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Face the Nation October 15, 2017 Transcript: Tillerson, Graham, Netanyahu, Kelly

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS: Today on FACE THE NATION: President Trump disavows the Iran nuclear deal and moves to upend the nation's health care system.

The president made good this week on his promise to unravel his predecessor's legacy, bucking the advice of some of his top national security advisers by refusing to certify Iran's part in making good on their nuclear commitment.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran's nuclear breakout.


DICKERSON: Mr. Trump's other target, Obamacare, ending payments to insurance companies that help lower-income Americans afford health care.


TRUMP: I just keep hearing repeal, replace, repeal, replace. Well, we're starting that process.


DICKERSON: We will hear from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has to lobby Congress and U.S. allies, plus manage a strained relationship with his boss.

Our Elizabeth Palmer is in Tehran and spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also joins us.

South Republican Senator Lindsey Graham will be here, as well as astronaut Scott Kelly, whose new book is about the ups and downs of being in space.

It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson. President Trump's threat to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, an international agreement made two years ago with Iran and five other countries, unless Iran meets certain new conditions, has sent shockwaves around the world.

We will hear from all sides.

But we start with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Welcome, Mr. Secretary.

First to the interview our Elizabeth Palmer did with Foreign Minister Zarif.

He said that you didn't give the Iranians a heads-up. Why not?

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, we had had an exchange on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly meeting. And so I think he had a pretty good sense of where this decision the president would today would likely go.

But we did speak with all the other signatories to the joint commission plan of action, the Iran nuclear agreement, to ensure that they understood exactly the decision the president was taking.

DICKERSON: But if you're trying to get Iran to change and agree to some new terms -- or maybe you're not -- why not talk to him? Why not -- you know how these negotiations work. You want to talk to the other side.

TILLERSON: I think the time will come when we do need to engage with Iran.

We want to ensure, though, that our friends and allies and the other parties to the nuclear agreement have great clarity around the president's policy, which is far beyond just the nuclear agreement, John. This Iran policy really has three important elements to it. And the president outlined all of those in his speech.

And I think one of the unfortunate aspects of our relations with Iran over the last several years has been it has been defined almost entirely by this nuclear agreement,to the exclusion of so many other issues that we need to deal with, with Iran.

So, part of this conversation is to deal with the nuclear arrangement, but also deal with these broader issues that concern us.

DICKERSON: What the European allies, the other signatories to this say is, yes, they agree with you with all those issues, but they say you do them in two different parts, the way we used to do it with the Soviets.

You negotiate on the nuclear. You lock in gains there. Then you work on these other things. The Senate passed sanctions against Iran over the summer. So, you work that other channel, but you don't jeopardize what you have got locked in on this agreement. Why are they wrong?

TILLERSON: Well, they're not wrong.

And, in fact, that's exactly what the president's decision, I think, reflects, is that the president has said, look, we're going to decertify under the Iranian Review Act -- this is a domestic law. It's not a decertification under the nuclear agreement that involves the multilateral parties.

But he is, I think, signaling to Iran and to our other partners there are serious flaws in this agreement. Everyone acknowledges there are serious flaws. And so he would like to get the Congress to give us their sense of this issue, so we have a strong voice, a strong, unified voice once and for all, representing the American position, which then allows us to engage with friends and allies and other signatories around, how do we address these gaps and these flaws in this nuclear agreement?

DICKERSON: If Congress doesn't act, if they don't get the 60 votes, what happens? The president -- does that mean the agreement is dead? Is that what the president was saying?

TILLERSON: Well, there's three options now that the Congress has.

The Congress can do nothing, in which case everything maintains its status quo, and it will be up to the president then to decide, how does he want to motivate addressing the gaps in this issue? And as we have discussed this, under the JCPOA, under the nuclear agreement, it may be that we're not able to reopen that agreement with everyone being willing to play.

But it doesn't mean we cannot undertake negotiations to address the areas of concern, which are the ballistic missile program, the sunset provisions, the expiry provisions, and perhaps lay a second agreement down alongside of this agreement.

DICKERSON: So, you would keep the original.

I guess what I'm trying to fix on here is, it sounded like at the end of his remarks the president said a hammer is going to come down if there's no action from Congress, and this first agreement is done, the U.S. is out.

Is that a misunderstanding, or is that the message?

TILLERSON: No, I think the president is being very clear, not just to the Congress, but he's being very clear to Iran and to the other signatories of the agreement as well that, if we cannot see movement, if we don't see some encouragement that we're going to address these, then there's no reason to stay in. And he has every intention of walking out.

DICKERSON: What message does this send to the North Koreans? You're in the middle of trying to get them to the table. If you're trying to get them to the table, they look at this. They have looked at the Libya example, where Libya gave up its nuclear weapons. Then Gadhafi was overthrown.

Why aren't they going to think, well, I'm not going to engage in a deal with somebody who changes their mind?

TILLERSON: Well, I think it would be pretty rich of the North Koreans to take that position.

In fact, we had a similar agreement in place with the North Koreans back in the 1990s almost like this Iranian agreement. And you can see what it's led to, where we find ourselves today.

I think the message to the North Koreans is, we have a policy towards North Korea's nuclear program. It's the same as Chinese, the same as the Russians, the same as the regional players. There will be a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

And so any agreement with the North Koreans is going to be a very different agreement than the kind that we are dealing with, with Iran.

DICKERSON: Although, in the '90s, they argue that Congress undercut the agreement.

But let me ask you about North Korea. They did not test a missile on the 10th of October. Some people thought they might. Is that a big signal?

TILLERSON: We will see. We will wait and see, John.

I think that was a big anniversary date for them. We know we have the Chinese Party Congress about to get under way this week. There are -- any number of -- any number of events with -- in the past they have undertaken some type of provocative act.

So, we will watch, we will wait, we will see. We also listen to their public pronouncements as well.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about your relationship with the president, a lot of talk about it.

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, somebody you're working with on the Iran agreement, not a person known for saying just anything that comes into his head, has said two things.

Last week, he said that you are not being supported in the way that he hoped a secretary of state would be supported. And this week, he put a finer point and said you're being publicly castrated by the president.

What is going on here?

TILLERSON: Well, I think the president -- the way the president operates in terms of causing action under his foreign policy decisions, but also his domestic policy decisions, I think, sometimes, people have a -- there are challenges to put all that together.

What I would say is, when it comes to North Korean policy or whether it comes to this Iranian policy or the recent South Asian policy, there is absolute alignment between the State Department, the other departments in the Cabinet, and the president's objectives.

The president is a very unconventional person, as we all know, in terms of how he communicates, how he likes to create action-forcing events. And so the president often takes steps to force an action when he feels things are just not moving.

DICKERSON: But I guess what Senator Corker is saying, this action-forcing events comes at your expense, when you're trying to deal with other countries, and they see you being undermined.

Is Corker totally off-base here?

TILLERSON: What I would say is, with respect to the example you gave with the Chinese, we have very, very good communication, open channels with the Chinese.

The president has a great relationship President Xi. I have a great relationship with the state councillor. There is a clarity around what we are attempting to do with North Korea and how we're working with China to achieve the outcome in North Korea that we all want.

So, there's no confusion among the people that matter.

DICKERSON: So, Corker is confused about how this works?

TILLERSON: Well, I know the appearance of it certainly looks like there's sometimes disunity.

It requires a lot of work on all of our part to coordinate these efforts, so that we are clearly driving towards the objective, which is a denuclearized North Korea.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the other side of this, which is, if people on the outside need to know you speak for the president, there are also people who are nervous about everything that is happening in the world.

And they want the president to get clear advice from his advisers. They don't want a fight in the dugout.

Are you able to tell the president what is on your mind, and have the president listen to you and maybe change his mind?

TILLERSON: One of the relationship issues I value the greatest is that the president wants to know what I think.

And so I always present my view of that. And, sometimes, that's an alternative view to that of others. The president listens to all of that. He takes all that information in. Sometimes, it involves numerous conversations for him to come to a decision, which I think is a very appropriate way to proceed on issues that are as important as these.

But I have complete freedom to express my views to the president, and he listens to those views. And, no...

DICKERSON: And changes his mind?

TILLERSON: And, no, we don't agree on everything.


TILLERSON: Yes, sometimes, he changes his mind.

And whatever he decides, though, he's the president of the United States. I will work as hard as I can to implement his decisions successfully.

DICKERSON: Does he believe you're wasting your time talking with -- trying to talk with North Korea, which is what he said, I should say?

TILLERSON: Our diplomatic -- he supports our diplomatic efforts.

We're going to maintain those diplomatic efforts. As I have commented to others, our diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb is dropped.

DICKERSON: The other alternative is that you're playing good cop/bad cop, that you're the good cop, and the president, by saying you're wasting your time, is being the bad cop.

That's a strategy, but isn't it a little dangerous when you're dealing with North Korea?

TILLERSON: It's not one we're going to share with anyone.

As the president has said, he has no intention of signaling to people what his next step will be. He's not going to give them advanced warning of what his next action will be. I think that makes it very effective.

DICKERSON: All right, Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for being with us.

TILLERSON: My pleasure, John.

DICKERSON: We turn now to CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, who is in Tehran, and spoke exclusively Saturday with Iran's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.


ELIZABETH PALMER, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We were invited to the Foreign Ministry here in Tehran, where Dr. Zarif underlined that five other countries besides U.S. had signed the Iranian nuclear deal, and no matter what the White House said or did, all five remain firmly committed to it.


MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: This is not a bilateral treaty between Iran and United States. So, whatever domestic politicking he wants to do, that's his business.

You know, the United States is a permanent member of the Security Council. And if it's not going to uphold a resolution that not only it voted for, but it sponsored, then the credibility of the institution that the United States considers to be very important would be at stake.

Nobody else would trust any U.S. administration to engage in any long-term negotiation, because the length of any commitment, the duration of any commitment from now on with any U.S. administration would be the remainder of the term of that president.

PALMER: Are you thinking of any kind of country in particular right now?

ZARIF: No, I'm thinking of the entire international community.

PALMER: Not North Korea?

ZARIF: Well, including North Korea, but I believe the entire international community.

You see, this -- this administration is withdrawing from everything. Somebody called it withdrawal doctrine for this administration.

It's withdrawing from NAFTA. It's withdrawing from Trans-Pacific Partnership. It's withdrawing from UNESCO. It's withdrawing from everything.

So, people cannot trust anymore the word of the United States.

You see, in order to bring United States on board on many of these international agreements, a lot of people make a lot of concessions. Now nobody is going to make any concession to the United States, because they know that the next U.S. president will come back and say it wasn't enough, we're not satisfied.

PALMER: Let us say that Donald Trump eventually does pull the U.S. out of the agreement unilaterally.

Will you stay in with the Europeans, Russia and China and make it work with them alone?

ZARIF: If one party withdrawals from the deal, particularly the United States, and starts, in fact, violating the most important elements of the deal, then Iran will decide.


PALMER: So, you're not going to commit now to staying in if the U.S. pulls out?

ZARIF: We have committed ourselves not to be the first party to withdraw from this deal.

PALMER: But that's it?

ZARIF: Provided that our economic dividends that have been enshrined in this deal are respected, and Iran continues to receive those dividends.

Once Iran does not receive those dividends, then it would be a totally different situation.

PALMER: Secretary Rex Tillerson called around late in the day yesterday to give various allies and world leaders a heads-up about what was to come. Did he call you?

ZARIF: No. I didn't expect him to.

PALMER: You didn't expect him to, not even as a courtesy?

ZARIF: Well, there's not much courtesy left in way the United States treats the rest of the world.

PALMER: You are a partner with the United States and other countries in this nuclear deal. Now, that implies a huge amount of diplomatic engagement.

Why doesn't that give you the privilege to talk to the secretary of state directly?

ZARIF: Well, I think that's a decision that the United States has...


PALMER: You did it with John Kerry.

ZARIF: We certainly did. And it produced a lot of results. It produced a lot of positive results. It averted some rather nasty scenarios.

But this administration has decided to play in a totally different manner. And I can assure you that Iranian dignity and pride will not allow us to engage when mutual respect and equal footing are not respected by one party.

PALMER: Have you spoken to the supreme leader since President Trump's speech?

ZARIF: No, it's been late last night since -- he spoke late last night.

And we know his views about it. We had briefed the leader about what he was going to say, because...

PALMER: What was his reaction?

ZARIF: ... pretty much everybody knew. He says, "I expected it."


PALMER: So, there was a little bit of I told you so, because he had been against the deal from the beginning, and he has never trusted the United States. Did he say, you see, I was right all along?


ZARIF: None of us ever trusted the United States.

This deal was not based on trust. It was based on mutual mistrust. And I think that was the strength of this deal. It's not something bad about the deal. It's the strength of the deal.

But, unfortunately, the way President Trump is handling it, it's widening the mistrust, not only between Iran and the United States, but between the global community and the United States, where the U.S. is no longer not just unpredictable, but unreliable.

PALMER: Have you given up, for the moment, on trying to establish better relations with the Trump administration to try and dial back the rhetoric?

ZARIF: Well, I believe the Trump administration is closing its eyes on the realities of our region.

And it's getting into a quagmire that would harm U.S. national interests and would harm -- because of the significance of the United States as a global player, will harm our region.

We believe it would be important for the United States, for the Trump administration to exercise a reset in its cognitive disorder with regard to our region.


PALMER: With such huge implications for everything from Iran's economy to its national security, you know that all eyes in the Iranian government are now fixed on the U.S. Congress -- John.

DICKERSON: Liz Palmer for us in Tehran, thanks, Liz.

We turn now to South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

Senator, let's start with the Iran question. It's been moved to Congress.


DICKERSON: Are there enough votes there to get this amendment to the Iran deal?

GRAHAM: You know, I don't know. I hope so.

I would hate to be a Democrat defending the sunset clause. Under this agreement, after 15 years, the Iranians can do anything they want in terms of enrichment and reprocessing. It doesn't matter if they are still the largest state sponsor of terrorism. It doesn't matter if they're building ICBMs with "death to Israel" on the weapon.

Under mere passage of time, they can do whatever they want to with enrichment. I think Democrats are going to have hard time justifying denying inspections of military bases.

DICKERSON: Here is what -- here is how they would justify it. They would say that, in fact, these sunset provisions are stacked, so that they can't move right to a nuclear weapon, and that if they started to, there are inspectors in there watching, and the international community would be on them right away, whereas what the president is offering is getting out of an agreement that was worked with patiently with the international community, and actually is a step backwards.

GRAHAM: Well, I -- the president ran on the idea this is a bad deal for America, and he won. He is fulfilling a campaign promise.

This is a terrible deal for America and the region. The Arabs don't like it. The Israelis don't like it.

You're wrong about the sunset clause, with all due respect. There is no limitation on centrifuge reprocessing and enrichment. There is no requirement that they stop marching toward a bomb. With the mere passage of time, they can do anything they want to.

And you can't go on military bases, because the Iranians say we can't. And they're doing ICBM testing, in violation of U.N. resolutions. They hijacked Americans on the high seas. They're still the largest state sponsor of terrorism.

To those who said this deal would make Iran a better member of the family of nations, it was a miserable failure.

DICKERSON: Well, there's debate about -- you don't just need the centrifuges. You need other parts of the process. And those have longer sunset periods. But...

GRAHAM: You may think the sunset is a good deal. I don't.


DICKERSON: Well, let me ask you this about your Senate colleague Senator Corker.

GRAHAM: Mm-hmm.

DICKERSON: Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Has sketched a view of the administration. Do you agree with it?

GRAHAM: Yes, I like what Corker and Cotton are doing.

They are basically saying, we're going to put triggers in. Congress is going to say to the Iranians that if you ever try to get within a year of a nuclear -- a breakout time less than a year, we're going to reimpose sanctions.

We're going to look at your missile program anew. We're going to make sure that we inspect any place. And if you don't allow us to inspect, we're going to reimpose sanctions. And if you're still sponsoring terrorism, down the road, we're going to reimpose sanctions.

I like that as triggers.

DICKERSON: Senator Corker has also expressed a view about the secretary of state...


DICKERSON: ... says the president is castrating him.

Do you agree with that view?

GRAHAM: No, I don't agree with that. I played golf with the president.

DICKERSON: Is he being unpatriotic in suggesting that case?

GRAHAM: Who, Bob Corker?


GRAHAM: No. I just think he's wrong.

I like Bob Corker. It breaks my heart that he's leaving. He's one of the most valuable members of the Republican Conference. He and the president have gotten into this Twitter war. At the end of the day, I played golf with the president yesterday. He's not a man under siege. He beat me again like a drum. We had a good time.

He's hell-bent on getting a better deal. He promised to tear it up, and he's decided not to tear it up. He's decided to decertify, which I think he's right to do, and push the world and Congress to get a better deal before it's too late.

DICKERSON: Let me -- this isn't just a Twitter war.

This is the Foreign Relations chairman making a claim about the president and his ability to be convinced by his national security guy.

The president could fix that. If Senator Corker thinks that Rex Tillerson is being castrated, the president has the power to fix that.

Should he?

GRAHAM: Well, at the end of the day, I think Secretary Tillerson gave a good overview of the relationship.

I'm not here to beat up on Bob. I'm here to tell you that the president has changed his opinions when it came to Afghanistan by listening to the best national security team I have seen in 20 years.

Secretary Tillerson is serving the president well. But the people around the president are the smartest guys I have seen, and gals, on national security since I have been in town. He's adjusting his policies on Afghanistan. He's keeping his promise to try to get a better deal with the Iranians. And he's finally putting North Korea on notice that the policy of the United States is changing.

DICKERSON: All right, we're going to hold there for a moment, Senator.

We need to take a short break. We will be back in a minute with more from Senator Graham.


DICKERSON: And we're back with Senator Lindsey Graham.

Senator, the president this week said he's not going to continue payments to insurance companies...

GRAHAM: Right.

DICKERSON: ... to help with people at the lower end of the income scale pay for their health insurance.

A number of health organizations have come out and says Congress has to do something to fix this.

Is Congress going to do something?

GRAHAM: Well, I hope that we can get a deal between Senator Alexander and Patty Murray that would allow us to continue the payments, but get reform.

But this is stopping payments to insurance companies. Aetna has had a 470 percent increase in their stocks prices since the ACA, Cigna 480 percent, Humana 420 percent.

The president is not going to continue to throw good money after bad, give $7 billion to insurance companies, unless something changes about Obamacare that would justify it.

But he did talk to Senator Alexander yesterday. He's encouraging him to get a bipartisan deal that would have some flexibility to Title I mandates for continuing payment. But it's got to be a good deal.

DICKERSON: The president has put a lot on Congress' plate.


DICKERSON: There's the question of the dreamers. There's now this health care.

GRAHAM: Right.

DICKERSON: There's -- there's Iran. You have got a budget passed in order to set up tax reform.

GRAHAM: Right.

DICKERSON: Are you going to get tax reform done?

GRAHAM: Yes. If we don't, we're dead.

You're going to ask me about Bannon, so I will just go and ask myself.

DICKERSON: Steve Bannon, the president's former adviser.

GRAHAM: Yes, so, what is going on?

It's a symptom of greater problem. If we don't cut tax and we don't eventually repeal and replace Obamacare, then we're going to lose across the board in the House in 2018, and all of my colleagues running in primaries in 2018 will probably get beat. It will be the end of Mitch McConnell as we know it.

So, this is a symptom of a greater problem.

If we do cut taxes and we do repeal and replace Obamacare, it doesn't matter what Bannon will do, because we will win.

DICKERSON: But Steve Bannon has said that Republicans should go to war against Mitch McConnell, that all you all should get rid of him, and that that should be the Republican rallying cry.

GRAHAM: Mitch McConnell is not our problem.

Our problem is that we promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, and we failed. We promised to cut taxes, and we've yet to do it.

If we're successful, Mitch McConnell is fine. If we're not, we're all in trouble, we lose our majority, and I think President Trump will not get reelected.

DICKERSON: Is Steve Bannon a big problem or a little problem in trying to get anything done? He's saying everything you're doing is going against the cause.

GRAHAM: He's a symptom of the problem.

Bannon can't beat us if we're successful. And if we're not successful, it doesn't matter who tries to beat us. They will be successful.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Graham, thanks for being with us.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

DICKERSON: And we will be back in a moment.


DICKERSON: You can keep up with the news of the week by subscribing to the FACE THE NATION Diary podcast. Find us on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast platform.


DICKERSON: We will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Astronaut Scott Kelly will also tell us about some of the ups and downs of being in space.

Plus, our panel, and a look by me at the importance of presidential I.Q.

Stay with us.



One of the biggest opponents of the Iran nuclear deal was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He joins us from Jerusalem.

It's good to be with you, Mr. Prime Minister.

Why do you think what the president has done is going to lead to a better situation?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'm focused on the result. And I think that right now the deal, as it stands, guarantees that Iran will have not a single nuclear bomb, but an entire nuclear arsenal within ten years. And I think the president was very courageous in saying, I'm not going to kick this can down the road, I'm not going to say, well, it's going to be on somebody else's watch. I'm going to stop this from happening because, remember, we cannot allow Iran, the world's foremost terrorist regime, that hangs gays, kills protesters, jails journalists and foments aggression throughout the region and the world. We cannot allow this rogue regime 30 times the size of the North Korea's economy to have a nuclear arsenal. It's a very brave decision and I think it's the right decision for the world.

DICKERSON: To get the leverage that would be required to get what you want, Iran has to be isolated by the world community and split at home. Hasn't the president's view, based on the ally reaction, united the allies that were a part of this deal against what President Trump is doing? NETANYAHU: Well, they say that they want to keep the deal and the president has said correctly, either fix it or nix it. Either change it or cancel it. If they want to save the deal, then the European allies should start working with the United States to actually correct its deficiencies. And there are many. They have to -- they're very clear and they have to be changed. And it's an opportunity that President Trump has created for them to fix this very bad deal, which is dangerous for them, no less than it is for others.

DICKERSON: But they believe that changing the deal basically breaks the deal.

NETANYAHU: No. In fact -- in fact, if you don't change it, you break it. That's what the president told them, that if they don't change it, if they don't fix it, if they don't prevent Iran from automatically getting in a decade to a nuclear arsenal, then he'll change -- he'll cancel the deal. So I think that once they realize that this is the American position, they should join forces with the United States and with the president and work to change this.

And, by the way, you should know that in the Middle East something very historic is happening. I mean it's not just Israel that is supporting the president. It's key Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. And I suggest that, you know, when Israel and the key Arab states agree on something, you know, you should pay attention. We're close to -- with our ears to the ground. We live right here next to Iran. We see what it's doing. And I think that what the president has done has created now space to prevent a very bad deal from materializing and to fix it. Everybody should join forces in doing just that.

DICKERSON: What's your response to those, including the signatories to this agreement, who say that Iran has been abiding by the agreement and that while ten years is a deadline you pick, that, in fact, there are longer deadlines where Iran will be monitored and if they break and try to move back to a nuclear capability, the entire world will see and jump on them right away?

NETANYAHU: John, I've always said -- I've always said that the greatest danger of this deal is not that Iran will violate it, but that Iran will keep it, because under the deal, in a few years' time, Iran is guaranteed to have as many as 100 nuclear bombs. That's folly. And kicking the can down the road is not wise policy.

So whether or not they keep it or violate it is not the point. The point is they have a highway right now to -- assuming they keep the deal, to get to that point where they become a terrorist rogue regime with a vast nuclear arsenal. So that really has to be stopped. And I don't think the issue right now is whether to keep it or whether they violate it. The issue right now is, we've got to change the destination to which they're heading.

DICKERSON: The supporters of the deal obviously dispute your characterization of their ability to get those bombs.

But let me ask you about this scenario, which is, what if Iran looks at what President Trump has done and says, OK, no deal, we're going to go back to the full sprint to a nuclear program and blame the U.S. president for breaking the agreement.

NETANYAHU: Well, they could have done that right from the start. They could have rushed to the bomb, you know. I -- they never wanted to do that because there's always been a combination of the threat of credible military response, which, by the way, we put forward. We didn't need others to put it forward.

And, equally, crippling sanction. You remember, I stood in the U.N. a few years ago and I drew that red line? That's before the deal. They didn't cross it because they knew what the stakes are. And Iran, today, knows that if they do what you just said, they're going to get crippling sanctions on their head. The U.S. alone can do that.

The U.S. is, you know, it's a very powerful economy. It's almost a $20 trillion economy. The Iranian economy is 2 percent of that. So you think when countries have to choose between the U.S. economy and the Iranian economy, what will they choose? That's a no brainer. So Iran faces crippling sanctions by the U.S. alone, let alone the U.S. with its allies. I think they're going to think twice.

DICKERSON: All right, Mr. Prime Minister, thanks so much for being with us.

NETANYAHU: Thank you.

DICKERSON: This week President Trump suggested comparing his IQ to that of his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. He was responding to the report, disputed throughout the administration, that Tillerson has called him a moron.

But an IQ test is not the test we want our president to ace. The better measure of presidential greatness is emotional intelligence, EQ as it is called, the ability to understand and regulate your emotions and read the emotions of those around you. In presidents, it is a part of temperament and encompass restraint, equilibrium and grace under pressure. It's what Lincoln had. Justice Holmes said of FDR that he had a second class intellect but a first class temperament.

This week is the 55th anniversary of one of the greatest tests of presidential temperament. The Cuban Missile Crisis. When the Soviet Union put nuclear weapons 90 miles from the American coast. One of the most dangerous moments in presidential history.

Presidential temperament and EQ is tested every day in ways little and small. In the way a president reacts to slits and to other countries. On the big test of presidential temperament, like North Korea, it's a test we're all taking along with him.

Back in a moment.


DICKERSON: Turning now to some political analysis. Molly Ball, who has been with "The Atlantic" for six years, was just named national political correspondent for "Time" magazine. She'll move over there at the end of the month.

Congratulations, Molly.

David Ignatius is a columnist for "The Washington Post" and Jonah Goldberg is senior editor at "The National Review."

David, I want to start with you.

Before we move on to the Iran deal, this -- these comments by Senator Corker about the secretary of state, it's extraordinary. What do you make of it?

DAVID IGNATIUS, "THE WASHINGTON POST": They are critical in a way -- or the comments about -- about Trump's view of the secretary -- of -- I can't remember anything quite like it. What we saw with Secretary Tillerson just now is that he can take a punch. He -- he is an unflappable guy. He sat here and you asked him, you know, about the comment that he'd been castrated and he looked back and said, this is a president who's unconventional. You know, he likes action forcing events. He clearly gets the way the president operates and he's decided he can live within that, those constraints.

To be secretary of state and go around the world talking to foreign leaders when, you know, it's been asserted by a leading senator that you've been castrated, not an easy challenge. But we saw the secretary of state, who clearly is ready to keep doing that.

DICKERSON: Molly, on The Hill, not everybody rushed to Corker's side, but also didn't denounce him really much either. How -- what do you -- is this a moment and we're going to move on or is this -- what do you make of it?

MOLLY BALL, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, it's -- for one thing, I mean Senator Corker only said out loud something that a lot of people already thought and that we could see publically with the undercutting of the secretary of state by the president. I mean you had him sitting here just a few minutes ago basically saying in euphemistic terms, yes, I don't know what he's going to do from one minute to the next either. And that's just the way things are.

But you are seeing now, in moments like the tiff with Corker, that the Republicans are not afraid of Trump anymore and that the relationship is so badly broken between Trump and Capitol Hill that I don't know that there's any repairing it unless they can find a way to actually get something done, as Senator Graham was saying. But, you know, Republicans on The Hill have been bashed by the president, perhaps deservingly. They have not -- they don't have a lot to fall back on in terms of accomplishments and so they're not super pleased with him.

DICKERSON: Do you think the president can fix this, Jonah?

JONAH GOLDBERG, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, I don't think he thinks as much to fix. I think, you know, he's, what, 71 years old. He's not going to change. This is who he is. And I think one of the things that Washington is still grappling with is, we all like to think of the president as the boss, right? That's his role, is the boss. But he's also broken the blood brain barrier between reality show culture, TV culture and politics and he's also the talent. And as you may know in this business, there's some people on TV a lot who have very high expectations about bowls of green M&Ms and how everything has to be the right way. And he wants to be treated like the talent, not just the boss. And that's very difficult to do in politics. And that's why we keep having these sort of eruptions.

This Corker episode is not the last one and it wasn't the first one. And it's going to be going on -- that's the Trump show.


David, what do you think about this idea of good cop/bad cop? So one of the criticisms of the president is he undermines Secretary Tillerson on North Korea, saying, you know, you're wasting your time, Rex. On the other hand, doesn't it -- isn't there a way in which that could help the secretary of state who says, I've got a president here who thinks I'm wasting my time, you better prove, you know, he's ready to go -- do military action.

IGNATIUS: It may be than this disruptive, destabilizing, bad cop, this temperamental president gives you some maneuvering room with China. I think it probably is true that the Chinese have been destabilized by this -- by this president and that they've opened up some space. They're more cooperative on North Korea than they have been previously. And the president clearly is hoping, as he gets ready to go to China next month, that he's going to get help from North Korea.

Is it helping with North Korea itself? How does it affect King Jong-un, this very irrational, we think, North Korean leader. And there you have to really worry that getting in this tit for tat, this kind of playground argument with a guy who's speeding to have nuclear capability, is not a good idea. That is not what a careful steward of American security would do. And I think that's one of the things that's worrying people around town. I hear lots of credit for the president's policies on China and the -- and the kind of bad cop side of that. Not on North Korea.

DICKERSON: Jonah, what do you make of the Iranian decision by the president and where we go from here?

GOLDBERG: Yes. I mean, well, first of all, I thought it was a terrible deal. I thought it was structured in a way that was -- front- loaded all the reward for Iran and put them on a -- as Senator Graham was saying, and put them on a path to a bomb.

I think Donald Trump has -- you know, I'm critical of Donald Trump about all of these things, but I think he's absolutely right on this in that sending this to Congress is in many ways sort of a middle ground position. He's not pulling out of the treaty. It's not even a treaty, which was one of my problems with it. I did enjoy the interview with the Iranian foreign minister, who, first of all, seemed very, very concerned about America's reputation in the world, which is very considerate of them. And I love the idea that they were worrying about America's credibility in the U.N. and how outrageous it is for America to violate U.N. resolutions.

Iran violates U.N. resolutions daily. It is doing it right now. It violated 2231. It's arming Hezbollah, which it's not allowed to do. And the idea that somehow Iran can somehow take the high road in all of this, I find ridiculous.

DICKERSON: Well, and, Molly, clearly Senator Graham was working Jonah's point, which is, you want to defend an agreement with them, you know, they're doing all of these bad thing. He thinks he can get 60 votes for something out of the Senate. What do you think?

BALL: Well, and he also said that Trump is keeping a campaign promise. And I think that's what really mattered to the president. I think he's clearly frustrated that he hasn't been able to get more done, particularly through the Congress, and he wants to keep some of those promises that lot of his supporters are being frustrated -- are getting frustrated aren't being kept.

So that was -- it reminds me very much of what he did on DACA, which was to find a way to thread the needle between, you know, if I change the status quo, people will be mad. But if I don't, the people who wanted me to challenge the status quo, the people who wanted me to be disruptive, the people who -- you know, so many of the Trump voters I spoke to, it wasn't about a particular ideology, they just wanted to see somebody break through the gridlock and get something done.

The problem is, when you have an administration and a party that are divided on these issues, warring factions, and a president who has no particular ideological center, he doesn't give -- he doesn't lead them in a particular direction, and so you end up with these on the one hand, on the other hand situation where the status quo essentially is maintained.

DICKERSON: David, can the needle be thread here, which is essentially keep the deal but change the deal in Congress?

IGNATIUS: Most analysts think that it will not be possible to get Iran to agree to changes. They will not reopen the deal.

I think we're heading into a period in which the agreement and all the issues that surround it will be in limbo. And so I think there's a real question about whether that's in America's or Israel's security interest. This was something that was locked down. You say, well, it's a terrible problem in 15 years, but right now it's pretty much locked down. A lot of issues now are open.

Will -- the needle threading will be working with Congress to adopt things that would apply to U.S. policy, but wouldn't go to the deal itself. And I think he probably will get away with those. If I heard the Iranian foreign minister right, he was saying, we will not be the first to withdraw from this deal. So if you don't do things that actually are in violation of the deal, you know, it's probably in our interest to stick with it.

But what I'm hearing from Europeans, genuine unhappiness about this. They want the United States to be the sort of fixed North Star in foreign policy. And they find us very erratic. And I think -- I think they're genuinely upset. Anybody in the administration who thinks, well, we'll get -- we'll get the French, I don't hear that.


Jonah, let me switch to domestic politics quickly.

A pretty effective week for the president undoing some pillars of the Obama not -- legacy, not only on the Affordable Care Act, but the Clean Power Act. What did you make of this week, particularly with respect to health care and what the president's trying to do?

GOLDBERG: Yes. I think what the president is doing, or what the administration is doing, is reacting to the fact that, as Lindsey Graham said earlier, Congress can't get anything done. And so Donald Trump is trying to accumulate a record of talking points about things that he has gotten done.

I think he's gone -- I think on this, too, the administration is on the right side of the argument on the health care thing. These payments were rendered -- were ruled illegal by a court. And -- but the problem -- and this is the problem, Trump, for good or ill, is shoving all this stuff on Congress. As an Article One guy, I think that's great, because I want Congress to step up. It's the first branch of government.

It's not stepping up. And that dysfunction empowers people like Steve Bannon and others to basically tear apart the Republican Party. And if Congress doesn't start getting things done, I do think you could see the disillusion of the Republican Party. It's already basically split into three parties as we speak.

DICKERSON: And, quickly, Molly, Charlie Dent, the congressman -- retiring Republican from Pennsylvania, said that now President Trump owns health care as an issue. You can't blame Obama anymore. Do you think that's right and will that play out that way politically?

BALL: It certainly appears to be the case in polls. It certainly was the way it played out for President Obama. I mean in the 2010 midterms, Obamacare was the dominant issue. And even though it hasn't been implemented yet at all, people blamed the administration in power for anything they didn't like about their health care. And I think that was a big, political reason that Democrats got, in the president's words, shellacked.

And so this is -- this is a tricky issue. A tough issue. Trump's not wrong when he says Republicans spent seven years promising to do this and then there was nothing on his desk when he got there. So, yes, I think that they all own it.

DICKERSON: All right. There we go. That's the end of our conversation. Thank you. Coming up next, the last time he was on FACE THE NATION, he joined us from a couple hundred miles from the surface of the earth. Astronaut Scott Kelly is back down on the ground, and we'll be with him in a moment when we come back.


DICKERSON: And we're back with Captain Scott Kelly, who is on the ground in New York.

The subject of his new book "Endurance" is the year he spent in space.

Captain Kelly, we're very glad to have you with us.

Let me -- you write in your book that you were a below average guy stepping into an above average role. Is that modesty or is that hope for the rest of us?

COMMANDER SCOTT KELLY, "ENDURANCE": I think it's both modesty and the truth. I was a -- you know, this kid that couldn't pay attention in school growing up. If I was in school today, I'd be, you know, probably diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. And it wasn't easy for me as a kid until I found some inspiration.

DICKERSON: Do you think that -- the fact that it wasn't easy actually was helpful in terms of one of the words we hear a lot these days, which is developing grit?

KELLY: Well, it certainly allowed me to, you know, develop a sense of, you know, endurance and I think it's one of the reasons why I showed that -- or used -- chose to use that title is that, you know, it wasn't easy and it was a long path for me to go from struggling student in school to astronaut that spent a year in space.

DICKERSON: When you were up there, endurance sounds like a constant slog. Was it any fun?

KELLY: Oh, it was a lot of fun and rewarding, challenging, really hard work and a privilege to be able to serve my country as an astronaut and at NASA for 20 years.

DICKERSON: How long after you came back did it take when you could wake up and not think, oh, I'm back on the planet earth again?

KELLY: You know, that took, you know, only a few days, but there were a lot of other lingering effects of being in space. Most of them were gone after a couple of months. But I think it took probably about eight months until I felt completely back to normal.

DICKERSON: And what do you -- what do you miss from your time up there?

KELLY: I miss the work. You know, it's very challenging, technically challenging and exacting work and something I believe greatly in. And I miss the people. My crewmates that I was up there with, they were all great. And even though they're all back on earth, I don't get to see them as much anymore.

DICKERSON: You grew up during the Cold War. Some of your mates were Russians. What was that like?

KELLY: They were, you know, great colleagues and partners. I have a, you know, really fond, you know, memories of my time I've spent in Russia and my crewmates. And, you know, even though at times our countries can be in conflict, at odds over things, we, on the Space Station, have to get along very well because we literally depend on each other for our lives.

DICKERSON: One of the things did you while you were up there was take space walks. What is that process like? It looks, on the one hand, fun, but I'm guessing it's quite tense, too.

KELLY: You know, it's the type two kind of fun. Type one fun is, you know, the roller coaster. Type two fun is the stuff that's really, really hard and challenging, but you're -- you know, it's fun when you're finished with it. And it's -- you know, you feel very -- very satisfied and accomplished. Same time, a really incredible experience to be outside a spacecraft, you know, doing work on behalf of NASA and our country.

DICKERSON: Based on your experience, what -- what are your thoughts about sending an astronaut into space for a mission to Mars, which would require an extended period of time?

KELLY: Well, I'd volunteer to do it if that opportunity presented itself. I think it's something that we should do. I think we're capable of getting there. You know, the challenge is having the right political support and the money to go and do it.

DICKERSON: You were, in a sense, a guinea pig for this trip and studying your body in the way it changed. What did you learn that will be helpful for that trip to Mars?

KELLY: There was a lot of science based on me and my Russian colleague, Mikhail Kornienko (ph) being in space for a year, but there was also, you know, science done on my brother and I with this twin study. And a lot of the results, I think, will help us go to Mars. There are a lot of negative things that happened to our physiology from being in space for long periods of time. And those are the challenges we have to, you know, continue to work on and figure out if we're going to have people spend much longer in space than we currently have.

DICKERSON: Are they surmountable challenges or did you discover something in terms of the physiology that really is -- you know, made it tough not to crack?

KELLY: You know, I think -- I think they're solvable. You know, we have challenges with, you know, the human physiology, but also the -- you know, the technical challenges of, you know, building a spacecraft and supporting the crew for a real long time.

But I'll steal a phrase from my brother that he often says, and getting to Mars is not about rocket science, it's about political science and, you know, the support and the money to do it.

DICKERSON: Right. All right, Captain Kelly, thanks so much for being with us.

If you want to hear more from Scott Kelly, he will join our colleague in Studio 57 on "CBS THIS MORNING" tomorrow.

And we'll be back in a moment.


DICKERSON: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching.

Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm John Dickerson.

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