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YOUR WORLD TODAY

International Concern Over Tehran's Enrichment Program; Jurors Hear Tape of Final Minutes of Flight 93; Italy in Political Limbo

Aired April 12, 2006 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Wrong direction. Expressions of concern coming from many corners after Iran's dramatic announcement it has taken uranium enrichment to a new level.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What's next for Italy? No one seems to know for sure after an election that ended with a big question mark.

CLANCY: And he's in the army now. The prince once known for his antics is already marching and waiting for his orders.

It is noon at the U.N. headquarters in New York, 6:00 p.m. in Rome, Italy.

I'm Jim Clancy.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani.

Welcome to our viewers throughout the world and the United States.

This is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CLANCY: All right. We're going to have details on our major story in just a moment, but I want to remind our viewers that we are going to have a live report from Alexandria, Virginia, outside the courtroom where Moussaoui is being tried in the death penalty phase of that case. We'll bring that to you live in a moment.

But we are going to begin now with the growing condemnation of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

GORANI: Now, Russia is joining the United States and other Western powers in criticizing Iran for its uranium enrichment activities. Here's the latest.

CLANCY: While Moscow condemned Tehran's announcement, Russia's foreign minister reiterated Moscow is opposed to any military action against Iran.

GORANI: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran would not yield in the face of threatening political pressure. Iran insists its objectives are entirely peaceful.

CLANCY: Iran's latest move is, of course, in defiance of demands by the U.N. Security Council. That council called on Tehran to halt all enrichment work.

GORANI: Now, France and Germany are among the growing chorus of countries calling Iran's move a step in the wrong direction. Our European political editor, Robin Oakley, has more reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR (voice over): Iran's announcement that it had successfully begun enriching uranium was widely condemned across Europe. "A step in the wrong direction," said France. From Germany, exactly the same words.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, whose country was the third partner in the EU-3 who sought to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions by diplomacy, declared, "The latest Iranian statement further undermines international confidence in the Iranian regime and is deeply unhelpful."

But Russia's foreign minister urged caution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I won't rush to any hasty conclusions, as tensions are raised too often around Iran's nuclear program.

OAKLEY: EU countries will wait and see of what comes of the Tehran visit by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei before discussing next steps. But their foreign ministers have drawn up contingency plans for sanctions if Iran doesn't meet the April 28th deadline for re-suspending its nuclear program.

The EU ministers have in mind visa restrictions on leading figures in Iran, an arms embargo, and blocking technology transfers to Iran. Experts concede that might not be enough to satisfy the U.S., which wants sharper sanctions. And EU officials know it will be hard to win Russian or Chinese backing for any U.N. sanctions.

As for military action, the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, has ruled that out.

HUGH BARNES, FOREIGN POLICY CENTRE: In the light of Mr. Straw's -- the British foreign secretary's remarks that a military strike right now would be completely nuts, I think that if the United States lost patience with the diplomatic track at this stage and went ahead unilaterally, they would be on their own.

OAKLEY: Iran watchers say, too, though, that it could just be that the latest Iranian claim is a kind of elaborate bluff.

BARNES: Either to say, look, we've already acquired the technology, so you can't mess with us, much as the North Koreans attempted to do three years ago, or, perhaps, to say to their own people, because there's a great question here of national pride, to say to their own people, look, we've made this historic achievement, we've mastered the technology. Now we can kind of stand back and we can resume cooperation with the international community. OAKLEY (on camera): EU officials uncertain where to turn next would like that to be true. But after many weary rounds of unsuccessful diplomacy with Tehran, they'll believe it when they see it.

Robin Oakley, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CLANCY: Iran's nuclear first steps are being watched anxiously in both Moscow and Washington. Let's get live reaction now from both. Let's go first to the Russian capital first.

Ryan Chilcote covering the story for us there. Also with us, Elaine Quijano, from the White House.

Let's begin, Ryan, with you. The reaction?

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Russia's reaction has been swift and critical of Iran's announcement that it has successfully enriched uranium. One official at the Russian Foreign Ministry earlier in the day saying that this was a step in the wrong direction and calling on Iran to immediately halt its enrichment work.

Then the Russian foreign minister came out, he struck a little bit more cautious note. He said that Russia would wait for the head of the IAEA to complete his visit to Tehran. As you know, he's due there any moment now. Russia wants to wait until the head of the IAEA has had an opportunity to assess the situation for himself on the ground and brief the member states.

The Russian foreign minister made it very clear that Russia believes that diplomacy is the only resolution, the only solution to this situation. Russia, as you know, in the past has been opposed to the use of sanctions, and the Russian foreign minister was very clear today that Russia is still very opposed to the use of military force to solve the problem with Iran. The Russian foreign minister saying that not only would that not solve the problem, but that could create another hotbed in a region where he said there was already an abundance of them -- Jim.

CLANCY: All right. Ryan, I'm going to ask you stand right there as we cross over to the White House and Elaine Quijano for reaction there -- Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Jim.

Well, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says it is time for action on these international demands for Iran to stop its uranium enrichment activities. Secretary Rice said it is not a question of Iran's right to civilian nuclear power, but rather, about the world believing that Iran should not possess the technology that could lead to a nuclear weapon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: This latest announcement yesterday by the Iranian regime is just a step that is going to further isolate Iran. It demonstrates that Iran is not adhering to the international community's requirements. And I do think that the Security Council will need to take into consideration this -- this move by Iran, and that it will be time, when it reconvenes on this case, for strong steps to make certain that we maintain the credibility of the international community on this issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now, what should those strong steps be? Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's spokesman said it should be stronger than a presidential statement.

And this morning, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was asked about the possibility of sanctions. Basically, Jim, he said that certainly remains an option available for the United States and the United Nations to pursue -- Jim.

CLANCY: Elaine Quijano there at the White House live.

Ryan Chilcote, in Moscow, I want to go back to you.

We hear it from the White House, this is a time for action. More than any other country on earth, Russia has hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in this nuclear projects under way in Iran. Would it abandon those in the face of Iran's defiance of the U.N. Security Council?

CHILCOTE: There's no indication of that at this point, Jim. The reality is that Russia believes that there is still time for diplomacy to run its course.

Russia, as recently as yesterday, said that its proposal to enrich Iran's uranium on Russian soil jointly with the Iranians is still on the table, despite the fact that, of course, Iranian officials have repeatedly dismissed that idea. And Russia has made it very clear that it believes the other tentative ideas out there, such as sanctions, such as military action, are bad ones. Russia believes that that could be counterproductive, that sanctions would simply not work, that they would be violated, and that they would consolidate public opposition in Iran against the international community -- Jim.

CLANCY: All right.

Ryan Chilcote reporting to us there live. Also, Elaine Quijano at the White House.

Thanks to both of you.

We'll have more on this a bit later when we'll be talking with a spokesman for the U.S. State Department -- Hala.

GORANI: Well, "God is great," and then silence. That is how the cockpit voice recording from a plane hijacked on September 11th ends. Prosecutors in Zacarias Moussaoui's death penalty trial presented the chilling evidence to jurors. In gruesome detail, the court heard the chaos aboard the doomed flight.

CNN's Kelli Arena was in the courtroom when prosecutors played that tape.

What was it like?

She joins us now live from Alexandria, Virginia.

Kelli, what was it like inside that courtroom?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Hala, it was pretty intense inside that courtroom. As you know, this is the first time that that tape has been played publicly.

Members of the -- family members of 9/11 victims have heard that tape before, but no one else has. And it was very gripping. I mean, everybody in that room basically held their breath through that whole 30 or so minutes while that tape was played, listening to what happened inside that airplane.

It started off, you heard some voices saying, you know, "Shut up! Don't stop! Shut up! Sit down! No more!"

Then we hear what sounded like a male voice pleading, saying, "No, no. Don't hurt me, please."

And another, I believe a flight attendant, a woman saying, "I don't want to die. I don't want to die."

You hear a moaning sound. You hear a voice saying, "Everything is fine. I finished."

Then the pilot makes a mistake and presses a button and talks to air traffic control rather than passengers, but obviously thinks he's talking to passengers and says, "This is the captain. There's a bomb on board. Remain seated. We're going to head back to the airport."

Lots of confusion. Air traffic control saying, "Flight, 93, what's going on? What's this about a bomb?" You know, "Who's contacted us?"

And then you hear some more confusion as hijackers try to figure out the control board, saying, "This green knob. Yes, that's the one. Push that one."

An alarm goes off signaling that the auto pilot has been turned off. The hijackers get very frustrated over this.

They are now asking each other, "Should we let them in? Let the guys in?" Assuming maybe they are talking about the pilots.

Again, we hear some praying after this, "In the name of Allah, I bear witness. There's no other god but Allah. Set the course. The plane has been turned around."

You see on the dials, the control dials, which also played on the screen in court, that the plane is descending very rapidly. It's also going -- swaying back and forth very violently.

You hear then off in the distance, saying, "The best thing is the guys will go in. They put an axe in it." We think those were the passengers who had approached the front of the plane by this point.

Then you hear one of the hijackers saying, "Let them look through the window." You have -- then you hear some scuffling and movement, somebody saying, "Stay back! Sit down!"

"They want in! They want in! Hold them! Hold them! Trust in Allah."

You hear, then, as if someone is attacked and groaning. One of the family members who heard a better version of this tape tells me that it sounded like the passengers had attacked and possibly killed one of the hijackers who was guarding the cockpit door.

We hear from inside the cockpit, "Shall we finish it off? Oh, Allah!"

Then we hear from outside, "Get in the cockpit. If we don't, we'll die! Get in the cockpit!"

Then you hear the very famous quote that we've all heard many times before, Todd Beamer, one of those passengers on board Flight 93, saying, "Roll it!" You hear a crashing noise which sounded like the cart with all the drinks that the flight attendants use being, you know, thrown up against the door.

You hear from inside, "Allah is great! Should we put it down? Cut off the oxygen."

Crashing noises, screaming. You know, someone saying, "Shut it off! Shut it off! Go, go, go! Turn it up, turn it up!"

It sounded like passengers trying to get in. There seems to be a struggle for some of the controls, saying, "Give it to me! Give it to me!"

As you said, the last words we heard on the tape were, "Allah is the greatest," several times, and then there's just complete silence.

We heard from Hamilton Peterson outside the courtroom after the prosecution rested. His father and stepmother were on Flight 93.

He says, "This is an example how ordinary citizens can step up to the plate to protect the U.S. Capitol from a terrorist attack." He is one of the family members who really believe that this tape should have been released publicly to our viewers, to everyone, because he wanted them to know the courage that he heard, to hear the turmoil, to hear the voices. Unfortunately the judge has ruled that we will only get a written transcript of what went on, on Flight 93, and we won't be getting that tape -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. Kelli Arena, live in Alexandria, Virginia -- Jim.

CLANCY: Well, British authorities diverted a passenger plane to a Scottish airport following a security alert. Officials say a note was passed to the cabin crew claiming there was a bomb on board.

Now, that plane landed safely at Prestwick airport, about 50 kilometers outside Glasgow. According to The Associated Press, 172 passengers got off the plane safely.

The airport has been shut down. Other flights are being diverted as the plane is being searched. The passengers are reportedly inside the terminal now -- Hala.

GORANI: Now, in Italy, Italians hoping to put a nasty political campaign behind them will have to wait just a bit longer. While official results show the opposition candidate Romano Prodi on top, the Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's supporters are saying, it ain't over until it's over.

Rome Bureau Chief Alessio Vinci has more on a country in political limbo.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN ROME BUREAU CHIEF (voice over): Adding to the confusion and uncertainty, police in Rome uncovered a few hundred used ballots in a garbage can officials say were mistakenly thrown away after being counted. Police are investigating amid demands for scrupulous rechecks of vote results.

Twenty-five thousand votes separate the declared winner, Romano Prodi, and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who refuses to concede defeat until the results are certified. Eighty thousand ballots are being contested, and with such a narrow margin of victory, he insists every vote counts.

But the prospect of continuous political bickering after months of bitter campaigning has left Italians weary, including many Berlusconi backers like Maritzio (ph). "Italy needs certainties like all countries," he says. "We need one of the two coalitions to be a clear winner and carry out the program whatever that may be."

Others, like Luigi (ph), who voted for Berlusconi's challenger, are worried a country so divided will become unstable. "The situation is complicated," he says. "Let's hope they find some support so they can govern."

For pensioners like Carlo (ph), who remembers decades of revolving door governments, stability, he says, is what the country needs the most. "The situation is very bad. We were not doing well before," he says, "now it's going to be worse. I'm really sorry for us."

Italy's highest court is expected to certify the vote count by the end of next week. But even then, it will be many more weeks before the new prime minister is sworn in.

(on camera): The new parliament will convene at the end of the month to elect the speakers and a new president of the country whose own term expires next month. He will be sworn in by the middle of May, and only after that he will select the name of the prime minister in charge of forming a government. Mr. Berlusconi, until then, will remain prime minister in a caretaker role.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CLANCY: There is growing frustration from Moscow to Washington over Iran's nuclear program.

GORANI: But Tehran has some major leverage. When we come back, we'll look at why Iran has many in the world community over a barrel in this nuclear drama.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID ALBRIGHT, FMR. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: I think it's mostly about showbiz and politics. I think the Iranians want the world to believe that they -- they're like North Korea, they've accomplished the goal, you can't stop us. But in fact, they're a long way from accomplishing their goal and they can be stopped through diplomatic means.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY.

Former U.N. inspector David Albright there on Iran's announcement that its begun uranium enrichment. Iran says it needs nuclear energy for energy.

Jim Boulden looks at Iran's oil market and how a standoff with the West will impact the country's crucial natural resource.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With about 10 percent of the world's proven oil reserves, Iran is crucial as the world demands ever more petroleum. That's why oil prices have shot up over Iran's efforts to develop a nuclear program. And much of the world trying to stop it.

Iran could say, well, if you insist on belaboring us and bullying us, we will stop oil exports. But by the same token, they will stop -- they will stop their earnings and we will see prices go up dramatically. So it's a standoff situation.

BOULDEN: A standoff many oil analysts say is unlikely. That's because Iran gets the bulk of its foreign earnings by selling oil to Asia and Europe. The country has been socking away dollars earned from the recent spike in oil prices, but cutting exports would hurt its own economy after a few months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why should Iranian people suffer? And also, why should the world oil markets suffer?

BOULDEN: In fact, Iran has never deliberately cut supply. And it's the world's fourth largest oil exporter.

Here's how it breaks down. The majority of Iran's 2.5 million barrels a day of exports go to Asia. Much of the rest heads for Europe. A little ends up in Africa and South America. Because of U.S. law, no Iran oil is exported there.

There is another reason, though, why Iran exports could be cut, if the West decides to tell oil companies to stop investing there and forces them to pull out. That would hit the likes of Shell, (INAUDIBLE), plus Chinese and Indian companies already in Iran, leaving the country's oil industry on its own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can continue running the oil industry. It would not be ideal, of course. But they can continue running the oil industry on a current basis. Investments would be delayed, and therefore, three or four, five years in the pipeline, we will see the negative effects of the lack of investment.

BOULDEN: Analysts say any disruption of oil from Iran would cause a massive price spike at a time when there already is not enough oil to go around.

Jim Boulden, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CLANCY: All right. We are going to take a short break here.

When we come back, we'll be talking with a representative of the U.S. State Department. Just what can be done diplomatically to try to force Iran to back down on its nuclear enrichment plans?

That's coming up straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Daryn Kagan at CNN Center in Atlanta. More of YOUR WORLD TODAY in just a few minutes. First, though, let's check on stories making headlines here in the U.S.

It was a powerful conclusion. Just a short while ago, prosecutors brought their death penalty case against Zacarias Moussaoui to an end.

The courtroom was absolutely riveted by the final moments of United Flight 93. The plane's cockpit recordings were aired publicly for the first time today.

Our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, was in the courtroom. Here is some of what she heard.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARENA: Then you hear air traffic control come in and say, "United 93, who called Cleveland? What's on?" And then you hear air traffic control saying, "What did you say about a bomb? What did you say?"

And then, again, "Go ahead. Go ahead, Flight 93."

Obviously the hijackers did not talk again to air traffic control.

Then we hear some confusion in the cockpit saying, "This green knob. Yes, that's the one. Push that."

Very confused about what to do.

All the while, you see the dial on the screen, Daryn, descending very, very quickly. So that plane was falling at a pretty rapid speed.

You hear the alarm go off, which meant that the auto pilot disengaged. The hijacker got very distressed at that point saying, "Turn it off! Turn it off! Should we let them in? Should we let the guys in?"

Maybe talking about the pilots. Maybe they thought they might have needed some help.

"In the name of Allah," I bear witness. There is no other god but Allah."

Some more prayers. Another alarm goes off.

"Allah knows. Allah will know what to do."

Another voice. "Set course. The plane has been turned around."

And then you hear, from outside it seems, "The best thing, the guys will go in. They put an ax in it."

And then you hear the voice from inside the cockpit, "Let them look through the window." At this point, one can only imagine that perhaps the passengers on that flight had gathered toward the front of that plane.

We see the plane at this point swaying, violently swaying back and forth. You hear somebody moaning, "Ugh. Ugh." "Oh, Allah. Oh, Allah." "Stay back! Stay back! They want to get in! Hold the door from the inside! Hold it!"

"Stop him! Stop him!" Sit down! Sit down!"

Then it goes on, "Trust in Allah. Sit down."

Then you hear what sounds like glass breaking, Daryn, a scream, you know, then saying, you know, this is -- "Shall we finish it off? Shall we finish it off?"

Someone's screaming, I'm injured!" Someone's saying, you know, "In the cockpit. If we don't, we'll die. In the cockpit."

Assuming that is the passengers.

You hear the famous Todd Beamer quote "Roll it." You hear crashing. It sounded to me like they were pushing the carts that the flight attendants used to serve people into the cockpit door perhaps.

Alarms going off. Plane is swaying. You hear someone screaming, "Allah is great! Shall we put it down? Shall we put it down?"

"Cut off the oxygen!" someone screams. "Up and down! What next?"

Another crashing noise.

"Go, go, go! Move, move, move! Turn it up! Turn it up!"

It sounds very much like an American voice.

Then you hear, "Give it to me! Give it to me! No! Give it to me!" like there's a struggle over something.

A horrible, horrible screeching noise after that. And then you just hear, you know, a big "No. Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest."

And we go to silence.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: A transcript of the cockpit tape will be released to the public, but the audiotape will not.

To California now. A wall of mud comes crashing down and now a desperate search for a 73-year-old man. He's believed to be buried under at least 10 feet of muck. He apparently went outside his northern California home just as ground gave way.

Days of rain have triggered mudslides, levee breaks and flooding.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers looks at what's in store.

(WEATHER REPORT) KAGAN: A protest by Delta pilots. They are marching outside of company headquarters in Atlanta today. The pilots are angry over plans to cut pay and benefits for a second time. Last week, pilots authorized their union to call a strike any time after April 17th.

Delta says a strike would put the airline out of business. Talks are expected to continue today.

Will this hurricane season be any safer? Disaster heavyweights are talking about reforms today. We are going to hear from Admiral Thad Allen and others this afternoon on LIVE FROM.

Meanwhile, YOUR WORLD TODAY continues after a quick break.

I'm Daryn Kagan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Hala Gorani.

CLANCY: And I'm Jim Clancy. These are the stories that are making headlines around the world.

In the U.S. state of Virginia, terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui sat through what is arguably the strongest evidence yet in his death penalty trial. Prosecutors played the cockpit voice recording of the final minutes for Flight 93 for all of the jurors in the courtroom. It was one of the planes hijacked on September 11th. Moussaoui has been convicted of conspiracy in those attacks.

GORANI: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is refusing to concede defeat in parliamentary elections, demanding instead on a recount. Official results gave Romani Prodi's central left coalition a narrow majority in both houses of parliament. The results must still be confirmed by Italy's highest court. Still, Prodi said that talks on forming a new government will begin in a few days.

CLANCY: Russia joining the chorus of countries urging Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment work and return to talks. The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Tehran would not yield in the face of threatening political pressure. Iran insists its objectives are entirely peaceful.

GORANI: Tehran's drive to built its own nuclear program come with another apparently ominous passion: the desire to do away with the state of Israel, in the words of Iran's president.

As John Vause reports from Jerusalem, the reaction there is, for now at least, measured.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As Israel began a week-long holiday for Passover, the news from Tehran was unwelcome, but not unexpected. Israeli intelligence has long warned Iran could have nuclear weapons within three years. Publicly, the government here is insisting on diplomacy, not military action.

MARK REGEV, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY: What is required is a broad and determined international coalition.

VAUSE: Last year, the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel should be, quote, "wiped off the map." He's denied the Holocaust ever happened and was one of the first to congratulate Hamas after the Islamic militants committed to Israel's destruction, won parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories.

Despite all of that, the Israeli acting prime minister told "Time" magazine: "I don't know why people think this is first and foremost a war for Israeli. It's a problem for every civilized country. Iran is a major threat to the well-being of Europe and America, just as much as it is for the state of Israel."

The Israelis make no secrets of their capability to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. Luret 15-E (ph) long range bombers can reach Iran without refueling, and their Dolphin class submarines have been reportedly been modified to launch a nuclear payload.

Last December, the country's most senior military commander was asked how far he was prepared to go to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

DAN HALUTZ, IDF CHIEF OF STAFF: Two thousand kilometers.

VAUSE: The distance between Israel and Iran.

DORI GOLD, JERUSALEM CENTER FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: The only way diplomacy has any chance is if the Iranians believe that indeed the West is considering a military option.

VAUSE: While Israel argues it is not the only country which is potentially threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran, right now, though, it is the only country which publicly insists that Iran is its greatest existential threat.

John Vause, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CLANCY: Meantime in Iraq, concern and fear that somehow it could be drawn into the growing international dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Iraq's Shia Muslim leaders are very close to Iran politically.

Aneesh Raman has reaction from Baghdad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN BAGHDAD CORRESPONDENT: Iran and the U.S. are now likely to battle at the United Nations over Iran's nuclear program. But it's a battle that has Iraq right in the middle.

KEN POLLACK, CNN ANALYST: The Iran nuclear issue tends to be divorced from the reconstruction of Iraq. But most senior officials here in Washington recognize that the two are intimately intertwined.

RAMAN: The backbone of Iraq's government, the Shia Religious Alliance, is very close to Iran. Many of its leaders spent years there in exile during Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, when the Shia were persecuted in Iraq. The two countries are the biggest in the Muslim world, where Shias outnumber Sunnis. And the U.S. says Iran is undermining American efforts in Iraq, smuggling weapons, arming and training Shia militias.

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: They are currently putting people into Iraq to do things that are harmful to the future of Iraq, and we know it.

RAMAN: An allegation made by Sunnis, as well. The leading Sunni politician fears his country will become an even bigger battlefield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to do their attack first. They want to start the attack on the Americans in Iraq, and they want to make from Iraq the ground for the battle, not Iran.

RAMAN: The United States worked hard for more than two years to create a secular government in Iraq, a U.S. ally in the region. But Shias linked to Iran won big in every election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we will not allow our Iraqi territory to be used against any of our neighbors. We do not want to get involved in this.

RAMAN: Something not lost on Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are forced to temper their actions regarding Iran's nuclear program by the recognition that if they push too hard, they might wind up dooming the reconstruction of Iraq.

RAMAN: Reconstructing Iraq, analyst say, is the most important national security issue facing the Bush administration.

(on camera): Iraq's government is currently in the midst of its own political crisis, a bad time to be drawn into a brewing international dispute, one that could prove the first real sign of where new Iraq's allegiance lies, with the West or with its neighbor Iran.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Iran's nuclear ambitions are a political hot button issue among Arab leaders. Few leaders want to be seen joining a U.S.- led diplomatic offensive against Iran, while ignoring Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal.

For an Arab view and for a Middle Eastern regional perspective, as well, beyond the Arab view, Najmeh Bozorgmehr. She's a "Financial Times" and visiting fellow at Brookings Institution. Thanks for being with us. Also with us, Hisham Melhem. He's the Washington bureau chief of "Annahar," also with Al Arabiya television.

Thank you both for being with us.

Najmeh -- I'm going to start with you, Najmeh Bozorgmehr. What is Iran's strategy right now, in the face of international pressure and condemnation, coming out so publicly and so proudly with a crucial step in the building of a nuclear program? What is Iran doing?

NAJMEH BOZORGMEHR, "FINANCIAL TIMES," IRAN CORR.: Iran is 10 days away, now from the U.N. Security Council deadline. Mr. ElBaradei is going to redetermine (ph) tomorrow, and there is a prospect for Iran-U.S. talks over Iraq.

What Iran wants to do now is to improve its bargaining position and go to the talks with both Mr. ElBaradei tomorrow, and with the U.S., and at the U.N., from a very strong position, with strong bargaining chips in hands.

GORANI: So what Iran is doing, essentially, is saying, these are the facts, we are not building a nuclear program; we're not building weapons according to Iran, although many countries in the West are suspicious of those statements, and saying deal with us on these terms.

BOZORGMEHR: Yes, exactly that's the point Iran is trying to make, that the know-how is now there. And Iran can not -- these facts can not be denied anymore.

And there is another concern Iran at this point has, which is in case additional protocol is revised by U.S. and U.K. by Mr. ElBaradei, Iran might be denied the right to enrich uranium forever. So at this point, Iran has to make this point that Iran has to be recognized as a member of a nuclear technology club.

GORANI: All right. Now, Hisham Melhem of "Annahar" joining us from Washington. A question for you. We heard there from our CNN analyst Ken Pollack that the United States is forced, in a way, to temper its response to Iran, because it might hurt its efforts, its political efforts inside of Iraq. Do you agree with that?

HISHAM MELHEM, WASHINGTON BUREAU, "ANNAHAR": Oh, absolutely. There was a funny cartoon today in (INAUDIBLE), an Iranian mullah brandishing a nuclear sword and holding a shield, and the shield is in the form of Iraq's map.

So Iraq now in the view of many Iranians, represents the shield, because the Americans are bogged down in the Iraqi War, and this is not lost on everybody in the region.

I think Iran now is telling the rest of the world, look, we have crossed the nuclear rubicon, there's no turning back; live with it.

GORANI: Although they're are a long way away. But, Hisham, you really can't divorce what's happening in Iraq with what's happening in Iran. However, Middle East leaders are also in a tough spot. They don't want to be seen being too closely allied to the United States right now, do they?

MELHEM: Absolutely. Absolutely. Especially the Arab states in the Gulf, the closest geographically to Iran. They don't want to live in the shadow of a nuclear Iran. Just as the allies in the eastern Mediterranean, or in general, don't want to live in the shadow after a nuclear Israel. And the Arabs of the Gulf are extremely terrified of a potential confrontation between the United States and Iran, and worst still, a confrontation, potential confrontation between Israel and Iran, which would put them literally between a rock and a hard place.

The problem for the Arab states is they want the United States, and Europeans and others to lead, and they don't want to say anything publicly, because they don't want to alienate Iran. They don't want to alienate large segments of their own people who are not alarmed by Iran's movement toward a nuclear technology, because of their concern about Israel. And also you add to that the anger and the resentment in the region because of the American involvement in Iraq. People say, look, if the Israelis have it, the Pakistanis have it, why not the Iranians have it?

GORANI: Sure. Hisham, I want to bring in Najmeh Bozorgmehr again. Now you follow closely what happened within Iran. You people with Iranians.

Is there a fear within the country that what is now so far has been a diplomatic game, that will turn into something different, that a military response will come from the United States? Is there that fear inside of Iran?

BOZORGMEHR: As far as I could tell, until weeks ago that I was in Tehran, there is no sense of crisis amongst the people. And a military strike is not taken seriously yet by the Iranian masses, and they don't think about the consequences of Iran's confrontation with the West yet.

GORANI: And so, at this point, what is the reaction then? If there's no fear of a military strike, are Iranians, overall, if we could use the word, proud that their government has taken this step? Are they in opposition with their government, but not publicly saying it?

BOZORGMEHR: Iranians see the nuclear program in general as a source of national pride. And, for them, for Iranians, we have to remember that there is a big obsession in Iran now, which is higher education, and there is skillful propaganda by the regime in Iran now that the West is trying to deprive the Iranian nation of progress, and being a modern nation, and Iranians are so much against that. And with the history that -- in 1953 (INAUDIBLE) and Iran-Iraq War, they are very suspicious of the intentions of the West.

GORANI: Okay. Unfortunately we are out of time. Najmeh Bozorgmehr of "The Financial Times" and a visiting fellow at the Brooking Institution, thank you so much for joining us. And Hisham Melhem, as always of "Annahar" in Washington, thank you so much as well.

CLANCY: Interesting discussion. A lot of viewpoints there whether people in the region are concerned.

Well, fanatic fans are taking language lessons.

GORANI: Coming up on YOUR WORLD TODAY, learning to talk the talk for the World Cup. We'll tell you about it.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CLANCY: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States, around the world, and of course in Great Britain, where there is a new officer in the ranks. His name? Prince Harry. That would be Leftenant Harry. The Prince is a second lieutenant. He's in training still. He's going to become a troop commander. And there he is, holding his sword, it would appear, upright.

Scenes here from his graduation Wednesday at elite Sandhurst Military Academy. That's a family tradition. Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, presided at those graduation ceremonies. The prince, the second son of Prince Charles and the late Diana, princess of Wales.

GORANI: Some of us can't wait. Less than two months to go before the football world cup kicks off, and excitement is building.

But while England may have invented the game, English fans are not well known for that are foreign language skills. But one group of supporters traveling to Germany is working hard to change that perception.

The GUTA (ph) Institute in London is running a crash course in German, especially for England fans. Chris Rag (ph) went back to school to find out more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For this tour, everybody should know that by now, goal. Defend. OK.

Of course, we're teaching them all football related things, whether it is insulting the referee, whether it's positions on the field, or football clothing, what they are called in German.

OK. (SPEAKING IN GERMAN). Find your partner. Find the question or the answer. (SPEAKING IN GERMAN). Stick it on the wall.

We teach in a very fun way. We play a lot of games. We do it in a very interactive way so that it's not the typical school situation.

(SPEAKING IN GERMAN). Perfect. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm hooked. It's just been wonderful. The first one, we did some German beers, and they brought some samples in. Great stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It should be a fantastic atmosphere. It would just be nice to speak a bit of the language when I'm out in Germany.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN GERMAN)

RAG: Now, I think the England squad could benefit from your cause. Would you be welcoming?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would definitely welcome and I definitely would like a few autographs, as well.

RAG: David Beckham? I think he should be learning German. What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he should start learning Spanish, first of all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're neighbors and people from other tribes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEMI OKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Four pygmies. Well, Eric Thurmond (ph) is 5'6", so, could it be possible that the tribe famous for its diminutive height was just lacking a balanced diet? The anthropologists of the region now have a fascinating case to study.

Now, I have to say, these conclusions were made by a local anthropologist in Burundi, and have yet to face a rigorous scientific examination, but what an incredible story, if it is found to be true.

GORANI: All right. Femi Oke, thanks very much.

OKE: You're very welcome.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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