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CONNECT THE WORLD
The WikiLeaks Revelations and Iran; Who Should We Believe in Jordan?; Yemen's Water Shortage
Aired November 29, 2010 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: As Washington condemns the release of secret documents sent by its diplomatic corps, Iran says it's the target of psychological warfare and a proper -- propaganda game. This hour, we're expecting even more potential explosive revelations to come from the whistle blowing Web sites, WikiLeaks.
Going beyond borders on the day's biggest stories, on CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.
Well, the latest WikiLeaks are a raw look at U.S. diplomacy and its oft time surprising bedfellows. Tonight, you'll hear from a powerful member of the Jordanian royal family who says war in the region is imminent.
I'm Becky Anderson in London.
A lot of you are debating this WikiLeaks story on our Facebook page, Facebook.com/cnnconnect. Get your voice heard.
Also this hour, what to do with North Korea -- China wants talks, Japan says no.
We'll ask a man who has played a pivotal role in negotiations in the region.
ANDERSON: Remember scary?
You told us what you want, what you really, really want, and yes, it was The Spice Girls' Melanie as your Connector of the Day. Well, she is answering your questions.
That's CNN in the next 60 minutes.
Well, time and time again in these cables, one fear is expressed -- a nuclear Iran. Well, up until now, most of the tough talking has come from the West. But according to these WikiLeaks, behind the scenes, it's coming from Iran's closest neighbors, who are calling for action.
Reza Sayah has more from Islamabad.
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Many of the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have to do with the perceived threat coming from Iran and its nuclear program -- a program that always seems to be embroiled in controversy. Monday was no different.
Early Monday morning, Iran's state media reporting that a planted bomb injured a university professor who had links to Iran's nuclear program. Another bomb killed a second Iranian professor, according to state-run media.
It's not clear who was responsible for these attacks. Iranian officials blaming the U.S. and Israel, as they often do.
Back to the WikiLeaks reports that revealed a number of Iran's neighbors, Sunni-led Arab nations, making a push for a U.S. attack against Iran. On Monday, President Ahmadinejad downplayed these WikiLeaks reports, calling them propaganda that won't impact Iran's relations with its Arab neighbors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): So this is a more like a kind of psychological warfare and a propaganda game. It has no legal value. The political effect, the way they want it, only it won't have that effect. People are well informed these days and these games will not affect relations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAYAH: The diplomatic cables didn't reveal anything new about Iran's nuclear program or whether Iran is going after nuclear bombs. We saw plenty of concern about Iran in these cables. But again, no hard evidence that Iran is going after nuclear weapons.
Reza Sayah, CNN, Islamabad.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: Well, with the release of these cables, Iran looking increasingly isolated. Let's take a look, shall we, at some of the fears expressed by its neighbors.
According to one cable, for example, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia implored Washington to, quote, "cut off the head of the snake while there was still time." Well, it's a feeling echoed by King Hamid ibn Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain. He -- he's alleged to have argued forcefully for action to be taken to terminate Iran's nuclear program, quote, "by whatever means necessary."
Well, another cable reveals fears from the United Arab Emirates' foreign minister, who told a Congressional delegation that, quote, "If Iran goes nuclear, others in the region will follow."
The U.S. ambassador in Oman quotes the country's armed forces chief as claiming that, "a nuclear-armed Iran as opposed to war with Iran opposed an extremely difficult dilemma for all of us."
Jordan's upper house president, Zeid Rifai is much more direct, "Bomb Iran or live with an Iranian bomb," is what he told one U.S. official, claiming "sanctions, carrots, incentives won't matter."
Well, earlier, Jordan's government issued a statement rejecting any military action against Iran, stating that King Abdullah II had frequently called for countries to, quote, "Deal with the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic and peaceful means."
Well, earlier, I spoke to Prince Hassan, the brother of the late King Hussein of Jordan.
And I asked him with all these conflicting messages coming out of Jordan, who and what are we to believe?
This is what he said.
PRINCE HASSAN, JORDAN: Reading the coverage today, I mean the conversations apparently were that we would have to curb new threats or we would have to contain them and -- and if, in extremis, you have to confront them. But I've always remembered the words that an Israeli once said to me. You know, we can't have comprehensive peace with the Arabs because of Iran. And I said but we are going to be obliterated if you and Iran go to war. We've got Demon (ph) out the road and Bashir (ph) up the road.
But is it for you and I to move the goal posts back or is it for the Security Council, and particularly Russia and the United States?
And that's where I think the role of the Security Council is.
ANDERSON: Let me just pick up on -- on one thing. In one cable, the Jordanian upper house president is quoted directly as saying -- let me just put this to you -- "Bomb Iran or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won't matter."
That doesn't sound like a country calling for engagement, does it?
HASSAN: Well, I don't speak for the president of the Jordanian Senate. I think it is absolutely insanity to go to war, whether the '67 War, whether it was the '90 war. Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction. Today, we're talking about a region from Israel -- and I remember the nuclear threat initiative with Sam Nunn as our standard bearer, calling, along with Kissinger, Perry and Schultz for a moratorium from Egypt to India. I mean the Koreans say oh, we want to be remembered so they lob a few shells across the border.
That's not going to work in our part of the world. I think that we're on the verge of a confrontation which will cause incalculable damage.
ANDERSON: When you say on the verge, how close?
HASSAN: I think that 20 days from the fifth of December, we should know pretty well whether it's going to work out in terms of war or peace. You know, it's a bit -- a bit like that.
And how much does that have to do with domestic politics in these different countries?
And how much is foreign policy a priority?
And how much is domestic policy after the regional Congressional victory of -- the recent victory of the Republicans in the -- in the lower house?
How much is foreign affairs a priority?
This is something that worries me, because it's an existential priority for my children's children.
ANDERSON: What do you think the upshot of what we've learned today in these WikiLeaks really is?
HASSAN: Well, I think that the scenarios for attacking Iran, for that matter, the scenarios for attacking Pakistan, which was also part of the WikiLeaks disclosures, are all very disturbing. I don't know if it was part of the WikiLeaks story or not, but you will recall that there were Israelis allegedly in Ossetia and Abkhazia when the Russians marched in. Now, what they were doing there, building drones or selling drones, I don't know.
But clearly, the new great game from the West Asian point of view, we're talking about Pakistan and India, we're talking about the knock on effect of relations between India and China, we're talking about the -- developments in the next few months where the president has to finally decide, the president of the United States, and, indeed, the Russian leadership, are they interested in stabilizing the region or are they going to compete in the region for zones of influence in Central Asian republics?
So I would say that in the next few months, as my nephew, the king, apparently said a couple of days ago, maybe between now and the end of the year, that war is imminent. How it starts or where it starts is immaterial. But at the end of the day, I think that there are contradictions in the region that simply are going to have it out in -- in a very violent manner.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: Well, a pretty bleak picture painted there by Prince Hassan of Jordan.
Just how much damage have these leaks done to America's relations with its allies?
Let's put that to White House correspondent, Dan Lothian.
You certainly heard the message from one voice, from the Middle East region there.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, you know, in terms of the damage that is has caused, that question has been posed to everyone from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and also here at the White House, to White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs. And they're reticent, at this point, to sort of give any details about what they believe are the immediate damages from the leaks of -- the leak of this information, but pointing out that they believe that sensitive information may have gotten out there, that this could certainly put people's lives at risk, some of these diplomats out in the field.
And you heard from Secretary Clinton today in some remarks that she made strongly condemning the leaks -- leaking of this information.
But, also, in particular when it comes to Iran, I thought what you heard from her is that, listen, whatever these cables might show, it does not policy make. There are a lot of discussions that take place behind the scenes between diplomats, but that does not mean that that will directly lead to a particular policy issue.
But certainly, there's a lot of concern in this administration that this information has gotten out there.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: If anything, any of the - - the comments that are being reported on, allegedly from the cables, confirm the fact that Iran poses a very serious threat in the eyes of many of her neighbors and a serious concern far beyond her region. That is why the international community came together to pass the strongest possible sanctions against Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: So, Becky, what you heard there is Secretary Clinton and also we heard earlier from White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs, saying that these cables, without specifically confirming them, are stating the obvious, that if you were watching, as Robert Gibbs pointed out, if you've been watching cable television over the last few weeks, you would know that Iran poses a -- a threat not only to its neighbors, but to the world community, as well. And so you don't need to see any kind of, you know, delicate communication between countries, foreign leaders, to know that there is this threat.
But again, it's the kind of information that this administration does not welcome. Robert Gibbs pointing out that the president pushed for transparency and openness, but that, in this case, this is a crime.
ANDERSON: Dan Lothian for you at the White House.
So -- and just so that you know, in addition to being published on WikiLeaks' Web site, the documents were acquired in advance by five newspapers in Europe and, indeed, in the United States. CNN declined a last minute offer to discuss advance access to some of the documents because of a confidentiality agreement requested by WikiLeaks that CNN considered unacceptable.
Well, up ahead, these documents strip away the usual niceties of diplomacy, exposing raw feelings rarely heard in public.
So how will all of this affect relations between world leaders?
We'll look for some answers for you after this short break, speaking with former diplomats in the East and the West.
Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Welcome back.
This is CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN at 14 minutes past 9:00 out of London.
I'm Becky Anderson.
Well, so much already revealed, but apparently much more to come. We're hearing that the media may be set to publish additional WikiLeak documents soon.
Atika Shubert is following the story from the newsroom here in London and joins us now -- Atika, what do we know, at this point?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know is that WikiLeaks has released less than 300 of the quarter of a million documents that they're sitting on. So there are plenty more revelations that could come out of this. "Le Monde" newspaper in France, which is one of WikiLeaks media partners, has said that they will be coming out with headlines very shortly, presumably with a focus on cables mentioning France.
"The Guardian" has also said they'll also be coming out with new, fresh headlines today and in the coming days, also, perhaps, a critical look at British Prime Minister David Cameron by the U.S. Embassy here in London.
But one of the most highly anticipated subjects was actually about corruption in Russia. And so far, none of the cables that have come forward by WikiLeaks seem to show any of that. So there will be a lot of interest to see if any of those cables are coming out.
ANDERSON: All right, Atika, stick with us.
We'll come back to you as and when we get more information.
We are expecting more of those leaks within the hour.
Well, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls the leaks release "an attack on the international community." While one senior lawmaker warns that it could lead to "a catastrophic breakdown of trust between nations."
So how much damage was really done?
Well, let's bring in two diplomatic insiders, one from the East and one from the West.
James Rubin was the assistant secretary of State in Bill Clinton's administration. He's in New York for you this evening.
And Akbar Ahmed is former Pakistani ambassador to the United Kingdom in Washington for you tonight.
These leaks, gentlemen, are being described as a nightmare for U.S. diplomacy.
Jamie, are they?
JAMES RUBIN, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, certainly, it's going to make it a lot harder for U.S. diplomats to get foreign leaders to be frank with them in the presence of note takers. I suspect there will be far fewer note takers in meetings in the future.
Let's face it, ultimately, the State Department's basic function is to develop relationships with foreign governments. The Pentagon has military. The Treasury Department has financial sanctions and other tools. The State Department's tool is trust and relationships with foreign governments. And that trust has been severely compromised.
ANDERSON: Akbar, Hillary Clinton says she deeply regrets the disclosure of the information, and I quote her when I say, "Our foreign policy is not set through these messages.
Many people will be saying tonight, really?
Well, what was being said then?
AKBAR AHMED, FORMER PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO U.K.: I tend to agree with that, Becky, because ultimately, every state must see what's in its own interests in terms of foreign policy. And sooner or later, it will all get back to an even keel.
What has happened, however, is -- Jamie used the word trust. I would use the word dignity. A lot of the dignity of these rulers has been very injured. Now, for example, the crown prince in the Gulf who calls President Zardari of Pakistan, he says, "He is dirty, but not dangerous." It's the former prime minister, Prime Minister Nowshera (ph), "was dangerous and not dirty."
Now, this, of course, means that both leaders of Pakistan heading the two most important political parties are going to be deeply offended, because they will see it in terms of dignity, personal hurt, personal insult to their honor and so on. And that, of course, lingers a long time. It may not translate into foreign policy but it will certainly linger.
ANDERSON: Jamie, at the very least, the release of these WikiLeaks -- WikiLeaks releases will strain relations with some countries that, on paper, at least, the U.S. has been reaching out to.
RUBIN: Well, I think that's right. It's funny, you know, in the case of Iraq or Afghanistan, arguably, the release of documents by WikiLeaks was connected to some policy objective, namely to stop those wars or reduce support for them.
In this case, because it's so broad, because it involves so many countries and it's so undifferentiated and indiscriminate, it's essentially an attack on the U.S. diplom -- diplomats' ability to do their jobs in countries like you mentioned, places like China, places like the Middle East, where developing a relationship is crucial to be able to achieve our objectives.
And, ironically, despite what the WikiLeaks people have said, U.S. foreign policy in the cables looks a lot like the U.S. foreign policy that is stated publicly. So they're really...
RUBIN: -- the inconsistency is on the part of -- of foreign governments.
ANDERSON: Yes, sure.
Let's remind our viewers, before we move on -- and I'll come to you again, Akbar, in a moment. Just some of the more perhaps embarrassing and inverted (ph) comments, revelations which have come out, which concern personal remarks about heads of state.
One cable quotes Israel's ambassador to Turkey as saying about Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: "He's a fundamentalist. He hates us religiously and his hatred is spreading."
Other cables show persistent anxieties among U.S. officials that Mr. Erdogan is taking Turkey in a more Islamist direction.
Well, Pakistan's president came under fire in another dispatch. It was Saudi King Abdullah reportedly calling Asif Ali Zardari, "The greatest obstacle to progress in Pakistan," the same quote, "when the head is rotten, it affects the whole body."
And then there's Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi. That U.S. Embassy in Tripoli sent a cable discussing his, quote, "proclivities and phobias." It says: "He obsessively relies on a 38-year-old voluptuous blonde nurse, fears flying over water and insists on staying on the first floor of any building."
It just doesn't sound good, Akbar, does it?
AHMED: It doesn't, Becky. But a lot of this was suspected by the media, by the ordinary public, comments about Zardari, for example, this is common parlance in the country, outside the country. So this doesn't come as a complete surprise.
What is really surprising is the sharpness and the -- the -- the -- I would say, the vitriol behind this criticism. It isn't just a casual remark, an offhand remark. It really is very sharp.
But what is more important, Becky, than these personal remarks, which in themselves are gave enough, are the substantial issues, the whole issue of Pakistan's nuclear program; the fact that there was some possibility of the nuclear program being either taken out or compromised, as far as Pakistan is concerned.
Now, again, a lot of Pakistanis suspect this, but here they're seeing proof of it, evidence of it. And that is, of course, what is going to be very damaging.
ANDERSON: In closing, guys, what sort of influence will these WikiLeaks have on international affairs, do you think, James?
RUBIN: Well, I think for the foreseeable future, people will be less candid in their meetings with foreign officials. And I think that will make everybody's job harder to do. I think Secretary Clinton is confident that relationships can be restored and I'm sure they will be. But it will be harder to do business for the diplomats, which is ironic, since they're the ones who would be making the peace agreements or achieving the problems -- solving problems peacefully, which is what the WikiLeaks founders say they believe in.
AHMED: I think, Becky, there will be a time when historians, in the future, will look at the -- this episode in history and really, at this as a landmark, the world before the Wiki, as it were, the WikiLeaks, pre- and post- because how we do business with each other, diplomats, the statesmen, is going to change. People will be much more cautious. The notion of, when I was ambassador, the diplomatic pouch, which went. It had secret documents or messages sent to the capital city back home, that's gone. Anything can be, at any time, leaked and made public. So that is going to be a time in the future when we all have to be very, very conscious of the fact that anything we are saying or writing or doing could be made public today, tomorrow, in the future.
ANDERSON: Your experts out of New York and Washington this evening.
Guys, we thank you very much, indeed, for joining us here on CONNECT THE WORLD.
As we assess the fallout from the latest WikiLeaks revelations, we are hearing more classified documents are set to be published soon. We're going to bring you the latest expose as it happens.
First, though, the addiction that is bleeding a Yemeni city dry -- how a crop considered a savior is fast becoming a killer -- the first of a special series this week on the show on going green. That is next.
ANDERSON: All right, water, food air and shelter -- of course, that's what we need to survive. But in many parts of the world, some of these vitals are of increasingly poor quality, if not scarce. Well, all this week on CNN, we are looking at how our actions today are impacting tomorrow.
Mohammed Jamjoom kicking off a special series of reports for you from Yemen this evening, a country with a habit that is threatening to turn one city into a desert.
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These lush green fields in Northern Sanaa barely hint at Yemen's looming crisis. A family of farmers cling desperately to their only lifeline. But the well no longer flows like it once did.
Experts predict that within five to 10 years, Sanaa will become the first urban capital of the world to run out of water -- drained by an exploding population and one particularly thirsty plant.
For Mohammed (ph), farming is a way of life. He's worked this land since he was a child. He remembers fondly the days when he would walk these acres and marvel at a variety of different types of vegetation. That is no longer the case.
The farmers here prefer growing khat to growing grapes," says Mohammed (ph). "Growing khat makes them a lot more money but growing it also uses up a lot more water."
(on camera): Five years ago, these fields were covered in grapes. Now, over half the land is used to grow khat, a crop that fetches a much higher price but comes at a far greater cost.
(voice-over): Khat -- an integral part of this culture, a mild narcotic chewed daily in almost every part of the country. Virtually the only cash crop that exists anymore. It is Yemen's addiction, its savior and its killer.
No one understands how dire the situation has become more than Yemen's water and environment minister, Abdulrahman Al-Eryani. He says 91 percent of the country's water resources are used for agriculture. Forty percent of that is used for khat. The situation is so critical that out of the country's 15 aquifers, only two are being replenished.
ABDULRAHMAN AL-ERYANI, WATER AND ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: In Sanaa Basin alone, we have 13,000 wells. And out of these 13,000, more than 8,000 have dried up already. So all the farmers know that the water is drying up. They have to drill deeper or they have to abandon their wells.
JAMJOOM: The water situation is so serious that some members of the government have floated the idea of moving the capital, as well as desalinating seawater on the coast and pumping it to Sanaa. And yet Yemeni farmers keep pumping, often drilling illegal wells, now even utilizing diesel generators and oil drilling equipment to help get the water above ground.
(on camera): Thousands of families across Sanaa use reservoirs like these to irrigate their khat farms. They fill them up at least twice a day. It's a situation that's just exacerbating the water crisis in Yemen.
(voice-over): But in a country whose population of 24 million has quadrupled in the last 50 years and that faces a growing threat from al Qaeda, many here are even more fearful of the conflicts they're sure will erupt over water shortages. Al-Eryani hopes a state of emergency will be declared, that government programs will be put in place so farmers can be properly educated on how to use modern, more efficient techniques of irrigation and how to better utilize rainwater.
But even he has trouble convincing the government to sound the alarm bells.
AL-ERYANI: And since the water is still available, OK, with limited quantity, people are not doing anything about it. And it's -- it's really insidious because water is an essential and very, very valuable commodity, that if you still have enough of it, you don't care.
JAMJOOM: Convincing khat farmers that conservation is key to Yemen's survival will be extremely difficult, says Al-Eryani. He says they'll need government-backed incentives before they'll ever switch to other crops, that only firm governmental policies will force farmers to stop wasting so much water.
Mohammed says he would love some help from the government. He knows how much water is being wasted and it makes him afraid and sad for the next generation of farmers in his family.
"The farmers here, we have no future. We have to rely on God," says Mohammed. "We have only God's mercy to rely on."
He'll continue to pray for water, hoping against hope that every last drop won't actually be the very last drop.
Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Sanaa, Yemen.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: Well, tomorrow night, our green journey takes us to Brazil. We're going to show you how a company in Rio has found a way to power the future, turning trash into energy. That is Chapter Two in our week long green special right here on CONNECT THE WORLD.
Up next this evening, we are returning to our top story, the latest WikiLeaks controversy. The fallout continues, so, too, the bombardment -- another round of leaked documents expected to be published imminently, within minutes. We'll bring you the details of that -- those, after this.
ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back. You are with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you here on CNN. Coming up, we are not finished yet with the WikiLeaks document releases. We're going to see which country reportedly told the United States military, "We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours."
And then, taking a tough line. South Korea's president warns tolerance will bring nothing but more serious provocations from North Korea.
And later, she was one-fifth of the best-selling female singing sensation of all time. Now, it's a scary world for Mel B. The former Spice Girl takes your questions as your Connector of the Day.
All those stories ahead in the show. First, let's get you a very quick update of the headlines as ever at this time this hour.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls WikiLeaks's release of classified cables an attack on the international community. Clinton also defended the actions of American diplomats, saying their work benefits billions of people around the globe.
The UN mission in Haiti is expressing, quote, "deep concern" about election fraud allegations. Haitian authorities have upheld the validity of Sunday's polls, but many of the candidates are alleging widespread irregularities, and they want the poll annulled.
An aid package for Ireland has failed to quell fears the European financial crisis can be contained. Investors have backed away from buying up Portuguese and Spanish debt as the cost of insuring against default soars to record high levels. It's a trend that could make it more difficult for the two countries to repay their debt.
And a closely watched football match between two Spanish powerhouses, Barcelona facing their bitter foes Real Madrid, and it isn't close. With about 20 minutes left, Barcelona leads -- get this -- four-nil.
Am I right in saying that? Your table there says two-nil, I'm being told it's four-nil, two of those goals were scored in the first 18 minutes. David Villa has added two in the second half. Make sure we got that straight.
I promise you, that score is four-nil, I've just corrected that for you.
Now, returning to our top story, the fallout over WikiLeaks's latest expose. Even more documents are set to be released. Atika Shubert's been monitoring the story and joins me from the newsroom here in London. We were expecting more out around half past this hour. Have you got anything yet?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, but we are expecting "Le Monde," the French newspaper, to come out with some fresh headlines, some fresh revelations from these cables. That's what they advertised earlier in the day.
And WikiLeaks itself has said that in the next coming days and even months, there should be more of these embarrassing details to be revealed in these documents that are coming out.
Now, all the media partners, like "Le Monde," "The New York Times," "The Guardian," for example, have had access to the full cache of documents. But WikiLeaks is only slowly releasing them a little bit at a time, because they say they need more time to fully review the scope of these documents.
ANDERSON: All right, I'm being told by our producers that there is information coming in now, so if you can get off and have a look at that, we'll come back to you, Atika, shortly. Thank you for that.
The leaked documents have primarily revealed the breadth and depth of concerns over Iran to date, at least. But they've also exposed a coverup over the role of the US in missile attacks on al Qaeda in Yemen.
According to one of the leaked cables, Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh says -- had said this to US General David Petraeus in January. I quote, "Will continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours."
Well, indeed, the US has run with that line. Here's what deputy national security advisor John Brennan told me in July when I asked him directly if the US was involved in drone attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, US DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: No. The United States, again, is working with the Yemeni government. The Yemeni armed forces, air force, army, have done a very good job. Some of these individuals have sacrificed their lives in support of the counter-terrorism efforts there.
We are providing -- we're in a support role, I want to make that very clear. The United States military intelligence, security service, are playing a support role in support of the very legitimate and needed Yemeni counter-terrorism operations that are underway in Yemen.
ANDERSON: Whose drones are they?
BRENNAN: There are -- there have been no drones in attacks in Yemen. Certainly, not since the Obama administration has come into office. So -- there are a lot of reports and rumors out there that are flying around about different types of activities that are taking place.
Again, what we're doing is working in support of the Yemeni government. It's been very effective, it's been very efficient and precise. But the Yemenis are in the lead, here, without question.
ANDERSON: All right, let me remind you, that was John Brennan speaking to me back in July, and reminding you that, according to the WikiLeaks disclosed cables, the Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh said to General David Petraeus in January, "We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours."
All right, well, we've been getting reactions from you on our Facebook page about the release of these classified documents. Becks Williams writes in from Kampala in Uganda, "WikiLeaks has gone way too far," he says. "Shut down this website to prevent more chaos."
Ella Mwinji Zulu from Botswana agrees that WikiLeaks has stepped over the line. "They are abusing the freedom of speech and endangering the lives of many people." She says, "Diplomatic ties and global peace are also at risk," and then asks, "What is the founder of WikiLeaks intend to achieve?"
Osy from Washington, DC, argues, "Every country gathers intelligence on each other and none can deny that they haven't in the past."
And another of our Facebook fans writes in, "I find it very hard to believe that an organization like WikiLeaks would be able to infiltrate US classified information, or else the US wants that information to be exposed."
Just some of the views being shared by our fans on the Facebook page. Join the debate, head to facebook.com/CNNconnect. That's CNN CONNECT's Facebook page. And do get involved.
Let's head back to Atika. She's got the new leaks that have just been published. Atika, what have we got?
SHUBERT: Well, "The Guardian" newspaper has -- their website has just come up with a fresh headline saying that China has indicated that it's ready to, quote, "abandon North Korea" and that it is looking to reunification of the two Koreas.
This is, apparently, according to some of those leaked diplomatic cables. In fact, you can see the website up here. Leaked dispatches show Beijing as frustrated with the military actions of, quote, "a spoiled child," increasingly favors a reunified Korea.
There were some of this information that had already come out from news -- from other media partners in this, suggesting that the United States was looking at the possibility of enlisting China's help at going forward and leverage on North Korea. But this is the first time we've actually seen this cable coming out.
And it looks like "Le Monde," the French newspaper, here, has also -- is highlighting one of their new releases here about French-American cooperation in the war on terror, specifically retaining -- pertaining to Guantanamo detainees. That full article is not out, yet, but that main headline is there, so we can probably expect more from that later on.
ANDERSON: We'll let you go, and see whether you can find out any more as the minutes and hours release more of this cache of classified documents from WikiLeaks. Atika, thank you for that.
Some of the previously released documents, of course, touching on North Korea. More, as we see, coming out now, suggesting the US believes that that country is supplying Iran with long-range missiles. You just heard Atika, with more on China's concerns, allegedly, and we're going to get -- do more on North Korea, China, and what's next, as far as the region is concerned after this short break. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. South Korea's president is promising to make North Korea pay for any new provocations. Lee Myung-bak gave his first national address since Pyongyang's deadly artillery attack, you'll remember, last week. As Stan Grant now reports, the president is talking tough, but also promises to back up the words with action.
STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South Korean president Lee Myung-bak came before his people with a vow. He will defend them. And this warning to North Korea, the South will strike down any future attack.
LEE MYUNG-BAK, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA (through translator): "Only courage that defines retreat under any threat or provocation," he says, "will bring about genuine peace. If the North commits any additional provocations against the South, we will make sure that it pays a dear price without fail."
GRANT (voice-over): These are the words South Koreans have waited for. Many have been angry that the South did not hit back hard enough during the North's attack last week on Yeonpyeong Island.
President Lee, accepting full responsibility at not being to defend the people and, quote, "full of frustration and regret for the loss of innocent lives." He branded Pyongyang's actions "inhumane." The attack on South Korean soil targeting civilians, he says, is unprecedented since the Korean War. He says South Korea's patience is at an end.
LEE (through translator): The South Korean people now unequivocally understand that prolonged endurance and tolerance will spawn nothing but more serious provocations. Those who have so far supported the North Korean regime might now see its true colors.
GRANT (voice-over): And South Korea's showing off its firepower to back up the president's words. Joint exercises with the United States in the Yellow Sea, the USS George Washington carrier group and 6,000 US troops joined by South Korean destroyers, supply ships, and fighter jets, is taking place about 100 kilometers, 60 miles, from the contentious maritime border between North and South, but Pyongyang calling it a pretext for war.
Lee Myung-bak says his forces will not lack capacity or determination.
LEE (through translator): "We will defend the west sea islands," he says, "near the northern border with a watertight stance against provocation. We will proactively carry out defense reform as planned, to make our armed forces even stronger."
GRANT (on camera): President Lee has told the South Korean people now is the time for action, not words. But once again, it has been North Korea providing the action and the president providing the words. This time. Stan Grant, CNN, Seoul.
ANDERSON: In his speech, President Lee made no mention of China's new proposal to resurrect six-party talks on North Korea. The idea, in fact, has gotten a cold shoulder, pretty much, all around the world. A US official told CNN talks can't substitute for action by North Korea to comply with its obligations.
Well, let's get some perspective on all of this, and from the latest WikiLeaks coming to CNN Center. I've got Christopher Hill, for you, a former US ambassador to South Korea and an envoy to the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear ambitions up in Denver, Colorado, for you this evening.
Just minutes ago, "The Guardian" newspaper revealing that the WikiLeaks cables disclose that China, Chris, is, quote, "ready to abandon North Korea," signaling its readiness to accept Korean reunification, privately distancing itself from the North Korean regime. This according to leaked US embassy cables. Your thoughts?
CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: Well, first of all, I haven't seen that cable. Secondly, I don't think any cable would say China is ready to do X. It was probably some person they talked to who indicated that China is rethinking its North Korea policy. Whether that's true or not is hard to say. It was probably an embassy report, where they're reporting what this person said.
In any event, it's pretty clear the Chinese, we know from what is going on recently, is not prepared to abandon North Korea, and their solution to this problem right now is to call a six-party meeting.
And I think the other participants, especially the US and Korea and Japan have said, "Wait a minute. What's the purpose of a meeting if we're not going to have any action?"
ANDERSON: Let me enlighten you and our viewers just a little bit more as we get more information as to what these WikiLeaked documents actually say. China's vice foreign minister telling US officials that Pyongyang was behaving like, and I quote, "a spoiled child" to get Washington's attention in April 2009 by carrying out missile tests.
A Chinese ambassador warning that North Korean nuclear activity was, and I quote, "a threat to the whole world's security." It goes on this evening. You're suggesting that nothing of what we are hearing or may hear tonight on North Korea from China is going to make any difference at this point?
HILL: Well, I don't think these leaked cables are changing Chinese policy. We know what Chinese policy is or is not and, basically, they are not prepared to make any bold changes at this point. Instead, they're looking to call a meeting.
ANDERSON: I want you to listen to what the US scientist, Dr. Hecker, told me just after he had returned from a trip to North Korea very recently. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIGFRIED HECKER, NUCLEAR SCIENTIST: The light-water reactor that we saw, the small experimental light-water reactor construction site was expected because one of my colleagues was there the week before.
What was not expected and totally surprising was the magnitude of the uranium enrichment facility, in which you do some of the crucial steps that prepare fuel for the light-water reactor. Quite frankly, it was stunning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Does what Professor Sigfried Hecker, or what he found, surprise you, Chris?
HILL: Well, it does, of course, in the sense that, according to Dr. Hecker, they had functioning some 1,000 or more centrifuges that were actually functioning in Yongbyon, which is obviously been a place of some interest to us, because that's where the plutonium reactor is.
So, indeed, that's very important and, ironically, it rather -- it amounts to a North Korean declaration on their uranium enrichment program, something we sought for some time. So, it also proves, frankly speaking, that the North Koreans sat there with five other countries in the room, and lied to all five countries.
Now, a lot of people would say, "Of course, they lied. They always lie." Well, they don't always sit down and tell five countries, including China, something that is simply not true. So, it's another reason why these talks did not successfully end back in 08, because we were not able to get the North Koreans to agree to verification measures, which we would've -- had been necessary to look at their declaration on uranium enrichment.
ANDERSON: Let's just remind our viewers what we are learning this hour from WikiLeaks. Leaked dispatches allegedly showing that Beijing is frustrated with military actions of what they call "a spoiled child" and increasingly favoring a unified Korea.
You, to a certain extent, pooh-poohed that tonight on this show. What we do know is that China wants, at least, to talk through the Six Party talks route, if that indeed is what they hope will happen.
Japan says no to six-party talks at this point. Firstly, do you think it was the best step forward? And if you were the envoy, still, would you be picking up the phone to Tokyo and saying, "get on with it?"
HILL: Not at all. I think the US needs to work very closely with its allies in the region. This is not a US problem, it's a problem for several countries, mainly South Korea. And so, I think the South Koreans are -- have been pretty clear that they want to see some action from the Chinese, not in terms of calling a meeting, but in terms of getting their creation - - that is, North Korea -- under control.
And I think everyone is concerned that, were China to succeed in just calling an international meeting, China would, essentially, be off the hook. After all, North Korea can't live for a week without a good relationship with China. And so, I think the focus has been quite rightly on getting the Chinese to do more in terms of dealing with the North Koreans.
Let me just add, too, that many Chinese are, indeed, frustrated with North Korea and have been for some time. But within China', there's really a split view on North Korea. Many people feel it's a historic ally, they should not abandon a historic ally. Some people are concerned that a unification of the Korean peninsula would mean a gain for US strategic interests in the region. There are a lot of different viewpoints about North Korea in China.
I think these events of the last week on the part of the North Koreans are further evidence -- or, should be further evidence to the Chinese that they need to make a decision. That is, they need to talk about China's future and not be coddling this relic of China's past.
ANDERSON: Interesting. Chris, stay with us. I want to take a very short break, and then bring both you and Atika Shubert back, who is monitoring what is happening on the wires as some of these WikiLeaks are disclosed. Viewers, we're going to take a very short break. You're watching CNN and CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. Back after this.
ANDERSON: All right, well, we promised you more of these WikiLeaks, and we're getting them. Let's get back to Atika Shubert, who's been monitoring what's been released. Atika?
SHUBERT: Well, a couple of new revelations to come out. "The Guardian" newspaper, their online website has just published what I mentioned before, those revelations that China was, quote, "ready to abandon" North Korea. In addition to "Guardian" going with this story, it now seems "The New York Times" also has a little bit more information about that delicate relationship between China and North Korea.
What's interesting in "The Guardian" article here is they list some of the points that are coming across in the cable. Some of them are very interesting, particularly, for example, South Korea's vice foreign minister said he was told by two named senior Chinese officials that they believe Korea should be reunified under Seoul's control and that this view was gaining ground with the leadership in Beijing.
Also, a Chinese ambassador warned that North Korea nuclear activity was, quote, "a threat to the whole world's security."
And this is also interesting. Chinese officials assessed it could cope with an influx of 300,000 North Koreans in the event of serious instability. According to a representative of an international agency, but that they may need to use the military to seal the border.
Now, while this is happening with "The Guardian" and "The New York Times," "Le Monde," the French newspaper, has also put out some of their own headlines. Their focus is actually on French negotiations with the United States regarding Guantanamo detainees.
In particular, French officials concerned about public reaction in France. It quotes one of the cables as saying there was -- wondering why a lack of flexibility of the French authorities due to the fact that the French public wonders why France should welcome these prisoners that are considered too dangerous to be accepted to the United States.
Now, "Le Monde" is likely to have more of that. They've really just started putting out those highlights now. And WikiLeaks itself has also put a few new documents on its website, and a lot of them seem to be regarding the US embassy in Paris.
ANDERSON: Where's the guy who runs this site, Julian Assange, out of interest?
SHUBERT: Where is he? Well, I don't know. A lot of people don't know, and many people are asking. As you know, he hops from country to country, he keeps his location secret. The last he was heard of was actually in a video link over the weekend with a reporter's conference in Amman, Jordan. But he did not disclose where his location is.
So, this adds to the mystique of WikiLeaks. And it's interesting to note that this is actually the first major release that WikiLeaks has had that Julian Assange has not held a press conference. He's keeping a very low profile this time around.
ANDERSON: Perhaps for his own security. All right, Atika, thank you for that. Atika Shubert, monitoring these leaks as they come out.
I want to bring back Christopher Hill, a top US diplomat with postings in Korea and Iraq in his time. Before the break, we were pressing Chris specifically on the Koreas. Now, we turn to him for more reaction on the new WikiLeaks that we've learned of.
And just -- Atika there, filling us all in on just a little bit more of what's been disclosed by WikiLeaks today and, specifically, a top Korean -- a South Korean official confidently telling the American ambassador the fall -- the North Korean fall would come two to three years after the death of Kim Jong-il, the country's ailing leader.
And also in these WikiLeaks, a new generation, Chris, of Chinese leaders would be, quote, "comfortable with a reunited Korea controlled by Seoul and anchored to the United States in a benign alliance." These are the sort of things that are coming out of these leaks, these -- this cache of disclosing -- this cache of cables that are being disclosed. Your thoughts?
HILL: Well, first of all, I must just make very clear, my first thought is what we are talking about here is a crime that has been committed. This would be a crime in any country to take a country's diplomatic dispatches and make them public. So, this is a serious problem for US national security, as Secretary Clinton has been making very clear.
With respect to the particular issues of a Korean talking about his impressions of his meetings with the Chinese, these were -- these are very interesting comments. This is the kind of thing that goes on in diplomacy, and this is precisely why diplomacy needs to have some traditional boundaries of what is put in the public eye and what is kept private. These conversations were obviously meant to be kept private.
ANDERSON: Not anymore, unfortunately. They're out there. They are part of what's being released by WikiLeaks. Christopher Hill, we thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. I'm Becky Anderson, that is your world connected this hour. "BackStory" will follow the headlines.