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Hurricane Irma Hits Caribbean Countries; Albright Talks Power of Diplomacy; A Breakthrough in the Fight Against Cancer. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired September 7, 2017 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade pummels the Caribbean leaving a shocking and
devastating wake. We speak to a person who lives in Antigua about Irma's punch. And we go live to Haiti and the Dominican Republic before waiting
for it to power through there before reaching the United States.
Also ahead, is there still a chance for its diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis? I asked former U.S. Secretary of State
Madeline Albright. She's been here before.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Hurricane Irma, a monstrous category 5 storm continues to batter the Caribbean today. Irma is the size of France. It stretches 777 square
kilometers from end to end. Packing winds more than 290 kilometers per hour and barrelling towards Florida.
She's already unleashed her fury across Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Martin and the British Virgin Islands. Levelling both luxury tourist site and some of
the poorest places on earth leaving at least six dead so far.
Antigua and Barbuda, the Prime Minister Gaston Browne there says his island is barely habitable. He estimates that 95 percent of the properties in
Barbuda were damaged, including hospitals and schools.
Here's what he told CNN as it was roaring through last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GASTON BROWNE, BARBUDA PRIME MINISTER: It was heart wrenching, absolutely devastating. I have never seen any such destruction on a per-capita basis
compared to what I say in Barbuda this afternoon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The storm then passed just north of Puerto Rico flooding the island with a foot of rain, cutting off power and fresh water to hundreds
of thousands of people.
Today, Irma ploughs onwards towards the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Haiti, where up to 3 million people could be affected by devastating winds,
floods and mudslide. And the worst could still yet be to come.
Cuba, the Florida Keys, the Florida mainland with more than 1600 kilometers of coastline and more than 2 million homes in the hazard zones, it is still
too soon to tell, but if Irma rolls through Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona and beyond, the destruction will be catastrophic and the governor has
issued an urgent warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SCOTT, FLORIDA GOVERNOR: You've got to protect your family. Positions can be replaced, yet family cannot. This is serious and we
cannot take chances. It is life-threatening. This is not a storm you can sit and wait through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So urging evacuations of all the danger zones.
And Haitians are bracing for this monster storm, which comes just 11 months after it was devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Haiti is one of the poorest
places in the world. It's barely been able to recover from the storms and earthquakes that had batted it for years now.
And I'm joined by Paula Newton, who's in Cape Haitian in the north and she can tell us more.
Paula, what is the situation there? Are you bracing right now?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, indeed we are. In the last half an hour, the winds have really picked up. The rain has started to
move in, and we are seeing the beginnings of this horrific storm now strike Haiti.
The good news, Christiane, is that Haiti is not taking a direct hit. The problem is that even without a direct hit, this country is ill equipped to
The local authorities here, Christiane, are telling us that, look, point blank, bluntly, we are not ready for Hurricane Irma. They are only just
now in the last few hours trying to evacuate people from low-lying areas. And then after that, Christiane, there is the risk of flooding and
We were just talking about Hurricane Matthew. That literally swept people out of their homes, out into the oceans. Hundreds dead.
Again, I don't have to remind you, Christiane, people here struggling to survive on a day-to-day basis. These are people that have a tin roof and
plywood for homes. They are bracing, yes, but there is very little they can do in preparation.
The government is doing what they can, but clearly started too late. NGOs, the U.N. says they are ready to help in the aftermath, but people here
being very blunt with us for saying they are fearful of even what being sideswiped by Irma means to them in the weeks to come.
AMANPOUR: And, Paula, you say that, you know, the winds and the darkening skies have just rolled in in the last half hour. I can tell the difference
from all the live reporting you've been doing earlier tonight.
But is the word getting out to people? I mean, are there people who are reachable? I mean, in the hinterlands essentially.
[14:05:07] NEWTON: No, and that is exactly the problem, Christiane. There is no way of knowing if these people have gotten the message.
The government has done what they can. They started on Monday trying to get the information in these communities. But, Christiane, as you know so
well, this people stay close to their sources of water in the villages and the communities. And they usually have to go a long way to find any kind
of infrastructure, where they can withstand these kinds of storms. And it is a great risk after the storm hits, Christiane.
You know, it will be several days. These roads will be impassable. Bridges will be washed away and they will try and get to these communities.
As I said, many people on stand by here, not just to travel by road but by air to look in on any devastation that might occur.
I think we were alarmed to hear from local officials, though. They are not sounding very reassuring at this point even though they have been very
lucky that the storm has at least turned a little bit further north.
It is crazy to think about what this country would have gone through had it taken a direct hit when they're telling us even now they are not ready.
AMANPOUR: So just remind us then because, you know, 11 months ago, Hurricane Matthew swept through there, and it was devastating. Just remind
us what the toll could be.
NEWTON: Well, what the toll could be is OK, keeping in mind, it was a category 4. The one you were looking at some of those villages, they were
absolutely wiped off the face of the earth.
I mean, there were nothing left of these villages. What was really extreme, though, Christiane, is to see the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew
was the fact that for days people lacked basic things like water and food.
And we're not talking just those people that were affected directly by the storm. We're talking about upwards of half a million people, 600 to
700,000 people in the aftermath of that storm that did not have food and water. And that is what's concerning many people here.
You mentioned this. The outlying areas. The towns and the villages will be very difficult to get to them, and even though they will not have the
full impact of the storm here in Haiti, it will be impossible really to distinguish what a full force of the storm meant or what just being
sideswiped by it meant. It says this place just cannot handle it.
AMANPOUR: And it has been as I've said battered and sideswiped and directly punched in the gut for so many years. You know, just -- in our
memory, we've had the terrible earthquake of 2010. We've had Hurricane Matthew, now Irma, and all sorts in between.
I mean, has it even been able to achieve a baseline of infrastructure that's solid or any kind of heavy equipment and the kind of infrastructure
that could rescue people and save them from the worst.
NEWTON: No. A lot of the issues that were still present even before the earthquake and clearly hampered after the earthquake are still here. I
mean, this place, if Haitian was not as affected as the earthquake in 2010, let's say Port-Au-Prince, but I know even from covering a lot of this
regions after the cholera epidemic right after that there is not that basic infrastructure. And some of that basic infrastructure, Christiane, just
As I said, you were sitting on your home in the village. You think the storm that's hitting us now have passed. The winds have died down. You
don't see rain. And all of a sudden, you will have a mudslide coming down on your entire village and that is the kind of threat that continues here.
Christiane, it has to be said that the government has really been functioning -- well, it's been in a state of dysfunction for years. And
that is part of the problem. When I went looking for the government response, I certainly couldn't find where it was there in terms of really
getting to the heart of people's needs before this storm and we hear that from local officials as well.
They were told that federal officials were sending aide to them. Still in the last hour, they have not seen it. There are hundreds of people,
though, fanned out across the region from those government agencies trying to do what they can for the evacuation, but many people fearing it will
just unfortunately come far too late for those who would need it most.
AMANPOUR: It's a real tragedy, Paula. So close to the United States. The recipient of so many hundreds of millions of dollars of aide, U.N. efforts
and all the rest and it's still in the most desperate plight.
Paula, thank you from Cape Haitian.
And we're going to turn now to islands that have already been hit by the hurricane.
Joining us from Antigua is Robert Goodwin. He's a civil engineer. His own home has been damaged, while next to Barbuda as we said has been literally
wasted. We just heard from the prime minister who spoke about it last night.
Robert Goodwin, tell us what this storm has done to your island.
ROBERT GOODWIN, CIVIL ENGINEER (via telephone): Well, in terms of Antigua itself, I can say that we have been a bit fortunate and that the eye of
Hurricane Irma passed to the north. And in fact, it made a direct hit on our sister island of Barbuda.
In Antigua, itself, the damages have not been major. I believe that we probably had to deal with sustained winds and maybe 70 to 80 miles per
[14:10:00] As you know, the maximum sustained winds on this monster storm as they're calling it is something like around 185 miles an hour, which is
what they had to experience in Barbuda and St. Martin and Anguilla and other islands which are less fortunate.
Here, the extent of damages, typically trees falling, some level of flooding. The utility services are still taking time to be restored. At
the present time, for example, we are still out of electricity, Internet connectivity and so on.
These services of course will take time. Some of the roads and so on needed to be cleared. But Barbuda is where the catastrophe has happened.
And I think it highlights what can happen in a small island, you know, having to face a catastrophic hurricane like this.
Barbuda has been completely cut off and still is in terms of communications and soon. There was -- you mentioned in your preamble that there was a
visit by the prime minister and right now I believe that the coast guard is now getting ready to make a visit.
They are very, very nervous family members both in Antigua, in Canada, in the U.S. I've heard them calling into the radio stations and so on, making
inquiries to their family members, especially family members who are elderly and some of them disabled and so on.
The information we are getting is that more than 90 percent of the holding stock in Barbuda has been either destroyed or severely damaged. The
shelter itself, where many of the residents actually took shelter. That shelter was actually severely damaged also. And many of the people then
have to take refuge in the hospital.
The telecommunications system has collapsed. The towers and so on blew over of course during the severity of the storm. For the situation in
Barbuda -- Barbuda incidentally is a flat island. The highest point is about 128 feet above sea level so that the ferocity of the winds would have
AMANPOUR: Mr. Goodwin --
GOODWIN: We're still very, very concerned about the situation there.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Goodwin --
AMANPOUR: I'm really riveted by your description. It's really a brilliant, brilliant picture that you are painting. And of course, we're
talking to you among other reasons because as you say we can't actually reach people in Barbuda. And as you said the communications are cut off.
And we're seeing all these terrible pictures.
You are yourself a civil engineer. You used to work for the U.N. Give me an idea of the time, the cost, the ability of rebuilding, reconstructing.
What kind of effort are we looking at?
GOODWIN: We are looking at a really major effort of reconstruction. The immediate problem of course is shelter with many of housings and so on
People -- we will need to arrange a rebuilding effort, focusing on shelter, getting the electricity, the water, the basic services, the government
buildings that were destroyed. They will have to be repair. The roads and so on.
The whole island and a lot of the island, of course, being flat would be subject to flooding. So we will have to get those kind of infrastructure
restored, but the focus right now of course is food and water, basic needs.
But once that immediate relief is over, then we'll have to focus a lot on getting assistance to people to help them to essentially rebuild their own
houses and the government would certainly have to take the lead in rebuilding the infrastructure.
AMANPOUR: Thank you so much. Thank you very much for bringing us up to date on really the hardest hit of those islands so far as we continue to
watch this. Robert Goodwin, thanks.
And when we come back, we focus on the manmade crisis on the Korean Peninsula. The first U.S. secretary of state to visit North Korea, the
only one, Madeleine Albright joins us with her analysis of how to get out of this conundrum. That's next.
[14:15:30] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
As some Caribbean Islands in the southern United States brace for the wrath of Hurricane Irma, President Donald Trump continues to put America first by
proposing cuts to U.S. humanitarian aide.
This isn't the only foreign policy issue where a storm is brewing. The president's handling of the North Korean crisis has also drawn some
criticism as tensions mount ahead of an expected ICBM test from Pyongyang this Saturday.
I'm joined by the former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who's been to North Korea and proven that diplomacy between the
two countries can work.
AMANPOUR: Madam Secretary, welcome to the program.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: Good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So before we talk to this really dire crisis on the Korean Peninsula, just from you as a former secretary of state and somebody who is
traveling all over the world right now, what do you think when you hear that the current administration wants to cut back on foreign aid or
humanitarian aide as we're seeing this massive, you know, storm in your backyard?
ALBRIGHT: Frankly, I'm stunned, but it's typical of what they don't understand in terms of America's role, and that in fact America is
strengthened if we can help our friends and allies.
And what you've been reporting about what's been happening in the Caribbean, that will affect many, many people in the United States and us
generally, and we need to help. And if we cut all our funding, then we have really cut off any capability to help America help and I think that's
where we have to be engage.
AMANPOUR: And so it's not just the funding, it's also pulling out of the Paris climate accord. You have tweeted when the president, you know,
talked about that, the withdrawing turns a symbol of American leadership into a symbol of American isolation, damages our economy and our security.
How much do you put climate change in this hurricane basket and how bad is it for the world to have the U.S. pull out?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I have to say and listening to the weather forecaster who explained why the wind is so high, it's because the ocean is hotter than
it's ever been. And so I don't know how much more explanation anybody needs in terms of the connection of the fact that we aren't dealing with
climate change and that some people don't even believe in it.
And then you put together with what happened in Texas and the fires that are taking place in California, and the fact that we have given up
leadership. I find it totally stunning given how important climate change is, and that it is one of the major issues that the United States has to
deal with for our own good, if not for our responsibilities internationally.
AMANPOUR: So let's talk about leadership because here again is a major crisis on the Korean peninsula. How do you analyze what President Trump
and the administration has been doing in response. And I guess particularly, you know, there's been a lot of criticism of the president
sort of seeming to drive a wedge through the very close South Korea-U.S. alliance.
ALBRIGHT: Christiane, I'm finding all of it very confusing in terms of what all of the mixed messages are. We do need to work with the South
Koreans and the Japanese, and the Chinese, and the Russians. And what South Korea is obviously a front line in all of this. They are our
friends. They are our allies. We have forces there. I cannot imagine why the president thought it was intelligent to decide that we're going to
rework on the trade agreement or saying that they're appeasers.
So I find it very disturbing, and it's just part of the story here of very, very mixed messages from this administration and very hard to figure out
what direction they are going on what I do think is a major crisis.
So I guess I'd like you to be able to predict what you think is going to happen. I don't know whether you can, but you've been there before, and
you were there. You met Kim Jong-il, the current leader's father. It was seventeen years from ago. Almost precisely to the moment right now. And
it was also to broker a halt to their missile program.
What kind of message did you get from them? Do you understand their motives?
[14:20:00] ALBRIGHT: Well, let me just say this is an incredibly complex situation and the relations with the North Koreans have been difficult ever
since the end of the Korean War. And we don't have a peace treaty with them and we don't talk to them. And so I still am the highest level
sitting official to have gone to Pyongyang and the truth is that we had very useful discussions because we were trying to limit their missiles.
By the way, Kim Jong-il, the father had said that we could keep our forces in South Korea. We were in the middle of discussions when the election of
2000 took place and the Bush administration took a totally different tact. And I think that, by the way, during the Clinton administration, there was
no addition to fissile material, there were no nuclear bombs and there were no ICBMs.
And so talking with the North Koreans within the context of the six party talks or multilateral talks, I think is what's important.
And, by the way, diplomacy is not a gift to the other side. It is the way we have to talk to people that we disagree with. And I'm hoping very much
that the administration will understand the diplomatic context of this along with the use of sanctions and obviously deterrence.
AMANPOUR: Obviously, we all know also that the Clinton administration initiatives they were kind of cheating on it. There was some verification
problems. We can get to that in a minute. But I want to ask you whether you think the previous administration, the Obama administration wasted
valuable time by not engaging with North Korea in the manner that you were describing as necessary.
This is what the South Korean presidential adviser told me on this issue yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I personally believe that if the United State has spent even 1/5 of time and efforts on the North Korean issue with regard to the -
- compared towards the Iranian case. I think the North Korean nuclear issue could have been resolved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, he's got a point right?
ALBRIGHT: Well, it's more complicated than that. I mean the Obama administration did work to pick up the ball and tried to figure out how to
operate within the six-party talks.
I do think -- I wish personally that they had done more. But the bottom line is that it takes a number of countries to work this and at that time
the South Korean government was not interested, and there were a lot of different things going on. The issue now, however, is that we are at a
critical moment and we do need to work with the South Koreans.
When President Moon was in the United States, he was very pleased with the kind of relationship he developed with President Trump and was only sorry
that all of a sudden this issue about the trade talks came up. And the Japanese we need to talk with and this has to be multi-lateral diplomacy.
But I do think that it's unfortunate that we don't really know enough about what's going on in North Korea. And that we have not spend enough time
generally dealing with it.
And by the way on the cheating, let me just say, we lived through the cold war. There certainly was plenty of cheating by the soviets at the time.
You move on. You deal with what you have to do, and we need to talk about the threat of the missiles and their developing, this nuclear capability.
We need to talk to them within that context.
AMANPOUR: Very briefly, we have 30 seconds.
Firstly, Russia and China are not necessarily on side with the U.S. view, but secondly everybody is saying those who understand negotiations that it
will take carrots and sticks. It might be unpalatable to the United States. But this same adviser to the president told me, you know,
denuclearization cannot be the first demand of any kind of negotiation. There should be sort of a freeze on activity, a verifiable dismantling.
If we start with denuclearization, it will be difficult to make a breakthrough. But if you start, we like to freeze in some verifiable
measure, what do you make of that posture?
ALBRIGHT: I think there is a way to face the discussions in terms of having some kind of an interim agreement and looking at things, but it
doesn't mean that we need to freeze.
For instance our relationship with the South Koreans and helping them on their deterrence. But there are steps that need to be taken here. And it
doesn't take a lot of imagination to go back and look at how various kinds of talks take place. You deal with it one step at a time and you decide
that diplomacy is not a gift to those that you disagree with.
It is the method for talking with them within that context of the multi- lateral talks. And I think we need to get with it and stop kind of mixing the messages and trying to figure out what we are really for and this is
hard to figure what the process is going to be. But we need to participate. It's dangerous.
AMANPOUR: It is indeed.
Secretary of State Albright, thank you so much for joining us.
And when we come back, we imagine a world of good news for a change. A giant step forward in the fight against cancer. The Texan invention,
detecting the disease in record time. That's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where the pen is mightier than the scalpel.
The University of Texas is on the case. It may have just been battered by Hurricane Harvey, but it may also have just created a powerful weapon in
the war on cancer.
The university's team of scientists and engineers has developed a pen that can identify dangerous cancerous tissue in just ten seconds. That's 150
times faster than today's technology.
Now the MasSpec pen gathers molecules that allow it to quickly recognize cancerous cells from healthy tissue during surgery and thus ensure that
exactly the right amount of tissue can be cut out.
The University says that it wants to end the heartbreak of patients who have emerged from surgery only to find that undetected cancerous tissue
remains. The MasSpec Pen is expected to start trialling in real operations next year.
And that's it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching. Goodbye from London.