Return to Transcripts main page


U.N. Security Council Approves No-Fly Zone Over Libya

Aired March 17, 2011 - 20:58   ET



Breaking news on two fronts to cover tonight. First, the situation here in Japan.

Workers still struggling to cool those damaged reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Dramatic developments today. Workers continuing to try to pump water into those -- into the spent fuel reactor pools. An emergency diesel generator is now supplying power to units number five and six, reactors five and six. So that's a bit of good news. Engineers still working on restoring electrical power to the rest of the stricken plant.

New pictures to show you of the damage at the plant. The IAEA says at least 20 people have been sickened from possible radiation contamination. That, of course, is in addition to 19 who've been injured and two who are still missing somewhere at the plant. Workers using helicopters, water cannons to try to cool down the reactors. The officials, Japanese officials say the results of that have been unclear.

The other breaking news story tonight is the U.N. Security Council has voted to impose a no-fly zone and other measures over Libya to try to stop Gadhafi's advancement from -- stopping his forces from getting any further toward the city of Benghazi.

I want to go to the U.N. and our Richard Roth. Also we have Nic Robertson in Tripoli. And we'll try to make contact very shortly with Arwa Damon in the opposition-held city of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

Richard Roth at the U.N., what exactly does this U.N. Security Council resolution permit?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it means that at any time military force might be used against Colonel Gadhafi and his troops. The resolution authorizes all necessary means to enforce a no-fly ban over Libya, which was voted on by the Security Council.

Ten countries in favor, five abstentions, no vetoes. But a lot of concern that it opens the door to an Iraq-invasion type of situation. The resolution promises there will be no foreign occupation. It's up to member countries of the U.N. to decide how they're going to participate to enforce this no-fly zone.

No planes allowed in the skies over Libya except humanitarian flights or planes taking foreign nationals out -- Anderson.

COOPER: Dramatic developments at the U.N. Richard Roth.

Let's go to Libya now. Our Nic Robertson who is reporting from Tripoli as he has been for many -- for many weeks now under great personal risk to him and his crew.

Nic, how concerned is the Gadhafi regime? You actually got a call earlier from one of Gadhafi's sons.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Quite incredibly as the U.N. was literally counting down to the minutes before this vote and the different ambassadors were speaking at Security Council, Moammar Gadhafi's son Saad Gadhafi called me and said, "Look, we've got a new plan. We're not going to use the army in Benghazi."

They're only going to encircle the city. "We're not going to use their heavy weapons. We're just going to send in police and anti- terrorist units," he called them, to go in after what he just said -- called terrorists, the opposition there.

Not clear really what he means by this. Is he trying to sort of -- was he trying to alleviate and head off the U.N. Security Council resolution? Or was he merely indicating that they're going to in some way sort of try and get him to the wire of conforming with what the Security Council was about to announce?

So it's not clear what he meant, but clearly, very, very clearly from this the government here really feeling the heat. They weren't expecting this ban. Now they've got it, and now they're really going to have to deal with it, Anderson.

COOPER: And Nic, they had amassed forces that you actually visited, I believe it was yesterday. How many forces had they amassed, where were they, and what happens to them now?

And also if you can, talk a little bit to what sort of military installations might be targeted by -- under this U.N. Security Council resolution.

ROBERTSON: Well, we were outside of Ajdabiya and it's clear that the government has gotten itself sort of bogged down there, but from the rhetoric they're using we get the impression that they want to continue to take that town and then encircle Benghazi where the rebels are.

I asked the deputy foreign minister would they abide by the cease-fire that the Security Council resolution calls for, and he said it's going to take time to negotiate through those details. We don't know who to negotiate with and through at the moment.

So the implications of what the government is trying to do and the forces they've got on the ground lay them open to several things. A no-fly zone could mean that the airports will be targeted, the airports, the fire jets take off from, that the helicopters where troops on take off from.

And it could also mean because the resolution calls for the protection of civilians from military force, it could mean a vast array of army that we saw in the fields where tanks, heavy artillery, multi-barreled large Katyusha rockets, radar controlled artillery systems. It could mean all of those could be targeted by international forces if the Gadhafi regime continues to use them again civilians, Anderson.

COOPER: And Nic, just very briefly, does seem like this means international forces and whether that's the United States or European forces or some sort of Arab states involved or some sort of combination thereof. It could be using fighter jets, but it could also be cruise missiles, correct?

ROBERTSON: It could be cruise missiles. And a far safer option than putting in fighter jets until the missile system defense -- defenses that exist in this country according to James (INAUDIBLE), the sort of defense Almanac if you like. They say that in North Africa Libya has the second strongest air defense systems. So they've got a lot of money, and they're going to spend it on some of these systems -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Nic Robertson, we're going to have more with you at 10:00 East Coast Time in the United States. We'll also talk with Arwa Damon in Benghazi. More with Richard Roth ahead as well.

"PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.