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U.S. Government Shuts Down; Tragic Tale Of Failed North Korean Defectors; A Look Inside Westgate Mall

Aired October 1, 2013 - 15:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Tonight, U.S. government shut down. Lawmakers play the blame game as the country pays the price. The last time there was shutdown, Bill Clinton was president. Tonight, we ask his former labor secretary why the worst may still be to come.

Also ahead, inside Westgate Mall, exclusive footage from the site of the Kenyan terror attack.

And history in the making, a glimpse of what the world's mot famous unfinished building will finally look like.

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

FOSTER: First tonight, U.S. President Barack Obama is accusing Republican lawmakers of holding the economy hostage as part of an ideological crusade. We spoke a short time ago about the shutdown that's brought much of the government to a grinding halt and forced some 800,000 workers off the job.

President Obama blamed Republicans in no uncertain terms, saying a conservative faction of the party is putting the economy in crisis over a political disagreement.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, this shut down is not about deficits, it's not about budgets, this shutdown is about rolling back our efforts to provide health insurance to folks who don't have it. It's all about rolling back the Affordable Care Act. This, more than anything else, seems to be what the Republican Party stands for these days.


FOSTER: House Republicans are meeting again this afternoon. And CNN has learned they could propose piecemeal spending measures that would restore funding for federal parks, veterans and the District of Columbia. Earlier today, the Senate rejected for the fourth time a House budget proposal that undermined Obamacare.

Well, let's get the very latest now on the crisis. We are joined by chief U.S. congressional correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, if you would, just explain what's at the center of his Obamacare?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's at the center of Obamacare -- or at the center of...

FOSTER: Well, Obamacare is really at the center of this right now, yeah. So for the wider world, exactly what does that mean?

BASH: Of course, no, that's a great question, because we definitely have been so kind of been on this train for so long, we forget what the whole thing is about. And you're exactly right, what House Republicans -- for the most part House Republicans, some Senate Republicans, but mostly in the House, say is that this is their last chance to stop Obamacare. So that's why they began this process a couple of weeks ago by saying, OK, they're going to fund the government, but we're going to defund Obamacare. That didn't work.

Then they tried again, we're going to fund the government but they're going to delay Obamacare for a year. That didn't work.

OK, again, fund the government, but just get rid of the so-called individual mandate, which really is the heart of the law. That didn't work. Meaning the Senate rejected it every time.

So where are we now? We are at a government shutdown. We are at a place where House Republicans are still insisting that they don't want to do what Senate Democrats are demanding, which is just pass an entire bill funding the government, a stop-gap measure. Really, it is just for six weeks. And again, they're still saying, no.

So what they're going to do later today, early this evening really, Max, is they're going to take just three agencies that frankly have the most impact maybe visually, symbolically, including the National Park Service and also veterans and the District of Columbia, but mostly I think this is about veterans and the National Park Service. And say, OK, we'll fund those agencies.

Senate Democrats have already said, no, we're not going there. We're not negotiating. We don't want to do anything, but what we have been demanding, which is a full piece of legislation funding the full government for at least a short time and then we can talk.

So, this does not look like there is going to be any kind of compromise any time soon. And it is entirely possible, Max, that this shutdown and these negotiations -- or at least the back and forth -- not really negotiations, could last until we hit another maybe even -- definitely even more critical deadline, which is October 17 when the U.S. hits the debt ceiling. And that is an area where, you know, everybody says it would be catastrophic economically, globally, if the U.S. did effectively default on its loans. But it's possible that they're so intransigent, both sides, that they're going to need that kind of scare economically, which is much more than the government shutting down, to jolt both sides into some kind of compromise.

So we could be here for awhile.

FOSTER: Yeah, absolutely, Dana, thank you very much indeed.

A reminder that as a result of the shutdown, nearly 800,000 federal workers will be furloughed, meaning they'll have to take a leave of absence. That could also cost the U.S. economy roughly a billion dollars a week in lost pay.

Another loss of revenue comes from the closure of national parks. They normally bring in some $450,000 per day. One of the biggest attractions, of course, is Lady Liberty, the iconic landmark visited by millions of people each year.

But as Poppy Harlow reports, the shutdown is forcing a major change of plans.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Liberty Island was slammed by Superstorm Sandy, closed for eight months. Now another shutdown.

(on camera): What does it mean for you to visit the Statue of Liberty?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom, liberty. That's why I'm in American. So to hear that the government is shutting down, it's like, what have we come to?

HARLOW (voice-over): Stacy Garcia (ph) is among the last visitors to the island.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome aboard, Statue Cruises Lady Liberty.

HARLOW (on camera): So, along with the government comes the closure of all the nation's national parks and that include Lady Liberty. So, for folks coming to New York to see the iconic statue of Liberty, this maybe their last chance, and who knows how long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be awful. It's also going to damage the economy in ways that nobody has bothered to calculate yet. It's just mindless.

HARLOW (voice-over): With more than 280 million visitors a year from Yellowstone to Yosemite, to the Grand Canyon, more than 400 national parks are now closed.

RICHARD SIEGERT, TOURIST FROM INDIANA: I'm not going to let Congress, you know, make me miss the Statue of Liberty, which is so important to me as a retired history teacher.

HARLOW: Tourists turned away. More than 21,000 national parks employees furloughed and thousands more like cleanup crews and concession stands workers all left without jobs.

VICTORIA DUNCAN, EMPLOYEE ON LIBERTY ISLAND: I have to find another job if, like, they are not paying us while we are laid off or file for unemployment but it's still not going to be enough. It's hard. Even to think about it is hard to think about.

HARLOW: Quinn Agard says he needs this job just to get by and he doesn't have a plan B.

(on camera): Do you have a message for Washington?

QUINN AGARD, EMPLOYEE ON LIBERTY ISLAND: Things like that could have a big impact on the people that aren't in the limelight, you know, the people who work in hourly positions and spots. This whole island will be shutdown. So, that's a ton of different positions that people won't be working and won't be getting paid for.

HARLOW (voice-over): Liberty Island sees up to 4 million visitors a year, 20,000 a day in peak season at $17 per ticket per adults, that's big money.

DAVE LUCHINGER, STATUE OF LIBERTY SUPERINTENDENT: Even more than the money, it's the fact that there are folks that, you know, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a lot of folks.

HARLOW: An opportunity that means a lot for so many like Stacy Garcia.

Poppy Harlow, CNN, New York.


FOSTER: Well, with no side blinking in this ongoing standoff, it doesn't bode well for a much bigger problem on the horizon. And Dana was talking about it earlier, the debate over the raising of the U.S. debt ceiling. It's currently set at nearly $17 trillion and is due to be reached later this month.

It is the cap set by congress on how much the U.S. federal government can have in outstanding debt.

Raising the debt ceiling simply lets the Treasury borrow the money it needs to pay the country's bills for services and benefits already approved by Congress.

Our guest tonight says President Obama and Democrats shouldn't negotiate with, quote, "extortionists." Robert Reich was labor secretary under President Bill Clinton. He's now professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. And he's featured in the new documentary Inequality for all.

Thank you so much for joining us.

On a very basic level, the president's hands are tied here, aren't they, because he either needs to increase the debt ceiling and go against the law of the land, or default on debt or continue -- or reduce his spending somehow which is going to be very difficult in such a short space of time.

ROBERT REICH, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, UC BERKELEY: Well, legally, whatever he chooses to do is going to break some laws. That is, he has a legal obligation to implement laws. He has a legal obligation not to exceed the debt limit. He has a legal obligation to faithfully execute the laws. So the president, if the debt ceiling is not increased, is legally in trouble. That is, he's violating some constitutional provision in any event.

But more importantly from the standpoint of the economy, if the United States defaults on the money it owes on its debts, that is doesn't pay its creditors on time, that is a very large deal, that could rattle and very easily undermine international financial markets, the Treasury bill itself has been a foundation stone of the international economy. That Treasury bill becomes worth less because the person or the institutions standing behind the Treasury bill, that is the United States of America, can no long provide full faith and credit. That's a big deal.

It could lead to economic chaos.

FOSTER: And that is the big concern for the world economy, as well. That's actually where the situation becomes a global problem immediately if the U.S. starts defaulting on that debt, which so many other countries are invested in, of course.

So how does he actually deal with that situation? How does he carry on paying the debt when he hasn't got the authority to? Is that quite a simple thing to do?

REICH: Well, it's a fairly simple thing to do, but as I said at the outset, whatever he decides to do. If the Republicans are going to be recalcitrant and say we are not going to raise the debt ceiling unless you basically repeal a law that is already on the books, that is the Affordable Care Act, and do a lot of other things we want. But if he does not bow to that kind of -- I call it extortion, because it really is extortion -- then what he must do, it seems to me, is go ahead and raise the debt ceiling on his own. That is, he's got to continue to pay the nation's creditors, otherwise there is a serious breach of the international financial system.

Now there may be lawsuits, there may be charges that he is acting unconstitutionally. Republicans may want to impeach him, but I honestly don't think he has any choice.

FOSTER: He could be impeached, though, couldn't he, even if he has got this authority.

What's your sense from Washington about what the reaction would be to him continuing on paying the debt?

REICH: Well, again, the worst-case scenario would be the House of Representatives would vote out, because the Republicans run the House of Representatives, articles of impeachment. The Senate, which is under control of the Democrats, obviously, would not agree. We'd have a situation similar to what Bill Clinton faced under very, very different circumstances in which the Republican House voted out a bill of impeachment and the Senate did not go along.

Now, I hope that we don't get to that. I don't expect us to get to that. I think wiser and cooler heads will prevail.

But I have to be honest with you, given the current atmosphere in Washington, given the current Republican Party, which is increasingly under the control of quite extreme zealots, anything is possible.

FOSTER: OK, Robert Reich, thank you very much indeed.

We'll be reflecting the full range of political views, of course, as we continue to discuss this going into the middle of the month.

Well, still to come tonight, hope turns to heartbreak for a couple trying to help children escape from North Korea. We'll have an exclusive report for you.

And a week on since the deadly Nairobi mall siege came to an end. CNN obtains exclusive footage inside the shopping center.


FOSTER: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me, Max Foster. Welcome back to you.

Now two more bodies have been recovered from the Westgate mall in Nairobi a week after the four day deadly siege came to an end.

Also today, CNN's Zain Verjee, who is from Nairobi, gained exclusive footage inside the shopping center. She joins me now live from Nairobi -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Max, it was pretty difficult to get in there, but we finally did. I want to show you some of the exclusive footage that we saw. We spent about half an hour or so there.


VERJEE: This is the rooftop parking deck of Westgate mall. Standing here for the first time is emotional.

(on camera): I just can't believe my eyes. I walked here pretty much every day I was in Nairobi.

It feels really eerie and unbelievable. This is just a neighborhood grocery store. And Westgate was the pride of Nairobi. You can see bullets in the glass around me. You can see exactly where the children had their cooking classes.

(voice-over): Where they were gunned down. The stench of burned metal and ash lingers, along with the smell of decomposing flesh. Early Tuesday, two more bodies were found under the rubble.

Inside, glass crunches under my feet as we pass what was a children's swing. Walking past shops like Java House or Planet Yogurt, Nairobi's newest craze.

The rattle on the concrete is not of shoppers, but that of store owners clearing out what was left of their wares.

Among them, Rasheed Azahid (ph). We met her outside the pet store she owns, but there is little for her and her staff to salvage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) whether the shops were vandalized or they were terrorized, we have no idea.

VERJEE: But you've lost everything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; But we've lost everything, yes.

VERJEE: It's been the most devastating for those who lost loved ones. This was an attack that stole something from everyone.

(on camera): It's a strange (inaudible) of everything that's normal and everything that is desperately not.

(voice-over): For Nairobi residents, the normal they knew no longer exists.


VERJEE: There are several worrying reports coming out of Nairobi this day, Max, reports of looting incidents. Several shop owners that I spoke to who were out there, out at the gates trying to get in or inside taking out their wares, say that there is evidence that their stores have been looted.

This was posed to the government's interior minister. And he said that the government is looking into these reports -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Zain, thank you very much indeed for bringing us that.

Israel's prime minister has warned the international community not to be duped by what he's calling a charm offensive by Iran's president. Benjamin Netanyahu was the last speaker today at the UN. And he told the General Assembly it shouldn't be fooled by Hassan Rouhani's moderate tone. Israeli leader then urged the international community to continue its sanctions to force Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Now I know Rouhani doesn't sound like Ahmadinejad, but when it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing, Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the eyes -- the wool over the eyes of the international community.


FOSTER: Four Greek lawmakers from the Golden Dawn Party were met by tight security (inaudible) as they appeared before an Athens court today. The men were among 22 far right party members who have been arrested over the killing of an anti-racism musician two weeks ago. The lawmakers who are fighting for bail pending a trial have denied the charges.

Italy's former leader, Silvio Berlusconi is facing a growing revolt within his own party as he threatens to bring down the ruling coalition government. Moderates in Mr. Berlusconi's party may defy him and support the prime minister Enrico Letta, who could face a vote of confidence in parliament on Wednesday.

Ben Wedeman reports from Rome.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Italy, like the United States, is gripped by profound political crisis. The 5 month old coalition government is teetering on the brink. The economy is shrinking and unemployment stands at 12 percent. But walking around the streets and markets of Rome, you'd never guess it.

Life goes on. The favored coping mechanism is to enjoy the early autumn sunshine and a near scorn at the politicians.

"Politics here," says Sandro the fruit vender, "is a dirty business. And hey wallow in it. They swim in it."

for decades, Italian politicians have operated in a supercharged world of heated rhetoric and back room deals. Despite the appearance of anarchy, the system sometimes functions, albeit imperfectly.

87-year-old (inaudible) has been working in the market for 70 years. She says patience has been both a virtue and a vice.

"As a people, we're too nice, too soft," she laments. "We put up with everything."

For all the cynicism, some things work here.

(on camera): Italian cabinets come and go with amazing regularity, but the government here has never actually been shut down due to lack of funding. And as far as the Italian version of Obamacare goes, it's been around in one form or another since the time of Mussolini.

(voice-over): In this country that gave birth to opera, where theatrics sometimes seem a way of life, Italians have developed an ability to ad lib on stage and in life, says veteran journalist Furio Colombo.

FURIO COLOMBO, JOURNALIST: And we had in history so full of trouble, so full of drama, so full of the contradiction and sudden changes, betrayals and abandonment, that it -- there is a certain of natural attitude, like person training in a circles a certain tendency to adapt and to know what to do no matter what.

WEDEMAN: The lesson from Italy, dysfunctional government can coexist with la dolce vita.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


FOSTER: Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, a couple tries to help young North Korean defectors, but the escape plan ends in heartbreak. We'll have an exclusive report next.

It's a difficult and possibly dangerous operation -- an international team is now in Syria to destroy the country's chemical arsenal. We'll map out their mission ahead.


FOSTER; North Korea has accused the United States of abusing the power of the United Nations security council. The vice minister for foreign affairs addressed the UN general assembly today blaming the U.S. for adopting a hostile policy towards Pyongyang.


PAK KIL YON, NORTH KOREAN VICE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translator): Under the manipulation of the United States, the forcible adoption last January of the unfair sanctions resolution was conducted by making an issue of our legitimate satellite launch for peaceful purposes. What was conducted is recognized by international law. And it represents a typical example of how and for what purpose the power of the UN SC is being abused.


FOSTER: North Koreans who try to leave the country face an almost impossible task. Most enter China, Pyongyang's biggest ally, before attempting to get to a South Korean embassy. But it's a long and often torturous journey and one that can easily end badly. Paula Hancocks has this exclusive report on one such case.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Trekking through the jungle at night to avoid detection. Nine young North Koreans crossed the border from China to Laos believing their next stop was South Korea and freedom. They were wrong.

Aged between 15 and 23, some escaped North Korean four years ago into China looking for food. This video was filmed by a South Korean missionary who calls himself MJ.

MJ and his wife hide their identity because they try to help refugees that China regularly arrests and sends back to North Korea.

"They look for fish bones and rice," he tells me, "to mix together to make porridge. Then they eat toothpaste to help them digest it."

This boy says he wants to live in China because here even the beggars don't go hungry.

The nights were spent living in an abandoned building, the days avoiding Chinese border guards.

When MJ met them in December 2009, it was minus 30 Celsius. Most had frost bite on their hands and toes and skin diseases. Some had injuries they say came from beatings by guards when they were caught stealing food.

"All of them seemed to have suffered from tuberculosis," says MJ. "And as they were malnourished, their growth was stunted."

MJ and his wife offered to help them leave China for Laos and then on to South Korea or the United States to claim asylum, a route they had successfully taken with other defectors. But after crossing into Laos this time, their plan went wrong.

"There was a search made while we were on the bus," MJ says. "This is the first time it ever happened."

The defectors and missionaries were investigated by Laos immigration for more than two weeks, calling the South Korean embassy repeatedly for help. MJ says they were told everything was fine and the youngsters were being processed. No embassy official came to visit.

May 27, the defectors were told to pack as they were leaving for South Korea. As the missionaries tried to follow them, they say the door of the immigration office was shut and they were locked in a room for two hours. According to the United Nations, the young defectors were deported to North Korea via China.

MJ's wife breaks down, saying "it is unbearable that these children were taken away from us. But what makes me really angry is the response from the South Korean embassy."

South Korea's foreign ministry tells CNN it is unfortunate and regrettable the nine young North Korean defectors were forcefully taken and they are inspecting the problems revealed from this incident and have improved and strengthened the overall support system.

(on camera): The foreign ministry in Laos says that the North Koreans were in their country illegally and they also accuse the missionaries of human trafficking. But the United Nations and human rights groups are criticizing the country for deporting the refugees.

(voice-over): The defectors were last seen on North Korean state television saying they had been tricked into leaving the country and it was by the grace of North Korea's leader Kim Jong un that they were allowed to return.

Human rights groups say defectors who are sent back are sometimes tortured or even executed. Fears are high for the nine young North Koreans who thought they had escaped.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


FOSTER: The latest world headlines are just ahead. Plus, more than 130 years in the making, a look at one of the world's most iconic buildings and what it will finally look like.

And the mission to find and destroy Syria's chemical arsenal. We look at what international inspectors could face on the ground.


FOSTER: This is CONNECT THE WORLD, the top stories this hour. US president Barack Obama is accusing Republican lawmakers of shutting down the government over an ideological crusade. He says they're holding the economy hostage to try to derail his health care law. House Republicans expect for those new piecemeal spending measures to get a few specific agencies back online.

CNN has obtained the first look inside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi a week after the deadly four-day stage came to an end. These exclusive pictures come as another two bodies were pulled from the rubble on Tuesday.

A chemical weapons team has arrived in Damascus and is now planning a difficult and potentially dangerous mission, destroying Syria's chemical arsenal. The team is carrying out a UN Security Council resolution unanimously passed last week.

Israel's prime minister has described Iran's president as a wolf in sheep's clothing in an address to the United Nations General Assembly. Benjamin Netanyahu warned the international community not to be fooled by Hassan Rouhani's recent charm offensive.

He's also called for international sanctions against Iran to remain in place in order to force Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions. Jim Clancy joins us now, live in Jerusalem. What's the reaction there, Jim?

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, I don't think anybody has any doubts that was probably the sharpest, toughest speech delivered at this year's UN General Assembly, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered it.

We heard the prime minister tell the world body that make no mistake, Israel would go it alone using military force because it sees an existential threat coming from Iran and its nuclear program.

But having said that, I think the prime minister realizes, as the negotiations, the talks go forward between the US and Iran, it is impossible for Israel to take that kind of military action or even contemplate it. They could potentially, but it's very, very unlikely.

And he knows that gives Iran some breathing room, and he doesn't much like that. So, he's telling the world to focus directly on sanctions, make sure those sanctions stay in place, make sure that they are not lifted until you can verify that Iran has entirely dismantled its nuclear program.

We had some feedback, some pushback, if you will, from an Iranian diplomat at the United Nations who later said he rejected all of the allegations that were made by Mr. Netanyahu, all the untruths about its nuclear program. He called the speech inflammatory but said he wouldn't give it the dignity of making a reply to it. So, that was the Iranian response.

Here in Israel, there's some satisfaction, but realization, too, that right now, Israel is boxed in. Max?

FOSTER: And I know that you're all listening as well out for any comments about peace talks for the Palestinians. What did you hear about that?

CLANCY: Well, he mentioned it only briefly, but he said that while there were tough decisions to be made, he said the Palestinians have to make some of them, and he demanded that they, too, make concessions. And here he said they have to recognize the Jewish state of Israel.

Now, I talked with some Palestinians, I talked to Marwan Barghouti, an independent politician, who says that this is really loaded terminology. Why? Because it implies that the Palestinians give up the right of return for refugees. That's number one.

Number two, how about the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living inside Israel proper? They might become second-class citizens if there were laws passed to reference that.

Third, he said that the Palestinians had recognized the state of Israel 20 years ago at Oslo. The state of Israel -- and that's the different in terminology from "the Jewish state of Israel." He says what's really lacking right now is for Israel to recognize a state of Palestine. Max?

FOSTER: Jim, thank you very much, indeed, for that. Now, we're going to return to Syria. We're going to return now to Syria, where international inspectors are on the ground in the capital trying to find and destroy the chemical weapons in that country.

The team's first step is focusing on planning to destroy chemical weapon production facilities. It follows allegations the Syrian government used sarin gas in an attack on a Damascus suburb in late August. Inspectors plan to visit nearly 50 sites across the country.

Let's bring in senior international correspondent Matthew Chance. More on that. It's such a mission, isn't it?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is. It's one of the most difficult missions that this organization has taken on, particularly during a conflict. But let's take a look at the kind of sites they're going to be looking at.

They haven't actually made it clear to us which sites they're going to be seeing. The list of sites that have been declared by the Syrians to the agency have been kept confidential, but the intelligence analysts that we've spoken to say it broadly falls into the assessment they've made over several years.

Take a look at this map that was sketched out. The country is dotted with various chemical weapons sites, including research facilities like the Center for Study and Scientific Research in Damascus, that's believed to be Syria's main chemical weapons lab.

Second category, the production facilities, where Syria actually produces the chemicals and mixes them together to produce those weapons, like at Latakia in the northwest of the country, or the facility at al- Safira, which is just south of the city of Aleppo, which is believed to produce sarin gas. That was, of course, the nerve agent that killed so many people in August in that terrible strike on the outskirts of Damascus.

Finally, the final category, the storage facilities across the country. Storage facilities often located in military installations like the Dummar Air Base west of Damascus, where they say, Max, vast quantities, perhaps one of the biggest stockpiles of chemical weapons in the world, is housed, and it's where those inspectors have to get in now, they have to verify it's all there. And of course, also, maybe, they have to destroy it.

FOSTER: And they're down here, and as you showed, the map covers the whole country, so how easy is it going to be for them to get around?

CHANCE: It's going to be very difficult. In normal circumstances, a situation like that in such a short time frame -- they've got until November the 1st -- it's going to be very difficult. But given the fact that Syria is locked in such a bitter civil war, that adds an additional logistical problem.

And so, the Syrian foreign minister, for instance, has said at least seven of the more important sites are in live combat zones. And so, it's very difficult to see how they're going to have to -- they're going to be able to get through that obstacle, they're going to have to negotiate truces on the ground just to access these facilities.

FOSTER: OK, Matthew, thank you. Well earlier, my colleague Christiane Amanpour spoke to General Zacher al-Sakat. He's a top-level defector from the Syrian army. He accused the Assad regime of hiding its chemical weapons.


ZACHER AL-SAKAT, BRIGADIER GENERAL, SYRIAN DEFECTOR (through translator): First of all, the observations of the movement on the ground, which I completely know of, we monitor 28 large trucks moving from Jdeedet Yabous toward Lebanon, then to Hezbollah, which were heavily guarded.

They also found in the Frouqlus area more than 50 large Mercedes and Volvo trucks, also heavily guarded, moving in the direction of Iraq. The trucks were not intercepted or attacked so as not to spread chemical weapons or agents in the area, which would harm the local populations.


FOSTER: Let's go through the challenges of disarmament and the plan that they have with Tim Trevan. He's a former UN weapons inspector. He joins me now liver from CNN Washington. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

Just technically, what sort of kit will these teams need, and how easy is it to get? There's some talk, isn't there, of a struggle to actually get the teams together?

TIM TREVAN, FORMER UN WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well, it's important to remember, you're talking about different types of destruction. Broadly speaking, you've got five categories of things which need to be destroyed.

The first is the production facilities themselves, the second will be empty munitions, the third will be precursor chemicals, which are the chemicals which are used to create the agent in the first place. Then there's bulk agent, which may have been made and stored. I don't know whether that's been declared. And finally would be filled munitions, munitions with the nerve agent or the mustard agent already in them.

I think this first trip will be looking at those first two categories, just the production facilities and the empty munitions. And they can be destroyed pretty easily. In the case of production facilities, if you've got control mechanisms, just smashing up the motherboards on the computers, destroying the reactor vessels by crushing or with explosive charges or with drills, drilling holes in them.

And the same for the empty munitions. You can just lay them out on the road and run a tank or a steamroller or something like that over them to flatten them so they simply can't be used. So, I think in this first phase, the task is not that difficult.

FOSTER: So, it's disarming what they've got there. If there are no great surprises, what sort of time frame are we looking at that for that first phase?

TREVAN: Well, the resolution states that it needs to be done by the end of November, and I think that's perfectly doable if they have unfettered access to the sites and full cooperation of the Syrians. I don't know where those sites are in relation to the civil war, so that will be the one complicating factor.

FOSTER: And in terms of the longer-term plan, doing this cleanly, you're talking about an operation which is going to take years, if not decades, and it's going to cost billions of dollars, right?

TREVAN: Well, that depends precisely on what format the stockpile is in. Some of the reports are that the Syrians have focused more on the binary weapons system, in which case you don't mix the chemicals until the last moment.

If they have the chemicals mainly in bulk chemical, precursor chemical format, then those are much more easily destroyed than actual nerve agent or mustard gas. So, it depends on the balance of what's been declared by the Syrians as to how long it's going to take.

For example, one of the precursors for sarin is isopropyl alcohol, and that can be destroyed relatively easily. It's not very toxic. It is flammable. But that can be destroyed with very little danger to the inspectors and very quickly.

FOSTER: We're relying on intelligence reports here. How easy is it to find these plants, actually, if there are plants out there that the West doesn't know about, how -- or the international community and the UN -- how easy is it going to be to find hidden plants, if there are such things?

TREVAN: Large-scale chemical production plants are fairly obvious, so I think aerial photography and satellite imagery can be used to try and track down candidate facilities for that.

But the problem comes if they've done the production in smaller batches, and particularly with the advances in industrial chemistry, there's been a move away from very large flow-process plants to smaller batch-production plants.

And if they've got a facility where they've done batch production -- that is, they have one reactor vessel, you put the chemicals in, you do the batch, you empty the reactor vessel, and then use it for something else, then that would be a lot harder to track down.

FOSTER: OK, Tim Trevan, thank you very much, indeed.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London. Coming up, it's Barcelona's crowning glory, but it's still not finished. Now computer science is giving us a chance to see what the world's largest church, the Sagrada Familia, will look like.


FOSTER: Well, she's the Leading Woman who's been a world leader and is now one of the UN's top bosses. She is Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand. But she once never thought she'd be in that position. Becky has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is the UN week going for you?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's arguably no bigger platform to tackle major global issues than the United Nations General Assembly meeting, UNGA.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We come together to reaffirm the founding vision of this institution.

ANDERSON: It's where each year, heads of state and governments gather at UN Headquarters in New York to present their views about world issues.

HELEN CLARK, ADMINISTRATOR, UN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: In the UN Development Group, we truly thank everybody who took part in the process.

ANDERSON: It's at these events that we find Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Program, UNDP. She's the third-highest ranking UN official, appointed in 2009 by UN secretary- general Ban Ki-moon.

CLARK: I'm not running a big country, I'm not running a big corporation, but I am running a very influential organization.

ANDERSON: Clark is the first woman to hold this position.

CLARK: We do a lot on supporting countries to improve the way they run themselves. We have a big role in countries in crisis, either because, like Haiti, they got so severely affected by an earthquake, and before that, by a big hurricane. Afghanistan's our biggest program in the world. Iraq's been pretty big. Somalia's big.

ANDERSON: She leads an agency with a staff of 8,000 operating in 177 countries. She travels a lot for her work. Here, she's on a recent visit to Chad.

CLARK: I could not have credibly done this job if I had not had the experience of leading a small country and working my way up a very long political career.

ANDERSON: Clark was just appointed to a second term as UNDP administrator. Before that, she was prime minister of New Zealand for three consecutive terms, first elected in 1999 as a member of the Labour Party, becoming the country's first female PM. She acknowledges the challenges of being a woman in a high position.

CLARK: There hadn't been anyone seriously try to be prime minister leading a major party. So, all the peripheral things became issues. Your voice was too low, they didn't like the haircut. You had to work your way through. It was completely irrelevant.

ANDERSON: And she believes in sharing the lessons of her experiences.

CLARK: I think it's a responsibility of women who've achieved high positions in whatever they're doing, you have to create a ladder for others to come up behind. You don't want to be the only person who ever did this. You want to inspire a generation of young women.

In New Zealand, the joke used to be the proverbial child who would say to the mother, "Mum, can a boy be prime minister in this country?"


CLARK: Which kind of turns the tables, doesn't it?


FOSTER: Prime minister and now the third-highest ranking official of the UN. Not a bad resume. Next week, a look at the more personal side of Helen Clark, including her upbringing on a New Zealand farm. For more on Leading Women, do long onto

Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, concrete plans to finally finish one of the world's most iconic buildings.


FOSTER: Now to a story that's more than 130 years in the making and counting. We're talking about the Sagrada Familia, the jewel in Barcelona's architectural crown and the unfinished masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi. But animators are now giving us a glimpse of what it'll look like when it's finished. It's due for completion in 2026, 100 years after his death, and it'll be the world's largest church.

Even back in 1926 people were asking why it was taking so long to build, can you believe? According to Gaudi's assistants, he said, quote, "My client" -- meaning God -- "isn't in a hurry."

The Sagrada Familia is without a doubt one of the most iconic structures in the world, but it's not alone. To take a look at some other extraordinary buildings, I'm joined by executive editor of "The Architect's Newspaper," Alan Brake. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. First of all, we need to ask the question of --



FOSTER: -- what defines an iconic building? What do you think a building needs in terms of attributes to make the list?

BRAKE: Well, it's a funny combination. In a way, a building needs to be totally unique, but it also needs to be very much of its place. And Gaudi's building, of course, is one of the things that defines Barcelona and makes it what it is in the mind of the world at large.

FOSTER: They've got to be memorable, right?

BRAKE: Absolutely. When you think of a city, typically you think of one or two major structures in that city that really becomes emblematic of what that city is about and what it represents.

FOSTER: Let's pick out a few other buildings, then. Widely considered iconic, the list begins with the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which stands at 828 meters in height. It's a new one. Hollywood has helped heighten the fame of the Empire State Building, of course. It's featured in no fewer than 250 films.

The Sydney Opera House is one of the world's most recognizable buildings. It was the result of a design competition that took 14 years to complete. Taj Mahal is considered one of the most beautiful structures in the world. It's been a UNESCO-listed site since 1983.

The Parthenon, as well, on top of the Acropolis in Athens has history on its side, of course, built in the 5th century BC. And finally, the unmistakable domes of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, built by Ivan the Terrible. According to popular legend, the Italian architect was blinded so he could never create anything that was similar or equal.

They don't know at the time of being build that they're going to be iconic, but we do know that about the Basilica, don't we?

BRAKE: Yes. It was very much sort of designed with that in mind. It was always of such a scale and such a stature that it was really meant to redefine what church architecture could be and could look like.

FOSTER: And what would you see is the iconic building for you? Because you've got something like the Empire State Building, which is just famous, but you've got something like the Taj Mahal, which is so historic going back such a long period of time and has that religious symbolism as well.

BRAKE: For me, I think maybe the Great Pyramid of Giza is the ultimate iconic building. It's totally timeless, it absolutely represents the height of Egyptian achievement and civilization, and it's just incredibly inspiring to look at, to contemplate, and I can't think of anyone who wouldn't be impressed by it.

FOSTER: Inspiring, because it's very difficult to build, just like the Basilica?

BRAKE: Exactly.


FOSTER: And a lot of people --


BRAKE: Exactly. No, the sort of --

FOSTER: Carry on.

BRAKE: The labor behind it is part of what makes it so inspiring.

FOSTER: What is it -- what you have with an iconic building is general agreement between architects and the public that these are great buildings. And it's not always a touching point, is it? Because often, an architect will think there's a great building, which the public doesn't agree with. So, have you managed to work out where the crossover is?

BRAKE: Well, one thing, I think, that really makes a difference is if a building is both memorable to look at, a beautiful, inspiring design, but also if it functions well as a civic space or a public space.

If it's something that people want to visit and see and maybe come back to again and again, that's how a building goes just from being a great design to really becoming beloved by the public at large.

FOSTER: A building like the one in Barcelona is so incredibly expensive to do, but the country's going to gain from that, isn't it? It's very important for a city to have that iconic building. London, for example, you've got something like Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, people actually come because of those buildings, often.

BRAKE: Yes, but again, to my point, people go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower, but they don't necessarily come back just to see the Eiffel Tower. They come back because Paris is an amazing, wonderful city.

So, icons are great assets for cities, but they don't make great cities on their own. You put up an image of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai earlier. Very interesting building, very impressive. Dubai is very much a city in the making. And I think it will depend on can Dubai turn into a great city with great public spaces, great parks? You need more than just an eye-catching building to really bring people back again and again.

FOSTER: And will the Burj Khalifa still be interesting when it's not the tallest building in the world?

BRAKE: Well, that's an open question. The sort of great race to the sky is always ongoing, and it will soon be surpassed by other tall buildings in other parts of the world. So, again, there needs to be something more than just the single building to bring you to a place.

FOSTER: Is this something the architecture community is really looking to in future, something that you're all trying to achieve that perhaps the technology's not quite there yet?

BRAKE: Are you speaking about super tall buildings?

FOSTER: Yes. What sort of ideas are people floating that aren't possible yet but they hope will be possible in future, which could become iconic?

BRAKE: Well, super-tall buildings are very much a hot topic in the architectural world right now. The engineering is there to go a mile or above. We actually have a piece about that in "The Architect's Newspaper."

But really, the financing doesn't always make sense, so the sort of real-world issues around super-tall buildings are more the limit rather than the engineering.

FOSTER: OK, Alan Brake, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

You might struggle to see some of America's iconic buildings and parks because of the US government shutdown. In tonight's Parting Shots, let's see what else has been affected. The National Zoo's Panda Cam has gone dark. The live camera stream is one of several trained on animals in the park.

And NASA has also been caught up in the shutdown. The Voyager 2 tweeted it will not be posting or responding from its account. "Farewell, humans. Sort it out yourselves," the tweet reads. And where the crisis all began, the US Capitol Building, will be closed to tourists.

I'm Max Foster. Thank you so much for watching. That was CONNECT THE WORLD.