CBS on Tuesday fretted over the danger of the U.S. leaving the 2015 nuclear agreement, dismissing Israel’s claims regarding secret new files detailing Iran’s lies. Talking to Condoleezza Rice about the rumors that Donald Trump will exit the deal, This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell started with the premise that America should stay in: “What is the damage if President Trump withdraws from the accord?”
The former Secretary of State under George W. Bush responded by calling the Obama deal “weak” and recounting the pros and cons of the accord. She concluded: “I don't think that it's the end of the world if the administration leaves the agreement.”
The front page of Tuesday’s New York Times recounted Israel’s claims of Iranian lies:
Revealing a huge archive of stolen Iranian nuclear plans, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel accused Iran on Monday of lying for years about its efforts to build a nuclear weapon.
Days before President Trump was to decide whether to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Mr. Netanyahu presented records from a secret warehouse in Tehran, making the case that Iranian leaders had deceived the international nuclear agency when they insisted their nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Israeli spies seized the documents in an overnight raid in January, a senior Israeli official said.
Later in the CBS This Morning show, the co-hosts went into damage control as they talked to Israel’s ambassador, Ron Dermer. O’Donnell scolded: “You've heard some of the reaction, not groundbreaking, not anything new.”
Co-host John Dickerson offered a declaration — not a question — as he lectured Dermer:
Mr. Ambassador, it was Israeli policy and U.S. policy that Iran has beenconsistently lying about this weapons program. So, while there are fascinating new tales about the nature and corners and crannies of that lie, the basic fact that everybody knew and was operating on the fact they were lying is still something everybody knew.
The Israeli ambassador shot back: “Well, some people knew that they were lying. Not everybody. There were inspectors, there were nuclear experts who claimed, as of a few years ago, that Iran really didn't have a military nuclear program. Hopefully this will be news to them.”
Expect more collective freak outs from the networks if the U.S. does pull out of the accord.
A transcript is below. Click "expand" to read more.
CBS This Morning
NORAH O’DONNELL: We've had various members of the Trump administration testify publicly to Congress that there is no proof that Iran is violating the 2015 accord. What is the damage if President Trump withdraws from the accord?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Let me say I wouldn't have signed this agreement to begin with. I’ve said that before. I think it was a weak agreement, particularly on verification. It allows Iran to break out after a specific period of time. I probably would have stayed in for alliance management reasons more than anything else.
But I don't think that it's the end of the world if the administration leaves the agreement. Now I'm hoping that the conversations the President has had, for instance, with President Macron of France would suggest that we could improve the agreement. And perhaps if that could be done, this could go. But the administration's been worried about this agreement from the very beginning, and there's reason to be worried about this agreement.
ALEX WAGNER: President Trump said Israel's intelligence shows he was 100 percent right to criticize the deal. He says the door is still open to renegotiating it.
NORAH O’DONNELL: Ron Dermer is Israel's ambassador to the United States. He joins us from Washington. Ambassador, good morning.
RON DERMER: Good to be with you.
O’DONNELL: You've heard some of the reaction, not groundbreaking, not anything new. Your reply?
DERMER: Well, it's certainly new. Senator Corker hasn't seen that information yet. We gave it to U.S. Intelligence agencies a few weeks ago. It was much of the information that we had, which is a massive amount of information we ourselves did not know, our own intelligence agencies. U.S. Intelligence agencies didn't know that.
DICKERSON: Mr. Ambassador, it was Israeli policy and U.S. policy that Iran has been consistently lying about this weapons program. So, while there are fascinating new tales about the nature and corners and crannies of that lie, the basic fact that everybody knew and was operating on the fact they were lying is still something everybody knew.
DERMER: Well, some people knew that they were lying. Not everybody. There were inspectors, there were nuclear experts who claimed, as of a few years ago, that Iran really didn't have a military nuclear program. Hopefully this will be news to them.
O’DONNELL: Ambassador, the Iranian program to design and build nuclear weapons was hardly a secret. That's why President Obama went forward with this Iranian deal. The key question many people have this morning: Do the Israelis have any evidence that Iran is currently not in compliance with the deal?
DERMER: I just told you the evidence. They are actively engaged in an effort to hide their military nuclear program. And what you said also, I would dispute, as well. The question is, why would Iran keep these files. They're going to use it in the future.
DICKERSON: But that's their stated policy which is that if the U.S. pulls out of the deal or the deal changes, they'll restart their nuclear program. Now whether they'd call it a peaceful program or not, that's their stated policy. So, is that a surprise to anybody that they would restart this program if the deal fell apart?
O’DONNELL: Ambassador, do you have 100% certainty from the white house that President Trump is going to withdraw from the deal?