This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," April 21, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DEFENSE SECRETARY JIM MATTIS: Iran appears to the degree we can determine it, and we're pretty confident, they appear to be living up to their part of the agreement.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement, I can tell you that.
BEN RHODES, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Yes or no question, Andrea. And the answer is yes, Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. So I have no idea what President Trump is talking about.
ALIREZA JAFARZADEH, NATIONAL COUNCIL RESISTANCE OF IRAN: There's an academy in Parchin. It needs to be inspected immediately, because otherwise, knowing that the history of the Iran regime, they will get engaged in the clean-up project and move things around and stall, and we know the whole history.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, a couple of days after the secretary of state certified what is called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the JCPOA, this is the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal, an Iran dissident group came out with satellite imagery today, said to be from informants inside Iran, that Iran is working in a military facility, experimenting with things like triggering devices, high explosives, a newly constructed site. This obviously would be alarming to the U.S.
The Iran foreign minister tweeted out, "Worn out U.S. accusations can't mask its admission of Iran's compliance with JCPOA obligating U.S. to change course and fulfill its own commitments," and he had highlighted all the sections of the different parts of the deal. And today, Zarif, the foreign minister, tweets "We'll see if the U.S. is prepared to live up to the letter of JCPOA, let alone spirit. So far it has defied both. Should I use my highlighter again."
Those are developments with this Iran deal. Let's bring in our panel: Byron York, chief political correspondent of The Washington Examiner; Tim Farley, host and managing editor of "Morning Briefing POTUS" on Sirius XM Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Byron, this seems like a big development.
BYRON YORK, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: I think it is. And I think we're headed for lots and lots of debate and pouring over satellite photos and all of that stuff. I don't think what the administration has said is quite as contradictory as some people have suggested. I think you could see the certification as kind of a placeholder, something required to be done now. At the same time, this expression of doubt of whether -- before we saw this thing today, expression of doubt whether Iran is, A, really complying, and, B, even if they are, whether the deal is in the long-term a bad deal.
BAIER: And Tim, the administration was quick to point out that it's, one, under review, and, two, that they're going to add in the other elements that the Obama administration never did, which is funding terrorist groups, and the other things that Iran does throughout the region.
TIM FARLEY, SIRIUS XM RADIO: It sounds to me like a work in progress. And you know what I thought was interesting this week is Secretary of State Tillerson side by side with the Saudi Arabian group in front of a CEO summit, and the United States reaching once again out to Saudi Arabia to sort of reassure that we're also on your side. There is this power grab in the Middle East. We're got the Iranians and the Saudis at odds with one another, and I thought it was significant that that happened.
That said, President Trump all along has said it is a bad deal. The specifics of it I'm not so sure he has a good handle on. But I don't think that there is any issue with the fact that he doesn't want the Iranians to get any more power. The question is what he's going to do from now on. I don't know how he can really undo what has been done thus far.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: There is no contradiction whatsoever in our position. You need three things to develop a usable nuclear weapon. Number one, you need the fissile material. Number two, you have to weaponize it, you have to make it explode, and that's what was revealed today, they've been working on this assiduously. Third, you need ballistic missiles to deliver them.
The problem is that Obama administration looked only at the fissile element. So technology speaking you can say that, yes, it's a frozen program. They are not increasing the amount of enriched uranium. But what the Iranians are doing, and this is so obvious a child can see it, is while the program on the fissile material is frozen, they're working rapidly on the weaponization, which is the other part you need, and of course on the ballistic missiles which we can see. The weaponization is in a military facility called Parchin. It was supposed to have been investigated under the Obama administration and before the signing of the agreement to make sure it hadn't been used in the past for weaponization. Of course, Obama and Kerry caved on that, never did. We are not allowed to inspect. We allowed the Iranians to inspect themselves on Parchin, which was a joke.
So, yes, they are developing a nuclear weapon. It is a violation of the spirit of the agreement because the way they look at it in half a decade, they will be able to resume the fissile material, the enriching uranium, they will have weaponized, and they will have the deals.
BALDWIN: You would maybe think when you're doing the deal that a weapons program would be in a military facility, but that was one of the problems - -
KRAUTHAMMER: And we can't get to it, we cannot inspect it.
BAIER: That's right.
OK, let's turn now to a visitor in the Oval Office today, an Egyptian charity worker released from Egyptian jail, Aya Hijazi. She visited the Oval Office after a court in Cairo released her this week. You may remember, I asked the Egyptian president, el-Sisi, about this case. The president weighed in, and he talked about it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: We are very happy to have Aya back home, and it is great honor to have her in the Oval Office with her brother. And thank you very much.
MATTIS: So it turned out fine from our perspective that she is now returned home with letter family.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BAIER: What about this, Byron?
YORK: A victory for President Trump. I don't think there was any doubt about it. You talk to Democrats on Capitol Hill, they're not here yet, they're out in their districts. And you can't deny this a good thing. They had their doubts about the president in el-Sisi, but this is something Donald Trump took a particular personal interest in, and he made it happen.
FARLEY: I was a little surprised at the timing only because I thought a Friday, you're kind of putting it in a news dump day as opposed to a Monday. The other side of this that I was struck by was if we remember when Bowe Bergdahl was released and President Obama made a bid deal about having the parents in the Rose Garden and the father immediately started speaking Arabic. And I think that probably had Americans automatically raising their eyebrows.
I thought this was a good thing. Whether you agree with President Trump or don't, it is always nice to see somebody who is falsely accused brought back to the country, and she is home. Maybe this leads to more with el- Sisi. Who knows?
BAIER: We should point out that Secretary Mattis just returning from this trip overseas had a lot of positive reaction to the Trump administration from not own Arab leaders but also the Israeli leaders as well.
I want to turn, finally, Charles, to the French election. This is what President Trump told the associated press about the French election. "Marine Le Pen is the strongest on borders and she's the strongest on what's been going on in France. Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorists, whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election." Thoughts about that about this terrorist attack in the Champs-Elysee?
KRAUTHAMMER: It is not an overt endorsement, but it's a huge mistake. A Le Pen victory, which is possible, she is one of the final four, we don't know how it will turn out, would be a catastrophe for Europe and ultimately the United States. Trump sees an affinity with her because of the kind of nationalism, the populism she represents. He also an affinity with Putin, so I'm not sure how much we should endorse that.
BAIER: Although less lately.
KRAUTHAMMER: Less lately, but, you know, a year and a half of saying he is OK, and we do a lot of killing as well. I'm not sure that's the stats you want from the president of the free world. But Le Pen would be, she is promised, a threat to the European experiment. It's one thing for the British to go home from Europe. The British have been ambivalent about Europe ever since Henry VIII and the break with Rome, so it is not something new for them. But for France, France is the core of Europe. It is the core with Germany of this new idea of Europe after the two world wars. And if it withdraws or if it weakens and it shakes the foundations of the EU, we're in an entirely new world, and it is not a world the United States is going to like. So I would have hoped the president would have made at least neutral.
BAIER: And you heard the Italian prime minister on the show yesterday expressing concern about nationalism. We will follow that French election here on FOX News throughout the weekend into next week.
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