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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Japanese Nuclear Crisis Level Raised; President Obama's Warning to Gadhafi
Aired March 18, 2011 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is truly an extraordinary development here to find somebody alive eight days, particularly remarkable when you consider so much -- so many of the injuries and the deaths we have seen were caused by that tsunami, with all that debris in it and all that fast-moving water, remarkable that this person apparently survived that long and also with freezing cold temperatures at night. We will try to find out more details on that.
We will also have the latest on the nuclear emergency that is ongoing right now in the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The latest information on that is that the Japanese government is finally admitting that the situation has indeed been worse than previously acknowledged, the government giving a grimmer assessment of the disaster, raising the threat level to level five out of seven, conceding it is worse than they previously said, something America's top nuclear regulator has been saying for two days.
The wind also has now changed direction, had been blowing out to sea. It is now blowing onshore. We will tell you in the hour ahead what that means for its cities like Tokyo.
According to "The New York Times," a power line has been extended to the plant to reactors number one and two, but no word yet whether the cooling pumps will work, still work themselves. Still also no agreement on whether there's any water cooling spent fuel in reactor four.
And the battle to pump water into reactor -- into the pool around reactor number three, that continues. There's also concern now whether the concrete basin that fuel is sitting in, in reactor number four, the pool can even hold any water.
We begin, though, tonight with Libya, dramatic developments on the ground both in Tripoli and in the region around Benghazi held by opponents to Colonel Gadhafi. According to a report by the BBC, a French diplomat has told the BBC that he expects military intervention in Libya to begin shortly after a summit tomorrow morning in Paris 8:00 a.m. Eastern time. That's about 10 hours from now.
Gadhafi, on notice now from President Obama, NATO, the Arab League, and the U.N. Security Council to stop killing his own people or face the consequences. Today, he announced, his government announced a cease-fire they say it is holding. And the government says it's complying with the U.N. resolution. But take a look at this video that we just received and decide for yourself, does this look like a cease-fire? Now, the video claims to be from today on the streets of Misrata. We cannot of course independently confirm that is what you are seeing. If, in fact, it is true, though, that would be in violation of the cease-fire that the Gadhafi regime says they have been honoring.
One resident telling us from Misrata -- and you're going to hear that in the hour ahead -- he says that Gadhafi doesn't want to take the town; he wants to destroy it. This man says Gadhafi won't stop unless somebody stops him.
President Obama today said if nobody does, there's every reason to believe Gadhafi would commit atrocities and he demanded the Gadhafi regime obey the U.N. resolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me be clear: These terms are not negotiable. These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Gadhafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The president did go on to specify for the American people that this does not mean American troops on the ground or boots on the ground, as they say, in Libya.
I want to bring in our correspondent Nic Robertson who is in Tripoli and also Arwa Damon, who is in the opposition-controlled of Benghazi, far to the east of Tripoli.
Nic, let's start with you.
The Gadhafi regime says that they are honoring a cease-fire. You confronted one of the Gadhafi officials about this. Before I play that, just explain what was said in this press conference today. What is the Gadhafi regime demanding now?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's demanding and asking -- and we really get a sense of the country's isolation at this point -- it's demanding that international monitors come to Libya immediately.
The deputy foreign minister just a couple of hours ago in the night said that the country is calling on diplomats or representatives to come from Malta, to come from China, to come from Germany, to come from Turkey to be independent monitors on the situation in the country here.
He said that this appeal has been made for many, many weeks, that the offer has been open, that nobody is listening to this offer. But it really does give you a sense of how much this government feels this international isolation. They of course say that they're observing the cease-fire, that the reports that we get from Misrata and other places are lies, that they're misleading, that they're not true.
When I asked, can we go to Misrata, why aren't we allowed to go to Misrata, this is what one of the government spokesmen told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUSSA IBRAHIM, Libyan Government Spokesman: As an official spokesman for the government, I came on CNN, on BBC, on many, many TVs, Russia, and I said, do come, do come. We need observers, fact- finding missions. Do come and see for yourselves there are no crimes.
No one -- give me one official demand, show me one official request which we rejected.
ROBERTSON: So why can't we go to Misrata then?
IBRAHIM: Listen, you have too much confidence in yourselves. You are not the judge. You cannot get this. You are not the judge.
ROBERTSON: You're not giving us the opportunity.
IBRAHIM: In any court of law, in any court of law, your reports should be kicked, should be rejected. You are not independent observers.
ROBERTSON: You're not even giving us the opportunity to go and see. You're giving us nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Nic politely pushing back on what the government spokesman there is saying.
At this point, are you allowed to go outside your hotel? Are you able to tell whether just this U.N. Security Council resolution has had any kind of impact on people's opinions on the streets?
ROBERTSON: This morning, we weren't able to go out, and I think that had a lot to do with Friday prayers. If you remember, last week, we were and 24 -- more than several dozen other journalists were brutally detained. Our taxi driver is still detained for going out on the streets. So we were stopped this morning.
I mean, people can -- journalists had been able to go out this afternoon to the center of the city, to Green Square, where there have been pro-Gadhafi supporters. And the sense you get from them always is that they support the government here.
Just to follow up on that -- on the government spokesman there, I talked to him about this afterwards and he said, look, you guys are always asking us the tough questions. You should be asking everyone else the tough questions, asking the international community the tough questions: Why aren't international monitors being sent?
And I get the sense that the government here and the spokesman here just don't understand the sort of isolation that the country is being put into because of the way the international community feels about the regime that runs the country.
But, again, when we talk to people in Green Square here, the answer is always they support Moammar Gadhafi and the government here, Anderson.
COOPER: I want to go to Arwa Damon, who is in Benghazi.
Arwa, it's very difficult for us to independently confirm, and there's a lot of rumors going around on the opposition side about what's happening in some of these opposition-held cities like Misrata. Do we know for a fact that Misrata was being attacked? We have -- I talked to somebody on the phone. We're going to play that shortly. We see this video, but do we have independent confirmation on any of this?
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Anderson, we don't, because we can't get to Misrata either. The road to get there is simply too dangerous and too long.
But what I can tell you is that when that cease-fire was supposed to go into effect, and I'm talking about the one that the government itself announced this afternoon, we were outside at the city of Ajdabiya. We were stopped at a checkpoint around 30 miles outside of it, because they said the fighting going on inside was quite simply too intense.
And while we were standing there at that distance, we could hear and feel the reverberations of explosions coming from inside the city, fighters driving out of it, talking about the intensity of the battle, one ambulance driver coming out empty because he said that they simply could not reach the wounded, they could not pick up the dead bodies because of the fighting that was going on. And this was quite some time after the government declared its own cease-fire.
And so the concern here is that even though the government may have declared a cease-fire, the opposition says they have absolutely no indication that it is in fact taking place. And put even more bluntly, they don't trust anything that comes out of the Gadhafi regime. They firmly believe that this is yet another ploy to try to lull the international community into thinking that Gadhafi is in fact complying with that U.N. resolution, when he's not.
And they do fear that if that resolution is not implemented immediately, he is going to take this opportunity to carry out more attacks, to carry out in their words a massacre against his own people.
COOPER: Nic, my understanding of this U.N. resolution, it doesn't just require Gadhafi's forces to hold a cease-fire. And correct me if I'm wrong here, Nic, doesn't it also require them to withdraw from the positions that they're currently in? ROBERTSON: We have heard two interpretations of that today, one from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said that Gadhafi would have to withdraw his forces back from the east, where they have been advancing.
And President Obama clarified it a little more, saying that the Gadhafi troops would have to pull back from Benghazi and from Ajdabiya, which is close to Benghazi, 100 miles away, which they're currently fighting over or certainly contesting rebels at the moment.
The government here certainly views the situation that the rebels were in Benghazi and then pushed themselves westwards, taking all these different towns along the way. So the government views themselves really as just taking back territory that they temporary lost to the rebels.
And when you talk to officials here, they are very frustrated that the West doesn't understand things from their point of view. They say look, this is going to create more tribal bloodshed. The more you bring in outside intervention, the more this will create fiction between tribes, that there will be more deaths, the death toll will go up.
There's a real exacerbation here. They -- the sense is here that the international community doesn't get what's at stake. Of course, from the international community's point of view, the government here and its supporters don't get how much the international community doesn't trust the leadership here, Anderson.
We're going to have more with Nic Robertson. We will continue to monitor developments also with Arwa Damon.
Nic, Arwa, stay safe.
When we come back, we will talk with Fouad Ajami, as well as Bob Baer, former CIA officer, about what happens now, what military action might look like, and what the consequences of it might just be.
We will also talk about the latest on the nuclear situation, the emergency which is still very much in high-gear here in Japan, no real good news to report on the nuclear front. The battles to cool down those spent fuel rod pools continues and the battle to restore electricity to some of the reactors continues as well -- details ahead.
COOPER: That is video purporting to show fighting in the city of Misrata two days ago. Today, the Gadhafi regime announced a cease- fire. They said there will be no more fighting on the part of Gadhafi forces. The question is, is this what a cease-fire looks like?
You're looking at video purportedly from today in Misrata, though we cannot independently report that. The regime says this fighting is not happening. Just the other day, though, Gadhafi was promising to crush the opposition, show no mercy, to go house to house. Now his spokesperson are inviting other countries to send observers.
But you saw at the top of the program they're not letting reporters who are already in the country visit some of the cities to see what is really going on. There are people who see it every and are trying to escape from it.
I talked to one man who is in Misrata earlier tonight. Take a look.
COOPER: What's the situation in Misrata right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the morning, we were attacked by heavy fire from Gadhafi's troops.
COOPER: What sort of fire did you experience?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tanks and heavy artillery.
COOPER: Did the firing continue after they said that they were going to have a cease-fire?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's the strongest attack ever seen in Misrata since the 17th February. He wants to destroy everything in the city.
COOPER: So you think this is about punishment or destruction of the city, not about trying to take control?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's what they want. We have about 45 injuries, 24 dead.
COOPER: So why -- why -- after saying that they were going to have a cease-fire, why would Gadhafi forces attack?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I think he's pathetic. He's gone crazy or something. He wants to kill everyone. He wants to retain his power by force. He wants to force people to decide that he's the leader, the only leader.
We don't want him anymore. We only want peace. We don't want Gadhafi. We want him to leave. We want freedom.
COOPER: What do you want the international community to do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attack him by -- by air, by airplanes, like they did say.
COOPER: Thank you very much for talking to us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, Anderson.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Again, as always, I should caution we can't independently confirm the identity of that person or his exact location, though we have every reason to believe through our research that he is in fact in the city of Misrata.
I want to bring in State Department correspondent Jill Dougherty, also with us, professor Fouad Ajami from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and also the Hoover Institution, and also Bob Baer, former CIA officer. He's also the intelligence columnist at TIME.com.
Jill Dougherty, you're going to be traveling with Secretary Clinton to Paris. They have a meeting 8:00 a.m. Eastern time in Paris to discuss military action and what comes next. Is there a contradiction in what this mission is? Because we have heard from U.S. officials Gadhafi has lost legitimacy, they want him out, yet the Security Council resolution just talks about protecting civilians.
What's the mission?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you talk to the -- to U.S. officials, they say the mission immediately is to stop the violence against the civilians.
But then they also talk about a series of kind of stages, that, in other words -- sequencing is actually the word they're using, one step at a time. They say, OK, we're going to try to freeze his advance, especially on to Benghazi, and then continue tightening the noose in other ways.
So, they're -- they're freely admitting that it make take some time to get him to step down, if he even does. But, you know, Anderson, I want to tell quickly, I just got some new information from a senior U.S. official. We're here at the airport about to take off with Hillary Clinton to Paris to that meeting on Libya.
And he said that the Libyans were still reaching out to the United States. In fact, the foreign minister, Musa Kusa, has been calling officials in Washington. And he said they're surprised that things went so fast at the United Nations. And they continue to say: We're going to have a cease-fire. We're going to have a cease-fire.
But of course this official said that contradicts what the U.S. is seeing on the ground.
COOPER: Fouad, Professor Ajami, if -- how do you see Gadhafi trying to play this out? I'm reminded almost of sort of the early days of the Iraq war, where we had sort of games of cat and mouse going on. How do you see the next 24, 48 hours?
FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, look, this man, Gadhafi is -- has -- was obviously completely surprised. He had bet, if you will, that President Obama doesn't want this engagement, he doesn't want this commitment, that he had tried his best to stay away from the fight for Libya. But I think, finally, as -- "The Wall Street Journal" had a very interesting editorial, which said one day, when we have another book by Bob Woodward, we will understand that moment that the president of the United States decided he can no longer stay away from the catastrophe of Libya. Someone must have gone to him. I don't know. Is it Samantha Power, his human rights adviser?
Someone went to the president and explained that the fight is now going to Benghazi, that Benghazi could fall. It could fall on his watch. It would besmirch his reputation. And I think the decision was made to draw a line for Gadhafi and hope that he would retreat. And I think we will see how the next phase of the struggle plays out.
COOPER: Bob Baer, drawing that line, what exactly does that mean, though? Because there's protecting civilians, but that mission is very different than getting rid of Gadhafi.
ROBERT BAER, INTELLIGENCE ANALYST, TIME.COM: Well, Anderson, I agree with Dr. Ajami.
First of all, we have to not let Benghazi fall. It will be a bloodbath. You will see millions of immigrants heading to Europe, into Egypt, into Tunisia. It would be a sheer catastrophe. So, right now, it's triage. We have to stop this city from falling. But, ultimately, everybody recognizes that Gadhafi is insane. He's lost touch with reality. And we need regime change there if there's going to be any stability.
COOPER: Does that mean, ultimately, troops on the ground in some form or CIA on the ground?
BAER: We need somebody on the ground. A no-fly zone is not going to work. I have worked in enough of those to know that they're not much of a deterrent.
Most of the damage in Libya is being done by artillery and mercenaries and just killing people in the streets. So this is the wedge that could draw us into a much bigger mission. And I think, Anderson, we should keep in mind that we're facing situations like this all across the Middle East. What -- this could be a rehearsal for Saudi Arabia one day, and we have to sit down and start making these decisions. What do we do next?
COOPER: Fouad, though, some people have said, well, look -- look at the situation in Yemen. You have people being shot in the streets today. The situation in Bahrain, you have brutality on -- caught on camera. Those are U.S. allies. Is there a double standard here?
AJAMI: Well, there is no double standard, Anderson. I think Libya is entirely different. I think that the fight between the opposition and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen is a very important one. I think the fight in Bahrain between a society that doesn't want to be dominated along sectarian lines by a Sunni dynasty is an important one.
But Libya is different. Libya is about catastrophe. Libya is about this madman who, we allowed him, 500 miles, by the way -- he's moved 500 miles in the last few days toward Benghazi. So it's about drawing a line for this murderer. And it's about the moral authority, by the way, of the Obama administration, of the so-called Pax Americana and the world.
Look who pushed the Security Council resolution through, my poor birthplace, Lebanon. Lebanon was the power, so to speak. A country dominated by both Iran and Syria, nevertheless had the passion and had the commitment to push this resolution.
And look who's taken the lead militarily. It's Britain and France, not the United States. The United States was always the leader in all these missions of rescue. President Obama didn't want to do so. He is doing so reluctantly. He was hoping that he wouldn't be forced into it.
But Gadhafi forced him into this position and into this change in policy. He's turned on a dime. He hasn't explained to us, President Obama, why he has done so. And then all of a sudden, you have Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying, ah, we need a change of regime. We need to overthrow Gadhafi. We need to topple the regime.
Well, this is a very sudden change, which hasn't been well- explained, other than protecting the reputation of our president. This really is about a reluctant president drawn into a fight he never wanted.
COOPER: Jill, are you hearing from U.S. officials concern about what happens, say Gadhafi is taken out in some way, that then, you know, the U.S. is in -- or Europe is in some sort of position of ownership, where then they're responsible for what happens next and a potential civil war or whatever worst-case scenario may happen?
DOUGHERTY: Yes, that's definitely one of the scenarios that they would be worried about.
And the other one would be that, let's say Gadhafi decides to pull back, that he does have some type of a cease-fire, or just doesn't try to take Benghazi. And then it's stasis, and the country, in effect, splits in half. He bides his time. Then he could, you know, once again act aggressively.
So they're worried about exactly what could happen. And also, to the point that Fouad was making, the administration really says that there were important moments that changed the equation, that it was really the Arab League, as we know, that all of a sudden very quickly wanted -- changed its mind -- wanted a no-fly zone.
They also saw that Gadhafi's forces were winning and moving very quickly. And then also they say why this action so -- all of a sudden? It looks like a turnabout. Well, because they were worried that he was unpredictable and they weren't quite sure what they would do, try to get weapons of mass destruction, try terrorism, et cetera.
So, all those three factors, they say, changed the equation. COOPER: It's going to be dramatic developments. We're going to be watching what happens at this meeting in Europe. Again, it's Saturday morning, 8:00 a.m. East Coast time. We will obviously be covering all the latest on CNN.
Dr. Ajami, appreciate it, Bob Baer as well.
Jill Dougherty, have a good flight to Europe. We will talk to you once you land.
The situation in Japan, we continue to follow -- a glimmer of good news to tell you about, a man, we -- I believe we now have new video of this -- a man found alive in the rubble some eight days after this tsunami hit. It's not clear how he made it, because most people got swept up in that tsunami, hit by debris, did not make it. This is the first case like this that we have heard of in the last several days, able to survive freezing cold temperatures at night. We will try to find out more details and bring you that story.
And the latest on the nuclear plant, the ongoing emergencies, trying to restore electrical power to one and two reactors, trying to cool down spent fuel rods in reactors three and four. It is a battle every single minute on that plant, a battle to save not just those working around the plant, but everybody in a larger area -- details on that all ahead.
COOPER: We continue to monitor events out of Libya. Let's get you up to date on what is going on right now in Japan. We're coming to you live from Tokyo tonight.
First of all, new video is coming out every day of the tsunami. We're seeing some new video now, a man driving along the highway. Take a look at this, just incredible, driving along Japan's coastline as the tsunami struck. The driver said he turned a corner, a wall of water came at him. He said he had no choice but just to keep driving.
The car was completely engulfed by rushing water, all of it caught on a dashboard camera. As the water receded off the windshield, the car was floating. The driver said he panicked, obviously, but amazingly, lived to tell the tale.
It's now been more than a week since the tsunami hit, and the nuclear disaster is still ongoing. Today, the Japanese government raised the level, the threat level to a level five. Acknowledging not because of something new that's happened but just looking back at the data since this last Tuesday.
The death toll is now more than 7,000. More than 11,000 are still missing. There are developments, according -- in the nuclear crisis, according to our sources, a power line has been extended to the plant to reactors one and two, but no word yet whether the cooling pumps that it's going to power will even still work.
And the threat level, as I said, has been raised. On Friday, Japan's prime minister called the situation at the nuclear plant, and I quote, "very grave."
But just days ago, you may remember, his spokesman said that the reactor complex was undergoing some challenges and facing difficulties, while leading experts called the crisis the second worst nuclear disaster ever, second only to Chernobyl.
The prime minister said his government has disclosed all information. Many, though, in northeastern Japan might dispute that claim.
And Friday, TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owns the complex and does not have a good record of transparency, issued an apology of sorts. They said, and I quote, "We sincerely apologize to all the people living in the surrounding area of the power station, and people in Fukushima prefecture, as well as to the people of society for causing such great concern and nuisance."
More now on the increased level threat. Japanese officials, they've done a reassessment, they said, raising the level of seriousness from four to five, the worst being seven. Chernobyl was a seven. That's on par now -- five is on par with the Three Mile Island incident in Pennsylvania back in '79.
Here's how one Japanese official explained the change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HIDEHIKO NISHIYAMA, DEPUTY, NUCLEAR & INDUSTRIAL SAFETY AGENCY (through translator): This was a serious damage, losing over 3 percent of the amount of heat at the core. And radioactive substances are being emitted outside of the plant. So based on these facts, we raised the international nuclear event scale to five.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, officials say the level five rating only applies to the damaged reactors two and three. That means a likelihood of limited amount of radioactive material, possible deaths from radiation, and severe damage to the reactor core.
Despite the reassessment, though, despite the reassessment, an assessment that is now more in line with what the United States said two days ago, the nuclear agency decided not to expand the 12-mile evacuation zone. You'll remember U.S. officials advised Americans to evacuate 50 miles.
Tons of water was sprayed on reactor three on Friday in an attempt to refill the spent fuel storage pool. Meantime, inside the damaged reactor building, workers spent the day trying to restore electricity. And now at reactor four, the nuclear agency rates that a level three. In other words, a better situation than those other two.
That's in conflict with what the U.S. said. The U.S. said the spent rods pool in reactor four, that there's little or no water. Japanese officials say they believe there is some water, though they can't say exactly how much. Two days ago -- on Friday, I should say, an official with the International Atomic Energy Agency called the situation in reactor four, quote, "a concern."
Also, there apparently was discussion of a plan to encase the complex in sand and concrete. Officials say they've ruled that out, though, as a realistic option. Pacific winds, which have been blowing offshore, may be changing direction.
We want to check in with our Chad Myers, who's monitoring the weather situation.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Anderson, this is a big deal, because for the entire time that this critical situation has occurred, the winds have been blowing out to sea. The winds have not blown any of this radiated dust, the smoke, the steam, none of it has been blown back on shore. It's all gone into the ocean and eventually somewhere else.
Now that has stopped. In fact, it has stopped, and it won't come back. Those offshore winds won't come back for five days. Now, they'll be swirling around for a while, but why do we care?
All right. Well, let's just zoom right in here. There you go, Tokyo, Fukushima right there, that would be the power plant. And the winds have been blowing away. That's going to change. The winds are going to blow back on shore, and at times, they will even blow back down toward Tokyo.
That's not saying that all that radioactive material is going to blow back down towards those cities. But it's certainly possible, and it's certainly not as good of a situation as we had.
For a while, the radiation is going to start to spike around the plant, because the winds aren't blowing that radiation away. Then, as the winds start to blow back toward the big cities, back toward where people live and not the ocean, the radiation may come back into those populated towns with those numbers coming up. We'll have to keep watching, have to keep listening to the officials there in Japan to see what actually happens -- Anderson.
COOPER: I want to bring in our guest, Robert Alvarez, who's a senior scholar with the -- the Institute with Policy Studies. Also, I bring in Jim Walsh with MIT, and CNN contributor Dr. Sanjay Gupta who's with me here in Tokyo.
Jim Walsh, in terms of what you've seen, the good news, I guess, is that they've at least hooked up this power to reactor one and two. But we don't know -- they haven't actually hooked the cable up to the cooling pumps, and we don't know if the pumps are going to work.
In terms of the battle to try to cool down reactors, through Van three and four, it doesn't seem like there's much good news there.
JIM WALSH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. It's been a good news/bad news story. It's great that they have some power lines up and running. We hope -- now we have to hope that all the way through to the point of the cooling pump. That is going to say, the cables, the switches and everything in between to the cooling pump will work.
They're working on their two best shots first. Reactor two looks in pretty good shape when you look at the outside. It's the outside housing. It doesn't look like there's a lot of destruction there. So they're starting with their best shot first. They hope to get something there. And if they can have some progress, then maybe they can divert resources to their other problems because the bad news is they still have other problems.
In particular, at reactor four, there's the allegation, at least by Americans off the record, American officials off the record, that that spent fuel pond that holds nuclear waste is -- has a tear in it. That they put water in it and it leaks out. They put water in it, and it leaks out. And that's why they can't maintain water or a temperature that they would expect. If that's true, that's going for a very difficult problem to redress.
COOPER: Rob, have Japanese officials been honest enough, up front enough, transparent enough. And do you make of the fact that they've now come out and said, "Oh, well, actually, looking back at what's happened since Tuesday, this has been a level five all along"?
ROBERT ALVAREZ, SENIOR SCHOLAR, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: Well, I think the answer is they probably have not. This -- this -- this accident is not even comparable to the Three Mile Island accident, because of it involving multiple reactors and fuel pools. It's worse.
Now, it sounds as if they are now clawing back and getting some control, and hopefully, they'll be able to restore some off-site power and be able to provide the necessary cooling for the most troubled reactors.
The reactor -- the concern that I have that is the highest is the spent fuel pools in units three and four. And I think that the reason why the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has reason to believe that that pool is leaking is -- there are a couple of reasons.
One is I think there -- that he probably was relying on thermal imaging from U.S. government satellites. And also there is some information that there was a maintenance going on at this reactor that involved the transfer of the fuel core to the reactor at a time when the earthquake happened that led to not as much water going into the -- into the basin and possibly a crack or compromise to the pool wall.
COOPER: Right. And U.S. officials have now brought in planes, Sanjay, in order to try to monitor radiation from the air to try to get independent readings so they're not just so reliant on Japanese officials.
There's a lot of concern, obviously, in the United States about radiation reaching the West Coast, people buying up iodide pills. You say that's -- no need to fear. GUPTA: Yes, I think they're going to notice -- notice some changes now, because there's going to be additional screenings that are going on of the planes, the cargo, the mail, and passengers themselves.
COOPER: Right. Some planes from here have actually been screened in the United States with traces of radiation.
GUPTA: That's right. With the screening, they might see some elevated levels. But again, the context we've been trying to talk about all week is what does that really mean?
Even here in Tokyo, we talked about it's been up to 20 times higher than normal, but still - and that was register, perhaps, on a radiation screening, but it's not going to mean anything in terms of human health, which is a real question that they have.
So those radiation levels, a lot of those radiation detectors have been in place long before this particular accident, as well. They screen planes and cargo regularly. The passenger screening is a change in field protocol. You may not know that you've been screened. Some of these are pretty surreptitious screeners, but I think that's going to be going on.
COOPER: You know, it's understandable people are concerned. You and I, we all go through kind of a learning curve when you hear about radiation, and it kind of plays into your worst fears. Something you can't see, you can't smell and you have no idea. And there's such fear about it. But once you actually kind of get the information, you know, it's why I've decided to stay here as long as I have. And I think you have as well, once you actually learn about it.
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, it's interesting, because there's all sorts of different analogies you can draw. Obviously, having more radiation is not a good thing. No one's going to say it is.
But the question is really how bad is it? If I said you're going to eat a cheeseburger tonight, I mean, that's not necessarily good for your health. Or if you smoke cigarettes, that's not good for your health, but it's not going to kill you either. And I think it's not an exact analogy, but I think it's appropriate here.
This is not good, but you know, what I think people are really trying to conjure up the images of is the worst-case scenario and it's certainly not that either for the vast majority of people. Leaving those workers aside from the conversation, because they may be subjected to much higher levels, and that's a real concern.
COOPER: And Jim, they're trying to rotate those workers. They had seven fire trucks manned by Japanese military personnel and firemen and municipal workers working in shifts to try to pour water on that -- those spent fuel rod pools in reactor No. 3.
They don't want any of those workers trying -- to spend too much time in one spot there, trying to give them -- give them a break. But, again, for those workers, they are facing severe health consequences.
WALSH: I think that's right. I think they know that. I think their families know that. But they're -- they keep on going at it.
But also this is why it's important that, if they can get a handle on some of the easier parts, on reactor one and two and sort of square away reactor five and six, then at least they can take that small band of people and focus on rotations at the remaining problems, and maybe that will help a little bit.
I want to come back just for a second, Anderson, to your announcement that Japan finally moved the rating of the accident to a higher level, bumped it up one notch. For me, this is sort of symbolic of what we've experienced the whole week long. I mean, everyone that I talk to, and I think, you know, not just here in France, elsewhere, anyone who works on nuclear-related issues of whatever kind, thought this was worse than Three Mile Island.
Three Mile Island was a single plant. The containment vessel was sealed. Very -- you know, some radiation got out but not very much. This is way worse than that. But now only...
COOPER: Do you think the level should be higher?
WALSH: Well, I think there's a debate about that, about whether it should be one notch higher. But for me, it's symbolic of the whole problem here, because now it's Saturday. They're saying this announcement applies all the way back to Tuesday.
So they have been slow from the beginning. The utility was slow to admit that they had a big problem, slow to ask for help. The Japanese government having a lot of stuff on their plate, a tsunami and an earthquake, nevertheless have been slow. The outside world, the IAEA has been slow. The U.S. was slow getting those planes here, the two planes they have that can detect radiation in the sky and take sampling and photograph images. Everyone has been slow to react to this, and as a consequence, it has gotten worse than it should have.
COOPER: Jim Walsh, I appreciate it. Robert Alvarez, as well.
And also, just to tell you, the IAEA has just told CNN that authorities there have been actually able to hook up two diesel generators to reactors five and six to provide power. If, in fact, that is true, and we have no way to independently verify it, that would certainly be a little bit of good news.
Sanjay, appreciate it.
When we come back, also -- and maybe I want you to weigh in on this, as well, because it's a remarkable story that we're just learning. A Japanese person found in the rubble eight days on, despite the freezing cold. I know all the difficulties we've seen. We'll have that story.
And our Gary Tuchman found two Americans believed to be missing by their families. They are live. We'll have that reunion ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Welcome back. Two kind of remarkable stories to tell you about. One, we've just gotten word that a young man has been found in the rubble after eight days. New video from NHK showing that. Gary Tuchman has been following that. I'm here with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as well.
Gary, what do we know about this -- this person found?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's really remarkable. It was 2 1/2 hours ago, not far from where I'm standing right now.
After eight days, a man in his 20s was found right on his futon in the destruction of his house in the town of Kesennuma. Now, it's not clear if he was able to talk. He is conscious and, most importantly, it's not life-threatening. So it's an amazing story. A lot of us feared there would be no more dramatic rescues because of the intense destruction by the tsunami, but this man -- his name Katsuharu Moriya -- is alive and will survive after eight days in the rubble of his house.
COOPER: Sanjay, we saw people after eight days surviving in Haiti, but this is different because of the water, and the force of the water with all that debris. If you get caught up in that, a lot of people obviously get killed. If they don't drown, they're bludgeoned to death.
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, if you look at the types of injuries, the vast majority of people who did die had these terrible crush injuries that you're talking about. There were sort of the large percentage of people who were the walking wounded, but you know, fewer people who were sort of caught in between that.
And certainly, this -- I mean, you were -- we've been up there and see how cold it is.
COOPER: It's cold at night.
GUPTA: I don't know what kind of basic supplies he had in there. It sounds like he was just all sort of huddled up. So at that point, you know, your body's natural survival mechanisms kick in. But at some point, you know, just being able to tolerate the cold without adequate nutrition is -- it's unbelievable.
They say his vital signs are stable. They say he's not in any kind of life-threatening position. So it's a great story.
COOPER: It's a nice story to hear today on a day where there's not a lot of great things to -- to be holding onto.
Another remarkable story: our Gary Tuchman found two Americans. We've been following their story, talking to their parents. They were believed to be missing. Their parents hadn't heard from them since the tsunami hit. Obviously, they had huge concerns. One of the Americans -- they're both teachers. Americans teaching English in Japan. One of them is Jessica Besecker. She's an English teacher in Katsunoma (ph), one of the hardest hit areas. She posted on her Facebook and Twitter after the quake but hadn't been heard of since the tsunami.
And then there was also 25-year-old Edward Corey Clemons. He's from the Chicago area, also teaching in Katsunoma (ph). He sent a Facebook message right after the quake saying he was OK. But like Jessica, no word since.
We talked to Edward's mom, Cynthia. She was desperate for information.
Gary Tuchman actually went up there to find them and was able to find them in this area. This is when we talked to -- to Edmund's [SIC] Cynthia Young. Watch.
COOPER: How are you holding up, Cynthia?
CYNTHIA YOUNG, MOTHER OF EDWARD COREY CLEMONS: It's hard, but I'm trying. I'm trying. I'm taking it day by day.
COOPER: And it's got -- it's got to be so hard to find information. And the time change and just getting people on the ground, communication is so difficult.
YOUNG: Exactly. I pulled up an article today where he lives and it was totally -- I mean, destroyed. So it kind of put a little fear in me, but I'm just hoping he got out and he's somewhere safe. And knowing him, he's somewhere helping someone else.
TUCHMAN: Well, we knew these two Americans were teaching at two different schools in the hard-hit town of Katsunoma (ph). So we took a drive late last night. It's Saturday morning here.
We first went to look for Jessica. We went to her school and we were very anxious when we did not find her. But then we found out we were at the wrong school. So we went to another school in the town, and the happy news is we found Jessica. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: Jessica, how are you doing? It's nice seeing you. We're glad you're OK. You look good.
JESSICA BESECKER, EARTHQUAKE/TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: Thanks.
TUCHMAN: Your parents are really worried about you.
BESECKER: I know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: Now, why she didn't call her parents earlier? They had no cell service until yesterday, and also, because they were cut off from the news. She said they didn't realize how serious the tsunami situation was. Yet she feels now at this point she wishes she was a bit more creative in getting in touch with her mother, maybe driving out of town. But either way, she did talk to her mother yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: What did your mom say to you?
BESECKER: She was just so happy that I was OK. And then they called three ways, my grandmother, and they were talking to everybody. And...
TUCHMAN: What did you say to them?
BESECKER: I told them I'm so glad to hear from them, and I'm sorry I made you worry.
TUCHMAN: I'm glad you're OK, too.
TUCHMAN: It's a pretty emotional time, isn't it?
BESECKER: Yes, definitely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: All right. So that was great. But now we needed to find Edward Corey. He's from Chicago, Illinois, at a different school. We went to that school. It was still completely in dark, no power. The temperature in the hallways must have been 45 degrees. But we found Edward. Edward hadn't yet talked to his mother, and we gave him our satellite phone to make a call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD COREY CLEMONS: Hello? Hey, Ma, it's Corey. She's, like, screaming right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: So she was screaming the whole time, but it was all good.
The moral of the story to your kids, especially my kids if there's ever a big problem, find a creative way to find a telephone. Drive out of town, call your parents.
But we're happy to say this is a good news story. There have been very few good news stories over the last week -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, it's nice to have something to smile about. But I cannot believe they didn't make more of an effort to call their parents. I'm sure every, like, parent watching this now around the world is throwing something at the screen, saying, like, "I can't believe you kids did not do that."
I want to bring in Cynthia, who's Edward Corey Clemons's mom.
Cynthia, first of all, you must have been just ecstatic to finally hear from your son.
YOUNG (via phone): Yes, I was.
COOPER: You knew there had been a Facebook posting from after the earthquake, but you had not heard from him after the tsunami at all. Did you -- you must have feared the worst at times.
YOUNG: Yes, I did. Yes, I did.
COOPER: So what was getting that phone call like?
YOUNG: Oh, it was -- it was so exciting. I just couldn't believe it. And it was great.
COOPER: Cynthia, take care.
Gary Tuchman, amazing job. Thank you so much.
YOUNG: Gary, how did he find them?
TUCHMAN: OK. Thanks for that question. We found them, we did some research about where the shelters were in the town and we went to the shelters. It was very hard to find. A lot of -- a lot of debris, a lot of rubble, no power. But we got there, and the first person we saw was your son. And he was so glad to talk to you, Cynthia.
YOUNG: Oh, great, great. That was great.
COOPER: Cynthia, take care.
Gary Tuchman, amazing job. Thank you so much.
COOPER: It's not all good news, however. There is still one American who has been teaching English here in Japan still missing. I want to show you her picture.
Her name is Taylor Anderson. She's been teaching English in Japan for three years. Her parents Jean and Andy haven't spoken to her since last Wednesday. Again, they had gotten some indication she was fine after the earthquake, but have not heard anything from the tsunami.
Obviously, we continue to hope and pray that she is OK. They have been in contact with the U.S. authorities. We'll continue to follow her story. Taylor Anderson still missing here in Japan. When we come back, the latest on the violence in Bahrain and in Yemen. A number of people shot dead on the streets. We'll have the latest from there.
COOPER: Let's check in with Isha Sesay with a "360 News & Business Bulletin."
Isha, what are you following?
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, at least 40 protesters were killed and more than 100 hurt in Yemen today as tens of thousands of anti-government protesters clashed with security forces. Yemen's president has declared a state of emergency.
In Bahrain, the government today tore down the Pearl Monument, a landmark that had become the site of massive anti-government protests at the heart of the capital. The official reason to, quote, "boost the flow of traffic," the demolition coming just hours after protesters faced a brutal government crackdown Thursday.
The former Haitian president returned to cheers in Port-au-Prince today after seven years in exile. Haiti's first democratically elected president, Aristide fled in 2004 amidst a violent uprising. The U.S. is worried his return at this time could disrupt the weekend's delayed presidential runoff election.
A Wisconsin judge today issued a temporary stay blocking Governor Scott Walker's so-called budget repair law. The controversial law, which strips public union workers' collective bargaining rights, has prompted massive demonstrations in the state's capital.
And it's the moon supersized. Starting at 3 p.m. Easter tomorrow, the moon will be the closest it's been to earth in 18 years. Weather permitting, scientists say it will appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than your average full moon.
Anderson, back to you there in Japan.
COOPER: That sounds cool. Isha, appreciate that. Have a good way.
Our coverage continues, and all weekend, CNN will be following the latest developments out of Libya and Japan. Stay tuned.