Return to Transcripts main page

CNN'S AMANPOUR

U.N. Improves Harshest Sanctions on North Korea; Hurricane Irma Survivors Tell Their Stories; Africa's Population Set to Double by 2050; 106 Chibok Girls Set to Return Home. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired September 14, 2017 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:11] NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN HOST: Tonight, North Korea hits out the latest U.N. sanctions threatening to turn the U.S. into darkness and ash.

We go live to the U.N.'s political chief.

Plus, with Africa's population expected to double in the next 25 years, the former president of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo tells me how the continent

can bare shape its own future.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Nima Elbagir in for Christiane Amanpour in London.

Chilling words from North Korea today in response to the latest U.N. sanctions. A threat from the Kim regime to use nuclear weapons to sink

Japan and reduce the United States to ashes darkness. But despite the evermore blood-curdling threats from the north, South Korean president Moon

Jae-in is resisting calls from the U.S. and his own cabinet to up the nuclear ante on the peninsula.

Here's what he told CNN's Paula Hancocks in an exclusive interview earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOON JAE-IN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT: I do not agree that South Korea needs to develop our own nuclear weapons or relocate tactical nuclear weapons in

the face of North Korea's threat.

To respond to North Korea by having our own nuclear weapons will not maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula and could lead to a nuclear arms

race in Northeast Asia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELBAGIR: Even after a recent decapitation drill, a simulated attack by South Korea on Kim and his lieutenant, Moon sought to dial down the

military tension.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOON: We do not have a hostile policy towards North Korea. We do not have the intension to attack North Korea and we do not have the intention to

reunify the Korean Peninsula in an artificial way or in the manner of absorption.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELBAGIR: That kind of language doesn't always sit well with President Trump, who criticized Moon as an appeaser in a tweet earlier this month.

But Moon is unfazed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOON: I believe what President Trump wanted to say was that not only South Korea and the U.S., but also China and Russia all together need to respond

very firmly against North Korea's nuclear provocations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELBAGIR: A complicated coalition to say the least, but can it all hang together?

Top U.N. official Jeffrey Feltman gavelled in the emergency council meeting this month leading to the toughest ever round of global sanctions against

North Korea.

He joins me now from the United Nations.

Mr. Feltman, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

JEFFREY FELTMAN, TOP U.N. OFFICIAL: Thank you for having me.

ELBAGIR: So just to recap a little bit for our viewers, this week the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed its strongest sanctions

yet.

Yesterday, the secretary-general said that unity in the Security Council is critical. But it's a pretty open secret that there is disappointment that

those sanctions strong as they were had to be watered down to pass muster with China and Russia.

Is it time to find a way to lay on maximum pressure without waiting for Beijing and Moscow, sir?

FELTMAN: I mean, from the United Nations' point of view, we look at the passage and resolution 2375 just a couple of days ago as a good example of

multi-lateral efforts of Security Council unity that is -- that yes, increases the sanctions. That was a negotiating process. Most Security

Council resolutions are a negotiating process. But it also emphasizes the need for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution, a peaceful and

comprehensive solution to the overall challenge that the DPRK's nuclear and missile testing program provokes.

I mean, look at the challenges that we face. Not only is the DPRK's program putting millions of people needlessly and recklessly at risk, but

it's also undermining international efforts, a non-proliferation and disarmament.

And you need to have a comprehensive approach of which sanctions are certainly an important part, but it's not the only part as this resolution

indicated.

ELBAGIR: What more do you want to see? You've got the U.N. general assembly next week and there is a reality unfortunately that it feels like

as the rhetoric escalates, as North Korea has evermore brazen nuclear test. There are these increasing escalating sanctions, but it doesn't seem to be

as yet a deterrent.

FELTMAN: Sorry.

ELBAGIR: No, no, don't worry. Do you want me to repeat that again for you, sir?

[14:05:05] FELTMAN: There. Thank you. I'm sorry.

I mean, certainly, we want to see a reduction in the military escalation. We want to see a way to the opening up the space eventually for talks to

resume. But that's not a tomorrow thing.

The tomorrow thing is the fact that you're going to have over 190 delegations here, nearly 100 heads of states and government. This provides

enormous opportities to have discussions about a way forward, to reinforce the gravity of the situation to the DPRK leadership.

The secretary-general will be meeting with foreign minister Ri Yong-ho here, but not only him. This is the only venue in which all six parties to

the six-party talks regularly participate and can interact.

I think the general assembly is a real opportunity to focus global leaders on the threat, what could be done to reduce the threat including increasing

the type of channels of communication that might reduce the chance of miscalculation.

There's a real risk here that there could be miscalculation that stumbles into the type of military conflict none of us want to see.

ELBAGIR: The worry is though for those watching from around the world that they feel that there has been so much talking and there doesn't seem to be

a clear way forward.

Is there one? Can you tell us of a way forward, sir, beyond just people talking at the margins of the U.N. general assembly?

FELTMAN: I think in the short term, there's a few things that have to happen. One is all leaders with contacts need to reinforce the gravity of

the situation to the DPRK leadership. They need to understand what's at stake here, what they are doing, what the risks are.

Second, we need to try to find technical ways of increasing the -- I don't know -- military to military channels that reduce that risk of

miscalculation.

Third, countries have an obligation now under the Security Council resolutions to implement the sanctions. That's part of the comprehensive

strategy. And fourth, we need to be looking for the openings, for the diplomatic and political talks that eventually are going to need to take

place. We need to be laying the foundations now for comprehensive peaceful political solution.

ELBAGIR: This is clearly something you feel very deeply about. We can see how impassioned you are and the words that you spoke ahead of the Security

Council definitely put that forward. And you rightly say that this isn't just about the military issues, this is also about the damage that's being

done inside North Korea to the North Korean people.

We saw that South Korea will be sending about $8 million in aid to pregnant women there. Is there more potential to try and get similar aid packages

under way, under the U.N.'s auspices?

FELTMAN: I mean, yes. The U.S. humanitarian aid saves lives. That's the bottom line. We estimate there are about 13 million people, that's about

half the population who are at severe risk.

And so the U.N. is looking for support, for programs to work on health, nutrition, water, sanitation, food security, things like that.

Unfortunately, for this year, our humanitarian appeal is less than 30 percent funded.

But we cannot neglect the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable parts of the North Korean society, even while we're looking for a comprehensive

and peaceful solution to the threat that the nuclear and missile program poses to the peninsula and beyond.

ELBAGIR: That's extraordinary. So even as North Korea, the DPRK is at the top of everybody's agenda and is discussed almost continuously, your

funding is at 30 percent.

FELTMAN: Just under 30 percent actually. As I said, this humanitarian funding weren't, you know, we're not talking about some sort of luxurious

provision of assistance. We are talking about saving lives.

And there's another element that we're also very concerned about, which is the human rights situation in North Korea. We don't have great visibility

on that, but the last commission of inquiry from 2014 revealed what they described as crimes against humanity.

People in North Korea are not able to exercise basic rights because of the risk. So there is the peace and security dimension that right now is

urgent and important.

There's the humanitarian situation. There's -- and then there is also human rights concerns. And we were trying to look at this in a

comprehensive, coherent fashion to address all of these challenges simultaneously.

ELBAGIR: We heard today the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaking about the need to -- very

similarly to you and the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the need to bring in a coherent, unified diplomatic response to this. But even

within that, they singled out China.

[14:10:00] How optimistic are you that this week China can be -- that next week, sorry, can be brought on board to get tougher on the DPRK?

FELTMAN: I am sure that the Chinese leaders recognize clearly the threat not only to peace and security in the region, but the threat to the non-

proliferation and disarmament regimes that the Chinese also support.

China voted for this resolution so china is part of the international consensus behind the approach that's framed by this resolution 2375. There

will be a number of meetings next week, where I'm sure that the Chinese leaders and others will be talking about.

I'll go back again to the U.N. I think the U.N. is in a unique position. We are the only place where all these people will be together, the only

place where all six of the six-party talks will be. And we have the ability because of sort of the objective, impartial nature of the U.N. to

provide some coherence and coordination if requested to a variety of initiatives.

ELBAGIR: And finally sir, if you do get tougher sanctions, are you hopeful that they will ultimately be effective, that this can be deterred purely by

sanctions and without a military solution?

FELTMAN: The goal is to avoid a military solution. I mean, look at the cost the military solution would likely raise. I think sanctions are an

important part of this picture.

It's part of the international unity of trying to solve this problem and sanctions send a message that the DPRK leadership needs to understand about

the unity of the international community, the commitment of the international community to see these problems and it's an important element

but not the only element to getting back to the table for the types of discussions we need for a comprehensive and peaceful solution.

ELBAGIR: Mr. Feltman, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck next week at the UNGA.

FELTMAN: Thank you. Thank you very much.

ELBAGIR: Thank you, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELBAGIR: We turn now to the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma that's ravaged parts of the U.S. and the Caribbean.

Today, President Trump visited Florida to see the damage for himself and to meet survivors. Some lost loved ones; others their livelihoods. But amid

the destruction, there were acts of kindness.

We have reporters all over the region. Our Sara Ganim tells us about a family on the Caribbean Island of St. Thomas saved by a stranger.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michelle Cox, Eugene Connors and their 5- year-old daughter Cynthia lived in this once beautiful neighborhood on St. Thomas, overlooking the U.S. Virgin Islands and all of their beauty.

EUGENE CONNORS, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: Obviously it had a great view. You know, things were great for four years, but, you know, when this hit, it

was a bad location.

GANIM: Last week, when hurricane Irma came roaring through, their home crumbled on top of them.

MICHELLE COX, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: I was stuffing towels into the rafters to stop the leaks from coming in. Cynthia was screaming. And I got a

phone call from this number I had never seen before.

GANIM: A man who they say knew their landlord was watching from across the valley.

COX: He says I'll come get you. The minute I walk out from that slammed door was her. We slammed from one end, slammed into the other side. We

couldn't get up. The wind was just pushing up against it. Then he came out and he grabbed Cynthia and ran out the door and there was John and

Dalton waiting for us. I want to go home. I want my home.

CONNORS: We didn't know them and had no idea who he was.

GANIM: He was a complete stranger?

CONNORS: Yes.

COX: He's just the bravest guy in the whole world, him in the side, I mean, height of the storm, trees are falling down, the rain coming down

like crazy, the winds were up to almost 200 miles per hour. They were telling us he just drove in and out weaving to get us. I did see the roof

flying that way when we were running. And it's a miracle it didn't hit his truck.

GANIM: What would have happened if he didn't come?

CONNORS: I really believe we would have been dead. Just the level of destruction. I mean, or at least seriously injured. So we're very

grateful.

GANIM: John and his son took these videos of the storm on their way to the rescue. He is now letting them stay in his house.

And across the island, people like Eugene and Michelle have also lost their homes to Irma. The worst storms that natives say they've ever experienced

on this island. Many say they will stay to help rebuild. But Michelle and Eugene are not sure.

[14:15:00] COX: Our extended family as we call them, you know, then friends that we've made and shared things for three years. And we want to

stay with them and rebuild and restart our lives, but I'm scared. We don't have a place of our own. It's hard to get food, water, gas.

It took us three hours just to get ice.

GANIM: For now they are simply in shock over what they've lost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good thing John saved us.

COX: Good thing John saved us, yes.

GANIM: Sara Ganim, CNN, St. Thomas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELBAGIR: Hurricane Irma recovery isn't the only concern the U.S. has. In fact, right now, the entire NATO alliance is on edge as Russia and Belarus

began their zapad war games. Zapad, which means West in Russian will be one of the largest war games by Russia in years.

Seeing some 12000 soldiers carry out drills surrounding Belarus. That's, of course, according to the Russian defense ministry.

When we come back, my interview with former Nigerian President and elder African statesman Olusegun Obasanjo. We talk about his plan to make Africa

work. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ELBAGIR: Welcome back to the program.

Africa's population is expected to double by 2050 as former president of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo is one of the senior most figures of Africa's old

guard. But the new book he co-authored making Africa work argues for a new approach to governance. I asked him how this generation can tackle the

major challenges facing the continent.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OLUSEGUN OBASANJO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA: Well, the many challenges, how do we feed our population that is supposed to drop off in about three

generations from now? How do we provide jobs, for their employment?

Now these are the challenges that cannot be business as usual. We cannot sit in the comfort of our past and think that we will be able to bring

about change. Change has to come.

ELBAGIR: On paper, almost 40 percent is still in the old Africa of the past. The non-Democratic regimes, but actually even if we look at that 61

percent that is free or partly free, it is either like in Angola, Do Santos handpicked his successor and it is still the ruling party or Joseph Kabila

who re-arranged the constitution to seek another term, or even Kagami who himself while lifting millions out of poverty has also played fast and

loose with civil liberties.

How do you as someone who was seen as Africa's elder statesman, what do you say to these people?

OBASANJO: The fact that Dos Santo decided to go is for me some comfort. But he hand-picked somebody to the fact that Dos Santos decided to go is

for me of some comfort, but he hand-picked somebody to succeed him.

I believe that may not be as good as he should be. Maybe that somebody will not do everything the way he will have wanted him to do it. So let us

see what happens in Angola.

ELBAGIR: I know that you're sitting here and you're speaking with the benefit of the years that you have in leadership positions, but you also

remember what it was like to be that young man who was imprisoned by military regime.

Would you have been happy to be told let us wait and see?

OBASANJO: Yes, I would have been happy to be told let's wait and see.

ELBAGIR: Really sir?

OBASANJO: Yes.

ELBAGIR: You were imprisoned.

OBASANJO: I was put in prison.

ELBAGIR: Because you believe in freedom and democracy.

OBASANJO: Because I believe in freedom and democracy. I spoke for democracy. I said if any military wants to continue to rule, he should put

down the military uniform and contest election. And for that, I was put in jail.

But when I was in jail, because Nigerians and the international community stood for me, I came out of jail. And when was released from jail, the

hope that I had materialize. I am an optimist. And now I'm with full of hope. I look for the best and even in the worst of situation.

ELBAGIR: But, again, we go back to the same point when you have an elite that is either controlling the ruling of the country or controlling in the

example of Dos Santos, his daughter runs some of the most lucrative industries in the country. You can see why it would be disheartening for

Africa's youth, this growing population explosion.

OBASANJO: There is limit to how much you can take on unless you are really devil incarnate and when there's too much pressure to give in.

ELBAGIR: So your message to the youth is to maintain that pressure, to keep fighting for what they believe in.

OBASANJO: Yes. I believe that they must be ready to also make a bit of sacrifice and that means not accepting the status quo. Look at what

happened in Burkina Faso. The leadership there didn't want to go. But when pressure was too much, they give up.

ELBAGIR: President Buhari, you were a big supporter of his. And yet at the moment, there are a lot of concerns about his health. There's concern

about Nigeria's economy.

What worries you?

OBASANJO: President Buhari have not disappointed me. He has his fight in corruption, his fight in insurgency. We are not there yet and we will

never -- it is not a one-night wonder.

What he has done, we should credit him and encourage him to do more.

ELBAGIR: Is there something you want to say as a clear message to Africa's leadership in terms of what they have to do to achieve what the continent

is capable of achieving?

OBASANJO: Stop doing what is wrong. Impunity. Corruption. These are things that Africa is not destined to have. And people will try and make

excuse. There should be no excuse. And then of course, we must place our individual countries and Africa above all interest. I believe that this is

what we should do. And if we do this, we will get there.

ELBAGIR: Chief Obasanjo, thank you so much for joining us on the program.

OBASANJO: And good bye, dear.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELBAGIR: We go to Nigeria after a break where more than 100 Chibok girls are part of a long overdue celebration. We'll tell you why next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ELBAGIR: And finally tonight, we imagine a joyful celebration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(GIRLS SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELBAGIR: You may not know these young women, but you will know of them. They're some of the 276 Chibok girls abducted from their school by Boko

Haram back in April 2014.

Now the 106 girls are singing and dancing to celebrate their return to what they hope is a normal life after escaping the clutches of Boko Haram. They

were taken to the Nigerian capital of Abuja for medical and psychological care. Now their treatment is complete and the Nigerian government has

organized a send forth dinner to bid farewell to the girls as they return to Chibok in northern Nigeria to see their families and hopefully go back

to school.

The government continues its negotiations for the rest of the girls who are still held by the terrorist group. But for these 106 young women, their

lives can finally begin again.

That is it for our program tonight. Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END