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YOUR WORLD TODAY
Tentative Deal With North Korea; Lebanon Bombings; Former U.S. Ambassador to U.N. John Bolton Critical of Agreement with North Korea
Aired February 13, 2007 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A tentative deal. North Korea agrees to shut down its main nuclear facility for a price. What signals does it send?
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Bombings in Beirut on the eve of an emotional and politically-charged anniversary. Does it signal another phase of instability?
CLANCY: Fear and panic at the a trendy U.S. shopping mall. A teenager in a long coat goes on a rampage in Utah.
GORANI: And centuries of history. Rome struggles between preserving its cultural treasures and moving on the path of modernization.
CLANCY: It's 2:00 in the morning in Pyongyang, North Korea, 11:00 a.m. in the morning in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Hello and welcome to our report broadcast around the globe.
I'm Jim Clancy.
GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani.
From Beijing to Beirut, wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.
Well, we begin this hour with developments on North Korea's nuclear program.
CLANCY: That's right. The White House issuing a statement a short time ago praising what it termed a landmark agreement with North Korea to shut down its primary nuclear reactor and dismantle its program.
GORANI: Well, the statement called it an important first step. Within the past hour, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The six-party agreement reached in Beijing is an important initial step toward the goals of a denuclearized North Korea and a more stable and secure northeast Asia. This breakthrough step was the result of patient, creative and tough diplomacy.
This is a multilateral agreement. All of the major players in the region now share a stake in its outcome, as well as demand for results and accountability
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: Now, there is skepticism, of course, and it's being really underlined by a statement coming from the North Korea news agency that says this agreement only requires a temporary suspension of its nuclear facilities. Now, that seems to go at -- be at odd with the stated agreement as everybody else understands it.
GORANI: All right. We've got to look into this -- we have to look into this story a bit more. And John Vause has details of the deal reached through those six-party talks in China.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Finally, they did it. More than three years since these on again, off again talks began, a deal which should see North Korea's Kim Jong-il give up his nuclear program, much to the relief of America's top negotiators.
CHRISTOPHER HILL, CHIEF U.S. NEGOTIATOR: It's not an easy process, no question about it. But I think this is a good first step. And our hope -- in fact, we insist that this step be followed up by other steps.
VAUSE: Under the plan, North Korea has 60 days to shut down its main plutonium production facility in return for desperately needed energy. Initially, 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil, another 950,000 tons will be delivered when the reactor is completely disabled. The North has also agreed to allow the return of international inspectors.
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: The reality is that North Korea will not be able to harvest any nuclear plutonium. The next step has to be, get them to dismantle all of their nuclear weapons. But this is an important step.
VAUSE: There is also a commitment to work towards improving relations between Washington and Pyongyang and removing North Korea from the U.S. list of states sponsors of terrorism.
The North Koreans announced a successful test of a nuclear device last October. Since then, some reports put their stockpile of nuclear weapons as high as 12. And in this deal, no word when Kim Jong-il will be forced to give up the nuclear weapons he already has.
JOHN BOLTON, FMR. U.S. AMB. TO U.N.: It sends exactly the wrong signal to would-be proliferators around the world -- if you hold out long enough and wear down the State Department negotiators, eventually you get rewarded.
VAUSE (on camera): But save the celebrations for now. These six- party talks have been down this road before almost a year and a half ago, when another landmark deal was reached, only to have it all break down just days later.
John Vause, CNN, Beijing. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CLANCY: All right. We're expecting to hear from a vocal skeptic of this agreement. John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, doesn't think that this sends the right signal to countries like Iran, who are also involved in developing nuclear programs.
Now, we want to know what you think about the agreement that's come out of these six-party talks in Beijing.
GORANI: All right. Now, the question we're asking you, our viewers, today, as we take this story in: Will it end the nuclear standoff with North Korea, this agreement that was announced?
E-mail us your views and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLANCY: All right. Let's switch now to Lebanon, where bombs ripped apart two buses in a mountaintop Christian community near Beirut a day before the country marks a somber anniversary. Police say the bombs, packed with metal pellets, killed at least three people and wounded many more.
Let's get details now from Beirut there and our bureau chief there, Brent Sadler -- Brent.
BRENT SADLER, CNN BEIRUT BUREAU CHIEF: Jim, it's in the midst of Lebanon's worst political crisis since the civil war of the 1970s and '80s. The bombers struck a civilian transport outside Beirut in what was described by the leader of the parliamentary majority here, Saad Hariri, as "a cowardly terrorist act."
French President Jacques Chirac warned that it was an attempt, he said, to plunge the country, the whole of Lebanon, into renewed violence.
SADLER (voice over): Double bomb blasts on a mountain road in a Christian area of Lebanon. Explosives packed with metal pellets tearing apart two small buses carrying commuter passengers to and from the capital, Beirut.
The blood of the dead and wounded has splashed on the road. Panicked Lebanese flee the area.
It's another deadly blow to the embattled efforts of the Western- supported government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to stabilize the strife-torn country. It follows a devastating summer Hezbollah war with Israel and a winter of deepening political discontent that began more than two months ago when anti-government protesters occupied downtown Beirut, led by Hezbollah, to demand more power.
(on camera): The timing, as well as the choice of targets and territory for this attack, converge with a widely-held view mostly among pro-government supporters that it was a brutal attempt to sew renewed fear among Lebanese on the eve of an expected mass turnout Wednesday to commemorate a pivotal assassination two years ago of former prime minister Rafik Hariri.
(voice over): Heightened security fears surround that event, focused on keeping rival groups separated. They are expected to assemble around Hariri's burial site, close to the downtown encampment of (AUDIO GAP) Shia Muslims and some Christian factions allied with Hezbollah.
After the murder of Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, Lebanon has been plagued by a series of still unsolved killings and attacks against prominent anti-Syrian politicians and journalists. But this latest attack was the first of its kind.
MARWAN HAMADEH, TELECOMMUNICATIONS MINISTER: This is a new kind of murders in Lebanon, and I think this underlines more than ever the necessity to establish the international court for Lebanon.
SADLER: Big-picture politics involve conflicting interests of the United States and Israel, versus those of Hezbollah's allies, Iran and Syria, in Lebanon, causing many Lebanese to fear that a renewed phase of violent instability is set to continue.
SADLER: Well, tensions spilled into serious street violence only last month, when nine people were killed in clashes when anti-government (AUDIO GAP).
CLANCY: All right. We apologize. We're obviously having some satellite transmission difficulties there with Beirut's bureau chief, Brent Sadler, as he was describing there some of the problems that deepen as a result of this twin attack today.
Unclear whether it was a suicide bombing or, as has been the case in other bombings in Lebanon, detonated by remote controls. As details come in we'll pass them on to you -- Hala.
GORANI: All right.
But here is some reaction to our top story this hour, that deal on the North Korean nuclear program reached at six-party talks in Beijing.
The President, George W. Bush, reacted to that deal just a few moments ago, and through the White House spokesperson, Tony Snow, this is what he had to say. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: "I am pleased with the agreements reached today at the six-party talks in Beijing. These talks represent the best opportunity to use diplomacy to address North Korea's nuclear programs. They reflect the common commitment of the participants to a Korean peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons."
"In September 2005, our nations agreed on a joint statement that charted the way forward toward achieving a nuclear weapons-free peninsula. Today's announcement represents the first step toward implementing that agreement."
"Under the agreements reached today, North Korea has committed to take specific actions within the next 60 days. Among other things, North Korea has agreed to shut down and seal all operations at the primary nuclear facilities it has used to produce weapons-grade plutonium and has agreed to allow international inspectors to verify and monitor this process. In addition to those immediate actions, North Korea has also committed to disclose all its nuclear programs and disable its existing nuclear facilities as an initial step toward abandoning all of those programs and facilities under international supervision."
"The other parties have agreed to cooperate in economic, humanitarian, and energy assistance to North Korea. Such assistance will be provided as the North carries out its commitments to disable its nuclear facilities."
"I commend Secretary Rice, Ambassador Hill and our negotiating team in Beijing for their hard work."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. The White House press Secretary there, Tony Snow, reacting to what the White House is calling a landmark agreement for North Korea to shut down its main and primary nuclear facility and allow inspectors to monitor that operation in exchange for aid and fuel assistance.
We'll be following that story of course. And we'll be getting a lot more analysis and reaction from the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, as well as others.
But for now, let's check some other news making headlines around the world.
GORANI: A short break here on YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN International.
When we come back, the U.S. military in Baghdad says the evidence is clear.
CLANCY: How strong is the case, though, that Iran's government is approving arms transfers to Shia militias in Iraq?
We're going to get some insight on the type of weapons involved and the timing of those accusations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had an angry look on his face. He had a big, thick coat on, and he had a shotgun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Witnesses describe a terrifying scene after a deadly shooting at an American shopping mall. Stay with us.
CLANCY: Welcome back to CNN International and YOUR WORLD TODAY.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has been speaking out against the agreement with North Korea. Ambassador Boltons thinks this is not such a good idea.
John Bolton joins us now live from Washington.
North Korea announced its ready to shut down its main reactor, enter into negotiations. We're told by the diplomats the total cost of this deal is $400 million.
It looks like a bargain. Why isn't it?
JOHN BOLTON, FMR. U.S. AMB. TO U.N.: Because I think it actually might lead to an increased risk of war on the Korean peninsula. You know, even as we're speaking, North Korea is reinterpreting the deal, saying that it's only required to shut down its Pyongyang reactor temporarily, which is a very different view than what was announced in Beijing.
More fundamentally, this agreement covers only a very narrow aspect of North Korea's nuclear program and does not address at all their effort to achieve nuclear weapons through enriched uranium. It rewards bad behavior. It's everything that the administration criticized in President Clinton's 1994 agreed framework.
CLANCY: Well, let's listen, if we can, to a little bit of what the U.S. secretary of state had to say a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: The six-party agreement reached in Beijing is an important initial step toward the goals of denuclearized Korean peninsula and a more stable and secure northeast Asia. This breakthrough step was the result of patient, creative and tough diplomacy.
This is a multilateral agreement. All of the major players in the region now share a stake in its outcome, as well as a demand for results and accountability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: I think the key word there, it's an "initial" step. Now, you seem to be interpreting it as already it's a done deal. In one sense, it's locking down the other five parties, beside North Korea. It's locking them down to a single strategy.
That doesn't seem to be what the secretary of state is saying.
BOLTON: Well, it provides North Korea with very tangible economic benefits for very minimal performance. But I would say, the best thing you can say about this deal is that it's so incomplete and that the North Koreans may yet save us from ourselves by overreaching.
You know, they violated the 1994 agreed framework because they want to have it both ways. They want to keep the nuclear program and get these economic benefits. So I'm hoping the North Koreans will come to our rescue and show that they're not really serious here about denuclearization, because I don't think they are.
CLANCY: Well, you know, and it's good to be a skeptic. It's good, also, you know, to look hard at all of these deals and to push hard. But, you know, North Korea has hong said, Mr. Ambassador, that it fears a U.S. attack. Whether that's founded or not, it fears one.
We heard over the weekend from President Vladimir Putin of Russia, saying that the U.S. is pushing a lot of these countries into the nuclear corner, it's not to our advantage to be pushing them that hard. Wouldn't this deal seem to say, no, there is another way, there is the rout eof diplomacy?
BOLTON: It shows the opposite. North Korea has been pursuing nuclear weapons for at least 15 years, well before this administration. It's a policy that they settled on to intimidate their neighbors, and it's a policy that I think they're continuing to pursue.
The danger of this kind of agreement is that it's a charade, it's a hollow agreement. And it will give people the illusion of security when it won't actually produce it. And even worse, it will say to countries like Iran and other would-be proliferators, if you have just have enough patience, if you just have enough persistence, you'll wear the United States down. They'll give up on point after point after point...
CLANCY: Do you think Christopher Hill...
BOLTON: ... and eventually will succeed.
CLANCY: ... was worn down, really?
BOLTON: I think this is a process that's gone on for six years of change after change after change in the American position. I think, for example, the central point here is that there is really nothing in the agreement that deals with the uranium enrichment program.
The agreement focuses like a soda straw on the Pyongyang reactor and facility, and that's not nearly the entire threat. Not least of which is North Korea says nothing about whatever stock of nuclear weapons it already possesses. That's a grave flaw in the agreement.
CLANCY: Prediction -- will North Korea renege on this deal down the road, demanding more security guarantees, more international aid, and fuel oil, and more world attention?
BOLTON: One can only hope that's what the North Koreans do. It would be true to form. It's what they've done in the past. And then maybe we can get past the illusion that they're trustworthy enough to deal with and get on with the business of reuniting the Korean peninsula. That should be our real objective. CLANCY: John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Now a senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute.
As always, I want to thank you for being with us.
BOLTON: Thank you.
CLANCY: All right. We're going to take a short break here on YOUR WORLD TODAY.
We'll be back right after this.
CLANCY: Weighing in on North Korea and the deal announced in Beijing, IAEA -- International Atomic Energy Agency -- head Mohamad ElBaradei, speaking in Luxembourg.
Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
MOHAMAD ELBARADEI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: ... weapons program and to move toward a Korea -- denuclearized Korean peninsula would be -- would be a step in the right direction. This is -- this is the first part of a process, and the agency will be asked to monitor closure of facilities at Pyongyang and we obviously will be happy to do that.
I obviously will have to consult with our board. I'm sure our board will support and encourage the agency to go back to North Korea and work with the North Korean authorities to ensure that at the end of the day all nuclear activities in Korea are for peaceful purposes.
On Iran, we are still going through difficult time. I don't think we have yet to find the way. The international community imposed sanctions on Iran as an expression of concern about the nature and scope of the Iranian program.
However as I said a number of times, we need to look post- sanction. We need to understand that sanction alone will not resolve -- we need to find a way to establish or resume the negotiation between Iran and six-parties.
As the minister just mentioned, the Korean outcome is a good reminder of how important a negotiation is when people put their heads together, sit around the table. You know, you can resolve the issues. The Korean issue was stalemated for many years and when the U.S. and Korea sat together as part -- along with the six-party talks, things started to move forward.
And I would hope that in the next few weeks, we should be able to find a way to get Iran and the six parties back to the negotiating table. I know that the Iranians are still interested in coming back to the negotiation. I know all the other parties in the international community is interested to resume the negotiation with Iran and it is a question of how to create the conditions, the necessary conditions where both parties will be able to come back to the negotiating table.
I floated the idea of simultaneous time out, that Iran should take a time out from its enrichment activities and take a time out from the application of sanctions. I think this could be the basis of a dialogue to set the conditions for a successful negotiation.
One can identify the objectives of the negotiation. The time and modalities of Iran exercising its right, the commitment by Iran to be fully transparent and to work with the agency to clarify outstanding issues. And a commitment by all parties that the ultimate aim of this negotiation is for normalization between Iran and the international communities, in the security, in the economic fields, in the political fields.
I continue to express my concern that if we don't go back to the negotiating table, there will be escalation in a region which is already a ball of fire.
Every one of us should do the utmost to make sure this will not happen, that we de-escalate the crisis and that we pursue negotiations, the dialogue will be able to find a solution.
I'll stop here and will be happy to answer a couple of questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a few minutes only because we have other obligations. But if there's a question, sir, yes?
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) concerning North Korea, when do you think the inspection will start? Could you give me some time line for the future? And secondly if you have any plans to have emergency order meeting in the near future?
ELBARADEI: Well, I have to see first that the final declaration and we have to -- as I understand it, it has to be yet ratified by the six-party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have -- there will be a meeting on the 19th of March.
ELBARADEI: Yes, we have ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... Six party talks.
ELBARADEI: We have our board of governors that is going to meet on 6th of March. If that agreement today as announced, it will be ratified by six parties, I think I will then present a report to our board on the 6th of March with how we can implement that request to that agency to monitor the freeze of the nuclear facilities in Pyongyang.
And we will obviously see how what the technical implications for and how to go about it. However, we have done that before. We were monitoring the freeze of Pyongyang activities in the past, so I don't see that to be a difficult job. It's a job that we have done before. CLANCY: The North Korea case is a reminder of how negotiations can work. The words of the chief of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency around the world, the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamad ElBaradei. They're speaking in Luxembourg as he hears the news. Does he have a date when he would go into North Korea to monitor the shut down of the Pyongyang reactor? No. All of that is waiting in time. He says he's sure that his own board at the IAEA would approve of the involvement of the agency in any of that. This is really a reminder that negotiations can work. He says in the case of Iran, he doesn't think sanctions alone are going to work. And he sees this as pointing away to find solutions to some of the nuclear issues that are out there around the world -- Hala?
GORANI: All right. Well Jim, let's get more analysis there on this, our top story and what Mohammed ElBaradei was also commenting on.
That's North Korea's nuclear program and that deal that was struck in Beijing. As difficult as it is to understand all the in and outs of this story, well we've invited our former senior Asia correspondent Mike Chinoy back for his insight and analysis. Mike is now the Edgerton Fellow in Korean security at the Pacific Council on International Policy, long business card there, Mike.
What was the breakthrough this time around for these six-party talks? Can we call it a breakthrough and if so, what has changed?
MIKE CHINOY, PACIFIC COUNCIL ON INTERNATIONAL POLICY: Well, I think a number of things have changed and it is a potentially important breakthrough.
One of the most important things that has changed has been the approach of the Bush administration. For many years, the Bush administration refused to engage in serious bilateral negotiations with the North Koreans and its consistent position was that North Korea had to agree up front to effectively dismantle all of its nuclear facilities before the U.S. would really be prepared to talk in any detail about what Washington might offer.
But you've had a major sea change in the American approach partly because hard-line elements in Washington are much weaker now. Donald Rumsfeld is no longer the defense secretary. The congressional elections last fall weakened the power of that group of people associated with Rumsfeld, former -- and with the Vice President Cheney, and others who opposed negotiating with North Korea. That gave U.S. envoy Christopher Hill some running room and he was then able in the last several weeks to have a series of bilateral meetings with his North Korean counterpart to lay the ground work for this deal.
So the U.S. has changed policy. At the same time, the North Koreans having tested their nuclear weapon came under tremendous pressure from China to take a more accommodating stance.
GORANI: I'm sorry to interrupt, but just because we're limited in time so we can talk about several angles here, how difficult it will be really because that's the big challenge ahead? Here you have a first deal.
But going forward, how difficult is it going to be to make this stick?
CHINOY: It's going to be very difficult. What you have now are initial steps in which the North Koreans are going to freeze their nuclear facilities, let back international inspectors, and they're going to get tens of thousands of tons of fuel oil.
The really tough part, though, is going to be North Korea identifying and then agreeing to give up the plutonium that is believed to be enough for perhaps 10 or 12 nuclear weapons. And the really trick issue is the uranium nuclear weapons program. It was a dispute over that program in 2002 that triggered this current crisis.
The North Koreans insist they don't even have one. So there's a tremendous amount of tough work ahead. But I think what you have here is the beginnings of a process that the U.S. side clearly feels will help rebuild the trust which has been completely absent and slowly step by step make some headway.
You're going to have, I think a lot of criticism back in the United States from hard-liners who say this is rewarding bad behavior and you're going to have criticism from the other side of people saying the U.S. could have done this years ago if it hadn't had such a tough line.
GORANI: Right, and that was going to be my next question because those hard liners and those more hawkish elements that were within the Bush administration and close to the Bush administration such as John Bolton, who we spoke to just a few minutes ago on this show, are saying this, that you are rewarding bad behavior by allowing North Korea to gain so much for giving up so little. I mean, is that something that might potentially down the road make this deal more fragile?
CHINOY: Well there's no question there's going to be a lot of criticism from people like John Bolton and others who see that North Korea is evil and feel the United States shouldn't negotiate with it.
Also for the first time the U.S. has committed to supplying some of that fuel oil to North Korea. In earlier proposals in the six- party talks, which never went anywhere, it was always going to be the South Koreans or others who gave the fuel oil. And that may require the support from Congress. So the irony here is that the Bush administration, which has always been opposed to rewarding North Korea, giving them anything before they gave up everything, is now likely to have to go to Congress and say we want you to authorize -- giving them something before they've give up everything.
GORANI: All right, Mike Chinoy of the Pacific Council on International Policy, thanks so much for talking to us.
CLANCY: Well, the U.S. military in Baghdad says it has clear evidence. GORANI: All right. But how strong really is the case that Iran's government is approving arms transfer to Shia militia in Iraq? We'll look at that after this.
CLANCY: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN International.
GORANI: All right, we're broadcast in 200 countries across the globe in this hour as well to our U.S. audience. Now to Iraq, where a top general says the country will close its border with Syria and Iran for 72 hours. The Iraqi commander in charge of that crackdown says it's all part of the drive to secure and pacify Baghdad. A government official says the move is expected within a couple of days. It comes hours after a suicide bomber detonated a powerful truck bomb outside a food warehouse in the capital and at least 16 people were killed in that blast alone.
CLANCY: As the war in Iraq continues, there is that new debate out there -- a debate about a particular weapon and where it is from. Jonathan Mann joins us now with some insight.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Add one more acronym to the arsenal of the U.S. military. The EFP, the explosively formed projectile or explosively formed penetrator. Either way the name says it all, it's a weapon whose warhead is literally formed by the explosion after its fired.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL HAYDEN, CIA DIRECTOR: They are being used against our forces. They are capable of defeating some of our heaviest armor and incident for incident cause significantly more casualties than any other improvised explosive devices do. And they are provided to Shia militia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: Even before World War II, munitions experts knew that the shape of an explosive charge could change its effect on impact. An EFP takes advantage of that familiar fact with much deadlier results.
It is in fact an odd-looking thing, a bit like a missile made out of a pipe with a detonator in the back and what should be its tip inverted in. That bowl-shaped lid just a food across is the crucial deadly part. Watch how the lid changes shape after its fired. It travels at speeds faster than a kilometer a second and it's turned into molten metal, changing its shape so that by the time it strikes its target, it can penetrate an armored vehicle and spray metal fragments on its passengers inside.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I've been told when I was out there that they can take out an Abrams tank. The percentage of IED attacks that involve these explosively-formed projectiles is a relatively small percentage of the overall number of attacks, but they are far more lethal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: Ordinarily, that kind of weapon would be a real concern to soldiers on the ground. But it would be overlooked by just about everybody else. The EFP though has become a symbol. The Bush administration says it could only be coming from Iran. How strong is the administration's case? Well it was supposed to go public with its evidence in late January. But the proof if the briefing was repeatedly delayed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN HADLEY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The truth is quite frankly we thought the briefing overstated. And we sent it to back to get it narrowed and focused on the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: Now that the U.S. administration's evidence is out, officials can't seem to agree on what it means.
Here's what the White House press secretary had the say when asked about whether there was direct evidence linking Iran's government to the armored-piercing weapons in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's not a whole lot of freelancing in the Iranian government, especially when it comes to something like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: Just hours later, the top American military commander seemed to say the opposite, telling the voice of America, "We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say," he continued, "is that the Iranian government per se knows about this."
The EFP is not a new arrival in Iraq. It's been in use since last May and even U.S. authorities say, and we just heard, they are seeing a relatively small number of them. So why the briefing? Why Iran and why now? CNN's John Roberts has a look at that.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SR. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These pictures held up as evidence of Iran's meddling in Iraq, weapons, the U.S. says, provided to Shia militias used to kill U.S. and coalition troops.
The photos were released Sunday in Baghdad, and quickly prompted a denial from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA")
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): But we think that the U.S. is following another policy, is trying to hide its defeats and failures. And that is why it's pointing fingers to others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: And he may, in part, have a point, according to Iran expert Patrick Clawson.
PATRICK CLAWSON, THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Inside Iraq, it is more acceptable to talk about the foreign role in causing violence than to talk about an Iraqi role. So, to blame Iran for the Shia random killings plays well with Iraqi audiences.
ROBERTS: But the Iranian weapons were not brand-new finds. In fact, they were collected over the past couple of years. So, why unveil them now? To some critics, it looks like an aggressive step toward a new war with Iran.
Here's what the commander in chief had to say about that.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I guess my reaction to all the noise about, you know, he wants to go to war, is, first of all, I don't understand the tactics. And I guess I would say it's political.
ROBERTS: In fact, the president probably speaks for many on that front. What are the tactics in play? The reality is that the administration is trying to send different messages to different audiences.
CLAWSON: The U.S. has, for a long time, understated the Iranian role in Iraq, in the hopes that, in fact, there would be ways found to resolve these issues, for, after all, the Iraqi government wants to have as good relations as it can with its large neighbor to the east.
ROBERTS: Now, as the problems in Iraq worsen, U.S. allies are growing restless. On the one hand, the U.S. has to assure its friends in the Middle East that it's willing to stand up to Iran, but, at the same time, convince its European partners it's not war-mongering, a concern boldly stated by Russia's President Vladimir Putin this weekend.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way.
ROBERTS: And then there's the domestic Iranian audience, where there's been debate recently over whether Ahmadinejad is getting too aggressive.
Publicizing the Iranian weapons at a time like this could add further fuel to his critics at home, critics the American government has always been careful to court.
John Roberts, CNN, New York.
MANN: Officially Iran is denying the latest U.S. accusations of involve in Iran. One Iranian spokesman saying the U.S. has a long history of fabricating evidence. Back to you.
CLANCY: All right, Jonathan Mann, thank you for that. Now we got more reaction on this story from Iran's government just a short while ago.
Here's just a part of what the Iranian ambassador to Spain had to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEYED DAVOUD SALEHI, IRANIAN AMB. TO SPAIN: Iran has always supported, you know, any political process in Iraq. And we give your solidarity in order to make a stable country. But these allegations, I think, at this moment, which we need much opportunity to bring the two parties into negotiations to have a peaceful negotiations in order to have final result. Because these kind of new allegations, against the Islamic Republic of Iran is not logical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: Well, according to the ambassador, it's in Iran's best interest to have a peaceful and stable Iraq living next door -- Hala.
GORANI: Well, there's a lot more coming up on the program. Coming up, archaeology and engineering coming together.
CLANCY: That's right, the race is on to protect the past as a modern construction project digs beneath an ancient city. We're going to unearth the story when we come back.
Stay with us.
CLANCY: Well, when in Rome, dig as the Romans dig -- carefully.
GORANI: A modern city, built on ancient ground of course. Engineers and workers are teaming up with archaeologist to preserve Rome's cultural heritage wile digging tunnels for a new high-tech subway.
CLANCY: That's right, out there in a hard hat, our own Alessio Vinci unearths the story in the eternal city.
ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a struggle between preserving ancient treasures and developing a modern transportation system Rome desperately needs. No one is more aware of that than archaeologist like Rosella Rea, who spent hours investigating the bowels of the Eternal City.
"We have asked to move the construction dig further away from here," she tells me, pointing to a portion of a buried ancient wall dating back to the second century A.D.
As we continue underground, she says, we might have uncovered an ancient villa or a tomb. But this well preserved piece of a statue, she says, may be an indication that this was a place owned by someone really wealthy.
"It's a warning sign," she says, not enough to prevent construction of a subway station. But we have to be careful here; we might find more."
(on camera): This head is about 1, 800 years old. It's extremely heavy. It's pure marble. Experts here say that the nominal value of this is estimated in hundreds of thousands of dollars. They say that if this could be sold -- then won't sell it -- but if this could be sold, it would pay for all of the excavation costs here.
(voice-over): Peanuts compared to $4 billion need to build a third subway line for Rome. Archaeological probes, like this one, are under way all along the projected route to avoid finding something that would force the work to be stopped or even canceled. It's a constant struggle between conservationists and urban developers.
Fedora Filippi oversees one dig in the heart of Rome, where planners hope to build a station. In January, she uncovered this massive foundation of what she believes was a temple honoring the goddess of fortune, dating to Rome's emperors. Rome is just like that, she says. You lift a cobblestone and you will always find something. Developers promise they can preserve the wall and build a station around it. And they say the subway trains will run 30 meters, or 100 feet underground, deep enough to avoid damaging historical treasures.
The first station is set to open in 20011, the whole line finished in 2015, when commuters will not just travel through town, but through time as well.
Alessio Vinci, CNN, Rome.
CLANCY: Well, we've done our travelling for the hour. And we have come to the end of the line. That's it. I'm Jim Clancy.
GORANI: And I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching. Stay with CNN. A lot more ahead.
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