Face the Nation transcripts December 15, 2013: Zarif, McCain, Durbin, Hickenlooper

The latest on gun violence, negotiations with Iran, and the federal budget. Plus, a panel of experts
The latest on gun violence, negotiations with... 46:57

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on December 8, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Tom Friedman, Jeffrey Goldberg, Radhika Jones, Clarissa Ward, Debora Patta and Elizabeth Palmer.

 [*] SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation, there is news on many fronts this morning.

Nelson Mandela has been laid to rest in his birthplace of Qunu South Africa.

We'll take to Colorado governor John Hickenlooper about the school shooting in his state.

As the arms control talks with Iran reach a crucial point, we'll go to Tehran for an exclusive interview with the Iranian foreign minister.

We'll go to Kiev where Senator John McCain has been meeting with protesters who want closer relations with the west.

We'll ask Senator Dick Durbin if the budget passed by the House can pass the Senate.

And we'll get analysis from a panel headed by Tom Friedman of the New York Times. It's all ahead on "Face the Nation."

ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Well, after ten days of mourning and ceremony, Nelson Mandela was laid to rest today in his hometown of Qunu, South Africa. We'll have a full report later in the broadcast and the latest on the school shooting in Colorado.

But we begin this morning with breaking news from Iran. Earlier this morning, our Elizabeth Palmer interviewed the Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran. She joins us now from Tehran.

And Liz, he did make some news. Tell us about it.


On Friday, the U.S. announced that it was freezing the assets and transactions of dozens of companies for evading the sanctions against Iran. And just at that time there were Iranian diplomats in Vienna putting the final details to the Geneva agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

Well, when they heard that announcement out of Washington they cut off the talks and went home. And people wondered whether that meant the deal was dead.

Well, the minister told me this morning it's not dead, but he personally felt blindsided by that U.S. announcement.


PALMER: Did the U.S. let you know what they were going to do on Friday or did it comes as a complete surprise?

ZARIF: Probably few minutes before the announcement our people in Vienna heard about it. But I don't think that is -- that was useful because by the time they conveyed it to us, the announcement had already been made.

PALMER: Who told you?

ZARIF: Our people in Vienna.

PALMER: And what was your reaction?

ZARIF: That this is a very wrong thing.

PALMER: Were you angry?

ZARIF: Angry is not a part of diplomacy. I mean, angry is human. And I'm a human being and I getting angry, I get distressed, I get saddened by -- to see people not understanding. I'm saddened by that. But I was -- we took the decision to give a pause to the discussions, technical discussions, these are not political negotiations, these are technical discussion, to give a pause to them to have a re-assessment to seek clarification. What is the intention? Because the statements that are coming from the Treasury, or at least came from the Treasury or from certain segments of the Treasury during the past few days were not helpful.

PALMER: So, you may not go back?

ZARIF: We are committed -- we are committed to the implementation of the plan of action that we adopted in Geneva, but we believe that it takes two to tango.

PALMER: So, are you saying you will be back to Vienna, this process has not been derailed by Friday's announcement?

ZARIF: The process has been derailed, the process has not died. We are trying to put it back. And to collect the past and continue the negotiations, because I believe there is a lot at stake for everybody.


PALMER: The interview then turned to the case of Robert Levinson, the investigator and CIA contract, or who disappeared in 2007 after meeting a contact here in Iran.


PALMER: Let me move ton another story that surfaced at the end of last week in the United States. And that is the case of Mr. Levinson. Where is he?

ZARIF: I have no idea.

PALMER: Your security services, very professional and very good have done an extensive investigation according to your government. What do you know about that last day? What were you able to discover about -- he walked out of the hotel, got in to a taxi and...

ZARIF: And then they don't know. That's all...

PALMER: Nothing?

ZARIF: ...what they have told us that is what people have been told outside. If that's why it's a mystery. What we know that he is not incarcerated in Iran.