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Japan Nuclear Crisis; Libya No-Fly Zone; Violent Clashes in Bahrain
Aired March 18, 2011 - 08:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANJALI RAO, HOST: Libya's opposition celebrates. After weeks of uncertainty, the United Nations has given the go-ahead for a no-fly zone over Libya and all necessary measures to protect civilians there. Now countries are trying to figure out exactly how to make that happen.
I'm Anjali Rao, in Hong Kong.
We'll have more on Libya later on NEWS STREAM. First, though, to Japan.
A week to the day after Japan was rocked by the disaster in its recent history, the bad news just keeps on coming. Not only has the number of dead and missing risen again, now the seriousness of the nuclear crisis fought (ph) by last Friday's events has been upgraded.
Well, earlier, in Miyagi prefecture, government workers remember the moments seven days ago, when their region was changed forever. At the same time, the (INAUDIBLE) a threat of a further catastrophe continued. Seawater was sprayed from fire trucks over the troubled number 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog has shown that it is not satisfied the crisis at the plant has been contained. The associated nuclear accident rating had been level 4. That suggests only local consequences. But now it's been raised to a 5, signifying an accident with wider repercussions.
Stan Grant joins me live from Tokyo.
Stand, just help us to understand exactly hat this all means.
STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What it means, basically, is that by going to a level 5, you're seeing that you could have the greatest threat of radiation, potentially greater exposure to the public. And most significantly, severe damage to the core of the reactor, because that's what we've been talking about all this past week, how much damage has been done to the core of the reactor, how much of these fuel rods have been damaged and exposed, and how much of that radiation has been seeped into the atmosphere.
And that's why they're pouring water from the back of fire trucks all day today to try to bring more water to these reactors, cool them down, get to a point where they can make a proper assessment, and perhaps even be able to shut them down entirely. So that's why we've seen the rise of this level.
Now, what does it mean? Well, you can now draw a direct parallel to the 1979 Three Mile Island incident in the United States. That was also a level 5.
If you look at that, there were no deaths directly related to that, and when they looked into the radiation exposure to the community within a 10- mile radius, they found low levels as well. Significant, because with that partial meltdown, most of the radiation was contained within the actual structure itself, within the containment vessels within the plant. So what they're looking at here now is how much damage has been done to the containment vessels, because that's really the last line of defense -- Anjali.
RAO: In the last hour, Stan, we were listening to the Japanese prime minister, Naoto Kan, at a press conference, and he was asked by a journalist about the issue over supplying information to the public. And he said everything has been disclosed. And of course they were talking in relation to what's going on at the Fukushima plant.
Do people believe that the government is now leveling with them?
GRANT: There has been so much happening, Anjali. That's the point here. When you see smoke billowing from a reactor, when you hear about explosions, partial meltdowns, radiation peaking and dropping, it leads to a lot of fear and a lot of concern.
People, of course, being evacuated from their homes, foreigners fleeing. You've seen long lines at the airport. Those images don't reinforce a sense of calm. They actually reinforce precisely the opposite.
Now, the information that comes out gets mixed up with the fear and the panic, and it's difficult to pick the eyes out of that and discern what is really going on. At the same time, there is suspicion about the government simply not telling the truth.
Now, some of the information has been slow in coming forward, and we still don't know so many questions. How badly damaged are the reactors? How badly exposed have the rods been? How much radiation has really been in the air, and how dangerous is it? What type of radioactive material?
All these questions remain unanswered, and people fill that void with mistrust -- Anjali.
RAO: Stan, thank you very much, indeed, for that.
Stan Grant there, live in Tokyo.
Well, as Japan races to try and stop a nuclear disaster, many survivors of the earthquake and tsunami are still searching for their loved ones missing now for all of a week. Let's listen now to some of their stories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My wife, my son's family, and four grandchildren, I lost them all. I can't take it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "A person's missing," this man says. "Missing? Your child?" "No, my father. My father is missing."
"You came out to look for your father?" "I gave up the idea that he's still alive, and I'm trying to reclaim all the belongings."
"Mrs. Akikoito (ph) is trying to find her husband. Her husband was a town assembly member. And right after the earthquake, he rushed to her." "And the assembly was adjourned, and he came to me and ordered me to evacuate, and that's the last time that I saw him."
"Ochoti (ph) town hall was devastated because of the tsunami. And many of the people, including the mayor, are missing."
"There has been a calling that the residents evacuate to the others moments before the tsunami attacked and probably engulfed. And the tsunami -- and lost his chance to evacuate. Even though that I go to the morgue, I'm still too scared to identify the bodies. I don't want to accept the fact, but I have to accept the fact looking at the fight like this."
RAO: Well, any health hazard resulting from Japan's nuclear crisis could take medical workers to breaking points. Quite apart from injuries sustained during last week's disaster, many Japanese remain vulnerable.
Since Monday, at least 14 elderly people in Fukushima prefecture alone have died, as health care systems are badly strained. But medics are trying to stay positive, as Japanese broadcaster NHK now reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A team of emergency medical specialists arrive in Kesennuma. In 2004, they provided support to victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami.
The team travels to a local hospital south of the city. It's the only facility for the 10,000 residents who lived in the area.
The tsunami reached this hospital far inland. The sea flooded the first floor. The tsunami left its mark.
The team makes its way upstairs. Patients and hospital staff are confined to the second floor in-patients ward.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much for coming. We only have one doctor today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nineteen nurses are also helping. Some staff have family members who are missing, but the staff have been working around the clock ever since the disaster struck.
The doctor was mired in water up to his neck during the tsunami. Since he escaped, he hasn't left his post.
YUZURU KAJIWARA, MOTOYOSHI HOSPITAL (through translator): Honestly, I can barely keep my eyes open. I've hardly slept, and I'm on the verge of collapse. I'm just grateful to have help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a miracle that no one at the hospital lost their life. With no electricity or running water, the facility has been getting by with in-house power generators. Mud covers most of the equipment on the first floor. It's now useless.
The patients' medical records are waterlogged and impossible to read. Stores of medicine are mostly destroyed.
Locals are also asking for medical attention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My medicine ran out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Our home was washed away. We escaped with just the clothes on our backs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man has diabetes, and his insulin is running out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I only have five days' worth left. I didn't know what to do, so I came here for help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The medical support team has brought in desperately needed medication and supply kits for simply operations. Also, two doctors will stay behind to help look after patients. Now they will make long return trips to cities for supplies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We need more manpower. It's our duty to go to places that have no support. That's what medical backup is all about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Medical assistance has finally arrived, but the hospital is still short of critical drugs. It's also unclear where seriously ill patients can be transferred for additional care. But the support team is working closely with hospital staff to protect the patients' lives.
RAO: You're watching NEWS STREAM. We will continue to bring you more on the unfolding events in Libya after the U.N. Security Council approved a no-fly zone over the country.
And in Bahrain, amid violent clashes this week, one Manama hospital has seemingly been turned into a militarized zone.
We'll explain. Do stay with us.
RAO: Well, reports are continuing to reach CNN this hour concerning violent clashes in Yemen. Media reports say that at least 10 and possibly more anti-government protesters have been killed in Sana'a. CNN can only confirm dozens of people injured.
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Sana'a on Friday, as they had done earlier in the week. Today's violence followed traditional Friday prayers. Pro-and-anti-government demonstrators reportedly began to throw rocks at each other, and then tear gas was used in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Yemen has been affected by the wave of protests across the Arab region that began with the Tunisia uprising.
Well, countries are now preparing to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya. The United Nations Security Council has also voted to take all necessary measures to protect Libya's civilians. But it rules out any sort of occupation.
Forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi have been using air strikes as they try to take back towns from opposition fighters. It is unclear how many people have died in the weeks of unrest.
Well, let's now bring in our Arwa Damon. She is in eastern Libya at this hour.
Arwa, just bring us the picture from there, please.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anjali, at this point, that no-fly zone and any other necessary measures to protect civilians that are outlined in that U.N. resolution could not come soon enough. The fighting here still does continue, as far as we are aware, still concentrated in and around the city of Ajdabiya.
We're at a location on the outskirts of it where we are actually seeing the fighters appearing to be more seasoned. The opposition fighters, that is.
They've got their personal assault weapons with them. They have the heavier anti-aircraft machineguns. They appear to be much better positioned and more efficient on the ground here than we have seen them in the past.
In the distance, we can hear explosions. We've also heard reports of civilian casualties. We just saw an ambulance driving out with a wounded fighter in it.
And so the battle here still does continue. And whilst there has been widespread relief and exhilaration that the United Nations finally passed that resolution that many people here do truly believe will eventually, at the end of the day, be their salvation, many before that resolution passing saying that they believe that a massacre at the hands of Gadhafi was imminent. At this point in time, people really need to see that enforced immediately -- Anjali.
RAO: Still, though, American military forces are a lot more circumspect about this, Arwa. They're already saying that they don't think that it will be enough in itself to stop the momentum of Gadhafi loyalists at this stage.
So what does that mean for the opposition, those that you've been speaking to? How determined are they to stay the course?
DAMON: They're determined to fight this out to the death, Anjali, quite simply for the sad fact that they probably won't have a choice. There is a belief here that, based on Gadhafi's history of dealing with those who dare oppose him, that if they would somehow survive a battle and their forces were to be captured, they would all literally be slaughtered. That is exactly what they're expecting, and that is exactly why they will fight this to the death.
And also, because they have been desperate for this for so long. People say that they suffered under Gadhafi for 40 years and that enough is enough. They are fighting right now for their basic rights, for freedom and for democracy.
And whilst there is widespread agreement that a no-fly zone would not be enough, that is why everybody was very happy to hear that the wording in the resolution also including the use of any means necessary. They are fully expecting surgical air strikes. Some people have even said that they would welcome military aid on the ground if that is what it was going to take.
Of course, they would only want to see that, those we were talking to, in the most desperate situation. But people at this point realizing that perhaps they've taken this battle as far as they can -- the opposition, that is -- and now it is the time. They're going to turn the tides around here for the international community to step in and implement that resolution right away.
At the end of the day, what people have been saying is that they're going to hold on for as long as they can until those measures are implemented. But what t hey do know and what is so reassuring to them after everything that they have been through is that at this point, at least they don't feel like they are fighting this out on their own anymore -- Anjali.
RAO: And speaking to Jamie Rubin in the last hour, he was saying that this is essentially the rest of the world against Libya. There is no mediator in this situation, politically or diplomatically speaking. How much more difficult does that make things to bring to a head?
DAMON: There is no mediator, but at the same time, those opposition leaders have been telling us that they do not want to negotiate with Gadhafi. Of course they want to bring about some sort of a cease-fire, bearing in mind that the opposition fighters are really a large, large group of young men who only learned how to use their weapons in the last few weeks.
They're not looking for a battle, they're not looking for bloodshed. But if it's going to come to negotiations with Gadhafi, they'll lay down the terms for some sort of a cease-fire. But at the end of the day, they want to see him and his family put to trial. And based on the rhetoric that we're hearing from Gadhafi's side, it does no seem likely that he is going to want to go all that easily, which, of course, makes the job of mediation that much more difficult. And that, again, is just one of the many moving factors here.
People realizing that the fact that this U.N. resolution was passed does not bring about an end to the fighting in Libya. Many people saying that they do know that this is the beginning of a very long, long road ahead. But they're much more optimistic than they were yesterday at this point in time -- Anjali.
RAO: An extremely important time in the history of Libya right now.
Thank you very much, Arwa.
Arwa Damon there in eastern Libya.
Well, there is a lot of speculation about the ramifications of the U.N.'s decision. CNN's John King explores how it could play out.
JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING USA": The big question after the dramatic vote at the United Nations Security Council is, what next? And here's another question: is it too late? Is it too late?
I raise that, because if you look back into late February, see the green cities? These are under opposition control. Now this update, as Gadhafi forces have moved against trying to crush the opposition. You see the government, the regime, has taken control of much more of the vital cities along the northern coast.
Opposition still centered here in the east, though, so as we watch this play out, what exactly would a no-fly zone mean? Well, where could the initial strikes come from? If they're crude missile strikes, they could come from U.S. military vessels already in the Mediterranean Sea. Some NATO assets in the area as well.
Any no-fly zone could be enforced from NATO airbases up in Italy, although the administration has been adamant that it wants Arab nations to be involved as well. Egypt has an air force, the United Arab Emirates. Qatar has an air force as well.
The main concern and one of the reasons Secretary Gates has been so cautious is he believes you would have to take out all of these Libyan military installations, deny the Libyan air force the ability to fly. Perhaps you could crater the runways. That would at least temporarily stop those flights. But the issue in the early hours of any no-fly zone would be Gadhafi's significant surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft systems, again, located here along the strategic north coast.
These purple circles, longer-range surface-to-air missiles that would imperil any pilots in a no-fly zone. These smaller circles are more localized around the major cities here.
Secretary Gates and others warning that if you have a no-fly zone in the early hours, these would be the greatest risk to any pilot. So put the equation this way: in the early hours, if there are strikes, look for the targets to be right along here, the surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft facilities, as well as the northern Libyan airstrips that have been used in the strikes against the rebels.
RAO: A French government spokesman says military strikes against Gadhafi targets will take place swiftly, but the U.S. has warned it will not be easy.
Let's bring in Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence from Washington.
So, Chris, what precisely are the challenges going forward now?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, some of them are just what John mentioned, the fact that you have to take out the air defenses first. The U.S. believes that Colonel Gadhafi has about 20 air defense installations, mostly concentrated, again, in that north.
He also has some guided missiles, long-range missiles, that can travel at least 200 kilometers off shore. That would be another concern. But the bigger concern probably is the fact that whether a no-fly zone would really work, how effective it could be.
They have worked in the past. If you look at the no-fly zone that the U.S. instituted over northern Iraq, that worked very well, but it worked in part because the Kurdish militias controlled the ground there. If you look back, a no-fly zone didn't prevent a massacre during the Bosnian-Serb conflict. It didn't prevent Saddam Hussein and going in and attacking the Shiites in southern Iraq when a no-fly zone was instituted there.
So a no-fly zone is not necessarily a guarantee of success. And there is two concerns in the United States.
One that we're hearing on Capitol Hill is that the rebels are barely holding on, and that the U.S. may have waited much too long to act. The other is that this no-fly zone will quickly turn into a no-drive zone, and that there will be an escalation of involvement. That once you are involved, you're there, and it is very easy for there to be what the Pentagon calls mission creep in which you take on more and more responsibility in that zone -- Anjali.
RAO: Washington wants Arab involvement now. How easy is that involvement going to be to come by?
LAWRENCE: We do get a sense that there will be that involvement. I mean, if you look, the UAE has been a staunch ally of these rebels almost from day one. So there are some Arab countries that are expected to be in the lead with countries like France and the U.K. Of course, Germany has said they will not participate in this no-fly zone. And from what we're hearing, the U.S. is in the final stages of figuring out exactly what specific role their military is going to play.
But again, we expect something to happen here within the next day or so.
RAO: Chris, we'll check in with you later. Thanks for that.
Chris Lawrence there, live at the Pentagon.
Well, still to come here on NEWS STREAM, we take you inside a Bahrain hospital where doctors claim staff were beaten up by security forces.
RAO: Welcome back to NEWS STREAM, live from our studios in Hong Kong.
Well, it's been the center point of anti-government protests in recent weeks, but today Bahrain's Pearl Square lies virtually empty. Here are some of the latest pictures of the square in the capital, Manama.
A recent government curfew has banned marches and public gatherings from being held. And now the only activity going on is a cleanup operation.
On Wednesday, forces launched a crackdown on protesters using tanks and helicopters to try to drive them away.
That same day, doctors in the city's main hospital said it was raided by security forces. They say staff members were beaten up, although CNN cannot confirm this.
Our Leone Lakhani visited the hospital to try to find out what happened.
LEONE LAKHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This may look like we're entering a high-security facility, but it's actually the Salmaniya medical complex, the main government hospital in Bahrain's capital city. It's the site of dramatic accusations by doctors who told us security forces have raided the hospital repeatedly, stopped the injured from going in and out, and even allegedly beating staff.
Bahrain's Ministry of Health denies these claims and allowed us entry into the hospital. On a guided tour, they tell us the security forces are here to protect hospital staff.
(on camera): Why is there a military presence? Because that is what's making people nervous.
FAWZI ABDULLA AMIN, MINISTRY OF HEALTH, BAHRAIN: Just, you know, it's from outside. It's part of the whole, you know, situation of the country. And I presume within two, three days, this will disappear.
LAKHANI: Because we've spoken to a few doctors who keep saying that they're afraid. They're afraid, they're afraid to do anything. Why are these doctors afraid?
AMIN: Well, in certain situations, of course. I mean, you're dealing with a little bit of conflict in the country, and any rumor really brings the people suspicious from anything. So that's natural.
LAKHANI: Because they're saying they're being questioned by security forces.
AMIN: In the entrance?
LAKHANI: Inside the hospital, we're told.
AMIN: Inside? Well, it can be -- there's no way to check inside the hospital. But outside, it's their duty.
LAKHANI (voice-over): Deep within the corridors of Salmaniya, the rising tensions between Bahrain's Sunni and Shia populations are seeping in, with staff on both sides saying they're being targeted for their faith.
(on camera): What we're seeing now in the country is a lot of tension and a lot of sectarian tension. So, amidst what's going on now, do you think there's tension even here in the hospital?
AMIN: There might be, of course. There might be, but it's our role, is really to go to the people -- go back to your roots.
LAKHANI (voice-over): The government says much of the panic here is fueled by rumors. They're eager to clear up any misunderstandings and reverse the tide away from a state of emergency to some form of normality.
Leone Lakhani, CNN, Manama, Bahrain.
RAO: You're watching NEWS STREAM.
Still ahead, in Japan it is no ordinary cleanup, as survivors of the country's earthquake and tsunami begin to pick through the rubble of their homes.
RAO: I'm Anjali Rao in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.
Libyan rebels rejoiced after the United Nations security council approved a no-fly zone. A short time ago UK Prime Minister David Cameron said British aircraft will join the international operation to enforce that resolution. Other countries have yet to announce the extent of their roles.
Reports are continuing to reach CNN this hour concerning violent clashes in Yemen. Media reports now say 30 anti-government protesters have been killed in Senaa. CNN can only confirm dozens of people injured.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah made a rare and short televised address to his people just a short time ago in the context of the regions anti- government protests. He congratulated Saudis for what he called their loyalty and national unity. Billions of dollars of additional social benefits were then unveiled for Saudi citizens.
There is anxiety over what's happening in Japan's nuclear power plant. The government vows to communicate more openly. Meanwhile, more water was sprayed onto the Dai-chi plant. Experts believe vapors rising from a fuel pool at one damaged reactor could be releasing radiation into the atmosphere.
Now some Japanese search for survivors, others search for sanity. They're digging through the rubble of their former homes. Some are looking for possessions, but some seek only to bring order to chaos. Our Brian Todd has more from the small town of Unosumai along Japan's northern coast.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESOPNDENT: In a matter of minutes, there was almost nothing left. The coastal town of Unosumai stood squarely before the tsunami's ferocious energy and seemed to suffer like no other place. Other cities in Japan could claim that at least some of their neighborhoods survived -- no here.
We're at a rare vantage point where you can actually visualize the force and the scope and the tsunami. Look, it knocked the railroad track right off its moorings it was that powerful. And then look just all around me, the sweep of this is incredible. It came in off the inlet within minutes and then destroyed everything for as far as you can see.
Some local residents who escaped are back. They seem still in shock as they start to pick through their homes. I spoke with Yosuko Fujiwara.
YOSUKO FUJIWARA (through translator): This was the first time when during my 75 years life and I was very upset and I was really scared.
TODD: But in some cases people exhibit almost unfathomable behavior, combing through homes that aren't there, doing menial tasks seemingly just to maintain their sanity.
In the midst of this carnage, what good could it do to shovel small clumps of debris from one side of a walkway to the other.
Just a few feet away one visitor isn't surprised. Dr. Steve Chin, an emergency medicine specialist with the L.A. County search and rescue team has seen these patterns in Haiti and after the tsunami in Sri Lanka.
Doctor, why do people pick through these remnants to take with them? What are they doing?
DR. STEVEN CHIN, L.A. COUNTY SEARCH AND RESCUE: It's a catastrophic incident. It's a horrendous thing. It's something that's totally out of anyone's experience. So trying to piece back together those things that were normal for you is a big part of the healing process. And starting that process of recovery.
TODD: A Japanese official tells us people in this town are known for being provincial, not venturing out much, keeping to themselves. So of course their lives have now been disrupted and destroyed on two levels: they've lost their homes, and they've had to be displaced and take up residence in a place they're not used to while thinking of everything they left behind.
Brian Todd, CNN, Unosumai, Japan.
RAO: One who could give us some perspective on the spread of radiation and the potential impact on human health is Dr. James Cox. Of course we talk to him as we continue to follow that situation at the Dai- chi Fukushima nuclear plant. The doctor is a professor in radiation oncology at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He joins me now live from CNN center.
Doctor, good to have you with us. First of all, just what are the main concerns now with seven days on the longer that this situation plays out and the radiation is still not contained?
DR. JAMES COX, MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER: I think the main concerns are the -- for the people who are working immediately in proximity to the reactors, the people that are trying to restore power and to restore water to the fuel rods. For the people close by I think the risk is there, but I don't think it's severe.
RAO: Does it get more or less serious as time goes on?
COX: As time goes on it gets more serious for the radiation workers. The people who have left the area have done the most important thing in terms of preventing any exposure, that is they have distanced themselves from the radiation site. There may be some risk as far as particles in the air that are radioactive, but I think that's pretty small.
RAO: Dr. James Cox, I'm afraid we will have to leave it there. Thank you very much for you expertise. Dr. James Cox there.
We are going to take you right over now to Tripoli, the capital of Libya where the Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa is now speaking. Let's listen in.
MOUSSA KOUSSA, LIBYAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): You know that the security council has issued a resolution last night. And Jamahiriya have been got knowledge of this resolution has decided the following -- or has wanted to claim the following: my country will do its best to deal with positively with this resolution.
The Jamahiriya has now got knowledge of this resolution and according to Article 25 of the UN charter and taken into consideration that Libya is a full member of the UN, we accept that its obliged to accept the UN security council resolution, therefore, Libya has decided an immediate cease-fire and the stoppage of all military operations. Jamahiriya takes great interest into protecting all civilians and offering them all necessary humanitarian aid and respecting all human rights and obliging to the international and the humanitarian laws. And it's also obliged to protect all of the foreigners in Libya and protecting their assets. And Jamahiriya in doing so, it's in accordance with the resolutions of the security council and the articles of the charter of the UN.
We emphasize in the resolution 1973 for the year 2011 we emphasize and agree to the article regarding the protection of civilians and the territorial unity of Libya. And therefore building on this the Libyan state encourages the opening of all dialogue channels with everyone -- with everyone interested in the territorial unity of Libya.
My country is very serious about continuing the development -- economic, political, humanitarian and social development of the Libyan nation. And we have indeed taken serious steps in continuing this development for the good of the Libyan people. And we believe that this will take the country back to safety and security for all Libyans.
We also express our sadness towards what the resolution have included of procedures against the Libyan nation such as the no-fly zone which includes commercial and civilian flights which increase the suffering of the Libyan nation and Libyan people and will have a negative impact on the general life of Libyan people. The international community should have exempted civilians from these -- from the resolution to secure their quality of life. Also the total and inclusive freezing of all Libyan assets and investments will have a very negative impact on normal Libyans and will also negatively impact the way Libyan ability to fulfill its contracts and agreements locally and internationally.
Libya also finds that it's very strange and unreasonable that the security council announced in its resolution the use of military power and that there are signs that this might indeed take place. This goes clearly against the UN charter. And it's a violation of the national sovereignty of Libya. And it's also in violation of the Article 42 of the charter.
And finally, we insist and emphasize our request for all international governments, NGO's and others to check the facts on the ground by sending fact finding missions to Libya so they can take the right position based on the general facts.
And thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. He will not take questions. Thank you very much.
RAO: With a press conference there taking place in the Libyan capital Tripoli with the foreign minister of Libya Moussa Koussa, an extremely important press briefing, actually, that he gave saying that Libya has decided on an immediate cease-fire and a cessation of all military operations. Of course that is on the back of the announcement of the no- fly zone at the United Nations security council earlier in the day.
He said that Libya was doing its best to deal positively with the resolution and that's why it decided to take this step. He offered citizens humanitarian aid and also assured foreigners and their assets that they would be protected as long as they remain on Libyan soil.
He said that Libya is acting in accordance with the UN charter, but also quite pointedly pointing out that the international community was violating the UN charter and also Libya's sovereignty in taking action against them as that no-fly zone is expected to come into effect in the not too distant future as you heard David Cameron speaking earlier on today saying that British jets, in fact, are now being put into position and moved to the correct bases before that no-fly zone can in fact be enforced.
Moussa Koussa also was saying that Libya encourages open channels of dialogue, which was quite interesting particularly on the back of what Jamie Rubin had to tell us on this show in the last hour that Libya is basically on one side and the rest of the world is on the other, that nobody is in fact on Libya's side at this point. There is no diplomacy. There are no talks taking place. So it will be indeed extremely interesting to watch how that -- how those channels of dialogue are in fact open.
Well now as I say we are following breaking news also out of Yemen right now, but are going to concentrate at this point on what just happened at the press conference with Moussa Koussa now. I do apologize, we are actually going to talk a bout Yemen first with Mohammed Jamjoom. He is with us.
We know, Mohammed, that dozens of anti-government protesters have been injured in Sanaa in the last hour or so. What else can you tell us?
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anjali we've just gotten new details from medics on the scene. Doctors there are telling us that at least 33 people were killed when security forces opened fire on anti-government demonstrators that were involved in clashes with Yemeni security forces at the scene of the protest outside of Sanaa University.
Now we tried to speak to other demonstrators on the scene, having a very hard time getting through. We've heard that phone lines are jammed right now. We've also tried to get government reaction. One Interior Ministry officials told me simply that right now there are injuries on both sides -- both the pro-government side and the anti-government side. The government right now, as far as they told us, are taking no responsibility in this. We don't know yet if they're denying the clashes took place or if they're going to deny that they opened fire on protestors. But right now medics on the scene saying over 100 people injured and at least 33 people killed -- Anjali.
RAO: Give us a bit of background right now to how this all came to a head, what led up to it?
JAMJOOM: We've seen for the past -- well, it's been over a month now. There have been massive demonstrations going on all across Yemen, but especially in Yemen's capital in Sanaa. The rallying point, the real staging ground for the anti-government movement, which has really become a youth-led movement in Sanaa is outside of the gates of Sanaa University. They're calling it now Change Square.
In the past couple of weeks, more and more people have been arriving to express solidarity with those protesters and to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh who has ruled the country for over 32 years now. The movement has really been gaining momentum. Now we're hearing there were at least tens of thousands of people in the street today, just in Sanaa alone, not just students -- tribesmen, activists, lawyers, academics, women as well, which is very rare in a very conservative country like Yemen to have women out in the streets as well. This is a movement that's really, really taking root in Yemen right now. It's really scaring the powers that be.
The president there is entrenched. He's saying he's not going anywhere, that he'll defend the country with his blood. And more and more we're hearing ruling party members and the president over there blaming the violence that's happening on the opposition members and opposition parties accusing them of shooting at security forces there, of causing chaos. But people on the ground there -- activists and students, members of what they're calling the youth revolution, continue to accuse the government there of opening fire on peaceful demonstrators. And they say that this violence cannot stand, that they are going to continue to come out into the streets day after day until the president leaves office -- Anjali.
RAO: We're also focusing on what's happening right now with the unrest in Saudi Arabia. The king gave a speech, a very rare speech, just a short time ago offering financial sweeteners to his people. What else have you heard about that?
JAMJOOM: Anjali, there were so many expectations about this speech. It was extraordinary that the Saudi king was going to address his subjects and also address the world, because the world was listening. It's such a rare occurrence that this would happen. But at the end of the day it was a very short speech and I've been talking to reform activists in Saudi Arabia. I can tell you so far the reaction has been one of severe disappointment.
The kind did offer financial incentives. He did say that they were going to hand out two months salary to all the workers in the kingdom, civil servants, civilians, people in the military. He's offering to build more houses. He's offering to help with students' tuition there. But will this be enough to actually quell the growing dissatisfaction in Saudi Arabia? We don't know at this point.
But as I said, I spoke to an activist there, somebody who has been calling for constitutional reform. They were afraid to use their name. They said that right now they're afraid that this means that instead of seeing sweeping reforms in Saudi Arabia, that you will see activists being swept up and being detained.
They see this is as sort of a slap in the face of the reform movement there, because the one thing they say that was addressed as far as their concerns, there was one announcement that was made about the creation of an anti-corruption -- some sort of anti-corruption governmental agency, nobody knows exactly what they will do or when it will be established, but that's the one concession they see that's been made by the king. The rest they're seeing as financial incentives and also expansion of powers of the Ministry of Interior and an expansion of powers to the religious establishment there.
We're still sifting through all this, trying to speak to more government officials in Saudi Arabia, trying to really understand more. But right now, the activists, they're quite disappointed -- Anjali.
RAO: Incredibly critical time, it continues to be, right across the Middle East. Mohammed, thank you very much. Mohammed Jamjoom there.
Of course we stay on top of the situations in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, indeed Libya and also the aftermath of the quake and tsumani in Japan as the nuclear situation at the Fukushima Dai-chi plant continues. You're watching News Stream. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
RAO: Just a few moments ago we took you over to Tripoli where the Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa was speaking in an address to the press and indeed to the world. Our Nic Robertson was at that press briefing. He joins us now live.
Nic, an incredible thing it must have been to witness as well. Take us through it.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all what we're seeing here is the government coming out and giving it's perhaps firmest response to UN resolution. And essentially they're throwing their hands up in the air at this stage and saying we're signatures to the UN, we will respond and abide by the terms of this resolution. He said an immediate cease-fire, a stoppage of all military activities, a respecting of the civilian population, respecting their human rights, humanitarian aid where it is needed and required.
We have heard over the past few weeks that the government here has repeatedly said it protects and looks after civilians. And the evidence on the ground where there have been battles between the armed opposition and the government certainly indicates that civilians have been caught up in the fighting, killed and injured in the fighting, including children.
But this is the government's response now, very clearly stating we're stopping military action, we're going to respect the civilians' rights. But he also went on to say that the government rejects the use, or the threat of the use of force against Libya. And he did say, as well, that he believes -- and the government clearly believes -- that that preparation for the use of that force is under way.
And I think perhaps the most telling thing about this press conference is there were no questions at the end. A senior government official essentially said to a foreign minister, that's it, end of press conference. So we cannot get any more detail.
When we talked and heard from the deputy foreign minister last night and asked him what preparations the army was taking, he told us last night that's a different department, I can't say.
So we've heard from the foreign minister here, but I think it's going to be very important, a lot of people are going to look to see what does the army say about this. And is the army going to follow what we're hearing from the Foreign Ministry on the ground -- Anjali.
RAO: Nic Robertson, thank you very much indeed for taking us through that critical press conference taking place there by Moussa Koussa, the Libyan foreign minister.
Well that is News Stream, however the news continues at CNN. World Business Today with Pauline Chiue and Nina Dos Santos and Maggie Lake is up next. You're watching CNN.