Return to Transcripts main page

CONNECT THE WORLD

Confrontation at Sea Following Iran's Threat of Retaliation; Iran's Foreign Minister Rejects Claim Its Boats Tried to Stop British Tanker; Epstein Pleaded Not Guilty to Sex Trafficking in New York; 2008 Plea Deal Shielded Epstein from Federal Prosecution; Epstein Becomes Focus in Israel's Election; U.K. Juggling Tensions with Multiple Countries; Big Ben, a Steadfast Symbol of a City; Federer, Nadal to Clash in Wimbledon Semifinal; Djokovic to Face Bautista Agut in Semifinal; England on the Verge of Victory in Cricket World Cup. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 11, 2019 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: A former member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard has threated a British vessel in the Straits of

Hormuz should be captured --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Tonight, oil and power, money, gunboats and warships. In the West versus Iran, Britain reckoning. They try to snatch

one of its huge oil tankers. Iran's counterclaim, that never happened.

We're piecing it all together for you this hour. Locations, names, dates, routes. For that is not all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX ACOSTA, U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: This hour, no apologies, no regrets, and American cabinet member defending a controversial plea deal given to a wealthy sex offender. I'll

speak to a journalist who tried to blow the whistle nearly 20 years ago.

Then --

Big Ben echoing through times. Striking the hour exactly for 160 years.

It is 4:00 in London, 7:00 at night here in Abu Dhabi. They are a half hour ahead in Tehran, 11:00 in D.C. We'll take you to all those places and more

this hour on CONNECT THE WORLD with me Becky Anderson. You are more than welcome here.

There's been another oil tanker incident in the strategically important Strait of Hormuz at a time of rising tension between Iran and the U.S. and

its allies. This time, the U.K. says its Navy intervened when Iranian vessel tried to force a British oil tanker to change course. HMS Montrose

got in between the tanker and Iranian vessels. And a defense source says aimed its guns at them.

Iranian's foreign minister has rejected the claim that this happening a week after the British seized an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar and Iran

warned of retaliation. And all of this at a time of maximum pressure on Iran by the U.S. Going to get more from Sam Kiley with me here in Abu Dhabi

in just a moment. First let's get to Ryan Browne at the Pentagon. Ryan, the U.S. military says it caught this British tanker incident on surveillance

video. What can you tell us?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, Becky, we're being told that a U.S. surveillance aircraft was operating in the air over the Strait of

Hormuz, during the incident. That's why Pentagon officials knew about this early on, telling us last night about what exactly happened. And we were

told that several Iranian vessels approached and intercepted the British Heritage tanker and intended to divert it to Iranian waters where the U.S.

and U.K. officials believe the intent was to seize the ship.

Unfortunate for the tanker, the HMS Montrose was nearby. Arrived on the scene. Pointed its weapons at the Iranian vessels, warned them and got them

to back off. But again, very high tensions here in the Strait of Hormuz.

One of the reasons that U.S. surveillance aircraft was present and able to detect this incident, was the U.S. has been boosting its military presence

in the region in the wake of several attacks on tankers, attacks that the U.S. has blamed squarely on Iran, and the Iranian downing of an unmanned

U.S. surveillance drone which almost sparked a U.S. military retaliation.

Now U.S. military officials say they are working with allies to go even further. Increase even more military assets in the region to potentially

escort flagged vessels from similar countries, provide overwatch surveillance, things of that nature. So increasing military pressure or

increasing military presence in the region in an effort to pressure Iran from engaging with the U.S. and the U.K. say are these kinds of activities.

ANDERSON: Sam, you've been talking to sources in British military. Let's just take a look at the Strait of Hormuz here and what was going on with

the British tanker and what happened next.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well if there was ever a time to be a BP -- British Petroleum vessel. Call the British Heritage

and transiting through the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian or Arabian Gulf, this was not it.

[11:05:04] July 1st, we see the British Heritage -- this BP vessel arrive in the in Strait of Hormuz. It is empty and it is heading up to the Basra,

the Iraqi port where it is expecting to take on 140,000 Barrels of oil for Shell.

ANDERSON: Top of the map.

KILEY: Top of the map. Top left-hand corner of the map. That falls on July 5th. Now this is the first time that we hear from a senior Iranian

official, an adviser to President Rouhani, that there's going to be retaliation for the seizure of the Iranian vessel by the British just off

coast of Gibraltar.

At that point, this BP vessel decides it's wiser not to take on oil, but to try to get out of Dodge. It turns around pretty sharply and finds itself

pretty swiftly on July 7th docked at a Saudi port.

On July 9th though, there's a repeated threat coming this time from chief of staff of the Iranian IRGC. Again threatening retaliation. At which point

it takes off again. And you see the dotted line, Becky.

ANDERSON: Sure.

KILEY: That is what we're marking there. It's when it switches off the transponder that identifies its location and indeed it goes dark,

effectively. Hiding itself among all the dozens of other ships and other vessels in that area. Very, very tense situation. And then on the right-

hand side of the map, you see the line switches North East again. That is the point it switches its transponder back on and joins HMS Montrose. Now

somewhere between there and that dotted line you see on the other side of that peninsula is where it met up with these three alleged Iranian vessels.

ANDERSON: The U.S. says it's got video evidence of this incident. It hasn't released that evidence to the media. We have got images of HMS Montrose.

What do we understand between the British military vessel and these smaller -- as we understand it -- IRGC vessels.

KILEY: It came close to war, frankly. Military defense officials are saying that the sailors on board were instructed to level their weapons. Among

them that 30-millimeter cannon and one of those machine guns -- general- purpose machine gun.

ANDERSON: This is live footage.

KILEY: Yes, this is live footage of -- yes, this is training footage effectively. But this is the Montrose demonstrating there, its capacity of

surface-to-air missiles, too. This is a formidable war ship. Up against it were these three Iranian gun boats. And they were chased with a show of

force, not a demonstration of force, but a waving of an old-fashioned cutlass if you like.

And in that context, this came -- this incident -- within hours of President Rouhani making that final threat when he said the British

couldn't expect to seizure an Iranian vessel and not face some kind of retribution. So the anticipation is that three of these gun boats that they

have swarms of were approached by the HMS Montrose. Saw them off at this stage. The Brits are very anxious to try and play all this down. The

initial reporting actually came out of the Pentagon. Because the Brits are not in step with the United States on the American argument with Iran over

the Nuclear Deal. But they are anxious to make sure that British shipping can pass through safely through this very narrow strait.

ANDERSON: And as Ryan pointed out, the U.S. is trying to build a coalition of the willing of those that have interest in keeping the Strait of Hormuz

open, and they say they need more people on board with them. They say they're looking at the Europeans, the Asians, and indeed local stakeholders

here in this region.

And I want to talk about this local stakeholders now. Because Iran's enemies it seems not totally joined up on what happens next. The U.S. and

Saudi Arabia have said that Iran is clearly to blame for a series of recent attacks on commercial ships in these waterways. But some of Iran's Middle

Eastern neighbors are slightly hesitant. Have a listen to what the foreign minister from the UAE had to say recently.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHEIKH ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We cannot honestly, we cannot point fingers at any

state because we do not possess this evidence. If there are other nations that possess clear evidence, then the international community will listen

to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: And the Emir of Qatar calling the standoff between U.S. and Iran a stalemate. Iran can't come to the table under these sanctions. He said to

President Trump, we think behind closed doors, he certainly said that out loud. Qatar backing off the offer to mediate the dispute at present. What

happens next?

[11:10:00] KILEY: Well if you take the overall reporting from officials here in the UAE, indicating that part of the whole military shift of

emphasis away from Yemen, back to home turf is because of this very worrying strategic shift that is going on. They're saying that we have to

look at the strategic reality that's facing us.

The UAE, rather like the British, trying to dial down the tension for slightly different reasons. But this country where we are sitting now sits

very, very closely indeed across the water to Iran and is in direct danger. But also ultimately, huge amount of economic interest at play. Very

importantly to the Americans that they get the Asians on board. Sixty percent of Asia's oil, the most important market for the whole of the Gulf

region goes off to Asia. They've been almost silent on this matter.

ANDERSON: China, of course, signatory to the 2015 deal. China along with Russia today saying dial it down, folks. Dial it down. De-escalation, the

word of the moment here in the UAE as well. Thank you, Sam.

Well time and again when it comes to Iran, you will hear four letters, the IRGC. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp and Sam and I have been talking

about them this hour. Who are they and why are they so powerful? Have a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defenders of Iran's border will get strong and firm response against any invasion.

ANDERSON (voice-over): They're Iranian's most elite fighters, 150,000 battle ready troops across air, land, and sea. All to keep this safe. The

country's Islamic revolution, set up by its ultimate power, its original supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, to protect the regime from the inside

out. Against threats like Western inspired coups that they've seen before.

But the war with Iraq changing everything. The grueling 8 years in transient, blood-soaked battle, transforming the IRGC into a much more

conventional outward looking force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no territorial ambition. Not even inside Iraq.

ANDERSON: That's not exactly true. The guards now stomping around the region with simple goals. Resist, survive, expand. Sending Westerners and

people, combatants in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon, too.

HASSAN NASRALLAH, HEZBOLLAH SECRETARY GENERAL: We have received moral, political and material support in all its forms from Iran since 1982.

ANDERSON: The war with Iraq rippling out in other ways. After it, the IRGC helping rebuild the country. And from there, entangling itself across every

part of the economy, banking, shipping, farming, oil. A multibillion-dollar conglomerate, embedded within one-third of the economy.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I am announcing our attempt to designation the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp as a foreign terrorist

organization.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a regime of great terror.

ANDERSON: The Americans calling them terrorists. Blaming them for years of bombings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iran recognizes the United States as its worst enemy.

ANDERSON: But they consider themselves freedom fighters who are in many ways a law unto themselves.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Well, it's the Trump administration in Saudi Arabia remained in lock step it seems on Iran. Lawmakers from both major parties in the U.S. are

questioning the Trump administration's decision to sell billions of dollars in weapons to other countries without consulting Congress. Democrats and

Republicans say the White House called the sales an emergency to get around congressional approval. Now Republican Senator Ted Cruz normally tows the

party line. But this obviously crossed the line in his eyes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I voted with the administration on the substance because of substance on Iran. But I tell you, from my end, if the

administration does it again and there is not a live and exigent emergency, you will not have my vote. And I predict you will not have the vote of a

number of other Republicans as well. The simpler process is follow the damn law and respect it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, Cruz voted against a resolution of disapproval on these deals in late June, which included sending weapons to Saudi Arabia and the

United Arab Emirates. The White House defended rushing the sale saying it was necessary to send a message to Iran immediately while tensions, they

said, were so high.

Right. Still ahead, Donald Trump's Labor Secretary defending his handling of a plea deal involving sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. But was it enough?

We'll speak to a veteran reporter who has extensively investigated this man. And says, quote, his sick story played out for years in plain sight.

[11:15:02] And a London icon celebrates a birthday with a face lift.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: No apologies and no apparent regrets. Donald Trump's Labor Secretary is giving a strong defense of a plea agreement he helped secure

for a sex offender years ago. A deal that now has some lawmakers demanding his resignation. Alex Acosta, a federal prosecutor at the time, says

Jeffrey Epstein would have walked free if his offense hadn't stepped in. He says he believed a trial was risky, so he negotiated a deal that would put

Epstein behind bars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: A state grand jury brought that single completely unacceptable charge. A state official allowed Epstein to self-surrender. I wanted to

help them. That is why we intervened. We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail. He needed to go to jail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Right, well the former state prosecutor on the case firing back, rejecting Acosta's explanation, saying that he is trying to rewrite

history. Well a judge has ruled that Acosta's office broke the law. Because it didn't inform Epstein's alleged victims before agreeing to what's known

as a sweetheart deal. That's a plea deal. And really that's what the story's about, the girls, the young women who say Epstein sexual assaulted

them in acts that will haunt them forever. While another accuser is now speaking out, accusing Epstein of raping her when she was just 15 years

old. She said she started going to his Manhattan home when she was just 14.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER ARAOZ, EPSTEIN ACCUSER: I would have just my underwear on, that's how he liked it, so -- and I would just get -- massage his back. And then

he would potentially later on turn over and play with himself. And he would also like when I would play with his nipples. He got turned on by that. And

then he would finish himself off, and then that would be the end of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, NBC TODAY SHOW: Did you ever tell him your age?

ARAOZ: I told the recruiter, I mentioned it in front of him, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're 14 years old.

ARAOZ: Yes, he knew very well my age. He knew exactly, you know, who he was hanging out with, you know. I don't think he cared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, just days ago Epstein was charged in New York with six trafficking.

[11:20:02] He pleaded not guilty. Our next guest has extensively reported on Epstein. In a recent article, Vicky Ward said his, quote, sick story

played out for years in plain sight. Vicky, thanks for joining us. Describe what that article said back in the day, in "Vanity Fair." And more

importantly, the article that you wrote, what it didn't say and why?

VICKY WARD, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Yes. So, you know, back in 2002, the article actually appeared in 2003, I was tasked with trying to uncover the

mystery of Jeffrey Epstein. Who was known to be a sort of Gatsby type figure. A reclusive figure who was very, very wealthy, but nobody

understood why. You know, he lived in the largest private residence in New York. It was known that he had a very influential social circle. You know,

Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, top financiers, top academics, top (INAUDIBLE). And it was also known that when you went to his house -- he liked to

entertain in, not out.

But when you went to his house in New York, there would always be very beautiful, very young women. Many of whom were actually foreign and

sometimes couldn't even speak English. So I was tasked with finding out what was the real source of his money. And I did discover that he was not

what he claimed to be. He certainly wasn't a money manager to billionaires.

And I did discover that, you know, one of his mentors was in fact at that point in jail for 20 years. Serving a sentence for masterminding what was

then the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history, pre-Bernie Madoff.

What didn't make it to the piece, and what I wrote about years later with permission from the women, were stories from two sisters who both alleged

they had been assaulted by Jeffrey Epstein. One of them when she was only 16. And it was the classic -- theirs was the story that's now so familiar.

They weren't rich. They weren't famous. And Jeffrey Epstein presented an opportunity to them. The youngest -- the one who claimed that he had

molested her when she was under age -- went to spend the weekend with him because he and his then girlfriend, Galen Maxwell, had said they wanted to

get to know her in order to then fund a trip overseas which she needed for her resume. Because she was applying to ivy league universities. Their

mother got on the phone to Jeffrey Epstein's then girlfriend who assured her that she would be present and everything would be kosher.

ANDERSON: This information didn't get into this article. Yes, and you say that's because the editor at the time decided that what, you didn't have

the story? Or that what the story involved.

WARD: That's what he is now saying, but you know, I keep all my transcripts and you know, it's very clear that I have the women on the record. I have

their mother on the record. And in fact, I have other people of good standing around them on the record. The issue is actually that Jeffrey

Epstein came into the office to meet personally with the editor of the magazine, and the decision was taken after that one-on-one meeting.

And you know, I think if you look, I mean, this fits a pattern, right? You've got Jeffrey Epstein who is known among influential New Yorkers. He

is a known quantity. He may be mysterious, but he is a known quantity. And you have the women who are not. And that is the pattern that has played out

again and again and again for two decades.

ANDERSON: For nearly two decades you say, and for nearly two decades you say in recent article for the "Daily Beast," for some nebulous reason.

Whether to do with ties to foreign intelligence, his billions of dollars, or his social connections, your right, Epstein remained untouchable.

I wonder who you really believe is to blame there? You have explained that by saying the outrage was just not there, it is not like sexual abuse of

minors wasn't illegal back in the day. How do you feel about having known Epstein's story and actually for whatever reason, not flushing him out?

[11:25:04] WARD: Well, I mean, this is what was so tricky, right? And it's -- this story was so painful and stayed with me. Because you know, once the

women who talked to me, once they were cut from the piece, you know, my first question to them was, well what do you want to do? Like, we can't

just drop this. Right? And their reaction was understandable. Which was, you know what, this is exactly what we thought would happen. That he would

be believed over us. And what's the point of persevering. It was also very clear to me from my reporting that they weren't the only victims. That it

was well known in Jeffrey Epstein's circle that he had a problem. He had a sickness.

And the FBI, they then did open an investigation, but around 2005, 2006. And I was always, always it's been on my conscience that those missing

years, right, why my story didn't contain what it should have contain. And Jeffrey Epstein then was free to go about molesting dozens and dozens and

dozens. We know extraordinary numbers of young women.

ANDERSON: Which he alleges -- well he certainly spent 30 months in jail on what was a very reduced charge back in the day. Now pled not guilty, of

course, to these current charges. Vicky, thank you for coming on. Vicky's article, back in the day, "The Talented Mr. Epstein" in "Vanity Fair." With

that she is pointing out a number of details that might otherwise have flushed Jeffrey Epstein out earlier.

This story is resonating around the world, not only because of the horrific nature of the Epstein's alleged crimes but also because of the high-profile

company that he kept. CNN's Oren Liebermann explains how Epstein has become the focus of a heated campaign fight in Israel.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jeffrey Epstein is suddenly the biggest name in Israeli politics. The Jewish American

multimillionaire charged with sex trafficking of minors, is the focus of a war of words and tweets between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and

former Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, who has just re-entered politics.

Netanyahu attacked his former commander for his connections to Epstein, accusing media of burying the story.

Meet Jeffrey Epstein. Suspected of pedophilia and a rich past in sexual offenses. Epstein was head of the Wexner Foundation that gave Barak $2.3

million for a research program that never was and never came to be. What else did the sexual offender give Ehud Barak? Is the media going to wake

up?

A spokesperson said the Wexner Foundation severed ties with Epstein more than a decade ago, according to Forbes. On Israeli radio Tuesday, Barak

said he's paid large amounts of money for research and consulting. Asked what work was about, Barak told the radio host to ask the Wexner

Foundation.

On Twitter Barak fired back saying, it hurts to here that people he knew had been caught up in criminal actions. First Netanyahu, then Epstein.

Netanyahu faces his own criminal investigations with the Attorney General, announcing his intent to indict Netanyahu on bribery, and breach of trust

charges pending in October hearing. Netanyahu has maintained his innocence.

With two months to go until Israel goes back to the ballot box, Netanyahu's Likud party is pulling far ahead of Barak's Israel Democratic Party. But

their back and forth is the biggest fight in an otherwise quiet campaign so far.

In another Twitter attack, Barak questioned Netanyahu's connection to Arnaud Mimran. A French multimillionaire who's serving an 8-year jail

sentence in a massive fraud case. Netanyahu has acknowledged he received $40,000 from Mimran when he was a private citizen, all of it [11:30:00]

legally, he insists.

EHUD BARAK, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In the state of Netanyahu, the crooked people get up and do things. You can bribe,

cheat and violate trust. In Netanyahu land there is immunity. The leader is above the law.

LIEBERMANN (on camera): Netanyahu's Likud Party has demanded that Israel's Attorney General open a criminal investigation into the ties between Barak

and as the statement puts it, the convicted pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein. The AG's office tells CNN, they have received the request and are dealing with

it in the official manner. Meanwhile, in New York, Epstein had pleaded not guilty to all charges. Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I am Becky Anderson for you.

Just ahead, from the world stage. Well it's not rule Britannia anymore. And it may be their closest ally showing them that. That story coming up after

this.

[11:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I am Becky Anderson. Just after 7:30 in the UAE. This is a show from our Middle Eastern

broadcasting hub here in Abu Dhabi.

Our top story today about the tanker incident near the Strait of Hormuz just off the coast here. The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard says

the U.S. is bringing insecurity with its false and presence around the world. This after the U.S. military said it has surveillance video of a

British warship intervening when Iranian vessels tried to force a British oil tanker off course.

Iran has rejected that claim. They had some pretty choice words to say about the U.K. of late. It's sadly the only place the once mighty British

empire now being humbled or finding itself in a difficult spot. Of course, the American President giving the country a dressing down and effectively

shoeing out its ambassador.

Then there's the Brexit black hole, a spat with China over Hong Kong and rift with Russia to boot. All this when Britain thought it would be living

free of the EU by now, and carving out relationships all over the world with, well, exactly those countries that we've that we've pointed out there

on the map. He's been around the globe for us. But right now Nic Robertson live from London. I mean, Nic, let's start with the U.K.-U.S. diplomatic

spat of present. It's a political cliche to talk about the U.K.-U.S. special relationship. But that is hardly the case at present. What's going

on?

You know, when you're dealing a president like President Trump, the special relationship has to be pretty special to President Trump. I mean, that's

what he is demanding of everyone. He wants bilateral relationships. So that's great. You know, if you can get a good one. But a good one is one

that advantage to the United States. And Britain doesn't have the kind of leverage -- that you were alluding to there -- that it used to. To pull off

that kind of relationship.

Maybe the incoming Prime Minister who everyone expects to be Boris Johnson who has a good relationship with President Trump. Believes that he can do

what President Macron didn't. Which was curry a good relationship and think that you can influence the U.S. President. That's the direction if

travelling it seems to be heading in at the moment, once you get over the current diplomatic hurdle if you will. But no, I mean, the special

relationship at the moment is very much in the hands of the United States. Now a different administration might be different. But that's not where

Britain finds itself at the moment in this changing world.

[11:35:00] Where relationships with Russia have changed since the Brexit vote. Relationships with China and the rest of the world, to with the

United States to a large degree on that one has changed as well.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. We will know who the new leader of the Conservative Party and thus Prime Minister will be of Britain, of course, next week. And

then will find out what happens next with Brexit. Nic, thank you.

Up next, we are off to London. But were off to London for something else.

Well the most famous clock in the world gets a much-needed pampering. We are back in just a couple of ticks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Tonight's PARTING SHOTS for you, a real treat. London has survived world wars, government upheaval, and dramatic cultural awakenings

in the past 160 years. Envoy living through some torrid times at present. It's a city with a lot of symbols from fish and chips to the Queen. Its

famous black cabs and its ever-present cuppers. And through it all Big Ben has chimed and kept watch over the city of its towering presence. CNN's

Nick Glass takes us inside the bell tower's ongoing restoration. Have a look at it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK GLASS, CNN JOURNALIST (voice-over): The great clock tower to the right is sheathed in scaffolding. For the moment it could pass for a launch pad

for a space rocket. Without its usual silhouette is has lost some of the romanticism. The Gothic revival architecture is under a shroud.

You have to remember what it was like before that river setting that so appealed to a Frenchman called Claude Monet. Monet wasn't so interested in

imprecise dimensions, more in capturing the light.

Of course, we all know it simply by its nickname, Big Ben. Although strictly speaking, that's the name of the great bell inside. What's now

officially called the Elizabeth Tower.

Just two years ago we could still clearly see all the clock faces in here all the bells., This was the last time that they were properly struck

before restoration work began. Big Ben and its great hammer. A close quarters giving off ear jangling reverberations. For 160 years a timekeeper

for Londoners and beyond. And perhaps most famously in the Second World War, heard on the BBC World Service, a reminder that Britain was fighting

on.

A masterpiece of mid-Victorian engineering, cogs and wheels and wicks and springs. The great clock of Westminster, the most sophisticated clock of

its time, a mechanism driving four clock faces.

[11:40:00] Note the pile of Victorian and Edwardian pennies. Whenever the clock loses or gains a second or two, they remove or add a penny to adjust

the swing of the pendulum. The mechanism was fixed in place way back in 1859.

PAUL ROBERTSON, CLOCKMAKER, PALACE OF WESTMINSTER: It never had a whole lot of play in one go. So we're fairly confident we won't have any major

problems. It'll all come apart and we'll check it all out and we'll put it back together for them.

GLASS: The great clock, 11 tons of it has since been dismantled and removed from site for servicing. Up here in the belfry, all five bells are

remaining and sit. The four chiming quarter bells and the great one arm bell itself, Big Ben. The reasons are obvious. Big Ben is nine feet wide

and over 7 feet high and weighs about the same as a pair of African elephants, some 13 tons.

The most visible part of restoration so far is on one clock face, the so- called north dial, 23 feet across. The lattice of cast-iron has been blast cleaned and re-glazed some 300 bespoke pieces of opal colored glass. The

clock face has also reverted to its original color scheme, gold leaf, and the paint of Prussian blue.

Nothing much has stopped the clock over the years, the occasional mechanical gremlin, the odd flurry of snow, and on one occasion a flock of

roosting starlings. And of course, it's had its dramatic moments in movies. The actor, Robert Powell, hanging on for dear life in the spy thriller "The

39 Steps" in 1978. Had the minute hand reached a quarter to 12, the clock tower would have been blown up by dastardly Prussian secret agents.

And midday in reality, Big Ben was silent again as it largely has been for the last two years. Restoration should be complete by 2021. So far

everything has been ticking along very nicely, thank you. If rather quietly. Nick Glass, CNN, with Big Ben.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: I'm wondering how England is doing against the Aussies? "WORLD SPORT" coming up with the cricket World Cup just after this show in about

three minutes time.

Just before we go, this just into CNN. The caption along with chief officer of the seized Iranian oil tanker Grace One has been arrested on suspicion

of breaching EU sanctions relating to Syria. That is according to Gibraltar police. The police say documents and electronic devices have also been

seized from the ship and are now being investigated. The tanker of course seized by the British Navy last Thursday on assumption it was carrying

crude to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. More on that story, of course, as we get it. I am Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you

for watching.

[11:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WORLD SPORT)

[12:00:00]

END