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Rouhani: Iran Seeks Justice And Tranquility; Rescues Underway At School Devastated By Mexico Quake; Fury Of Hurricane Maria Unleashing on Puerto Rico. Aired at 11:30-12p ET
Aired September 20, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:15:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CONNECT THE WORLD, CNN: Second major earthquake to hit Mexico of course in just two weeks and quake destroying buildings
across makes a city forcing many into shelters and as we look at these pictures you just listening to one of our colleagues Gustavo, talking about
that one that is awful situation here as the emergency work is desperately trying to find some of these kids who may be trapped in air pockets of
course inside the school, I had been earthquake environment and it is similar environment and they're aren't good news stories out of these,
believe me, and it looks very, very desperate but at least emergency workers on the ground will be doing everything they can in order to try and
find those who are still alive. Of course, 1985, 32 years ago on exactly the same day an earthquake flatten Mexico City, it is good to hear although
when you look at this pictures, it is difficult to actually consider this but it is actually good to hear that much of Mexico City has actually
survive this earthquake and the coming days of course we will explore the infrastructure and issues and establish self in 1985 to avoid the
flattening, something like this, but as we speak at the moment, this is the focus of our attention, this is an elementary school in Mexico City is
desperate fight on to try and find those children who may still be alive, Rosa Flores joining me now live from Mexico City. What can you tell us
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, there is a lot of agony there's a lot of agony, there is a lot of despair that you can feel in the air here.
As people wait, hoping and praying that their love ones will emerge from the rubble of the dozens of buildings that collapse in Mexico City. I want
you to take a look behind, because this is one of the building that we've been monitoring in and of course we seen first responders working around-
the-clock overnight bringing in new resources. Now what you're not able to see here is the intricate and they did the first responders have to do in
order for them to remove the debris carefully without hurting people who are possibly trap and they're moving out the debris in buckets. Buckets by
bucket to make sure that you make sure that they are very carefully the one of those buckets out there right now again is being the very delicate
approach to trying to remove the rubble and preserve life I talked to a gentleman in a moment ago started creating a list of missing here, the list
is 39 long right now in all of the family has been here since yesterday hoping and praying that their loved ones will emerge alive from the rubble
and you know the one thing that they're the most nervous about right now Becky and responders were transitioning from doing the removal of debris by
hand to using machinery in a human being a human so much more delicate than machine so they don't want first responders to use machine, they are hoping
and praying and asking them to please continue using the human hand to remove the debris to make sure that they can preserve life as much as
ANDERSON: That is so important this stage of course, when they just who they might be able to risk your life from this it is important of course is
a busy Saturday around incidents like this one day that it is important that is quite in the environment as you rightly point out Rosa, that it is
important that they don't start to use the heavy equipment to absolutely convince them. They really can't get anybody else out by human hand and
this happened around 1 o'clock in the afternoon yesterday and how bad things across the city?
FLORES: Talking to people here as they described it in something more than a minute that was so dramatic and they knew that they were going to be
destructive, because of what they felt and of course our meteorologist we learned there is a shallow earthquake because it under 70 km in the shallow
earlier quake is the more damage we already know that there are death, there is devastation, there is despair as people wait for first responders
to sift through all this rubble.
[11:20:15] We should mention there are 10 and dozens to hundreds, to thousands of people who had volunteered in that school that you were
talking about earlier we learned about 700 people were out there seeking to that rubble and using their human hands to delicately remove that rubble
and not endanger the children that are known to be trap there so is a lot of emotion of course because we sometimes forget that first responders
military police officers that are out here they also live around here a lot of them. They also have families, I have ask a lot of the ones that I
talked to here, you know is your family okay and you know, look down at the families okay, but that is the thing about this earthquake, it is so large
we are 75 miles from the epicenter and you see the destruction around me and just to give you an idea their school closures in the seven states in
central Mexico. So that you an idea of the magnitude and edges how large the area that is devastated.
The Mexican government issued the equivalent of a natural disaster declaration where it allows federal resources to get pump in the areas that
are most affected, more than 3400 soldiers have been activated to make sure that the helping hand the logistic resources and capabilities of the
Mexican federal government are everywhere that is needed and from looking at this building here in from listening to the agony of a lot of the
parents. I know that that's what they're hoping and expecting that the human hand can continue to remove that debris and that they don't rendition
into a recovery where they use machine were they cannot be delicate and you know preserve life as much as possible.
ANDERSON: Rosa thank you and we had just know looking at the pictures, this is Mexico City and the earthquake there has struck on the exact day as
another massive earthquake Mexico back in 1985, these pictures just for the time being, because the two New York we will come back to these pictures
for a few minutes because they are the reigning president is it is about speak there at the United Nations the General Assembly given that Donald
Trump's comments on Iran on the Iran nuclear deal yesterday, we should listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO LIVE FEED)
HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (TRANSLATOR): Mr. president, Mr. Secretary-General, Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, I wish at the outset
to congratulate your election to the presidency of the general assembly and secretary general election to this office. In with him every success in
his crucial responsibilities. Four months ago over 41 million people constituting 73 percent of Iran's total eligible voters came to the polls
in the country's presidential election. And once again express confidence in my platform. Would cause for moderation and respect for human rights
and prosperity and economic revitalization at home and constructive engagement around the world. They both manifested the majority of the
electorate in a society that has experience free and Democratic governance for only four decades.
[11:25:00] This was not merely a vote for a president, but a huge political investment by our population and resilient people who truly constitute our
multiple reliable asset. Human and citizens' rights along with the quest for justice and Islamic values have constituted the most difficult demands
of the Iranian people in over 150 years of struggle and particularly in the Islamic revolution of 1979. And its first term while pursuing the nuclear
negotiations internationally. My government focus at home on the deliberation and articulation of citizen's right leading to the
promulgation of the charter of the citizens' rights and its constituent for implementation. Adaption of this charter comes from the demands of the
people who wrote against dictatorial regimes, aspiring to restore their right and human dignity during the 111 years ago in the constitutional
revolution and again in the Islamic revolution 39 years ago.
Ladies and gentlemen I declare before this global assembly that moderation is the inclination as well as the chosen path by the great Iranian people.
Moderation seek neither isolation nor hegemony, it implies neither in difference nor intransigence. The path of moderation is the path of peace.
But at just an inclusive peace, not peaceful one nation and war and turmoil or others. Moderation is freedom and democracy but in an inclusive and
comprehensive manner. Not for promoting freedom in one place while supporting dictators elsewhere. Moderation is the synergy of ideas, and
not the dance of hoards.
And finding the path of moderation nurtures beauty, deadly weapons exports are not beautiful rather peace is beautiful. We in Iran's fight to build
peace and promote the human rights of people and nation. We never condone tyranny and we always defend the voiceless. We never threaten anyone, but
we do not tolerate threats from anyone. Our discourse is one of dignity and respect. And we are (inaudible) by threats and intimidation. We
believe in dialogue and negotiations based on equal footing and mutual respect. In today's globalization world, peace, security, stability and
the progress of all nation are inter twined. It is not possible that a world of racist regime trampled upon the most basic rights of the
Palestinians, enjoy security. It is simply impossible for anybody to aspire to attain long terms stability prosperity and development while
Muslims in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Myanmar and so many other places live in misery, war and poverty.
Mr. President, throughout the history Iran has been the bastioned of tolerance for various religions and ethnicities.
We are the same people who rescued the Jews from Babylonian servitude, opened our arms to welcome Armenian Christians in our midst, and created
the Iranian cultural continent with a unique mix of diverse religions and ethnicities.
I represent the same Iran that has historically assisted the oppressed. Centuries ago, we supported the rights of the Jewish people and today we
insist on the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people.
Iran is still the same country supporting justice and seeking tranquility. Today were on the front lines of fighting terror and religious extremism in
the Middle East. Not for sectarian or ethnic reasons, but for an ethical humanitarian and strategic one.
Iran does not seek to restore its ancient empire, impose its official religion on others or export its revolution through the force of arms.
We are so confident in the depth of our culture, the truth of our face, and tenacity and longevity of our revolution that we will never seek to export
any of them in the way neocolonialists do with the heavy boots of soldiers.
To promote our culture, civilization, religion and revolution, we enter hearts and engage minds. We recite our poetry and engage in discourse on
our philosophy. Our ambassadors are our poets, our mystics and our philosophers.
We have reached the shores of this side of the Atlantic through Rumi, and spread our influence throughout Asia with Saadi. We have already captured
the world with Hafez. We therefore are in no need of new conquests.
Excellencies, the call of moderation is from a nation that has been committed to it. We are not preaching moderation but we are practicing it.
The JCPOA is a case in point.
The deal is the outcome of two years of intensive multilateral negotiations overwhelmingly applauded by the international community and endorsed by the
Security Council as a part of Resolution 2231.
As such, it belongs to the international community in its entirety and not only to one or two countries. The JCPOA can become a new model for global
interactions. Interactions based on mutual constructive engagement between all of us.
We have opened our doors to engagement and cooperation. We have concluded scores of development agreements with advanced countries of both East and
Unfortunately, some deprived themselves of this unique opportunity. They have imposed sanctions really against themselves and now they feel
We were not deceived nor did we cheat or deceive anyone. We have ourselves determined the extent of our nuclear program. We never sought to achieve
deterrence through nuclear weapons.
[11:35:00] We have immunized ourselves through our knowledge and more importantly the resilience of our people. This is our talent and our
Some have claimed to have wanted to deprive Iran of nuclear weapons, weapons that we have continuously and vociferously rejected. And of
course, we are not and are not distressful for going an option that we in fact never sought.
It is reprehensible that the rogue Zionist regime that threatens regional and global security with its nuclear arsenal and is not committed to any
international instrument or safeguard has the audacity to preach peaceful nations.
Ladies and gentlemen, just imagine for a moment how the Middle East would look had the JCPOA not been concluded. Imagine that along with Civil Wars,
terror, humanitarian nightmares and complex sociopolitical tact fury crises, humanitarian nightmares and complex for fueled political crises in
West Asia that there was a manufactured nuclear crisis. How would we all fare?
I declare before you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement but it will respond decisively and
resolutely to its violation by any party.
It will be a great pity if this agreement were be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics. The world will have lost an
opportunity but such unfortunate behavior will never impede Iran's course of progress and advancement.
By violating its international commitments, the new U.S. administration only destroys its own credibility and undermines international confidence
in negotiating with it or accepting its word or promise.
Ladies and gentlemen, four years ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran sponsored the initiative of the world against violence and extremism wave
in this assembly.
We considered dialogue and negotiations based on a positive-sum paradigm as the only pass towards the resolution of global and regional crises.
We have made a conscious decision to strengthen relations with our neighbors and the region, and to enhance cooperation with all friendly
It is impossible to navigate through the complex and dangerous challenges in this turbulent, transitional, global phase without expanding
interactions and exchanges, and institutionalizing dialogue between nations and states.
The ignorant, absurd, and hateful rhetoric filled with ridiculously baseless allegations that was uttered before this august body yesterday was
not only unfit to be heard at the United Nations, which was established to promote peace and respect between nations.
But indeed contradicted the demands of our nations from this world body to bring governments together to combat war and terror.
I wish to underscore here that the defense capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran including our missiles are solely defensive deterrence for
the maintenance of regional peace and stability, and the prevention of adventurous tendencies of irrational aspirants.
[11:40:00] We cannot forget that civilians in many of our cities became the targets of long range missile attacks by Saddam Hussein during his eight-
year war of aggression against us. We will never allow our people to become victims of such catastrophic delusions again.
Instability and extremist violence have only been exacerbated in our region through the military interventions of extra regional actors, the same
powers that try to sell evermore of their deadly weapons to other states by accusing Iran of fomenting instability.
I want to emphasize that foreign intervention and the imposition of alien wishes on the people of the region will only widen and deepen the crises in
The crises in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain do not have military solutions and can only be resolved through cessation of hostilities and the acceptance of
the will and wishes of the populaces.
The United States government should explain to its own people why after spending billions of dollars of the assets of the people of America and of
our region instead of contributing to peace and stability, it has only brought war, misery, poverty and the rise of terrorism and extremism to the
Ladies and gentlemen, over the past four years, Iran's economy demonstrated that it has unparalleled potential for expansion and growth. Economic
sanctions not only did not impede Iran but instead solidified popular resolve to enhance domestic production.
Achieving the highest global growth rate last year proved that the Iranian economy can become the most vibrant emerging economy within the next 20
years with a trillion dollar growth potential. Our strategic choice for achieving such sustainable imbalanced growth is extensive global
We are of the firm belief that development and security can only grow together and common interests can bind us regionally and globally to
guarantee both regional and global security.
Iran enjoying the world's largest gas and oil reserves is prepared to engage in long term cooperation to advance global energy security. We are
eager to expand international transit corridors through join venture in sea, rail and road infrastructure projects.
Our achievement in enhancing economic infrastructure in the fields of a nationwide gas pipeline, national electricity grid and rail, and road
transport have made it possible for various industries to produce at lower costs with easy access to national and regional markets, with a current
conducive legal environment...
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaking at the United Nations in New York and not surprisingly, the Iran nuclear
deal from the center in his speech.
He said the deal came about after two year of multilateral negotiations and reminded the audience that it was endorsed by the Security Council.
It belongs to the international community he said, not just to one or two or them. It can become a new model for global interactions he said, and
will -- he said, we will never needed steal nor cheat anyone.
We never sought to achieve deterrence to nuclear arms, he said. Imagine what the Middle East would look like at the JCPOA not been concluded.
He also said we will not be the first country to violate the agreement but if violated, we will respond resolutely by violating this agreement, he
said the U.S. would only undermine its own reputation. So I went on to talk about the defense capabilities that Iran.
[11:45:00] He said those are solely defensive deterrence for the maintenance of peace and security, interesting words in response to all
intents and purposes to the speech made by the U.S. President Donald Trump in exactly the same room at exactly the same podium at around exactly the
same time on Tuesday.
Let's bring in Elise Labott for you to again a little bit deeper on what we are hearing from the Iranian president, nothing in this that surprises me
particularly given what we heard from the U.S. president yesterday, you?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nothing, Becky, but I think he chose his words very carefully and when you say that it would be a great travesty if
a rolled new comer to world politics would kind of upset that agreement -- I'm obviously talking about President Trump.
And then he's talking about -- you know, when he says that this would undermine the credibility and negotiation with other countries about other
deals, you know that the world can accept him as his promise, he's not just talking, right, about the Iran nuclear deal.
He is kind of leaving a narrative about what -- about President Trump and kind of throwing president Trump's words I thought back in his face. You
know, President Trump pulling out of the Paris agreement, when he many talks about moderation, not isolation nor hegemony, neither indifference,
I thought he kind of, you know, really went -- it seems to me is that he might have calibrated his words a little bit to answer bit by bit what
President Trump was saying yesterday in terms of the sovereignty of nations. He is saying look, we are a sovereign nation as well, Becky.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. I want to bring, Robyn Curnow, who is there at the UNGA as well, and the Iranian president is saying that the election earlier
this year reminding people that he was reelected by the Iranian people earlier this year.
He said it was a huge critical investment by the Iranian population. He said they have confidence in my platform. I declared before this assembly
that moderation is the chosen path of the Iranian people as Elise's, point again.
He said we don't speak hegemony but we are unmoved bureaucrats threats and intimidation. He said -- and it is not possible that Rogen racist regime
should enjoy security in the region. Speaking there excuse, Robyn, of Israel without actually saying Israel later -- calling Israel without using
its name, a rogue Zionist regime.
He went on to say we are bastion of tolerance on the front lines of fighting terrorism in the Middle East. For those who are down in Iran as
They will listen to these words and there will be many detractors who say, hang on the minute, when front lines of fighting terrorism in the Middle
East, we are a bastion of tolerance. We are a country of moderation. They will not agree what -- with the Iranian president or will they?
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know I think, Elise, use the right word here, calibration and the choosing his words very carefully and it's
the tone here of the speech.
And if you compare it to the tone of Donald Trump's speech yesterday, the Iranian president come up speaking about moderation, invoking the Persian
He talks about culture and democracy as you heard. I mean, the stark contrast to the tone in the words and the language this man has just
invoked here on the world stage to Donald Trump who yesterday came across his belligerent, war mongering, dark, conflict speaking.
This is an Iranian leader who is directly opposed himself to that. I mean, just the way these two needed in many ways from previous U.N. General
Assembly, things have switched the way. They help portraying themselves and their country is incredibly stark.
But what's also interesting and it's very clear this speech wasn't just a direct reference to Donald Trump's speech yesterday. But also to Benjamin
Netanyahu's speech and he directly talks to some of the comment, both of those leaders made.
Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday talked about an Iran curtain defending on the Middle East. He talked about a dark shadow referencing Iran.
And so, that is very much a gain a reference to Benjamin Netanyahu and meant to Donald Trump who called a corrupt dictatorship, so very much here,
the Iranian -- the Iranian leader trying to send a message of tone and substance to those to lead in their countries.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. All right, ladies, thank you for that.
[11:50:00] The president has some honey still speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, if there is -- moments ago and we will get more of course to you
as we analyze exactly what was said. All right, we're going to take a very short break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Lots more ahead this hour including a live report from Mexico City as rescue workers race against time to save earthquake survivors.
These are pictures coming to us live from Mexico City. This is an elementary school where rescuers desperately trying to find those kids who
may still be alive in the rubble.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, it has been a really busy hour of news with major diplomatic movements of the United Nations into major natural disasters
that we are following for you here on CNN.
I want to get you back to Mexico City just for the time -- these are live pictures of rescue workers who are racing to pull survivors from the rubble
of collapsed buildings.
This is a forensic scene playing out at a school which was toppled by Tuesday's earthquake. As you can see there are workers digging through the
rubble with their hands, hoping to find kids still alive in what is the debris of this school.
The impact of this earthquake on Mexico's capital and surrounding area are can't be measured yet. We do know the death toll has risen to at least 225
people and many, many children are sadly among the dead. This is the second major earthquake to hit Mexico in just two weeks of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, as we continue to monitor these images from Mexico City, right now hurricane Maria unleashing on Puerto Rico in the Caribbean,
ripping roofs of some of the houses and bending trees to the ground. Have a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Maria has made landfall on the island a few hours ago as the strongest hurricane to hit in nearly a century. It is now officially a
category four, a powerful and dangerous storm with maximum sustained winds of 230 kilometers an hour.
The storm leaving behind devastating things on the island of Dominica, at least seven people killed there by what is this monster storm. Well, CNN
reporters are covering Maria's devastating power through the Caribbean every step of the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And I'm joined now by Rafael Romo who is live to you in Fajardo in Puerto Rico and what can you tell us at this point? What are you seeing
or you're hearing?
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a piece of good news, Becky, at this hour for the first time in nearly 24 hours, there's no rain here.
We still have the wind to deal with but no rain anymore at least for the time being and I could tell you that hurricane Maria was a category four
hurricane that enter the island just after six this morning with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour.
I can also tell you that Puerto Rico hadn't seen anything like this in nearly 90 years.
[11:50:00] But only to show you what a category four hurricane can do to palm trees in this part of Puerto Rico. Let me show you what happened
You don't see the leaves anymore because they are gone. That's what a category four hurricane does, that is the strength of the winds that came
down early this morning.
And they also destroyed a lot of the facilities here in Fajardo. Take a look at all the debris, pieces of metal, pieces of insulation, it was so
bad, Becky, that at one point, our CNN team was forced to evacuate a room because we were not sure if it was going to break the windows.
So these are double pane windows that are supposedly designed to withstand the force of a major hurricane but we were not sure and as many other
guests, we had to get out of here but again, the situation is much calmer now. Now begins hard work of removing the debris, cleanup and starting all
over again. Becky, back to you.
ANDERSON: Rafael, thank you for that. I'm Becky Anderson. You are watching CNN, do stay with us, coverage of all of our top stories continues
after what is a very short break. We'll see you here same time and same place tomorrow.