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Godolphin Trainer al-Zarooni Banned 8 Years; U.S. Government Confirms Use Of Sarin Gas In Syria

Aired April 25, 2013 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight, has the red line been crossed in Syria?


CHUCH HAGEL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria.


ANDERSON: Tonight, we'll have reaction from our reporters in Amman, in Washington and in London as the civil war in Syria takes a dramatic new turn.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Also ahead this hour...


ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEV, BOSTON BOMBING SUSPECTS' MOTHER: Something like really (inaudible). There is like paint instead of blood.


ANDERSON: The mother of the Boston bombing suspects talks to CNN about the attack her sons stand accused of.

Well, for the very first time the U.S. administration has said it believes with -- and I quote, some degree of varying confidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.

Now U.S. defense secretary Chuck Hagel has said intelligence forces have found evidence of the use of sarin gas.


HAGEL: The U.S. intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin.


ANDERSON: I want to remind you all, last year President Obama told the world that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a gamechanger for America. This is what he said.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is we start saying a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus, that would change my equation.


ANDERSON: So, I've got to point out that though Mr. Obama never specified exactly how the U.S. would react. The question now is what happens next.

Well, the response from the White House was very carefully crafted today, urging caution over the findings. A letter sent to Republican senator John McCain said this, and I quote, "given the stakes involved and what we have learned from our own recent experience, intelligence assessments alone are not sufficient, only credible and corroborated facts that provide us with some degree of certainty will guide our decision making."

But McCain, long advocate it's got to be said, of military intervention in the form of a no-fly zone called on the president earlier today to acknowledge that, as he put it, the game has now changed.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: The president of the United States said that if the Bashar Assad used chemical weapons it would be a gamechanger, that it would cross a red line. I think it's pretty obvious that red line has been crossed. Now I hope the administration will consider what we have been recommending now for over two years of this bloodletting and massacre, and that is to provide a safe area for the opposition to operate, to establish a no-fly zone and provide weapons to the people and the resistance who we trust.


ANDERSON: This is an incredibly important story. Our reporters around the globe are covering what is a significant announcement from the U.S. for you tonight.

Jill Dougherty joins us from the U.S. State Department. Arwa Damon joins us from Amman, Jordan. And Dan Rivers is in London at Downing Street.

Jill, let's start with you and get very, very basic at this point. What do we know about what the U.S. knows about the use of chemical weapons in Syria?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, well they know a lot more than they are telling us, but what they are saying is, and it's very -- it's very carefully phrased as you put it, that chemical weapons were used, that not a lot of it, a small scale -- on a small scale, and then they say they have varying degrees of confidence that this is the case that they were used.

They also say that the government in Syria controls chemical weapons, therefore it -- the only conclusion that you can draw is that the government used those, that it would be very unlikely that the opposition used them.

Now -- and the chemical weapon, of course, is sarin.

Now, they are not saying that they can definitely pin down how it was used, exactly who used it. In other words, they are saying there are still many questions that have to be answered. They say that they have sources, they have their own intelligence. They have information that's coming from allies. And they have information coming very importantly from the opposition.

What they want to do next, they want an investigation by the United Nations.

Now as we know, Becky, the United Nations already has inspectors who are right outside of Syria expecting to go in at the invitation from the Syrian government, but the Syrian government is not letting them in. So there's a bit of a catch 22, how this UN investigation would be carried out.

ANDERSON: And I've got a quote for our viewers -- and thank you, Jill -- a quote for our viewers from part of this letter to McCain today. It says we are currently pressing for a comprehensive United Nations investigation that can credibly evaluate the evidence and establish what took place.

Let's get to Arwa Damon who is in Amman, Jordan tonight, but has spent many, many months in and out of Syria over the last 18 months or so.

I guess the first question is simply what is your take on this, the second is how much -- how much credibility do you put on the U.S.'s sense that the UN needs to investigate what's going on on the ground. There's nobody there, is there? They can't do that?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, hypothetically speaking, they would be able to do that. And you have to remember, too, that back in March when there -- when one of those alleged chemical attacks did take place in the province of Aleppo, it was in fact the Syrian government that initially called for a UN investigation.

Why is that not taking place? Because the UN wanted to be able to visit all of the suspected sites where chemical attacks may have taken place. The Syrian government is saying no to that. They specifically want them to go to this one area in Aleppo, Khan al-Asr (ph), because in that attack, according to the Syrian government and some videos that we have seen, there were a number of Syrian soldiers who were also injured and killed in it along with opposition members or individuals with the rebels as well. The opposition saying that that was the case where the Syrian government did, in fact, mistakenly target its own people.

All that being said and done, there's actually very little that is known about the capabilities that the Syrian government has. It is believed to have one of the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons in the world, according to U.S. and other intelligence. The Syrian government has since the fighting began moved those stockpiles around. But the lack of information is what is incredibly concerning at this point in time. And as we know only too well, it is phenomenally difficult to get concrete information out of Syria, which is why the U.S. is being so cautious saying that even though the intelligence agencies are making this assessment, they still want clear and corroborated facts.

ANDERSON: Clear and corroborated facts, credible evidence is what the U.S. says it is looking for, although it is said it's got physiological evidence on the ground.

A lot of sort of gray areas here tonight. Thank you for that.

Let's get to the UK who have been supportive, at least, of what the U.S. is saying today. Dan Rivers is in Downing Street. Before we go to Dan I've just got to get you this, the U.S. is not the first country to accuse Syria of using chemical weapons. Just two days ago on Tuesday Israeli Brigadier General Itai Brun came out and said exactly the same thing.

And let's not forget the Syrian rebels who have long said that they've got proof the Assad regime has been using chemical weaponry against them.

Take a listen to what the leader of the Free Syrian Army, speaking to my colleague Christiane Amanpour had to say earlier on.


GENERAL SALIM IDRISS, FREE SYRIAN ARMY: Yes, it happened more than three to four times. The time was in Homs against our city. The second time was in Aleppo Khan al-Atl (ph). And the third time was near Damascus.

And the last time was again in Aleppo.


ANDERSON: OK. Let's try and step back a little bit from what's -- what we've heard. Britain and France have also versed concern in the past and they're at it again today. The British foreign office issued a statement saying they had, and I quote, limited, but persuasive information indicating chemical weapon used including sarin in Syria.

Let's try and bring the strands together for you tonight. Dan Rivers is in Downing Street. What have the British been saying today? And can you give us a sense of how this story sort of unfolded today and what we really understand to be going on?

DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's interesting that the statement put out by the British government came pretty late in the day after those statements in America, echoing them in their cautious tone. As you mentioned, Becky, they said they have limited, but persuasive information. Everyone here in Britain still remembers the intelligence concerning the invasion of Iraq more than 10 years ago.

I remember standing here more than a decade ago talking about that dossier of intelligence that the government put out saying Iraq could attack countries within 45 minutes of an order to do so. They are incredibly cautious given that no chemical weapons were actually found in Iraq to go ahead -- weapons of mass destruction to go ahead and call this as openly as some would like them to.

That statement that you also mentioned goes on that this is extremely concerning. The use of chemical weapons is a war crime. We have briefed our allies, it says, our partners, the UN on this information, and we're working actively to get more and better information.

It goes on, Assad must cooperate with the international community and prove that his regime has not committed this horrific crime, allowing unrestricted access for the UN and the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons to investigate on the ground in Syria.

What's missing from this statement, it is clearly stating who Britain thinks fired at those chemical weapons. This all relates, or partly relates, to that attack as we've discussed on the 19th of March.

What's not clear is whether that was a shell that was fired by Syrian government forces, which they deny, or whether it was fired by the rebels to try and set them up.

ANDERSON: Dan Rivers at Downing Street for you this evening. Arwa, Jill and Dan, thank you very much indeed for that.

And do stay with us viewers, we're going to have a much more on this story for you, including a closer look at what exactly the international community plans to do if concrete evidence of chemical weapons used in Syria is found. That, coming up in about 20 minutes time from now.

There's anger on the streets of Madrid, meanwhile, as Spanish unemployment soars and reigniting the debate over austerity and growth.

Up next, we're going to bring you the latest developments in the Boston bombing investigation. And now investigators say it involves an alleged plot to target New York.

All that and much more after this.


ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. Quarter past 9:00 out of London for you. I'm Becky Anderson.

Well, there have been further developments in the investigation into the Boston bombings. Today, officials in New York now say the suspects also planned to bomb the Times Square.

Now this is what the city's mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters earlier.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK: We were informed by the FBI that the surviving attacker revealed that New York City was next on their list of targets. He told the FBI apparently that he and his brother had intended to drive to New York and designate additional explosives in Times Square.


ANDERSON: Well, meanwhile a law enforcement official has told CNN that at least one of the two bombs used in Boston was detonated by remote control. We're also hearing from several sources that no firearm was found in the boat where this, the surviving suspects Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was discovered.

Authorities previously said in a criminal complaint that there was a standoff between the boat's occupant and police involving gunfire.

Well, our Nick Paton Walsh sat down with the mother of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He joins me now from Dagestan in Russia.

What did you learn, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: An interesting interview with a mother, I think, who is still obviously traumatized by the loss of both of her sons accused of such heinous crimes. It's hard to reconcile, I think, the angelic children she knew with the crimes being put to her by the media that U.S. officials believe they committed.

Interestingly, though, she did also talk about how her sons had been approached by the FBI, Tamerlan in particular, because they believed he turned into a more -- a radical form of Islam. Let's here what she had to say.


WALSH: The FBI contacted Tamerlan back in America. What happened there?

TSARNAEV: They said that they just think that Tamerlan is a kind of little in radical side of Islam and they just don't want -- like, they are keeping their eye on, you know, the boys, like young boys like Tamerlan, so any bombing, any like (inaudible) won't happen in America on the streets, like on the streets.

WALSH: Said we're going to be watching you. They said that.

TSARNAEV: Well, they said that we watch boys like Tamerlan and they there is nothing wrong with it, we just want you and all be safe. So, yes, they were watching him.

WALSH: There a particular thing that happened to him. Was it Misha who helped him on this path?

TSARNAEV: Misha, everybody is talking about Misha now. I don't know, Misha -- yes, Misha -- when Misha visited us, we just kind of -- he just opened our eyes, you know, really wide about Islam. He was really -- he's devoted and he's very good, very nice man.

WALSH: American officials say your sons murdered three people and injured over 100. And they deliberately planted bombs in a civilian area and detonated them and then went on the run shooting people. You've seen the pictures.

TSARNAEV: I haven't.

WALSH: There are people in Boston who want to know why -- and they believe they did this.

TSARNAEV: You know, I -- I saw a very, very interesting video last night that they -- the marathon was something like a really big play. There is like paint instead of blood, like it is made up something.

WALSH: You really believe that? I know it's hard for you to believe what the American officials are saying, but you believe the whole thing was a show? Why would it be a show?

TSARNAEV: I don't -- that's what I want to know, because everybody is talking about it, that this is a show, that's what I want to know, that's what I want to understand, Nick.

WALSH: Describe to me the pain.

TSARNAEV: Just because you are not mother you won't understand it. I am mother, loving mother of two kids. I don't know, this is really crazy. I can't even -- I can't even describe it. I don't know. I have no strength. I have nothing. I have like -- I have no sleep. I am just like dead, like a dead person.


WALSH: Well, beside the obvious trauma she's going through, she also mentioned some interesting facts about what he son did. She did accept that he'd attended a salafist Islamic mosque here in Makhachkala, which they also know was under observation by police and Russia security services here last year, because they believe an extremist militant known as Abu Dujan was also going there as well.

As I say, we don't know if those two men ever met at all, but we do know that Tamerlan Tsarnaev links to a video of that man Abu Dujan from his YouTube page.

So, interesting facts coming from, speaking to her as well about her sons life, but above all a real sense of the sheer disbelief and trauma. And I think in terms of chaos she's feeling at the moment, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh in Dagestan for you this evening. Nick, thank you for that.

U.S. President Barack Obama is attending a memorial service in the Texan town of West for those killed in last week's explosion at a fertilizer plant.

Now the president ordered all flags in Texas to be flown at half staff to remember the 14 people who died in the blast. Insurance analysts say the damage to surrounding homes and businesses is likely to exceed $100 million.

Well, Bangladesh's prime minister says those responsible for a deadly building collapse should be punished. 254 people have so far been confirmed dead after the Wednesday collapse of the eight story building. Sumnima Udas has more on the frantic rescue search in Dhaka.


SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A frantic search for survivors on the outskirts of Dhaka as rescue workers dig through the wreckage of Wednesday's deadly building collapse. 24 hours later, more than 2,000 have been rescued from the rubble.

Bangladeshi authorities still don't know exactly how many people died, but more than 200 bodies have been pulled from the eight story building that once housed five garment factories, a bank, and some 300 shops.

Families of those still missing gathered near where the bodies were taken. Many wept as they held up photographs of their loved ones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My name is Venessa. My younger sister died. We were both working in this factory. Yesterday, I did not go to the factory so I am alive.

UDAS: Survivors tell CNN after cracks appeared in the building on Tuesday, many workers expressed concern. But factory owners told them the building was safe and ordered them to report for work.

These two women were trapped for more than 10 hours in the collapse before being rescued. Still in shock, they were furious with factory owners who they said put their lives at risk.

RIA BEGUM, SURVIVOR (through translator): I did not want to go up in the factory this morning, but the management forced us to go up and said that there was no problem with the building. Just after I sat at my table to work, the building just collapsed.

HALIMA KHATOON, SURVIVOR (through translator): We were trapped. We did not want to enter the building, but the owners pushed us to go in and work.

UDAS: Mangers for the garment manufacturers could not be reached for comment, the anger spread through the streets of the capital as thousands protested the collapse. Many carried black flags, some set fires. Bangladeshi officials say the building was not in compliance with safety rules and regulations. The nation's high court has now ordered the owners of the building and of the factories to appear in court next week.

Sumnima Udas, CNN, New Delhi.


ANDERSON: Live from London, this is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson for you.

Coming up, the horse trainer behind doping scandals finds out what his punishment will be.


ANDERSON: Well you're watching Connect the World live from London. Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson. 25 past 9:00 here at least.

The verdict in the race horse trainer Mahmoud al-Zarooni's case, one of the doping scandal that has rocked the sport is in. Mark McKay joins us now from CNN Center. And I mean, this is -- well, this has really hit the headlines for all the right reasons.

How bad is it for him, Mark?

MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It's pretty stiff, Becky, but I think it had to be considering how serious the charges were and to really reassure the public. Eight years is the ban on trainer Mahmoud al-Zarooni for his part in the doping scandal that has really rocked the racing world, as you said. The 37-year-old, given the punishment Thursday by the British racing's governing body.

Background here, 11 horses that al-Zarooni trained for the Dubai sheikh had tested positive for anabolic steroids. The 37-year-old trainer issued a written statement of apology and accepted responsibility saying he should have been aware of rules regarding prohibited substances in Britain.

He called it a catastrophic error.

Here now the head of the British Horseracing Authority.


PAUL BITTAR, CHIEF EXEC, BRITISH HORSERACING AUTHORITY: We believe that the eight year disqualification issued to Mahmoud al-Zarooni by the disciplinary panel together with the six month racing restriction placed on the horses in question by the BHA will serve to reassure the public and the sport's participants that the use of performance enhancing substances in British racing will not be tolerated and that the sport has in place a robust and effective anti-doping and medication control program.


MCKAY: You heard the BHA's chief executive talking about that six month ban on the horses, 15 of them owned and trained by the Godolphin stables. And this dates back, Becky, to April 9, the day they were first tested at Godolphin's Newmarket stables in eastern England.

ANDERSON: I've got to say I think this has all been dealt with quite quickly. I wonder, though, what kind of blow this is to Godolphin's owner Sheikh Mohammed who -- and I've got to say I know well. I know how he feels about his horses. And also I guess to horseracing in general, Mark?

MCKAY: Well, you know, it's to reassure the public that everything is done on the up and up. You mentioned the sheikh, his reaction was swift when this first came down. He was appalled and angered, of course, by the revelations of one of racing's leading figures and the ruler of Dubai ordering Godolphin stables to shut down. He has ordered a full-scale internal investigation. You know he is hurt by this and we'll have to see how they clean it all up and the results of what was a very, very dark day for Godolphin.

ANDERSON: Yeah, not good.

All right, some World Sport with Mr. McKay in the house at half past the next hour. That's an hour from now. Get yourself out of that seat and onto your show, Mr. McKay. Thank you for that.

The latest world news headlines, of course, here on Connect the World just ahead.

Plus, what does crossing the red line in Syria actually mean? Analysis of the story of the day for you.

And protests on the streets of Madrid after Spain announced grim jobless figures. Should European governments pull back on austerity? That still to come on the program.

And up later in the show, she helped create sellout musicals like Cats and the Phantom of the Opera. I got the great pleasure to go behind the scenes with the award winning choreographer Julian Lynn (ph). You have to stick around for this interview, it is quite remarkable.


ANDERSON: This is CONNECT THE WORLD, the top stories this hour for you. The US defense secretary said investigators are still gathering information about what looks like the use of chemical weapons in Syria. For the first time, the US said there was evidence the Syrian regime used sarin nerve gas on a small scale. Britain also says it has, and I quote, "limited but persuasive evidence" that banned nuclear -- sorry, that banned weapons were used.

New York City officials say the Boston bombing suspect planned to bomb Times Square. The city's mayor says the brothers spontaneously came up with the plan after hijacking a vehicle in Boston. Authorities say the plan fell apart after they ran low on fuel. Police later caught up with them.

Protesters are angry over austerity, and they are taking to the streets in Spain, in Madrid, tonight. That's after the Spanish government reported a record unemployment rate in the country, more than 27 percent. That means the number of unemployed passed the 6 million mark during the first quarter.

And crews are still searching through the debris of collapsed buildings in Bangladesh, hunting for trapped survivors. Witnesses say they've heard voices calling for help. At least 244 people are confirmed dead in the collapse.

More now on our top story tonight. For the first time, the United States has said it believes, and I quote, "with some degree of varying confidence" that chemical weapons are being used in Syria." Now, we heard a similar story of chemical weaponry before. The US invaded Iraq, for example, which is perhaps -- perhaps -- why the Obama administration and the world is being so cautious.

But if concrete evidence is found, what happens next in Syria? Well, joining me to discuss this is Michael Weiss, a world affairs blogger and columnist at "NOW Lebanon," and Jamie Rubin, a regular guest on this show. You've seen him before, he's the former State Department spokesman for the Clinton administration.

It has to be said, guys, that the evidence so far is not overwhelming. Jamie, I -- I look to you for your first take on what you've heard to day. The States saying they need corroborated and credible evidence of gas -- of sarin gas and chemical weapons, and yet, they say they sort of have it. How do you read this?

JAMIE RUBIN, FORMER SPOKESMAN, US STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, I think the administration is being very, very cautious. I think you're exactly right that what weighs heavily on the White House these days is how the intelligence community made such great mistakes in the case of Iraq, where they actually thought Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, and it turned out they didn't.

Oddly, though, this is a different situation because many countries in the region of Syria and in Europe have been pushing the United States to do something about this terrible crackdown of Bashar Assad, and all the president has been willing to say is that if Assad were to use chemical weapons, that would be a game-changer, that would change his reluctance to use force.

The problem, of course, is that to prevent Assad from using chemical weapons, if it's proved that he did, is an extremely difficult thing. It's hard to see how you could do that without a major use of military power.

ANDERSON: I'm going to talk you through some of what we've learned from a letter from the White House today, Jamie, shortly.

Firstly, though, Michael, I just want to go to the magic wall here and I want you to talk me through as I bring the pencil up here on the magic wall exactly where you believe firstly the chemical weapons could be, given your experience of Syria, could be, and where in the event of a move into Syria, potentially, from Jordan, how that might work.

Let's reverse into this. Let's talk about Amman, Jordan, and its influence on this first --


ANDERSON: -- and then, let's talk about Damascus and the wider region.

WEISS: Well, for quite a while now, the United States has been coordinating with Jordanian authorities to train up Syrian rebels -- vetted Syrian rebels that might be useful at a later date in securing and neutralizing some of these chemical stockpiles.

I think well over a year ago, the "Wall Street Journal" reported that Jordanian Special Forces would sort of lead an advance team into Syria in the need that chemical weapons had been moved around or gone missing or they needed to be secured.

So, I think most of the action, if there is an intervention, with respect to any kind of chemical weapons usage or movement will come from Jordan.

Now, what's interesting about this, you'll recall in the last few weeks, there's been a -- quite a media blitz about weapons coming to the Syrian rebels from Croatia, purchased by Saudi Arabia with the coordination of the United States and probably other Western powers.

These weapons have been funneled into Syria through Jordan, and they have had the largest impact on the military calculus in the country in the southern province of Daraa. And now, I think what's happening here is sort of two-fold.

On the one hand, Jordan -- which is absorbing more and more refugees by the hour, and it really cannot sustain the level of -- the number of Syrians that are pouring into their country. They're looking to create a kind of de facto buffer zone in Daraa, in the southern province of Syria, so that Syrians don't pour across the border.

But I think also, hat in hand with this buffer zone idea, is creating a viable corridor into the country if the need should arise that, indeed, there will be any kind of ground troops deployed.

Now, we've heard from US intelligence sources that as many as 70,000 soldiers would be needed in any operation to try and secure chemical weapons. I think the administration in no -- in no imaginable universe would the administration every deploy 70,000 weapons, so I think it's looking to create a sort of compromise solution --

ANDERSON: All right, OK.

WEISS: -- using Jordanian forces, probably using US forces and also Syrian rebels.

ANDERSON: All right, Michael, hold on in there. Jamie, I want to come back to you. Let's take a closer look at how the US intelligence community came to their conclusion earlier today. The White House letter says -- and I want our viewers to just see the quotes here.

"The assessment is based in part on physiological samples. Our standard of evidence must build on these." The letter also said, "Intelligence assessments as we seek to establish credible and corroborated facts, for example," are important. "The chain of custody is not clear, so we cannot confirm how the exposure occurred and under what circumstances."

There is -- well what certainly seems to be a lot of kind of gray areas here, right?

RUBIN: No, they're using an elaborate convoluted set of words that are designed, number one, to show that this isn't going to be Iraq, where the US went to war based on an intelligence estimate, not facts, but an estimate of the intelligence community.

Number two, they're trying to show that even if the intelligence community concluded that chemical weapons were used, they would want to see further evidence that it was, in fact, Bashar Assad's government that initiated that use on purpose, that there wasn't some accident, some leakage, that it didn't happen in some other way.

All of which is a way of saying that they are trying very, very hard to avoid having to respond to this crossing of the red line, because having set the red line, it's very, very, very clear that the president would suffer a terrible blow if he weren't going to respond --


RUBIN: -- if Assad crossed it. And that's what experts are saying. They're saying at a minimum, the Assad regime needs to pay a price for violating the chemical weapons convention --


RUBIN: -- the treaty and the norm against using chemical weapons.

ANDERSON: If, Jamie -- and this letter speaks to this -- if, indeed, it is under the custody and care of the Assad administration that these chemical weapons have been used, and Michael, I call you in at this point - - there is a big "if" there, isn't there?

It -- there's apparently physiological evidence of the use of chemical weapons on the ground, but as far as I can tell from this letter, nobody's quite sure who is in command of those chemical weapons. Is there, to your mind, the potential for, not the Assad administration, but the rebels to be using chemical weapons?

WEISS: I think that's very, extremely unlikely. In fact, if you read that letter closely, it does say that the administration's own viewpoint is that it's almost certainly, if these weapons have indeed been used, the regime.

Further to that point, "Wired" magazine today had an interview with an intelligence officer in the United States who said these latest assessments are based on blood samples taken from Syrians. Blood samples which show the use of sarin gas.

Now, what this article also suggested is, it would be very, very difficult for the opposition to fake these claims. But further to that point, let's assume that the opposition used this. That itself crosses Obama's red line. You recall, this isn't just about Assad deploying chemical weapons --


WEISS: -- against his own people. This is about Assad losing control of his own stockpile. So either way, this has put the administration in a bind. If they can indeed corroborate this evidence and prove it definitively --


WEISS: -- which I would actually argue they can't do unless they're inside Syria, which is something the regime will never allow them to be in the way that --



WEISS: -- a comprehensive investigation should take place --

ANDERSON: I'd be very surprised if a UN investigation can get in on the ground at this point. I'm going to have to leave it there. Michael --


ANDERSON: -- and Jamie, always a pleasure to have both of you on this show, we thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

You're live out of London, this is CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson. Protests across Spain as unemployment in the country hits a record high. Is it time for Europe to abandon austerity? It's a big question. It's one we're going to try and answer for you when we cross live to Madrid for the very latest. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: The figures worse than expected. Spanish unemployment has climbed to a new high of -- get this -- 27.2 percent. That is more than 6 million adults in 2013 without a job, and that number looks set to rise. For young people, it's even more miserable, with nearly 6 in 10 looking for work.

Spain has the fourth-largest economy in the eurozone, and here you can see how unemployment has skyrocketed over the past 10 years, reaching a high not seen since 1976, that's the year after Franco died and the country began its transition to democracy.

Well, this was the scene in Madrid earlier on this evening as Spaniards took the streets in a clear sign their patience with the government's austerity measures has truly run out. CNN's senior international correspondent is there, and he joins us now. And you've been in amongst the crowd. What are people saying, Matt?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, they're very -- they're very angry. There's been about 3,000 protests in this country over the course of the past several years since Spain's economy has been in such steep decline.

But these figures, these unemployment figures that came out today, truly staggering. You mentioned 27.2 percent. Between the ages of 16 and 24, according to these official figures, it's more than 57 percent. So, it's almost the entire generation that seem to have lost their future as a result of the austerity measures that have been implemented here and the dire economic situation.

Joining me is one of the people that came to this protest. Timo Robaza (ph) is a 28-year-old Spaniard from the city of Valencia, and Timo, you came here because you're very angry.

TIMO ROBAZA, SPANISH PROTESTER: Yes. I can hear -- like, I came to other different protests and demonstrations in my city and other places. Yes, we are angry, but we've been angry for years, now. Ever since 2008, that our employment, our future is disappearing in front of our eyes.

CHANCE: You were telling me earlier that over the past five years or so, you've only been in full-time employment for seven months.

ROBAZA: Yes, seven months.

CHANCE: Is that something that's similar with all your friends?

ROBAZA: It was. Worsening unemployment and official public employment. Not from a particular enterprise. So, yes. And most of my friends are in the same situation.

CHANCE: What in your opinion -- what in your opinion needs to change? Because the government here has said it's going to implement more austerity? You think it needs less.

ROBAZA: I mean, it's not just about austerity or public spending. It's more, I think, that changing rules, changing the rules of the game, because we want to decide in what we want to spend our public money.

Because at the same time that we are losing our jobs and we are losing our future and our children's future, there's corruption and various -- misallocation of contributions. We are the most prepared generation in the history of Spain. We've been educating ourselves for years. They have spent lots of money on us, and now, we cannot even have a ridiculous job.

CHANCE: Timo, thanks very much for that. Obviously, a lot of anger there, Becky, and that's not just anger that we're seeing in Spain -- we're seeing a lot of it here -- but as you travel across the eurozone, you hear a lot of sentiments just like that one.

ANDERSON: Yes. You're absolutely right. Matt, thank you for that. The news from Spain underlying the fact, then, that Europe's economies are still incredibly fragile, and does remind us that there is this austerity versus growth debate around still, and it is very real.

At a conference in London, the International Monetary Fund's deputy managing director earlier today warned against a prolonged debt-cutting drive, saying this, and I quote, "There is a risk that Europe could fall into stagnation." And the European Commission president admitted on Monday that the EU's austerity push had, and I quote, "reached its limit."

But both the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the European Central Bank, seemed determined to stay the course. I got down to that gathering of the great and the good in London earlier on today, just to get a sense of what some of those involved make of the future. Have a listen to this.


ANDERSON: Thomas, you are an austerian. Don't tell me that with 27 percent unemployment in Spain that fiscal consolidation works.

THOMAS MAYER, SENIOR ADVISER, DEUTSCHE BANK: I don't like austerity, but if you don't have any money to spend, what do you do? You have to find a great aunt that many lend you some. Well, if you don't have a great aunt, well, you may want to see whether you can print it yourself.

ANDERSON: You're a growth man rather than an austerity man. Some fiscal consolidation surely was needed in Europe, and it's working.

DOMINIC SWORDS, WARWICK BUSINESS SCHOOL: Yes. Well, I think the issue is that a lot of people think that if you're against austerity, you're against fiscal consolidation. And the issue around austerity is the speed and the depths at which it's operating.

And quite clearly, in looking to try and get some weight out of the European, the UK car, we're seeing this big lump of metal in engine compartment, and further taking it out would make the car go faster. So, fiscal consolidation is necessary, but not at the speed of austerity currently.


ANDERSON: You will find as many people pushing austerity as you will find pushing growth. Nobody -- I can tell you -- has got the answer at the moment.

Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD out of London for you --


GILLIAN LYNNE, CHOREOGRAPHER AND DIRECTOR: -- an ordinary port de bras, it goes way beyond and way beyond and --


ANDERSON: She may be 87 years old, but she refuses to give up her place on the stage. "Cats" choreographer and "Phantom of the Opera" choreographer Gillian Lynne tells me about her eight decades in show business and why she has a soft spot for David Beckham.


ANDERSON: She is the woman behind some of the world's most successful musical productions. Think "Phantom of the Opera," think "Cats," and behind the scenes, you will find Gillian Lynne. And now, at 87 years old, this tireless choreographer extraordinaire is set to receive a prestigious award for a lifetime's contribution to theater. And it hasn't come soon enough.

I had the pleasure to sit down with her earlier to talk about what has been the most incredible career. Have a listen to this.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Gillian Lynne first began dancing eight decades ago. Since then, she's barely left the stage, choreographing and directing numerous theater productions and films worldwide.

It's Gillian's iconic choreography of the musicals "Cats" and "Phantom of the Opera" that has brought her that global audience.


ANDERSON: As "Phantom" celebrates 25 years on Broadway, Gillian is being recognized with a lifetime achievement award at the Oliviers. It's an accolade she says she could never have dreamed of.

LYNNE: Totally knocked out, frankly, because if you get this far and you're still working -- and I've got a lot of stuff lined up, so I still will be working -- you think oh, no, nobody thinks of me like that. I'm a good old hack. She's been there forever, she's delivered some blockbusters. But to get a huge and wonderful award, I thought, that's not my line. That's not me at all.

ANDERSON (on camera): What are you going to say?

LYNNE: I will be able to say that I'm standing on exactly the same piece of stage of Covenant Garden 67 years later after I danced my very first solo there, which was the day we opened Covenant Garden again after the war, and it was my birthday.


LYNNE: And so, it will be 67 years to the day, practically. So, I think I'd better say that, don't you?


LYNNE: As if I can stand up. I sort of -- and fall straight into the pit. I've fallen into a lot of famous pits. I've fallen into this pit. I've fallen in the Majestic in New York. I've fallen into the RSC pit.


LYNNE: Stratford. Not fisters and youth most of the time. In fact, never. Out of interest, always because I'm so interested in what's happening, I'm saying, come on, that's right, give me more. And I walk backwards, straight backwards into the --


ANDERSON: At 87, you are still chief choreographer -- let's call you that, I'm not sure if that's even a proper position --


ANDERSON: How much dancing do you still do?

LYNNE: Well, I have to do a little bit every day, otherwise I'd seize up, wouldn't I? You could hardly do what I do at home dancing. It's a very elongated stretch on the floor, and a lot of strange movements that have evolved over the years in my body. But I would have to do it. Otherwise I would be decrepit and sort of walking about like an old cripple.

ANDERSON: Do you expect things of yourself today, given that you're still a choreographer and expecting great things of your dancers, are there things you ask them to do that you can't do these days?

LYNNE: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, dear, what a shame that is. I used to be able to do it all. And better.


LYNNE: Eyes peer forward, and the arm doesn't just do an ordinary port de bras, it goes way beyond and way beyond and way --

I think it's all about expecting. They have to know that you expect the absolute best and something different from them.

ANDERSON (voice-over): She's brushed shoulders with great names in show biz, from Barbara Streisand to Errol Flynn and Sophia Loren.

ANDERSON: (on camera): You famously didn't cast, I believe, Victoria Beckham when she was a youngster.

LYNNE: So sweet. I met her and David in Harrods once, and I do think he's a beautiful man. I was a bit -- like that. And he's standing there, and she was much more cockney, then. She said, "I auditioned for you."

So I said, "Oh, didn't I give you the job?"

She said, "No, no." And then she went into steps from the Jellicle Ball in "Cats." In the middle of Harrods! Fantastic! It was a very game girl. I liked her a lot.

ANDERSON: Would you have cast him in something if he'd come around?

LYNNE: Yes! Give him half a chance!


LYNNE: He brought what -- I did "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" at the Palladium. David brought -- I keep forgetting -- what is the name of the oldest son? It was the --

ANDERSON: Brooklyn. Yes, Brooklyn.

LYNNE: OK. He brought him to see it, and he said to me, could they see the car at the end? So, I said, "Of course, I'll take you back through the pass door at the end."

And the stage management said to me, "We noticed an awful lot of hands on David. You were sort of saying, 'Come around this way.'"

And I said, "What? I didn't want him to fall in the pit or anything."


LYNNE: That's a bit naughty.

ANDERSON: What's the secret to your success? With respect, most people have given it up by now. You look fantastic --

LYNNE: But aren't they silly? Well, I like -- I've always liked work, from -- and I think everybody has to have a purpose in life. And the word "retire" should be struck off and stamped upon and consigned to deep rivers and flown out to sea, because it's a dangerous word.

And I think everybody needs, when they get up in the morning, they need a purpose to take them through the day. And so, I suppose my purpose has always been the craft of theater. I just love theater.


ANDERSON: How can I top that? That's it. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. You've been watching CNN, you'll continue to do so. Thank you from the team in London.