An Iran Deal Architect Watches It Get Nuked
what next is supported by Charles Schwab. What is Schwab's modern approach to investing? It's great service. It's transparency about how much you're paying fees and commissions. It's offering some of the lowest costs in the industry backed by satisfaction guarantee. If you're not satisfied for any reason the refund the fees and work with you to make things right. So ask yourself, are you getting low costs and award winning service? If not maybe it's time to call Schwab, visit Schwab dot com forward slash comparis-. To learn more. There's this picture. I keep thinking about a picture of the way things used to be when it came to American foreign policy. It was taken back in two thousand fifteen the Iran nuclear deal, had just been agreed to in Vienna in this picture, then secretary of state. John Kerry is on a government plane with his lead negotiator ambassador, Wendy Sherman. They're on their way home. They look relieved. They've got glasses of wine in their hands. We opened the bottle. We handed out plastic cups took a ship that was our celebration and immediately, everyone on that airplane, just passed out in exhaustion. I've been thinking about that photo of embassador Sherman, because in it, she's got the satisfied smile of someone who's just done something really difficult almost impossible, we were humbled by the historic nature of this agreement nobody wants to Ron to have a nuclear weapon. So, I think we all understood the gravity of. Of what we had done, but also what was before us. You said that during negotiations, the Iranians ask they said, what do we do if another administration comes in and just blows this thing up because, as you said it wasn't a treaty. It was an executive action, and so any executive could change that action. So whenever the Iranians asked me that question was often. I would say back to them. How do we know that your government won't change? How do we know that you pull out of it? We have to make this deal as good as we possibly can. So it is as Dorrell as it possibly can be. And the fact that Iran has complied with the deal for over a year even after the United States, President, Trump withdrew from the deal says something about the door ability of the DO, because it has lasted even after that withdrawal, obviously, we're now at a much more difficult, and much more dangerous point. But it actually was quite durable under the circumstances. Right now with that agreement. She negotiated in question with United States tiptoeing to the edge of war with Iran, I wanted to talk to someone who tried to solve an international crisis like this one someone who might Noah way forward, did you expect to be where we are today? I hoped we would not be where we are today. But I didn't expect Donald Trump to be president of the United States either. Today on the show. We know how the Trump administration sees Iran ambassador Sherman is going to tell us how Iran sees us. 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Over the last week, the American standoff with Iran has escalated again and again after explosions crippled, two boats in the Gulf of Oman. The US blamed Iran, a few days later, Iran shot down, an unmanned American drone by Thursday. President Trump seemed ready to authorize military action. But then he suddenly pulled back. He said he didn't wanna take Iranian lives. So I asked him Basseterre Sherman, does any of this give her a sense of relief is quite an unusual circumstance. If we are all depending on Donald Trump to save us from more. This is a president in my view, who makes decisions from his gut not from information, not from knowledge, not from history, not from thoughtful deliberations with his national security team. So it is quite concerning. How decisions get? Made in the White House, or don't get me. And although the president said that he took the decision to pull back on the retaliatory strike in his view because all of a sudden he realized one hundred and fifty people might die. The question is why did he only know that or consider that ten minutes before the possible strike? Where was the policy process? The briefings discussion to appreciate what the risks were here. I cannot imagine that he agreed to these strikes without that kind of a briefing. It is, you know, absolutely would have been at the top of the list. So that statement was breathtaking and extraordinary. And he is soon he would have gotten that information whether he asked or not just, here's what this means here's the consequence. Yes, yes. So whether he didn't pay attention to it or whether he's just trying to add to the. Drama of his pulling back from the strike. But in fact, what it is done is made him look in it before last week's escalation ambassador Sherman was keeping in touch with Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif. He said across from earth. Negotiating table helped create the deal that came to be known as the J C P, O A, the joint comprehensive plan of action. She says to understand Iran's perspective on everything. That's happened since it helps to understand the reef foreign ministers. Your jewelry is a master diplomat. He is incredibly smart. He's quite dramatic at time, there would be times during negotiation where he would sort of retreat to the back of the room at an hand. Whoa, is me. So he he was quite entertaining at times, but a very serious man, and trying to best represent the interests of. His country tough negotiator. He lived in the United States for thirty years, he had a lot of his education here, virtually all of it here in the United States. He was the ambassador to the United Nations for Iran for quite some time, which is how many of us I got to know him. So he understands American media, he understands the American system. He's very media savvy. So he is a formidable and talented diplomat. I'm wondering if you can explain how we got here. I mean, we pulled out of the agreement Unical she it about a year ago and tensions with Iran have been steadily ratcheting up. Can you explain why from that rainy in perspective from someone like divulge Cerise perspective, why this makes sense? Most people think that Iran has no politics because it has prima leader. So this cream leader must be supreme and make all decisions. In fact, Iran has quite complex politics. It's not a democracy. Even though it elected president Alexis president from a slate of candidates that is approved by the supreme leader and council that makes these decisions. So it is not a full democracy in the way that we believe in democracy's. The supreme leader always balancing those that I would consider hardliners in their system like Javad Zarif, and those that are hard hardliners who never wanted the joint comprehensive plan of action because they owned around the Konomi, they owned the black market, they wanted to have freedom of action, and they didn't want any western presence in Iran whatsoever. Can we go back? Can you can you distinguish for me between? Hard-liner and a hard hard liner. What's the difference in Iran? What's the difference in the US well in a role on the president, Ronnie is a hard liner? He is a very conservative cleric so often people talk about him a moderate, and I suppose within his system, he may be more moderate, but he is a hardliner. He believes in the Crecy of Iran. He believes in Iran's capabilities, but he is not a hard hardliner who not only believe in the Oxy, but believe in really taking over the Middle East and having freedom of action directly in through around Ian proxies, this ascendancy of the hard, hard liners in Iran, of course, is happening at the same time that the hard hard liners like John Bolton and secretary Pompeo are on the ascendancy in terms of Trump's foreign policy. And so we have a sort of symbolic. Mm by audit escalatory ladder where those interests begin to predominate and not the interests of peace security, and stability. I consider myself a hardliner I want to make sure Ron does not have a nuclear weapon, I want them to stop their state sponsorship of terrorism. Their human rights abuses. Have Americans come home who are unjustly detained and imprisoned or missing in Iran. I want them to stop their maligned behavior in the Middle East and stop threatening our ally and partner Israel, but I believe that we can do that largely through diplomacy that is backed up by credible threat of force because that can often serve diplomacy. Well, but what the president has done by withdrawing the JC peo- way is to really constrain his choices. So what John Bolton and secretary. Pump peyot have really designed here are very few choices for the president. If you withdraw from the base EPLA, if you ratchet up the sanctions, if you push away, our allies, particularly Europe, you're left with two choices either you keep the sanctions on forever, or you take military action and risk and Arab Persian war. You talked to about the Iranian psychology here, where you know, there's a particular way that they view the relationship with the US, and so for them they see no other choice than to ratchet things up. We'll look there is no trust between the United States and, and Ron, I don't trust around, Ian, they don't trust me. We did gain a mutual respect for each other, and a better understanding of each other. But a run ins are superb negotiators. They see the entire landscape. They are complex negotiators, not just. Transactional, and the president tend to be transactional, I win or I lose, he doesn't see all of the dimensions of the chessboard, and how to define US interests. And a chief those US interests interested to hear you say you have no trust there, because you spent months, negotiating with the Iranians, you know, we have a very long history with Iran. Most Americans think that the lack of trust and the Nate from nineteen seventy nine when the Iranian revolution took place and Iran took American hostage for four hundred forty four days, but it actually goes back before, then in the nineteen fifties, when most deck was prime minister and was came to that position in the relatively democratic way he considered nationalizing the oil industry in Iran and the British in. Elegance, along with the American CIA deposed him and put in the Shah of Iran, who was a ally to the United States, but a dictator and oppressor in Iran, which led to the Iran revolution. So Iran history, United States is a bad one. The United States history with Iran is about one, and it will take more than the joint comprehensive plan of action to get us to a normal, diplomatic relationship. I mean, there's been reporting that some diplomats have been trying to encourage Iran to keep abiding by the nuclear agreement, even though the US has pulled out of it. Do you see any hope for that still happening now? Well, the Europeans have worked extremely hard to try to create a what's called a special purpose vehicle sort of a barter system to try to get some trade and investment in Iran to keep the deal going. But they're having a very difficult time because the administration, the Trump administration has made it clear that any company that makes use of this system. We'll be sanctioned by the United States and Iraq, onomic power is quite profound. So Europe's efforts have kept this deal going, and Iran's compliance of for over a year now, but it is in great jeopardy, there will be a meeting on the twenty eighth of June NBN a- of all of the partners to the agreement except the United States. So the four other permanent members of this Curie council, plus Germany, and the European Union to see. See if there's anything that can be done to keep the deal together. I read one analysis that said that was going on between the United States in Iran. Right now is going to have to come to a head at some point. Do you believe that clearly, we are seeing mixed signals from President Trump on the one hand he you know, there's that old statement you should walk softly, and carry a big stick? I think he does it opposite, which is to walk loudly and carry a little stick. And I think neither works in this instance, it is a much more complex situation. And until he gets a deeper and more strategic plan in place to meet America's national security interests. Indeed. We will continue to head a very bad place. Yeah. You've said, the Trump administration needs to put something on the table to basically re. Reset the conversation with Iran right now which to me, it just seems like the exact opposite of what someone like John Bolton wants to do. If I'm sure that's true. But one possibility here we certainly saw President Trump in the North Korea situation, put the stopping of military exercises, south three on the table in great surprise to many people to get his summit with Kim Jong UN that didn't leak very much because he didn't have a strategy. He didn't have a plan. He didn't have a team in place at the time and he didn't have a real way forward. He hadn't done all the consultations that are necessary with partners and allies and I fear that will be the same case here. What do you say to people who say, we shouldn't be talking to Europeans? We, you know there as you said, there's no trust there. Why should we be having these conversations? You know, long ago, the prime minister of Israel Rabin said, I think he's, he's quoting others as well. That one does not make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemies so talking is fine. But you have to have a plan, you have to have a strategy, you have to know what your interests are and you know, how you have to know how you're going to achieve them. Ambassador sherman. I'm very grateful for your time. Thank you. Wendy Sherman is a senior fellow at the Bill for center for science and international affairs at the Harvard, Kennedy School of government. All right. That's the show. What next is hosted by me? Mary, Harris and produced by Mary Wilson, Jason de Leon and Ethan Brooks. It today show helped you figure some stuff out about Iran and what's going to happen there. We would really appreciate it. If you went onto apple podcasts and left us a review. It helps people find us but we also read them. So it's nice to hear from you. You can also follow me on Twitter. I'm at Mary's desk. All right. Talk to you tomorrow.