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Trilateral Agreement AUKUS Pact Agreed Between U.S., U.K. and Australia; France Not Pleased by Australia's Decision; Afghan Women Fighting for Their Right; Japan Starts Nationwide Military Drill; Taliban Leader Deny Any Disagreement Within Taliban Leadership. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired September 16, 2021 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.
Just ahead here on CNN Newsroom, Australia getting nuclear powered submarines under a new alliance with the U.S. and the U.K. How it could impact the power balance in the Pacific?
Japan's defense minister response to the recent missile launches from North Korea, but says there is another big threat facing his nation.
Plus, the journey of a lifetime. Four civilians making history as they blast off into orbit.
Thanks for joining us.
Well, under a new trilateral security pact, the U.S. and U.K. will share highly sensitive nuclear technology with Australia so that is can begin to build its own fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. All three leaders stress that the new subs won't carry nuclear weapons.
France was furious over the new partnership after Australia canceled a $65 billion deal for conventional French submarines. There was no specific mention of China in Wednesday's announcement, but its long- term goal is clearly aimed at trying to counter Beijing's rising dominance in the region.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This, this is about investing in our greatest sources trend, our alliances and updating them to better meet the threats of today and tomorrow. It's about connecting America's existing allies and partners in new ways, and amplifying our ability to collaborate, recognizing there is no regional divide separating the interests of our Atlantic and Pacific partners.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH (on camera): And we begin our coverage with Angus Watson in
Sydney, Nina dos Santos in London, and Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Good to see you all.
So, Angus, let's start with you, and get the details on this deal, and of course, reactions from Australia.
ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Well rosemary, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia have always been very close allies. But what this new arrangement does this trilateral agreement known as AUKUS will do is bring the Australian military closer to the capabilities that the U.S. and the U.K. have. Now that's predominately going to come in the form of nuclear submarines, at least eight nuclear submarines to be built here in Australia using that closely guided technology, that's owned by the U.K. and the U.S.
These submarines of course have the power to change the security environment in the Indo-Pacific region, which President Biden and Prime Ministers Johnson and Morrison say is growing more and more dangerous. Because these nuclear submarines have the capacity to stay at sea for longer, to evade detection more easily, to dive deeper, go faster, and of course, hold and carry greater weapons pay loads.
Of course, all three leaders have gone to pain to say that those weapons payloads would not be nuclear. Australia's nuclear propelled submarines will only carry conventional weapons.
Now, this is not a short-term plan. It's going to take at least 18 months for the U.S. and the U.K. to discuss with Australia just how to get this operation on the ground, and the submarines may not be at sea until the 2040's. But Rosemary, this is all focused at China of course. It seems one other country that will be upset is France.
Australia did have a deal with tens of billions with France to develop French designed submarines in Australia. They weren't going to be nuclear. They were going to be diesel electric. That deal has now been scrapped, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yes. France is not happy about that at all. So, Kristie, let's go to you. And you know, as was mentioned, this is all about countering China's dominance in the region. So how is Beijing responding?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, China has reacted angrily through a statement that we've heard from a spokesperson in its embassy in Washington, D.C., you know, calling these three nations and telling them that they should quote, "shake off this cold war mentality."
Of course, Beijing following very closely the news coming out overnight here in Asia of these three nations, U.S., U.K., and Australia forming this joint security pact in the Indo-Pacific region with the aim of working together on cyber, on advance technology, like artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
[03:04:59] And of course, the headline this day, helping Australia to acquire nuclear powered submarines. Now the leaders involved here they went out of the way, they said this is not a nuclear armed submarine, but a nuclear-powered submarine. But it is one that will be armed with conventional weapons.
U.S. President Joe Biden says that this is to ensure that the peace and stability in the in the Indo-Pacific region for many years to come. But China sees this otherwise. They see this as a very provocative move.
Let's bring up the statement that was issued from the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. by its spokesperson, Liu Pengyu, who said countries, quote, "should not build exclusionary blocks targeting or harming the interests of third parties. In particular, they should shake off their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice" unquote.
Now Rosemary, this is the latest step by the United States and its allies to counter the rising technological and military might of China here in the Asia Pacific region. We know that U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, she recently paid a visit to engage allies in the region like Singapore and Vietnam.
And next week, the United States will be hosting an in-person summit of the quad. This is a security alliance involving the U.S., Japan, Australia and India, often seen, widely seen as a counter point to China as it asserts itself here in the region.
China has been viewing these events very closely, and according to analysts with great concern it sees what's happening here is not only continuation of the so-called containment policy of China that was championed by the former U.S. President Donald Trump, but the fact that under the Biden administration, they are carrying it out more effectively, thanks to the viability of its allies. Back to you.
CHURCH: Yes. Important details there. Nina, what's Britain's role in this deal?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, you know, this -- Rosemary, this is -- I can't hear you very well, Rosemary. Fred, I can hear our control room.
But this is a situation that's obviously going to be win-win, if you like for Boris Johnson for an optical point of view putting him right there with big defense allies. You know, as Angus, and also, we had Kristie Lu Stout just said before, these are countries that have had long-standing defense partnerships, and countries that are becoming increasingly concerned about China's creep further and further into the Indo-Pacific region.
They are going to be doing all of this, and announcing all of this now in a pivotal point just a few days before the UNGA takes place and also just a few days before OSEA meeting of Asian leaders. We're also going to have a G20 summit taking place here in Europe and Italy where you can bet that France will probably make clear also its ire at having seen its multibillion-dollar deal for those diesel-powered submarines scrapped without too much notice.
In fact, fondly enough, the former U.S., former ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud went on Twitter and said essentially that France had been stabbled in the back by this partnership. But this is more than just submarines, as Angus was just saying before. It is very transformational. But it is in terms of the geopolitics of the Indo- Pacific region, but it is about more than that. It's also going to be about beefing up things like cybersecurity and more information sharing.
The United States, Australia and also the U.K. are pivotal parts of the Five Eyes information sharing alliance. So, they already have crucial defense and security ties, but this will really be transformational in terms of the military hardware in this since departed world.
I believe we can listen to what Boris Johnson had to say about just how crucial this partnership was, and for the U.K. to be involved in it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Only a handful of countries possess nuclear powered submarines. And it is a momentous decision for any nation to acquire this formidable capability and perhaps equally momentous for any other state to come to its aid. But Australia, is one of our oldest friends, a kindred nation, and a fellow democracy and a natural partner in this enterprise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DO SANTOS: So, big day for Boris Johnson announcing this, you know, which came rather unexpectedly. The U.K. is obviously going to be, it was one day in fact, just reshuffled all of his cabinet, although the defense secretary crucially, Ben Wallace, remain in the same position. Because it's also going to be up to him and our diplomatic partners to try and engage in the 18 months work of diplomacy to, as Angus was pointing out, figure out exactly how Australia is going to be acquiring this type of technology. That is what is likely to start from here. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Yes. Very important. Angus Watson in Sydney, Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, and Nina dos Santos in London. Many thanks to all three of you. I appreciate you all.
We have got new information on North Korea's latest ballistic missile launches. Its state-run news agency reports they are part of a new railway born missile system deployed for the first time on Wednesday.
Pyongyang says the projectiles accurately struck their target 800 kilometers away in the waters of the Korean peninsula. Japanese defense officials tell public broadcaster NHK the missiles fell inside Japan's exclusive economic zone. Well, Japan has started its first large scale nationwide military
drill in nearly three decades. It includes more than 100,000 personnel, 20,000 vehicles, 120 aircraft and will last until late November. The military says the aim is to strengthen deterrents, and respond to an uncertain security environment.
So, let's go live now to Tokyo and CNN's Blake Essig. Good to see you, Blake. So, what is the significance of the timing of this coming as Japan faces a multitude of challenges right now.
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Rosemary. I mean, it's been a busy week for Japan's defense minister when you talk about this drill that has started today. Just look at the past weekend all that has happened you understand why it is so important to start this training.
When you look at the past week, North and South Korea each tested new missiles. Taiwan conducted military drills and a Chinese submarine was spotted near Japan's southern islands.
Now, while this was all happening, I had a chance to sit down with the minister of defense, Nobuo Kishi, to talk about security challenges facing Japan in the Indo-Pacific, arguably, one of the most volatile regions on the planet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ESSIG (voice over): For years, North Korean missiles imposed a serious threat to Japan's national security. That threat hasn't gone away. Recently, North Korea has test fired several missiles, including long range cruise missiles capable of striking almost any potential target in Japan.
And even more concerning, ballistic missiles that on Wednesday feel into the waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula. Well, Japan's defense minister Nobuo Kishi says the ongoing hostility from North Korea is a big challenge. He says it isn't Japan's biggest security concern.
As Japan's minister of defense, what threat keeps you up at night?
NOBUO KISHI, JAPANESE DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): China has been regularly challenging Japan's territorial integrity. These actions are making it a fait accompli, in response to such moves we have to demonstrate our will to protect the lives of Japanese citizens, as well as their livelihoods and our territory.
ESSIG: The inherent part of Japanese territory Minister Kishi is referring to, is located here in the East China Sea about 1,900 kilometers from Tokyo. It's this uninhabited island chain known as Senkaku in Japan, and Diaoyudao in China that seemingly a red line for Kishi and one that could serve as Asia's next military flash point.
What is Japan doing to contain China and stop them from changing the so-called status quo in the East and South China Sea, specifically in the waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands? KISHI (through translator): The Senkaku Islands are an integral part
of Japanese sovereign territory. Both according to international law and looking historically, there is no territorial dispute relating to the Senkaku Islands between Japan and other countries.
With regards to the Chinese coast guard vessels approaching our territory, Japanese coast guard must respond first until that the government of Japan is determined to defend our territory with a greater number of Japanese coast guard vessels and that of China.
And according to Minister Kishi, that's exactly what Japan is doing in an effort to maintain peace and stability in the region.
To put that into perspective, over the past five years compared to the previous five, a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute shows Japan has increased its major arms imports by 124 percent. And Kishi recently laid out plans to deploy troops and missiles on Ishigaki, as well as other southern islands as tensions grow between Beijing and Taipei along the Taiwan Strait.
KISHI (through translator): Taiwan is located at the nexus of the East and South China Seas, and it is geopolitically and strategically important. That's why Taiwan's peace and stability is not just important for this region, but to the international community as a whole.
With regard to Japan's energy lifeline, more than 90 percent of the energy Japan uses is imported through the sea around Taiwan. So, it's important to maintain the maritime order, and a free and open Indo- Pacific.
ESSIG: How committed is Japan to the defense of Taiwan versus China?
KISHI (through translator): Japan is not committed to the defense of Taiwan. However, we think it is very important to have stability on the Taiwan Strait.
ESSIG: You said that Japan is not directly committed to defending Taiwan, what is the difference between directly and indirectly?
KISHI (through translator): Because we are close geographically, what could happen in Taiwan would likely be an issue for Japan, in which case, Japan would need to respond accordingly.
ESSIG: A military situation Kishi admits has been shifting in favor of Beijing in recent years, one that he plans to keep a close eye on and still hopeful for a peaceful resolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ESSIG (on camera): Throughout our interview with the minister of defense Kishi, we talked about several other topics including the United States recent withdrawal from Afghanistan. I asked if he felt America could be trusted and live up to its word to defend allies like Japan? He told me that the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan with the understanding that the Afghan government had the will to administer the country. That didn't turn out to be the case.
Now he said, Japan on the other hand has been committed to defending itself against various security challenges, and has all the confidence in the world that the U.S. would come to Japan's aid if called upon. Rosemary?
CHURCH: All right. Blake Essig, many thanks joining us live from Tokyo.
Well, a country in crisis, the Taliban leader denies there are internal divisions in Afghanistan's new government. We'll have the details ahead.
Plus, an emotional day on Capitol Hill as several elite gymnasts slam the FBI for failing to protect them against disgraced doctor Larry Nassar. Their powerful testimony when we return.
CHURCH (on camera): The Taliban are calling on the United Nations to recognize the Islamic emirate, end the black list against the group's leaders and lift all sanctions. The militants promised the U.N. humanitarian aid efforts will, quote, "proceed normally and without delay."
Now this comes as the Taliban are trying to present a united front. The group's co-founder and acting deputy prime minister appeared on television Wednesday to deny rumors he'd been injured in a dispute at the presidential palace last week.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar also denied there are divisions between factions of the Taliban and the Haqqani network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULLAH ABDUL GHANI BARADAR, AFGHAN ACTING DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Praise be to God, I'm fit and well. And with regards to media claiming that we have internal disagreements, that is not true at all. Praise be to god. We have a lot of kindness and mercy amongst us. Such act might not even exist in a family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): CNN's Anna Coren is following developments. She joins us now live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Anna. So, what more are you learning about all of this?
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, we know that there are factions within the Taliban. That is being widely reported. So of course, they are going to put up a unified front. But it took them weeks, three weeks to form a shadow government, and even they are saying this is not a permanent government. You have the hardline Taliban then you have the more moderates like
Baradar who, I guess, outside as the international community thought would take a more prominent role that has not transpired.
But the biggest problem, Rosemary, facing the Taliban leadership right now is the crisis, the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in the country. The U.N. we know through this emergency meeting that was held, has managed to raise $1.1 billion from donor countries.
The U.N. secretary general has said that this is the most perilous hour for Afghanistan because of the crisis that is unfolding. According to the World Food Programme, 14 million people are facing starvation. This is a country that is going to run out of food by the end of this month.
So, you know, these are the pressing problems facing the Taliban. They need this international aid because prior to their takeover, it was a country propped up by the international community. It was heavily dependent on donor aid, particular from the United States. That has now dried up.
We're seeing the economic situation. You know, banks, only a few banks, Rosemary, are open. And then Afghans can only withdraw what is equivalent of $200 U.S. dollars a week. It's taking them days to get that money out of the bank.
So, really, the international community has to come to the aid of the people. But you are dealing with a government that said it would be inclusive, that said it would respect women's rights, the media's rights. And we are seeing the complete opposite.
So, there is this dichotomy that the international community is having to grapple with. How do you deal with an organization where many of the cabinet ministers are designated global terrorists? Where we are seeing for our very own eyes them abuse human rights. It's so problematic for the international community, but what is at stake is the survival of millions of Afghans.
CHURCH: Right. Anna Coren joining us there live from Hong Kong. Many thanks.
Well in the past few weeks, women across Afghanistan have taken to the streets to protest against Taliban rule and for the rights and freedom. But violence and threats have many now living in fear. One woman's rights groups activist returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban were ousted 20 years ago. Now, she plans to stay in the country to defend women.
CNN's Nic Robertson sat down with her in Kabul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHBOUBA SERAJ, FOUNDER, AFGHAN WOMEN'S NETWORK: Everything is at stake now for this country, everything, everything that we knew, everything that we built, everything, especially the women, everything is at stake right now. Because -- because we are actually facing a situation that we are so
disliked by a group of people who are actually running this country. They can't even look at us. When there is a question, we ask of them, they will not answer us. They will answer the question to the man who is standing next to us.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: How can you have any hope that this can get better?
SERAJ: You know, to be honest, I really have no other choice. I honestly don't. None of us do. We have to, we have to believe that something is going to give, something is going to change and we are going to be -- something is going to be better. Because otherwise, what does it mean.
ROBERTSON: But isn't it dangerous for you to speak up and be heard?
SERAJ: Well, you know, I -- whatever I've been saying and what I'm saying from now on also, I am never saying anything bad about the Taliban. What I'm trying to say it's about exactly what they're doing here.
So, I mean, what are they going to do, kill all of? OK, that's also fine. But there is something in this world that to me, in my eyes is worth dying and living for, and really -- and really standing by. And one of them is the rights of the women of Afghanistan, and what we have to do our education, our place in society, as mothers, as daughters, as wives, as the woman that we are. And all of that I want to do it according to Islam.
ROBERTSON: And if the Taliban don't listen to you?
SERAJ: Well, that's what I'm saying. They are going to be making mistakes because they will not hear from us woman, from our point of view, what we know, what we have learned, what kind of ideas we can give them --
ROBERTSON: But they don't --
SERAJ: -- to make things better.
ROBERTSON: But they don't care.
SERAJ: It's not possible for them not to care. They have to care. Because -- because this is the country that they are going to be living in. What do they want to do? Do they want to go back to the mountains? No. They want to live here and stay here. If they want to live here and stay here, they have to give us a chance to be able to live here and stay here also.
ROBERTSON: In what way, what do women need to have that? SERAJ: The women need to have the rights, be recognized according to
Islam. We don't want anything more. Honestly, I don't want to ask anything more. I want everything that is given to me according to Islam. Islam has given me a lot of rights, honestly. A lot of rights. And of those rights are given to me, I can live very finely in here.
ROBERTSON: Can the Taliban stay in power if they don't give women the rights here? Can they survive as a government?
SERAJ: Can you imagine and as somebody being in this country and actually running Afghanistan and governing, and half of the population -- I mean, and this is not the half of the population, only the woman because the men are going to join them as well, that I can guarantee you that they are unhappy with them. How are they going to do that? How are they going to do that?
It hasn't been done anywhere in the world when you have a populist that they are -- they are not happy, when they're not happy, they won't live that government. They're going to make problems. They're going to raise their voices. They're going to start -- you know, they can -- the world is becoming a very small place now.
ROBERTSON: But these are brutal guys with guns who turn them on crowds?
SERAJ: It's true. But for how long they're going to be killing everybody? Is that what they want to do? Is this the name of the game here? If they want to -- if they are going to turn their guns into a crowd and kill everybody, do you really think that everybody in the world is going to stay quiet? And say we are not going to say a thing, and they can do that? If that permission is given to them now in here, what kind of permission we are giving to the rest of the world?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): Well Pakistan's prime minister sat down with CNN for an exclusive interview. He talked about the Taliban and the future of Afghanistan. We will hear from Imran Khan just ahead.
Plus, for the first time, four tourists have launched into space without a professional astronaut on board. We will discuss how this historic launch could shape the future of space tourism?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Four, three, two, one.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Spectacular. For the first time in space flight history an all civilian crew is now orbiting the earth. A SpaceX rocket blasted off on Wednesday without a professional astronaut on board.
The four-person crew is led by billionaire Jared Isaacman who funded the mission dubbed Inspiration4. They will be in orbit for the next three days. SpaceX hopes this will be the first of many similar tourism missions paving the way for a new era of space travel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): And CNN's Kristin Fisher takes a closer look at the mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
KRISTIN FISHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Well, it was a spectacular and successful nighttime launch from the Kennedy Space Center. And what makes this Inspiration4 mission so extraordinary is just how ordinary the crew is. None of them are professional astronauts and yet they are going to be orbiting the earth for the next three days before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean.
On board, a 29-year-old pediatric cancer survivor and physician assistant at St. Jude Children's Hospital. There's also Dr. Sian Proctor, who applied to be an astronaut back in 2009, came this close, didn't quite make the cut, she was devastated and now she gets to achieve her lifelong dream.
There's also, Chris Sembroski, who was watching a Super Bowl commercial for this mission, he entered a sweepstakes. His friend got the golden ticket but gave it to him. That's how he ended up on board. And finally the commander, Jared Isaacman a billionaire businessman and entrepreneur, a pilot and his really the brain child for this mission.
He went to SpaceX back in October about something totally different. Mentioned in a passing comment, hey if you ever want to send me into space I would be game and now here he is, in orbit, less than a year later.
JARED ISAACMAN, INSPIRATION4 CREW MEMBER, BILLIONAIRE BUSINESSMAN/ENTREPRENEUR: I wouldn't say pressure, because pressure would mean like I am nervous about the outcome here. I think that responsibility is really the word, right. And that -- this is a big responsibility and we have to execute really well and get this right so that the door can stay open for all the other missions to follow.
FISHER: Jared Isaacman talks a lot about opening up space travel to everyone and democratizing space and that's really central to SpaceX's founding mission which is to make humanity multi planetary, to colonize mars.
And so in order to do that we have to prove that your everyday person is capable of dealing with the rigors of orbital spaceflight. And that is exactly what the Inspiration4 crew is going to spend the next several days doing.
At the Kennedy Space Center, Kristin Fisher, CNN. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CHURCH: Retired NASA Astronaut, Leroy Chiao, joins me now to talk more about this launch. Great to have you with us.
LEROY CHIAO, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT (on camera): Great to be with you.
CHURCH: So making space history, the first crew amateur astronaut successfully launch and entered the earth's orbit Wednesday. As a retired astronaut yourself, how do you feel about all of this?
CHIAO: I think it's great. I think it's a natural evolution of commercial spaceflight. Very insignificant milestone and then we had the first nonprofessional astronauts flying with NASA. Some (inaudible) I guess back in the early 2000s and so for to come to this point where we have an actually completely amateur crew with no professionals on board, able to take over manual control, this is a big step.
CHURCH: It must be a little daunting though for the four of them up there. I mean, if there were some sort of emergency there's really no one to fall back on is there?
CHIAO: Well the flight is fully automated and so it can also -- the spacecraft can also accept to course ground commands from the mission control center. And if all else fails, the spacecraft can do orbit itself and come back down to the ground.
So you know, the people who have built this spacecraft and thought about the automation have thought through all the scenarios they can. And so the crew really should be just fine. But you are right, I mean, they are at a very high-level, you know, there's always some comfort in having a professional pilot on board who has been trained to fly the vehicle in the very worst-case.
CHURCH: Yes I would think so. And of course, these four ordinary citizens will orbit the earth for three days and gather scientific data on the impact of space on the human body. What all will that entail? And just how significant is this?
CHIAO: The flight of course is relatively short, it's only three days long. The reason we fly longer missions aboard the International Space Station, typically around six months at the time, is we want to collect data on the physiology and the biomedical effects of long duration space flight so that we can make plans for going to Mars and come up with what we called biomedical countermeasures, to try to keep astronauts healthy and safe on a long voyage like that.
So three-day mission, it's a -- you know, we will learn something, we will get some interesting samples from these folks. They have some other experiments planned as well. And also of course, they are going to be raising funds for a children's hospital. So they are going to be keeping quite busy doing some significant work. CHURCH: Yes and having a lot of fun at the same time, no doubt. And
of course, you touched on this, this launch fulfills SpaceX founder Elon Musk's original goal of making humanity multi planetary and eventually colonizing Mars. How achievable is that do you think and what is your view of that goal -- that dream?
CHIAO: Well, it's very exciting because Elon Musk said from the very beginning when founded SpaceX, like he's doing it, because he himself wants to go colonize Mars and build, you know, build these colonies. So he's pushing the limits, he's pushing the boundaries.
He of course is, already has his company and engineers working on the next generation spacecraft called Starship and Falcon Super Heavy Boosters, being designed to be a fully reusable system. And he says, one day, a version of that spacecraft will take at around 100 people at a time to Mars.
And so, he's moving very quickly. He has only been working on Starship for a few years. But the company is preparing for its first orbital flight test without astronauts on board. But nonetheless this is a very fast development pace to actually be almost ready to launch a brand-new spacecraft and booster into orbit, you know, in just a few years.
CHURCH: All a very exciting stuff. And always fun to chat with you, retired NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao. Many thanks.
CHIAO: Thank you.
CHURCH: And still to come, the FBI director is apologizing for his agencies failure to properly investigate former USA gymnastics' Dr. Larry Nassar. We will hear from Christopher Wray and several of Nassar's victims after the break.
CHURCH: Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, says the best path to stability in Afghanistan is to engage with the Taliban. Khan sat down with CNN for his first interview with an international news organization since the Taliban took control in Kabul. He talked about Afghanistan's future in an exclusive sit-down with our Becky Anderson.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): We speak a month after the collapse of the Afghan government and the takeover of the Taliban. How would you describe the situation in Afghanistan today?
IMRAN KHAN, PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER (on camera): I think it's a worry. Pakistan is on the historic crossroads. One if it goes well and we pray that it -- this works in the direction of peace after 40 years in Afghanistan, if this -- of Taliban, whole of all Afghanistan.
And -- if they can serve now, work with an inclusive government, get all the factions together, Afghanistan could have peace after 40 years. But if it goes wrong and which what we are really worried about. It could go to chaos. The biggest humanitarian crisis, a huge refugee problem, unstable Afghanistan.
And the reason why the U.S. came in was to fight terrorism or international terrorists. So unstable Afghanistan, refugee crisis and the possibility of again terrorism from Afghanistan soil.
ANDERSON: This infant government is not an inclusive government. The concerns of so many around the world are for the future of Afghanistan and its people under a Taliban government which is notorious for its misogyny and its violence against women. There is no evidence today of any interest in providing basic human rights particularly for women and children. How concerned are you about that?
KHAN: Well, Afghanistan goes from here and I'm afraid none of us can put it. We can hope and pray that there would be peace after 40 years. That the Taliban -- what they have said that they want an exclusive government, they want human rights in their own context. They want human rights. They've given amnesty.
So far what they have said clearly they want international acceptability. This is not a fantasy. Afghanistan cannot be controlled by outside. They have a history, no puppet government in Afghanistan is supported by the people. It gets discredited amongst the people.
So rather than sitting here and thinking that we can sort of control them, we should incentivize them because Afghanistan, this current government clearly feels that without international aid and help they will not be able to stop this crisis. So, we should incentivize them. Pushed them in the right direction.
ANDERSON: If it seeks legitimacy, it will need to show evidence that it shares the values of those that it is seeking legitimacy for that be -- the west for example. I grew up watching you as a star of Pakistan's cricket team, the Taliban had said that women shouldn't play cricket. In fact they said women shouldn't be involved in sports at all.
This is a sort of Taliban that we are seeing today. Do you support that? I mean, women had been protesting about more inclusivity about their rights. We know women, firsthand experience, women are too frightened to come out their homes. They are too frightened to go to the workplace if their allowed at all. Do you support that calls?
KHAN: I feel very strongly that it's a mistake to think that someone from outside will give Afghan women rights. Afghan women are strong. Give them time, they will get their rights.
ANDERSON: Should women have access to the same roles in public and in private life?
KHAN: Of course. Women should have the ability in a society to fulfill their potential in life. The society --
ANDERSON: So you won't be able to support a Taliban government that doesn't allow that? Is that what you are telling me?
KHAN: No. No, what I'm saying is that you cannot impose women's rights from abroad.
CHURCH: Imran Khan, talking to our Becky Anderson there.
Well, America's top gymnasts are demanding justice and calling out the system that so badly failed them. The group of start athletes testified on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, over the FBI's botched investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Dr. Larry Nassar.
A scathing Justice Department inspector general report found agents failed to properly document complaints by the accusers and then lied about it.
CNN's Jean Casarez reports.
MCKAYLA MALONEY, U.S. GYMNAST: They had legal legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing.
ALY RAISMAN, U.S. GYMNAST: I felt pressured by the FBI to consent to Nassar's plea deal.
SIMONE BILES, U.S. GYMNAST: I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system.
MAGGIE NICHOLS, U.S. GYMNAST: Why? Why would the FBI agents lie to OIG investigators?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN PRIMETIME JUSTICE SHOW GUEST HOST (voice over): Mckayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and Maggie Nichols, elite gymnasts and members of the Olympics United States gymnastics team giving emotional testimony ripping the FBI for failing to protect them from their sexual abuser.
MARONEY: I was so shocked at the agent silence and disregard for my trauma.
NICHOLS: The survivors of Larry Nassar have a right to know why their well-being was placed in a jeopardy by these individuals who chose not to do their jobs.
RAISMAN: It was like serving innocent children up to a pedophile on a silver platter.
CASAREZ: One by one the decorated gymnast told their stories. Recounted their years of abused by Larry Nassar, the former USA gymnastics team doctor.
BILES: I sit before you today to raise my voice to that no little girl has to endure or would I, the athletes at this table and the countless others who needlessly suffered under Nassar's guise of medical treatment which we continue to endure today.
MARONEY: That evening I was naked, completely alone with him on top of me molesting me for hours. I told them, I thought I was going to die that night because there was no way that he would let me go.
He turned out to be more of a pedophile than he was a doctor.
CASAREZ: Nassar is currently serving a 40 to 175 year state prison sentence after 150 women and girls came forward to expose he abused them over the course of 20 years. But today's Congressional hearing, a result of the scathing report from the Justice Department inspector general's office revealing FBI officials investigating the allegations against Nassar made false statements and failed to properly document complaints by the accusers at the time.
MARONEY: Not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later they made entirely false claims about what I said.
CASAREZ: One FBI agent already fired Michael Langmen. According to "The Washington Post" interviewed Maroney in 2015 about her allegations of sexual abuse by Nassar and is accused of failing to launch a proper investigation.
UNKNOWN: The FBI's handling of the Nassar case is sustained on the bureau.
CASAREZ: FBI Director Christopher Wray, who did not lead the bureau at the time also being grilled today.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): What am I missing here? This man is on the loose molesting children and it appears that it's being lost in the paperwork of the agency.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I share your bewilderment. I share your outrage and I don't have a good explanation for you.
CASAREZ: Wray apologizing to the victims and vowing to do more.
WRAY: It's my commitment to you that I in my entire senior leadership team are going to make damn sure, everybody in the FBI remembers what happened here in heartbreaking detail.
CASAREZ: The Department of Justice was invited to testify at today's hearing, they declined. Senator Richard Blumenthal said by then just not showing up, it appears as though they don't care about the abuse of little girls.
CNN though has now learned that Attorney General, Merrick Garland, does plan on coming before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October. But at this point they had still declined any prosecution in this matter.
Jean Casarez, CNN, Capitol Hill. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CHURCH: The investigation into the presidential assassination in Haiti is in limbo. That's after Prime Minister Ariel Henry, ordered the firing of a top prosecutor who pushed for charges against Henry himself.
As Matt Rivers reports that standoff is creating another crisis which is the lasting Haiti needs right now.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Seventy-one days after its president was assassinated, 33 since it was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake and Haiti in many ways remains a country in crisis. Its de facto leader, Prime Minister Ariel Henry now facing possible unspecified charges in the assassination of Former President Jovenel Moise. Henry has denied involvement.
The man who wants to bring those charges, top prosecutor, Bedford Claude, now potentially out of a job after Henry ordered his removal on Tuesday. It's unclear if anyone but the justice minister can do that though. And the president of the Senate, Joseph Lambert could be appointed interim president soon, though that too not official.
More than two months after the former president's assassination and the subsequent arrest of roughly 40 suspects, authorities still do not know who the mastermind behind the plot is. And investigation with no momentum has devolved into political infighting for who might actually run the Caribbean nation at a time when clear leadership is needed more than ever.
Because while political elites squabble, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Haitians remain in desperate need of help after the worst earthquake to strike Haiti since 2010 hit on August 14th. Piles of debris still litter the hardest hit areas, many in rural, difficult to access locations, 2200 people were killed, more than 12,000 injured and still so many need aid.
We are victims of the earthquake because our homes were destroyed. We went to the municipality, they told us there was nothing available to help us. We are paying with our own money to remove the rubbles so we can try to rebuild our home.
Nearly 1 million facing acute food insecurity says the U.N. many of which are children. The children are crying because they need food and water. We are walking everywhere but without getting anything. Many still live in makeshift shelters, the result of 137,000 buildings destroyed or damaged, with potable water a challenge and with job scarce and a chance to make money harder than ever.
The U.N. says there could be a mask rural exodus soon with desperate people headed towards cities like Port-au-Prince. That's where the ongoing political crisis continues. The leaders in charge of helping steer aid toward Haiti's most vulnerable currently consumed in the aftermath of post assassination politics.
And a crucial step in terms of figuring out who is going to lead Haiti, who has the right mandate to lead that country would be to hold presidential elections. They had previously been scheduled for this month. Already delayed several months and there are many people in Haiti who don't believe that those elections will actually take place this year.
Because of all that damage from the earthquake. Because of the ever continuing violence from the gang crisis that is ongoing in places like Port-au-Prince. That there is a lot of people who say they can't actually hold safe and secure election this year, might get push into next year. As all adds up to the fact that when it comes to Haiti's near-term future, there are so many open questions.
Matt Rivers, CNN.
CHURCH: And still to come, CNN experiences zero gravity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Oh my goodness wow! I feel like an astronaut that's for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Our team gets a taste of what the crew of the Inspiration4 went through to prepare for space.
CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, SpaceX's Inspiration4 mission is orbiting the earth right now after a spectacular launch on Wednesday. Crew members had to train five months for the three-day ride. They are not responsible for actually flying the spacecraft but they are training still included time in simulators working on altitude fitness and getting used to zero gravity.
CNN's Rachel Crane suited up to try it out for herself.
RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Oh my goodness, wow. I feel like an astronaut that's for sure.
Where are we? And what are we going to be doing today?
MATT GOHD, CEO, ZERO-G CORPORATION: Here we are at Newark airport and we are going to be going up in zero gravity in g-force one and you are going to get the same experience as it people on the ISS have.
CRANE: Zero Gravity Corporation uses a modified Boeing 727, flying in parabolic motion to create multiple spurts of weightlessness. Richard Branson acclimated himself to Zero-Gs on one before he went in to space. As to the crew of Inspiration4, the first all civilian flight into orbit.
GOHD: You don't want your first experience in zero gravity to be in space. It's a very unique feeling and this gives them the framework to understand it.
CRANE: I'm a little nervous.
We all know that flying on a rocket ship is dangerous. But how dangerous are these flights?
GOHD: There is no risk or danger in what we do. We've flown 17,000 passengers over the last 16 years, not one injury and not one issue. So we have all the same regulation safety, everything as that united flight does.
CRANE: Wow. Oh, this is amazing.
Unlike Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson flights, this plane isn't on a rocket aimed at space. And air space of 10 miles by 100 miles is cleared for g-force form flight.
There is a lot of talk about the (inaudible) flights democratizing space by is this experience, the closest thing that you know --
GOHD: A normal person?
CRANE: -- a normal person will ever experience?
GOHD: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yes the price point, I mean, no one would say $7500 is cheap but it's accessible.
CRANE: It's a lot less than $28 million.
What is the value of the weightlessness next experience? Like is this just for thrill seekers or is there real research value to these fights.
GOHD: Right now, I would say half of it is research and then the other half is consumer facing. We have done things that are really on the cutting edge for space.
Testing out how to do 3d printing in microgravity. We have done experiments in how to animate freeze dried blood. To go out and testing in zero gravity or micro gravity in space prohibitively expensive and not realistic.
CRANE: Oh, my God.
CHURCH: Oh, that looks like so much fun. Love to do that. I'm Rosemary Church, thanks for spending part of your day with me.
Kim Brunhuber picks up from here, as "CNN Newsroom" continues in just a moment.