Return to Transcripts main page


President Obama Holds Nuke Summit; Adopted Boy Sent Back to Russia

Aired April 12, 2010 - 18:00   ET


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN BERLIN BUREAU CHIEF: Did so many of the country's cultural, political, and military leaders really have to die in a single incident?

(voice-over): Polish officials aren't discussing that publicly, as they work to restore a government shaken to its core. But the question is certain to get more scrutiny in the weeks and months to come.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Warsaw, Poland.



After troops fire on a bus, taking a terrible toll on civilians, Afghans take to the streets chanting "Death to America" -- what it means for the war effort. Stand by.

A nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists, President Obama calls the biggest potential threat to U.S. national security. And he has gathered leaders of four dozen nations for an extraordinary summit aimed at securing nuclear materials.

And U.S. officials launch an urgent effort to convince Russia to allow more adoptions by Americans, after a U.S. family sparked outrage by sending a young boy back to Russia alone.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A passenger bus riddled with bullets fired by allied troops. Four Afghan civilians are dead, and there is anger in the streets of the critically important city of Kandahar, and that anger is directly aimed at Americans.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, has the details from Kabul.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're just two months away from the big military offensive to try to retake parts of Kandahar from Taliban control. So, any incident that sends protesters rushing into the streets chanting "Death to America," that is not good news for American troops.

Military officials here in Kabul tell us they believe this is what happened. They say a route clearance team was moving through that area very slowly, sweeping for IEDs just before sunrise. They say a large vehicle came up very quickly behind the convoy. And because it was a steep embankment, the convoy couldn't just move to the side and let the vehicle pass.

The military says that the troops tried to wave off that vehicle three times, using flares and then again using hand signals, but the vehicle apparently kept coming up quickly behind them. The troops perceived that as a threat, and they opened fire.

The thing is, afterwards, they discovered it was just a passenger bus. Four civilians were killed. About another 13 were wounded and taken to the hospital.

President Karzai has come out and condemned the attack. Military officials have said they deeply regret the loss of life. They have sent investigators to the scene to find out what happened and to see if the troops did or did not follow the rules of engagement.

In any case, when the American military is trying to win the hearts of the people of Kandahar, so that they support this upcoming push to get the Taliban out of those areas, this could be, has the potential to be, a massive blow to that effort -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Serious development, indeed -- Chris Lawrence on the ground for us in Afghanistan.

U.S. troops there are training for war. Troops are also training here in the United States for how to deal with the war in Afghanistan. They're learning how to try to keep civilians out of the crossfire.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has that.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marines on patrol in an Afghan village. Insurgents are nearby -- well, not exactly. We're actually inside an old tomato packing plant at the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton, California.

(on camera): We're in this Afghan village. Of course, it's a simulated Afghan village.

(voice-over): These Marines are headed to the front lines of southern Afghanistan, but, first, they are getting some of the most realistic training the military can offer, a village of narrow lanes, mud walls, and blind corners. Religious calls, smoke grenades and odors as unattractively named as they smell, like dinosaur dung and gangrene, are piped in.

(on camera): So, just tell -- tell people what we're seeing here.

SGT. SAMUEL WALTON, U.S. MARINE CORPS: These are digital avatars that we use for shoot/no-shoot scenarios. So, Marines enter a house. They could be presented with any type of situation when they go into it.

STARR (voice-over): Bullets, even though made of chalk, are flying. While the Marines patrol at one end, those playing the role of the insurgents are getting ready.

Tensions build. Marines enter the village square. Villagers are upset.

(on camera): This kind of training is about as realistic as it can get for these Marines. This is what General McChrystal worries about, incidents of civilians being killed by military action, and then it all spins out of control.

(voice-over): What did the Marines learn here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tactical pause, figure out what's going on. You just had an IED go off.

STARR: How to work as a team under fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you know what was going on in the back all of the time? Or...



You need to get past...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like, when you guys got contact, you just -- you're just thinking -- who said, when you got contact (INAUDIBLE) contact from? I couldn't even hear what was freaking going on.

STARR (on camera): How does everybody think it went here today? How realistic? How good is the training?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like this. It's good training. We're getting there. You have actual role players that are actually speaking the language. It smells different.

STARR (voice-over): At the end of the day, the whole idea is, if a young Marine is going to make a mistake, better to make it here in training than on the front lines of the war.

Barbara Starr, CNN, Camp Pendleton, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Where is Osama bin Laden hiding? The prime minister of Pakistan tells me, not in his country. Just ahead, my exclusive one- on-one interview with Yousaf Raza Gilani -- why he says he is certain, certain the al Qaeda leader is not in Pakistan.

Plus, a big announcement from the Vatican today about the church and sexual abuse.

And later, the doomsday scenario -- what would happen -- what would happen if a terrorist group got its hand on the most powerful weapon on the planet? Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: As the debate, Wolf, over immigration reform heats up, a hefty majority of Americans are opposed to making it easier for illegal aliens to become citizens.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 66 percent of those surveyed do not want to ease the path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people who are in this country illegally. And some suggest the number is much higher.

Democrats are more likely than independents or Republicans to support making it easier for illegals to become citizens. The poll also shows 52 percent of Americans are sympathetic to illegal immigrants and their families, but 47 percent are not. They're unsympathetic. And that number is eight points higher than it was just four years ago.

All this comes, of course, as thousands of people attended rallies over the weekend in cities all around the country, calling on Congress to act quickly on immigration reform. Activists were waving American flags and holding up signs that said things like, "Stop tearing our families apart and reform now."

President Obama has vowed to do everything in his power to get a bipartisan deal through Congress. Well, it's not going to happen. As these poll numbers suggest, with a sluggish economy and nearly 10 percent unemployment, a lot of Americans don't have an appetite for immigration reform.

Under President Bush, Congress tried to do the same thing a few years back, but the critics called that effort amnesty. And that's exactly what it was. And the legislation never saw the light of day.

Anyway, here's the question. Should the U.S. make it easier for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants to become citizens? Go to and post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

CAFFERTY: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Some sobering facts about nuclear weapons right now.

At least seven countries officially publicly possess nuclear weapons. Two others, Israel and North Korea, are so-called unconfirmed. They don't publicly acknowledge that. According to the Federation of American Scientists, the vast majority of them, more than 80 percent, are in the United States and Russia.

The most common nuclear weapon in the United States is five times more powerful than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The U.S. also has warheads up to 25 times more powerful than the atomic bomb. The U.S. and Russia have enough nuclear weapons to destroy each other as functioning civilizations -- some sobering facts.

Two of those nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, are uneasy neighbors, and have gone to war in the past, making any future tensions all the more frightening.


BLITZER: And joining us now in Washington, the prime minister of Pakistan, Yousaf Raza Gilani.

Mr. Prime Minister, thanks very much for joining us, and welcome to the United States.


BLITZER: Let's get right to some of the most important issues facing the United States and Pakistan.

"The New York Times" reporting today that Pakistan, your government, is getting ready, in their words, to greatly expand your weapons-grade fuel.

Is that true?

GILANI: No, it's not true.

BLITZER: What are you planning on doing with your weapons-grade fuel? Because "The New York Times" says you're struggling to make sure that you are on par with India.

GILANI: No, we are not competing with anybody. We really want to confine ourselves to the minimum deterrence. And that's it.

BLITZER: That's it. So, you're denying the story in "The New York Times" today?

GILANI: Yes, I deny it.

BLITZER: Let's move on to another issue that is critical right now. You probably saw the story in "The Washington Post" over the weekend suggesting that while there has been a dramatic improvement in cooperation between Pakistan and the United States in the hunt for Taliban extremists and al Qaeda, there still is this lingering cooperation that your intelligence services, the ISI, has with Taliban extremists.

Is that true?

GILANI: In fact, we are having excellent cooperation in the field of intelligence and defense between United States and Pakistan. And we have jointly and even separately had identified the targets. We got them arrested. And now they're facing the courts.

Therefore, we have very good relations with the United States, and we are cooperating on this aspect.

BLITZER: Did you recently release, as "The Washington Post" says, two high-ranking Taliban prisoners that you captured?

GILANI: That would be done by the courts. Therefore, the court has to do it.

BLITZER: It says that you quietly freed at least two senior Afghan Taliban figures that you had captured on your own. Are you familiar with this suggestion?

GILANI: I am familiar with this case, but, at the same time, we have our own laws, and the -- the judiciary of Pakistan have to deal with this on merit.

BLITZER: Are you any closer right now, do you believe, to finding, to capturing or killing Osama bin Laden or his number two, Ayman al-Zawahri?

GILANI: In fact, Osama bin Laden is not in Pakistan.

And whosoever are the militants, we hardly discriminate between the good Talibans and the bad Talibans. Whoever are the militants be, it is our commitment, it is our resolve, and we have to take on those evil forces from our country.

Therefore, talking about al Qaeda, we don't see any sort of those concern in Pakistan. If there is any actionable or credible information, we are ready to share with United States.

BLITZER: If you don't believe that bin Laden is hiding someplace in Pakistan, where do you think he is?

GILANI: I don't know.

BLITZER: You have no idea, when -- but you know for sure he's not, he's definitely not in Pakistan?

GILANI: Certainly, he is not in Pakistan. And, even, I don't know where he is.

BLITZER: How do you know for sure he's not in Pakistan?

GILANI: Because our military actions are very successful, and we have a very successful operation in Malakand and Swat and all in South Waziristan and elsewhere. If there would have been any chance, he would have been arrested or maybe -- I even don't know whether he's alive or not.

BLITZER: You think he might be dead?

GILANI: I don't know.

BLITZER: Prime Minister Gilani, thanks very much for joining us. As I said before, welcome to the United States. And good luck to you and to the U.S.-Pakistani relationship.

GILANI: Thank you so much. Thank you.


BLITZER: Scandal swirling around the Vatican -- now it's taking new action. Will it help calm the controversy over the latest sex abuse scandal?

And take a look at what deep water explorers have just discovered. We have details of what it is and where it is.



BLITZER: It's almost unthinkable, a terrorist group like al Qaeda with a nuclear weapon. But the experts say it is possible and very frightening -- just ahead, a look at exactly what Americans would face if -- if -- that were to happen.

Also, a news conference is just wrapping up involving that American family that sparked an international incident by returning a boy they adopted from Russia. We're live from Tennessee with the latest.


BLITZER: They're arriving, leaders from 47 nations, for the summit with President Obama. There you see the Russian leader, the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev. He just arrived a few moments ago, the president receiving him warmly. They have established a good relationship over the past year and several months.

Also, the leader of China, the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, has arrived now. There they are. A less friendly relationship has been developed there, but still a good relationship. And there's a lot, certainly, at stake as these 47 nations gather here in Washington this hour for this unprecedented summit.

They're trying to find ways to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists.

Loose nukes in the hands of terrorists, that is a nightmare.

CNN's foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is over at the Convention Center in Washington. Jill, President Obama met with the Chinese president today. Was there any agreement between China and the U.S. to step up pressure on Iran over its nuclear program?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was definitely in that discussion, Wolf. We're told by the White House that Hu Jintao and President Obama met for an hour-and-a-half, and most of the time, they did spend on that issue of Iran and its nuclear program, the White House saying that China shares the U.S. goals of nonproliferation with regard to Iran, and that the P-5 plus one -- that's, of course, the U.N. permanent five, plus Germany -- are united -- that was the word, united -- on Iran.

Then the Chinese released a statement just a few minutes after that, and they too said that China and the U.S. share the same goals, but there was a slightly different approach to it. They said they hope the parties will step up their diplomatic efforts and resolve this through dialogue and negotiation.

And, as we know, the United States now is talking pretty tough about stepped-up sanctions -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jill, has the administration made any other progress today, besides this tentative agreement with China?

DOUGHERTY: Yes, I think you would have to say that the news of the day is that Ukraine has announced that it is going to be giving up its highly enriched uranium. That's uranium that was left over after the -- they gave up their nukes back in 1993. And they are giving it up.

It's going to be shipped out of the country. The White House says that it's enough for several nuclear weapons. And, you know, Wolf, we sat down in an exclusive interview with the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and he told us that that will be shipped, that material will be shipped out of Ukraine to Russia.

And we can -- we will be getting more details on that. But it is a significant achievement, you would have to say.

BLITZER: It's very significant, indeed, very important.

Jill, thank you.

Let's get back to this summit. Dozens of world leaders are gathered in Washington to confront the possibility that al Qaeda or other terror groups could obtain nuclear weapons.

Brian Todd has been looking into what could happen if that nightmare came true -- Brian.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says this week's nuclear security conference represents the first tangible efforts by the world's leaders to confront the threat of nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists. We're going to take you through a scenario of a terrorist group getting its hands on a nuclear bomb.

Joining me is Peter Zimmerman, a nuclear physicist, arms control expert, formerly chief scientist for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. One thing we want to clarify up front, we're not giving specific information to give terrorists any potential ideas. The information we have here has been published, some of it also vetted by the Department of Energy.

Peter, thanks very much for joining us.


TODD: We're going to talk about first kind of the materials and the money, et cetera, that terrorists would need to construct a nuclear weapon.

First, here's kind of a basic list of what they would need. Go ahead and go over some of that.

PETER ZIMMERMAN, ARMS CONTROL EXPERT: That's a good shopping list.

They will have to start out with enriched uranium.

TODD: Right.

ZIMMERMAN: That, they're going to have to bribe or steal or get somehow at high cost. It takes something on the order of 20 people, physicists, engineers, technicians, maybe some security and some support people. And...

TODD: And then the money.

ZIMMERMAN: I would think it's around $10 million or $12 million. It's going to take them half-a-year to a year from start to finish to get it ready to go.

TODD: To get this into a city, it can pretty much be brought in by van, right?

ZIMMERMAN: Oh, it's a box that's four feet by two feet by two feet. It fits in the back of a minivan or a step van or any small vehicle.

TODD: All right. Let's take this graphic out, and we're going to bring in another graphic illustrating the potential damage to New York City.

And you mentioned that terrorists might only be able to build maybe a one to two kiloton bomb, and then we're going to go over that as well. One kiloton bomb, we're talking about the biggest concentration of damage is going to be about, what, a sixth of a mile from where it detonates.

ZIMMERMAN: About a sixth of a mile.

TODD: Right.

ZIMMERMAN: And in this inner red circle, probably that means scraping the ground clean of everything that was there, except maybe the heaviest of buildings.


TODD: OK. And then about a third of a mile from where it detonates.

ZIMMERMAN: That's about a five-pound-per-square-inch overpressure. And that means that homes and light construction is gone. A lot of heavy concrete buildings will survive.

TODD: What about the casualty numbers from either one to two kilotons?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, you know, it's really hard, because we don't know exactly where it's going to go off.

A good working number is somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 for a small bomb detonated in a city.

TODD: You're talking deaths?

ZIMMERMAN: Oh, yes, I'm talking fatalities.

Now, some recent work from Los Alamos and some things I've been thinking about show that buildings in the center will shelter and shadow buildings a little further out if they detonated on the ground, which I think they will. And if that happens, it may very well reduce the total number of casualties and it may shrink the distance at which -- at which these various effects take place.

TODD: Hiroshima was a 12.5 kiloton bomb. Here are some images from the devastation of Hiroshima here. You're talking 1 to 2 kilotons that terrorists could conceivably get their hands on and make and detonate in the United States. How would that compare to this kind of damage that we saw in Hiroshima?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, the damage looks the same, basically. What's different is the distance over which a given amount of damage extends.

TODD: All right. Peter, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it very much. Thank you.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thank you.

So could this nuclear nightmare actually become reality? Joining us now in THE SITUATION ROOM is national security contributor, Fran Townsend. She was homeland security adviser to President Bush. She worked in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.

Fran, first of all, is there hard evidence that al Qaeda right now is trying to get some sort of nuclear device?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Probably, I wouldn't call it hard evidence, Wolf, but there has been consistent over the years intelligence about al Qaeda's both desire and intention to obtain just such material.

The intelligence, however, recently, at least as far as I'm aware, has been spotty about what actual discernible steps they have taken to acquire it. Although we do know they have made efforts to acquire both biological and chemical weapons. Al Qaeda had a biological program. We were aware of a chemical threat to New York City.

And so we put this in the bin of weapons of mass destruction, and that has been a goal for al Qaeda, for many years.

BLITZER: Is there any doubt in your mind that al Qaeda wants to attack the United States in a more spectacular fashion than 9/11?

TOWNSEND: No, not at all. This is al Qaeda's, you know, multiple simultaneous attacks with hundreds if not thousands of deaths is their goal.

The problem, Wolf, is as the U.S. government has been more effective in the tribal areas, working with their Pakistani counterparts and using predator drones, this has been more difficult to pull off. That requires lots of people, lots of equipment, lots of planning, and so -- and lots of communication.

And once you have lots of communication, there's the opportunity to disrupt those attacks. And so they've had a real hard time pulling that off. But I don't think there's any doubt that it remains one of their chief goals.

BLITZER: Would -- was this issue -- this issue of loose nukes getting into the hands of al Qaeda, something that kept President Bush up at night?

TOWNSEND: Absolutely. And it's interesting, we've heard a lot about this being the first coming together of world leaders. President Bush and President Putin had come together in the global nuclear security initiative, and had begun just such an international process some years ago.

This, of course, takes it to a whole new level, having all of these world leaders here in Washington to discuss it. But I think, Wolf, what we really want to watch for is not just meetings, not just talk, but actual action, discernible action.

As you mentioned earlier with Jill Dougherty, the relinquishing of materials by the Ukraine is a discernible step. If they do it, we'll know it and we'll be able to see it and account for it. The question is, will other countries take those same discernible steps to get control over these materials?

What you worry about most, Wolf, is an improvised nuclear device. That is, a device that either takes the highly enriched uranium or separated plutonium, and causes an explosion that actually gets yield. That doesn't require lots of expertise.

But, by the way, when you see countries breaking up and scientific expertise scattering,whether that's in Iraq or Iran or Pakistan or North Korea. You do worry that scientists around the world who have this knowledge, together with loose -- you know,highly enriched uranium or separated plutonium, could put together for al Qaeda an improvised nuclear device. And that's just exactly what the administration is trying to avoid.

BLITZER: And it's exactly what President Obama says is the most serious national security threat facing the United States right now. Fran, thanks very much.

TOWNSEND: That's right. Sure.

BLITZER: An adopted boy is returned to Russia by the American family who says they could no longer handle him. But were any laws broken? The local sheriff has been holding a news conference this hour. We're standing by for new developments.

And new suggestions of human error in that plane crash that virtually wiped out Poland's top leadership.


BLITZER: Top officials from the U.S. State Department plan to travel to Moscow this week to push Russia to continue allowing adoptions by American families. The trip comes in the wake of new outrage after a Tennessee family decided to send its adoptive 7-year- old boy back to the country, alone.

Moscow officials are now threatening to halt any further adoptions by U.S. families. Our Marty Savidge is in Shelbyville, Tennessee, where the boy's adoptive parents live.

Marty, it sounds like you're starting to get some answers in this case.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, this investigation now has been handed down from the State Department to the local sheriff. That's Randall Boyce here in Bedford County, where Shelbyville is located. And it's his job, he has got a lot of international pressure, as well as national pressure on his shoulders right now, to try to figure out if anything illegal transpired here when it came to the fact that you had the adoptive family that decided to return this little boy to Russia, claiming that he was just too violent to handle.

You can tell that there was a lot of anguish on the part of the sheriff. But what he basically said today was, look, they have tried to get the family to come forward, and talk to them. Late this afternoon, he got word from the family's attorney, that is not going to happen. The family is not going to cooperate.

Here's what the sheriff had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF RANDALL BOYCE, BEDFORD COUNTRY, TENNESSEE: I guess we're kind of getting our hand forced here, and that's the only thing I know to do at this point. They keep insinuating that they're going to come in, but evidently not. And I think from what I understood this afternoon, they're not going to come in at all, at any time. Unless we bring charges, then they will produce her.


SAVIDGE: And that's the problem. The sheriff says this is a very complicated case. As far as the federal government is concerned, they do not see any federal violations here that the family has done. So what the sheriff is looking into are two things, basically. Was there abandonment? Well, right now, it appears that the family had custody of the child all the way to the airport, so when they put him on the plane in the custody of the airlines, was that abandonment?

If it was, it was in Washington, and that would be out of the jurisdiction of the sheriff. Or was there abuse in this case? And that's what they're really trying too look into right now. There have been allegations by the young boy himself in Russia that there may have been some abuse on the part of his American family.

So that's where they're starting to look. But the sheriff says it's complicated and it could be a while. And right now, the American adoptive family is nowhere to be found, at least not for the sheriff -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But I guess what I'm hearing is that you can put a 7- year-old boy as an unaccompanied minor on a major international flight like this from the United States to Russia? Is that OK to do that?

SAVIDGE: Apparently.

I mean, this is the gray area. This is what the sheriff is really struggling with. You can see this. You know, you talk to him, he's a parent, he's a father. He knows what it's like to raise children and how difficult it can be.

But he says, you know what, I can't go by the emotions I feel and try to judge what is right or wrong. I have to go by what is legal or illegal. And right now, they have not been able to find anything illegal.

However, they're pursuing that investigation. They have not called it over. In fact, they say it could be some time. But it's clear, he would like, it appears, to find charges, because the lawyer says you want to talk to the family, it's the only way you will see them. Charge them or don't.

BLITZER: Marty Savidge, reporting for us. We'll stay on top of this story with you, Marty. Thank you.

Russian investigators are questioning whether human error is to blame for the plane crash Saturday that killed Poland's president and dozens of other top Polish leaders. One Russian official says there is evidence the crew knew about bad weather and it was advised to land elsewhere. The plane's recorders are being examined for clues.

Polish TV reports the president's coffin will go on public display starting tomorrow, and that it will be buried Saturday, along with his wife, who also died in the crash.

The victims of that crash were traveling to the scene of another tragedy that left deep emotional scars on the Polish people. The mass execution of 20,000 Polish prisoners of war by the Soviet secret police back in 1940. For decades, the Soviets blamed the Nazis. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the truth began to emerge.

Just days before the crash, the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, became the first Russian leader to join in commemorating the massacre.

A milestone on Wall Street. Stocks did something today they haven't done in a year-and-a-half. We're going to show you what and why.

And a Super Bowl champ of accused sexual assault. Will he be charged? Investigators make their announcement.


BLITZER: Back to our top story. That nuclear summit under way right now in Washington. Our John King is joining us. He is the host of "JOHN KING USA." That comes up right at the top of the hour.

John, what kind of outcome is the Obama administration hoping for here?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It's a couple of things, Wolf. Number one, you focused on the China issue, the Iran negotiations, there are some short-term immediate challenges the president hopes to deal with, with trying to prevent future problems down the road. Trying to block Iran's nuclear program. Trying to dismantle it from where it is right now.

And to do that, he needs the help of China and the Russian governments. So that delicate diplomacy is a top priority for the president here.

There are some longer-term issues dealing with the problems that he inherited, if you will. Remember, we were having this conversation back 20 years ago at the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War. Then after 9/11, there was a lot more urgency to the loose nukes conversation, because of the emergence of terrorist groups.

And so when you have a progress like Ukraine today, saying it would get rid of the rest of its weapons grade nuclear material, that's a plus. But the administration, this administration and the previous administration, had deep concerns that the security in Russia is not good enough, around its nuclear facilities. That enough is still not being done to keep former Soviet nuclear scientists maybe from being swayed by somebody.

And you had a fascinating conversation with the prime minister of Pakistan, another big question mark in terms of not only are the nuclear materials safeguarded enough, but what about those with the know-how? What is being done to keep them off the black market. The intelligence market, if you will.

So there are long-term and short-term challenges for the president here. Forty-seven nations in town represented at the summit, plus some other big organizations. A chance for the president to try to shine on the world stage. But this is a huge pressing problem -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it is. As concerned as Americans are about nukes in Iran and North Korea, for example, they're much more concerned about terrorists like al Qaeda getting their hands on nuclear weapons. Our CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll say it's more important to prevent terrorists from getting nuclear weapons, 77 percent, then reducing nuclear weapons owned by unfriendly countries.

And the president himself says this is his real nightmare scenario.

KING: And that polling data and the president saying it's his nightmare scenario also reinforces that while this is an international diplomatic event for the president, there are still huge structural issues here at home on the homeland security front.

If you went to a major port, say Los Angeles, say Boston, Massachusetts, say New York City, or Newark, New Jersey, they would tell you the screening processes there still aren't up to speed. So there are homeland security issues to deal with here on the home front. There is major international diplomacy to do for the president. And the threat of that terrorist attack, that nightmare scenario, is still very real.

What the vice president said this morning at that lunch he had at the official residence, just putting it in such stark, sober terms. The president's counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, as well, essentially saying, look, these materials are out there, and it would only take about 50 pounds, the size of a soccer ball, to send the world into chaos.

So it is still a huge problem. And the president is trying to do it, one piece of the puzzle at a time, if you will, Wolf. And while he deals with China, deals with Russia, deals with some of these stronger countries, he has been quite open in saying, guess what, we still have a lot of these issues to deal with in our own borders and our own security efforts, as well.

BLITZER: John is going to have a lot more coming up at the top of the hour on "JOHN KING USA." John, thank you.

T.J. Holmes is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What else is going on -- T.J. T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we have a milestone here, a psychological one at least for the markets today. For the first time in 18 months, the Dow closed above 11,000, at nearly 11,006. The S&P up 2 points to 1,196. Nasdaq up 4 points as well, closed at 2,458.

Now why all of this good news, and things a bit up today? Well, there was a loan agreement for Greece, which is -- they had some issues with debt over the past several months. Also, there were some corporate buyout announcements today that certainly helped boost investor confidence.

Also a judge is denying bail for the man accused of making threatening phone calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over health care reform. The man's name is Gregory Lee Giusti. He is accused of making at least 48 disturbing calls to Pelosi's San Francisco and Washington offices, also called her Washington residence, according to police. The judge cited Giusti's criminal record of 13 prior misdemeanor convictions and two felony convictions. His mother says he has never been violent, just, quote, "very vocal, unfortunately."

Finally, here out of the NFL, authorities in Georgia saying no criminal charges will be filed against quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Pittsburgh Steelers two-time Super Bowl champion was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman last month at a Milledgeville, Georgia, nightclub. Today the district attorney says the claim could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Roethlisberger also facing a civil lawsuit against another woman. This is involving another woman who says he sexually assaulted her in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, in 2008. Roethlisberger has been denying that claim, as well.

Also, Wolf, it looks like he is going to be meeting with the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, at some point this week. We'll see what comes out of that, as well.

BLITZER: We'll see. We'll stay on top of it. Thank you, T.J.

Jack Cafferty and "The Cafferty File," that's coming up next.


BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File."

CAFFERTY: Ongoing debate, it seems. And it's in the news again. The question this hour is, should the United States make it easier for an estimated 11 million immigrants to become citizens? A poll suggests that about two-thirds of us say no.

Ginger writes: "I'm sympathetic, but we can use California as a model. Do we want the entire country to be in the same financial condition as California? I think not. How can we be of any benefit to the rest of the world if our country is completely broke."

Jim in Michigan: "If your numbers are correct, and 66 percent of Americans oppose this, then you can be assured that Congress and Obama will shove it down our throats just like they did health care."

Mellie writes: "Make the process of immigration easier, but close the door on those who come here illegally. When I visit other countries, including Mexico, I follow their rules. I get the appropriate visas, I go through legitimate ports of entry, and make sure that I follow all rules that they require. We should expect no less than those who want to come here to either visit or live."

Stuart writes: "The anti-immigration reform position is silly and impractical. We can either retain the status quo or we can develop a program to make the millions of illegal immigrants legal. We aren't going to deport the vast majority of these people. We might as well work to make them legal tax-paying residents. Leaving them hiding in the shadows is simply self-defeating."

Ron writes: "No, there is already a well-defined path to becoming a citizen. I agree it's not easy, but it isn't supposed to be."

Bart writes: "With unemployment pushing 10 percent throughout the states, build the fence, hire immigration enforcement officers, and re-take our country."

And Paul in Baltimore writes: "You can make it easier or not, but in two more generations, we will all be speaking Spanish."

If you want to read more on the subject, you'll find it on my blog at

BLITZER: We'll be reading, Jack. Thank you.

CAFFERTY: There you go.

BLITZER: See you tomorrow.

CAFFERTY: Nice to have you here in New York.

BLITZER: Thank you. Good to be here.

CAFFERTY: Becoming a frequent visitor.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Boxing matches involving animals. Jeanne Moos finds it "Moost Unusual," that's next.


BLITZER: It's a "Moost Unusual" kind of boxing match. And now the concept is taking some punches. Our Jeanne Moos takes a closer look at what happens when apes, not humans, step into the ring.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the blue trunks, weighing in at over 200 pounds, an orangutan. In the red trunks, another one. And seeing red, animal rights groups, unamused by the orangutan boxing matches put on by Safari World in Thailand.

This is no dog-fight. When orangutans box, the kicks don't really connect.

(on camera): I mean, they're not hitting each other, they're not hurting each other.


MOOS: What's the problem with that?

HULING: These animals are not doing it because they want to. They're being forced into the ring by their trainers to perform these confusing and unnatural tricks.

MOOS (voice-over): Tricks like spinning and kicking. Pretending to be knocked out, celebrating on the ropes, having apes dressed as medics come to remove the loser who gets left behind.

This was actually round two in the fight between animal rights groups and Safari World. Round one was a few years back when Safari World got nabbed with these 48 smuggled orangutans, and had to send them back where they came from, Indonesia.

Animal rights activists, like Sean Whyte, don't just mind the boxing, it's the conditions the orangutans lived in.

SEAN WHYTE, NATUREALERT.ORG: It's all wire cages, crammed full of orangutans.

MOOS (on camera): We tried calling Safari World in Thailand, but there was a bit of a language barrier, and not only did we not get a comment, we got hung up on, twice.

(voice-over): Despite the headlines, "Barbaric Spectacle, "Cruel Ape 'Fight Club' Exposed"...

(on camera): ... it's very much like American wrestling.

HULING: Right. I mean, it's a stage show, is what it is.

(voice-over): Human pro wrestlers are just a little bit better than the orangutans, making their moves seem less fake. But the orangutans are gentle compared to the boxing kangaroo, we get a kick out of them, they get a kick add up (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is "Killer Willet (ph)," and this is my husband...

MOOS (on camera): Karma.

HULING: Karma.

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Wow. That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "JOHN KING USA" starts right now.