different political streams in Iran and it was the moderates who managed to overcome great skepticism and challenge from the hardliners to actually engage with the United States in the first place.

They are going to be undermined and diminished, and it's possible because the hardliners are getting stronger and the revolutionary guard are getting stronger outside and inside Iran that they will want to withdraw from the whole NPT. I mean, forget the deal, just get out of the whole NPT as well, which would put you in a North Korea circa 2001-2002 situation where there was no eyes on, there were no constraints, no restrictions and as I previously described, North Korea is where it is today because of precisely the same kind of hard ball negotiating tactics that the US President thought would be a success, and it wasn't.

And I would simply...


AMANPOUR: ... also just point out because you know President Trump himself mentioned Prime Minister Netanyahu, let's not forget that it was former Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2002 who went to Congress and told them the following: "If you sake out Saddam - Saddam's regime, I guarantee you that it will have an enormous positive reverberation on the whole region. I think people sitting right next door in Iran, young people and many others will say the time of such regimes and such despots is gone."

So you know, how did that work out? Exactly the reverse? So, we really do actually have to be careful about what has just happened, because without a Plan B - if there was a Plan B, then all of this would be academic and we could think about what was on the menu, what was on the table going forward.

But there isn't a Plan B. That's what, I, as a journalist am very keen to find out from the United States administration.

BLITZER: Hold on one second, we are getting reaction now from the Israeli Prime Minister in fact, Christiane, among others, Prime Minister Netanyahu says, "Israel fully supports President Trump's announcement to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal." Not a surprise. He was speaking on live television in Israel immediately following the President's address.

We are also getting reaction from the French President, Emmanuel Macron. He just tweeted that President Trump's decision to leave the Iran deal, he says, "France, Germany, and the UK ..." this according to Macron, "... regret the US decision to leave the agreement. The nuclear non-proliferation regime is at stake." David Gregory?

GREGORY: Look, I think it's very important we can talk about technical aspects of this deal, compliance, sanctions. This is much more simple. When you want to stop a country from doing really bad things, you either fight about it or you negotiate.

And we have taken - this country has taken a long hard look at fighting Iran, and so has Israel and if Israel thought they could have taken out that nuclear program, they would have done it years ago, and the United States including some people who now work for President Trump, when they worked in the Bush White House, they wanted to attack Iran as well.

But in the wake of the Iraq war, that was not something that the President actually agreed with doing at the time. So, I actually think Plan B for this administration will ultimately be to deal, if there is ultimately a deal to be had. You know, in North Korea, we looked for a long time like that this

President was so impulsive, he was going to fight on the Korean peninsula, maybe he is going to get a deal, maybe he won't. But there is only those two choices. It's the environment in which you do that and the conditions you get to do that stuff.

BLITZER: All right, let me get Jason Rezaian to weigh in on all of this, because you spent unfortunately, 18 months in an Iranian prison.

REZAIAN: I think that there is the possibility of a deal down the road, but a lot of bad things can happen in between. I think we have to look to what the rhetoric coming from Tehran will be over the next couple of days. I think there will be a lot of bluster and there will be a lot of threats about getting uranium enrichment back on track, but I think we are going to need to take a sort of more measured approach to their response and they are going to be wanting to see what the new sanctions look like.

BLITZER: But when the President says - and he says, "I want to speak directly to the Iranian people," and he says, "The United States wants to reach out to you, you have been living under this regime way too long." He says, "The United States is ready, willing and able to make a new deal with Iran if the Iranians are ready to negotiate."

REZAIAN: I think that the Iranian people can't speak on their behalf, but in their experience, they have heard these kinds of messages before from successive Presidents. And there was a lot of support as I said earlier for President Obama's outreach and the engagement that took place.

Remember that the sanctions regime during the Obama administration was very tough and it succeed in bringing the Iranians to the table, but I don't think that they want to see this movie again.

BORGER: But do they think they benefitted from the deal?

REZAIAN: Unfortunately not.

BORGER: ... as much as they thought? They were going to benefit from it?

REZAIAN: Unfortunately not. There was a...


BORGER: But that's because of the internal issues of Iran.


URBAN: But what Jason said is important. The sanctions regime brought the Iranians to the table.

BLINKEN: It was one of the factors - the sanctions regime with an international coalition. The United States alone can't impose sufficient sanctions to actually bring Iran to the table. But its hope was getting other countries involved. The other countries were involved for one reason, they believed that at the end of the day, the purpose of the sanctions was to get Iran to the table to negotiate a deal, in other words diplomacy.

Now what countries are going to believe is that this administration is out for regime change.


SCUITTO: One reason Iran has not felt - and Iranian people have not felt the benefits that they expected from this deal is that many European companies included have still been reluctant to do business with Iran because of concern about what the US will do, right.


SCUITTO: Because, if you are a company, you know, it is an enormous investment to make this trade deal, if you are worried you are going to face Department of Treasury sanctions as a result of that, you are going to pull back even if it's not certain.

So, the idea that these companies and countries continue to do business with Iran after the President makes this announcement is really - it's really (inaudible)...


BLINKEN: Unless Europe decides to play hard ball. In 1996, we tried to stop the Europeans from investing in Iran's energy sector. We imposed sanctions...


BLINKEN: ... on companies that did that. The European passed blocking legislation that is legislation preventing their companies from complying, and then they started to take us to the WTO, we backed off, but we were getting into a fight with our friends instead of focusing on Iran.

The President has actually taken the focus off of Iran and put this on as a fight with our closest allies.

BASH: Tony is talking from his deep diplomatic experience. Everybody here talking from their own experience and their sources. I just want to point out one thing I think that is telling about all of this that the President said, the US no longer makes empty threats.

I think if you look at this from 10,000 feet, it is the President saying he made this threat. I am going to come out this deal when he was a candidate, and he's doing it.


BORGER: What does it say about North Korea then? Because he has had some empty threats about North Korea.

BASH: I didn't say he was consistent. BORGER: Oh, okay.

GREGORY: No, but this about - you know what this is about? I mean political cycles run on political figures, including Presidents trying to correct for what they think was missing in their predecessor, and so we saw a lot of that covering President Bush after the Clinton years.

And this is about President Obama in many ways. It is about the consequences of action - see the Bush years, and inaction, see the Obama years, with regard to Syria. And now, this is a President who thinks not just his political supporters, but other opponents of the Iran deal, will see a strong stance like this. No more empty promises as something that could actually force the diplomatic...

BLITZER: I just want to point - with the President - speaking of threats said the United States is now going to reinstate sanctions, the most severe sanctions against Iran at the highest level. Those are his words. And he also said that any nation that helps Iran with its nuclear program will be sanctioned by the US presumably referring to the closest US allies in Europe as well.

Barbara Starr is over at the Pentagon getting more information. What are you learning, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Wolf, good afternoon, this situation could be broadening at this hour. I have spoken to several US military officials who say there is growing concern that Iran could be preparing for some sort of attack against Israel.

This comes amid all of this escalating tension between the US, Iran, and Israel. They can't say at this point what kind of attack, what the intelligence is particularly showing them, but we already know that Israeli authorities, according to news reports, are saying that air raid shelters in the Golan Heights in Northern Israel should be made available, that they are seeing concerning signs of Iranian movements potentially inside Syria.

What US military officials are telling me right now, they are looking at intelligence that has them worried, Iran could be aiming to take a swing at Israel. What they don't know is would it come from Iranian forces already inside Syria? Would it come from Iranian third party affiliates if you will, like Hezbollah, in Lebanon, or would it come from inside Iran itself, which would of course be a significant military escalation?

So, all of this coming as the President withdraws from the Iranian nuclear agreement and of course, they have very good intelligence that what Iran has been doing is shipping weapons into Syria. Israel firing back, bombing some of those weapons sites, and now the escalation amongst all of this may be growing.

US military officials at this hour saying they are worried that Iran could be preparing for some sort of strike against Israel, Wolf. BLITZER: Very disturbing developments. Barbara stand by. Oren

Liebermann is in Jerusalem getting Israeli reaction. "New York Times" bureau chief Thomas Erdbrink is in Tehran for us.

First, Oren, to you, what's the latest you are hearing there from the Israelis?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: We got a statement from the Israeli military. The Israel Defense Forces saying that bomb shelters have been opened up in the Golan Heights, specifically because - and I will read from the statement they have, "Identification of irregular activity of Iranian forces in Syria." So, they have opened up bomb shelters and put the Israeli military on high alert in the Golan Heights. So, that exactly echoes what we have just heard from Barbara Starr about the assessment that there may be some sort of a response perhaps soon.

And it's worth pointing out that it's not just in response to the Americans pulling out of the JCPOA, the nuclear deal, it's been Israel's assessment that Iran has been planning some sort of response for some time now, because of strikes on Syrian military bases with Iranian forces that Iran has blamed on Israel.

It's worth pointing out that Israel has not commented. In terms of the speech itself, and Wolf, you said this, it is exactly what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to hear. In fact, it almost sounded like Netanyahu could have written the speech.

Right after Trump spoke, Netanyahu issued this response, essentially a glowing review of what he had heard from Trump.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: Israel fully supports President Trump's bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with a terrorist regime in Tehran. Israel has...


NETANYAHU: ... opposed the nuclear deal from the start because we said that rather than blocking Iran's path to a bomb, the deal actually paves Iran's path to an entire arsenal of nuclear bombs, and this within a few years' time.

President Trump did a historic move, and this is why Israel thanks President Trump for his courageous leadership, his commitment to confront the terrorist regime in Tehran and his commitment to ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, not today, not in a decade, not ever.


LIEBERMANN: And those are responses we heard from Israel's Defense Minister as well as Israel's Ambassador to the UN. So, from the Israeli government's perspective, that was exactly what they wanted to hear. Trump hitting all of Netanyahu's talking points there in terms of

sunset provisions, warning of a nuclear arms race, warning that the deal didn't cover ballistic missiles. Those have been all of Netanyahu's talking points as he has been tried to push, and now, it is very obvious, trying to push the US to nix the Iran deal given that there was no real option or no real possibility of fixing the Iran deal.

I want to point out something Jim was talking about just a moment ago when he said Trump referenced Netanyahu's presentation just about a week ago, but pointed out there was nothing new there.

Netanyahu himself had a briefing with foreign media as well as some senior Israeli officials trying to keep that story out there and keeping it new, but we asked point blank, what's the most recent document you found? And they said, look most of what we have is from 2003, some of which is from 2005.

So, the documents in this new archive are 13 years old and don't speak to what Iran is planning now. It is a program that IAEA and others have said was shelved a long time ago. Still, that doesn't change the fact that from Israel's perspective, from Netanyahu's perspective, it is exactly what Trump said is what exactly what they wanted to hear and, Wolf, I will conclude with this point. It's Russia that is the big player in the region. Netanyahu is on his way to meet the Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow, and that may play very much in to how Israel and Iran, the relations, and the tensions there play out over the next few days.

BLITZER: Yes, tensions could escalate, too, next Monday when the US formally officially opens up its new embassy in Jerusalem, moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

I want to go to Tehran right now, "New York Times" Tehran bureau chief, Thomas Erdbrink, is joining us right now, so what's the reaction so far, Thomas, what are you hearing?

THOMAS ERDBRINK, BUREAU CHIEF, NEW YORK TIMES: You can imagine that normal ordinary Iranians are devastated by this news. As Jason Rezaian also pointed out, people don't want to see the movie of sanctions played again.

People here had been hoping for jobs. They had been hoping to get better education for their kids. They had also been hoping that their own leaders would normalize their policies after the nuclear agreement. And you can debate long and hard about what happened, but for many Iranians it is clear that some of the measures Iran's leaders have taken have not been the right ones especially in the economy. There is corruption, there is mismanagement.

But at the same time, from the start the United States has violated in the eyes of the Iranians parts of the deal. The fact that from Iran you still cannot transfer any money to other countries. The fact that the US administrations have been discouraging European companies from doing business in Iran, companies that were supposed to bring those jobs here. Sorry. Companies that were supposed to invest here and those companies that were supposed to prop up the agreements made in the nuclear deal, they haven't come to Iran.

Those jobs haven't materialized and they have seen the results of this. The Iranian national currency has dropped by 35% compared to a year ago. Many people feel that there is economically no solution. There have been protests here in January and December partly also against the system, about the economy, also about lack of freedoms.

Now of course, many Iranians find this painful and they feel as if they are a victim of these powers of the fight between the US and the Iranian leadership.

BLITZER: Yes, so it is a serious moment right now in Iran. They are going to have to very, very carefully assess what the President of the United States has just announced. Thomas, we are going to get back to you shortly.

But Jim Sciutto, I know you are anxious to weigh in as well. The fear we heard from Barbara Starr, from Oren Liebermann that this could result within days, Israel is gearing up right now for potentially some sort of Iranian military action against Israel in the Golan Heights.

SCIUTTO: Well, there is a reason that Israel is preparing its people for that and the officials in the Pentagon speaking to Barbara are telling that. So, they must be seeing some intelligence to that effect.

It would be a remarkable outcome to see that in light of the response that Iran would certainly spark for an attack...


SCIUTTO: ... on Israel under any circumstances, certainly today, and with this administration in Israel and this administration in the US. If that were to happen, I mean, you always worried about escalation in these situations, even if it was a small strike of some sort that would have enormous danger of escalation between Israel and Iran, but you know, you could certainly see the possibility of US military involvement if that were to take place.

But again, it would be an enormous risk for Iran to take as well.

BLINKEN: We have American forces very close to Iranian backed militia in both Iraq and Syria. One mistake, one miscalculation, that can be a problem.

But Wolf, there is another front here, too. The President tried to make the turn to North Korea, but he's actually made his task even more difficult than it is already is with North Korea. First having thrown out an agreement that the Iranians were actually complying about, why should Kim Jong-un believe a word that he says when they start to negotiate? Why should he believe anything we put on paper if we are prepared to tear it up.

But second, the President has raised the bar on the substance of any agreement with North Korea by decrying the Iran deal and saying it is a piece of trash, he has to get a better deal with North Korea to justify it. Is he going to be able to get the North Koreans up front to dismantle virtually all of their nuclear enterprise? Is he going to be able to get the most intrusive inspections regime in history in North Korea as we did with Iran? That's pretty unlikely.

BORGER: Well, that's the huge - that's always been the question, and I agree with you. I think now, the question gets harder to answer. If he says you couldn't inspect well enough in Iran, how are you going to inspect in North Korea? I mean, that's - you know, and if they say we are denuclearizing, how do you prove it?

BLITZER: Well, let David, go ahead.

URBAN: Look, I would just again, again, this is not -I don't think ripping this up had anything to do with the technical terms in this deal. I think it had everything to do with big omissions, things left out, IRGC, dealing with the missile program. I think those were left out. it was a bad deal. The original sin point that David makes, that was what was at work here.

BLITZER: And how much of this ripping up this deal was the President made that commitment during the campaign, it was strong campaign commitment - he made other campaign commitments, move the embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He is about to do that. How much of it was - he wants to live up to what he promised during the campaign?

UBRAN: I think it's very important, Wolf, I think that's - and to Dana's point earlier, she said, we are going to keep our word. I think you see this President doing that throughout his presidency...


GREGORY: ... and I would caution, I do think and I'm mindful, we're getting close to the top of the hour, a lot of talk about regime change and how dangerous that is. I mean, it's our job to scrutinize as citizens and journalists what has happened in the past 20 years in the Middle East, and there has got to be an end game that this administration has to think about.

If it is a new, better deal with North Korea or with Iran, we will see what happens, but I think the prospect of any kind of military confrontation is one that people should be really wary of.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely, and based on intelligence that at least, it has raised questions that the American people now deserve information about what exactly the intelligence that the President was referring to there, because we know that the Israeli presentation, as Oren was just saying there was based on intelligence from years ago. Does the President have new information that led him to make this decision and that could potentially also lead to in certain circumstances, a military action?

We have also been through this story before in 2003.

BORGER: But he know what he has? He has a new Secretary of State and he has a new National Security Adviser, and his previous ones - Tillerson and McMaster were against what the President just did today, and they kept delaying it and delaying it and delaying it.

As Dana and I know, we have been reporting, you know, this is a very different President from a year ago. He is now saying, A, I am keeping my promises; B, I know how to do this; and C, I'm going to do it, and that's exactly what we saw today.

These folks are gone and he has very different people in those jobs right now.

BASH: And what Tony was talking about, about North Korea, that has been one of the key red flags of course for the President in pulling out. Saying, how can you do this on one hand and on the other hand, beg North Korea to make this deal. It is actually strategic in a way that maybe we haven't seen from this administration thus far for him to not only mention North Korea in the same speech, but say that the Secretary of State is on his way there because they clearly understand how sensitive it is.

BLITZER: And I want to go to Michelle Kosinski over at the State Department. It was very dramatic, the President of the United States announcing in advance, he says that the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on his way to Pyongyang, North Korea for another round of talks with the North Korean leadership, maybe with Kim Jong-un himself, the first one a few weeks ago, that was all done in secret.

But, now, it's out there. The President making the announcement. What are you hearing over there at the State Department?

MICHELLE KOSINKSI, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, well, here at the State Department and within the diplomatic community, this was not the greatest kept secret. We have known about this for days, but this is the first we are getting real confirmation of this. And we know that Pompeo has taken two pool reporters with him on this trip. We are starting to get the first reports of them, a detailed what exactly is going on here.

So, he is now en route...