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Connect the World

Omicron Variant Sparks New Restrictions, Quarantines; China Dealing with One of its Worst COVID Outbreaks; W. H. O. Chief Scientist: No Consensus on Vaccine Protection; Blinken: Putin Putting in Place Capacity to Invade; Hadian: We don't want Promises or Threats; Enhanced Rhinos Resettled in Rwanda. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 01, 2021 - 11:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN, Abu Dhabi. This is "Connect the World" with Becky Anderson.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Well, it's 8 pm in the evening here in Abu Dhabi. Welcome back to the show. The World Health Organization

says it will be a matter of days until researchers get crucial information on the new Omicron Coronavirus variant. For now governments across the

world are following the advice of the European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen, who told Europe today hope for the best prepare for the


The new variant is now reported in more than two dozen countries. You can see here all the travel restrictions or bans in place with nations in

Southern Africa on the receiving end after reports of the variant surfaced in South Africa last week.

In a news conference last hour, the W. H. O. Director-General said despite the global concern over the new variant, it's important not to lose focus

on the Delta variant, which is the overwhelming global strain right now, here's more of what he said.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION DIRECTOR-GENERAL: W. H. O. takes this development extremely seriously and so should every

country. But it should not surprise us. This is what viruses do. And it's what this virus will continue to do, as long as we allow it to continue


We're learning more all the time about Omicron. But there is still more to learn about its effect on transmission, severity of disease, and the

effectiveness of tests, therapeutics and vaccines. Several W. H. O. advisory groups have met over the last couple of days to evaluate the

emerging evidence and prioritize the studies needed to answer these questions.

I thank Botswana in South Africa for detecting sequencing and reporting this variant so rapidly. It's deeply concerning to me that those countries

are now being penalized by others for doing the right thing. We call on all countries to take rational, proportional risk reduction measures in keeping

with international health regulations.

This includes measures to delay or reduce the spread of the new variant, such as screening of passengers prior to traveling and or upon arrival, or

the application of quarantine to international travelers. Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread of Omicron and they place a

heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.

W. H. O. continues to call on all countries to optimize public health and social measures and ensure that high risk and vulnerable individuals in all

countries are fully vaccinated immediately. At the same time, we must not forget that we're already dealing with a highly transmissible dangerous

variant, the Delta variant, which currently accounts for almost all cases globally.

We need to use the tools we already have to prevent transmission and save lives from Delta. And if we do that, we will also prevent transmission and

save lives from Omicron. But if countries and individuals don't do what they need to do to stop transmission of Delta, they won't stop Omicron


Globally, we have a toxic mix of low vaccine coverage and very low testing a recipe for breeding and amplifying variants. That's why we continue to

urge countries to fully fund the ACT accelerator to ensure equitable access to vaccines, tests therapeutics, all over the world.


ANDERSON: David McKenzie, part of a team of CNN reporters connecting us to this story today across three continents. He's in Johannesburg, Salma

Abdelaziz is with us from London and Ivan Watson is in Hong Kong. Let's start with you, David. What did you make of what we just heard?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What was interesting from the W. H. O. Head there, Becky, he really said if you want to fight Omicron you need to

fight Delta with the tools that we have all become quite familiar with, which is expanded vaccination access across the globe, and the other non-

pharmaceutical measures that are already available to the planet.

And I think that's an important point. You know, there are the surges raging in parts of the world, including Central and Eastern Europe, with

sort of might forget about them if you're not living there was all this talk about this new variant.


MCKENZIE: You fight one you ultimately fight the other was the message from W. H. O. also saying there's a toxic mix of this lack of vaccines and the

continued spread of the virus still very little information, concrete information about how serious Omicron will be? We went inside the lab in

South Africa that first discovered it.


MCKENZIE (voice over): After tracking COVID for many months at this lab, Jeanine du Plessis is bracing herself.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Have you seen a lot more positive cases in the last few weeks?


MCKENZIE (voice over): First a trickle than a flood at the Wits VIDA Lab. They're studying a disturbing variant of an old foe.

DU PLESSIS: Still too early to actually tell there's so much that is so unknown about the variant, everyone feels a little bit of hopelessness in a

moment like that.

MCKENZIE (on camera): This lab is really at the coalface of the COVID response. You know, they're expanding so fast. They're putting their

samples in freezers right here in the hallway, they come in, in shifts, and as this wave develops, they'll be operating 24 hours a day.

MCKENZIE (voice over): They know how bad it gets. This was Delta's awful impact in Johannesburg. In July, patients stacked in hallways, struggling

to breathe an exclusive footage obtained by CNN, at the Wits VIDA Lab and all across the globe they're trying to understand whether Omicron is more

transmissible, deadlier, whether it breaks through existing COVID-19 vaccines?

MCKENZIE (on camera): What does it feel like that the entire world is hanging on this discovery that was figured out here initially?

ALLISON GLASS, PATHOLOGIST, LANCET LABORATORIES: It does feel a bit sort of surreal when you watch the news, and you see the impact it's having

globally and you're thinking, wow, you know, sort of affecting stock markets, and airlines and people's travel plans. You know, you kind of

don't plan on having that sort of ripple effect.

MCKENZIE (voice over): A spike in cases first happened in Pretoria with a classic infection at this technical university. But hints of a new variant

were first detected by scientists and pathologists at Lancet Laboratories.

In early November, they spotted a strange anomaly in their positive PCR tests. Then it happened over and over again. It reminded them of tests for

the Alpha variant first detected more than a year ago in the UK.

MCKENZIE (on camera): What was it like to see this anomaly cropping up again?

GLASS: Well, it was disturbing because we made us worry that we were dealing with something new. And because it coincided with an increase in

positivity rates that made us worried that we could be dealing with a new variant.

MCKENZIE (voice over): Lancet urgently notified South Africa's genomics team. Within days, they described and made public disturbing details of the

highly mutated virus, much of the world shut off travel from Southern Africa and scientists here say they are now struggling to fly in critical

reagent for the lab work to understand Omicron.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Why was it so important to alert everybody about this?

GLASS: Especially with the reaction of the world to Southern Africa, on the announcement of the variants? You know a lot of people say, well, why don't

you just keep quiet about what you find? But what's important is we know that a new variant is likely to cause an increase in cases whether they'd

be more severe or not.


MCKENZIE: Well, you heard the Head of the W. H. O. ho is saying that these travel restrictions are punitive towards particularly Southern African

nations, Becky; this has just been the drumbeat from scientists and public health experts with worldwide bodies and with Southern African nations.

You know, health experts from individual countries instituting these bans are saying that it's buys them time. Well, there's now plenty of incidental

and more than incidental evidence that Omicron was circulating substantially before the announcement was made by South African scientists,

which suggests that rarely, there's a lot of punishment from these restrictions, but not necessarily much worth, Becky.

ANDERSON: Thank you, David. Salma, despite the concerns that travel restrictions are punitive, and we're hearing that from not just the W. H.

O., but from experts, particularly out of South Africa, but people around the world Europe has gone ahead and instituted these travel bans for how

long at this point do we know?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we do know is that there is going to be a common in coordinated approach across the EU. We heard from

the European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen, who highlighted this travel restrictions is one of the key tools that the block has to

limit the entry of this new variant into the European bloc.

She wants those restrictions to be reviewed on a daily basis. She wants to see them coordinated again across all the member states the European

Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen again in the statement today saying we need to plan for the worst but hope for the best.


ABDELAZIZ: Alongside these travel restrictions, there are a few other tools, she's laid out. The key one here and you heard that from the World

Health Organization at the top of your program as well is the unvaccinated get those people who are eligible for shots and haven't taken them yet, get

them vaccinated, take a listen.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: We have now 77 percent of the adults in the European Union vaccinated or if you take the whole

population, it's 66 percent. And this means 1/3 of the European population is not vaccinated. These are 150 million people. This is a lot. And not

each and every one can be vaccinated. So they're very small children, for example, or people with special medical conditions.

But the vast majority could. And therefore, I think it is understandable and appropriate to lead this discussion now. How we can encourage and

potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the European Union this needs discussion. This needs a common approach. But it is a discussion

that I think has to be led.


ABDELAZIZ: So about a third there of the European population, potentially that still needs to be vaccinated. This is a huge challenge Becky because

we are talking about people who are really steadfast in being unvaccinated who've been eligible for months yet now and still refuse to get their shot.

And this can make a huge difference. Experts say it is the unvaccinated that end up flooding into hospitals. It is the unvaccinated that can be

breeding grounds for new variants. It is the unvaccinated that could potentially cripple health systems across Europe.

So the message here is clear. Governments authorities, local figures, anybody who can help get the message out there to get vaccinated must do

so. The other tools, if you will, that were lined up by Ursula Von Der Leyen in that statement was also booster shots again, come forward for your

booster here in the UK.

The Prime Minister, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was seen at a vaccination center trying to get that message out there as well. All of this of course,

protective pre-emptive measures Becky as this region prepares for the Omicron variant.

ANDERSON: Well, that's the story in the UK and Europe. Selma thank you! What's the latest across Asia Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've had Omicron cases detected in Hong Kong in Japan and in South Korea Becky. In

Hong Kong a fourth case now the government saying that this fourth individual was a 38 year old male unvaccinated who'd had a rather unusual

itinerary a transit passenger who had traveled from Papa New Guinea to Nigeria, then on Qatar Airways to Hong Kong was supposed to fly further.

But then his case was detected here. The Hong Kong authorities of course, concern they've maintained and almost zero COVID policy here in Hong Kong,

very concerned because only about 18 percent of the population over the age of 80 here in this densely populated city have been fully vaccinated.

That is, of course a very vulnerable demographic group. Now if you go over to South Korea, the authorities there say they've detected five cases of

the new variant this coming after a record number of New Delhi cases was broken on Tuesday of more than 5000 new COVID cases.

That's prompted the South Korean authorities to suddenly shift a United Nations Ministerial Peacekeeping Conference that was scheduled in Seoul for

next week to go from an in person conference with hundreds of attendees from more than 150 countries around the world to make it online.

And then finally you have Japan, which has also detected at least two cases. And now its Transport Ministry is urging all airlines to stop

issuing new reservations in and out of the country throughout the month of December.

All three of these governments have effectively banned foreigners from traveling to their geographies, if they come from Southern Africa, back to

you Becky.

ANDERSON: Ivan, Salma and David thank you! China dealing with one of its worst COVID outbreak since Wuhan right now some 300,000 people are in

lockdown in the city near the Russian border. Dozens of locally transmitted COVID cases have been reported there since the weekend. Will Ripley shows

us these strict measures that officials are now enforcing.



WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In Northern China COVID-19 is flaring up again hundreds of thousands on lockdown confirmed cases rising

more than 130 cents Sunday most in - Inner Mongolia, a crucial gateway to Russia.

CUI GANG, CHINESE NATIONAL HEALTH COMMISSION: The risk of community transmission is relatively high in there, and the tracing and screening

work - and personnel at risk is in progress.

RIPLEY (voice over): This normally bustling border city paralyzed. 300,000 people banned from leaving mass testing underway, public transport

suspended schools and businesses closed. Authorities racing to rein in the outbreak banning imports of non-container goods believed to be the source

of the first local infection.

This is what it's like living under China's zero COVID strategy. The Beijing Winter Olympics right around the corner. Officials say the games

will go on despite the risk from a new Coronavirus variant.

ZAHO LIJIAN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON: I believe it will definitely pose some challenge to our efforts to prevent and control the

virus but as China has experienced in preventing and controlling the Coronavirus I fully believe that China will be able to host the Winter

Olympics as scheduled smoothly and successfully.

RIPLEY (voice over): China has yet to report a single case of the Omicron variant with cases rising in the north, the nation boosting its defenses.

XU WENBO, CHINESE NATIONAL HEALTH COMMISSION: China has already made the technological preparations to adapt our vaccines.

RIPLEY (voice over): Just weeks after containing China's biggest Delta outbreak inner Mongolia now on the frontlines as China fights to keep

Omicron out Will Ripley, CNN, Hong Kong.


ANDERSON: Well, a completely different story here in the United Arab Emirates where I am. The UAE has talked to Bloomberg's COVID-19 Resilience

Ranking, which analyzes the world's largest economies on how well they contain the virus with without too much disruption to daily life and the


Now the index scores countries through 12 indicators including vaccine doses delivered COVID deaths as a share of cases the strength of the

healthcare system and the overall well-being of the population. Southeast Asian countries are at the bottom of the ranking and European countries are

sliding. Germany, dropping 19 spots as the country battles one of the worst waves of cases and deaths.

Join us for a CNN "Town Hall Coronavirus Facts and Fears" hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta and featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci.

That's Wednesday 9 pm Eastern Time, Thursday 10 am in Hong Kong, and if you are here in Abu Dhabi in the UAE that's 6 in the morning.

Well, amid the new global panic over Omicron South African doctors have spotted a detail that may offer a glimmer of hope. We'll speak to a

Division Chief at South Africa's National Institute for communicable diseases. And nuclear - the nuclear latest round of nuclear talks takes

place in Vienna. I'll take the temperature in Iran and in the United States.



ANDERSON: Well, it is 20 minutes past eight here in Abu Dhabi. Throughout this program, we've been tracking the new Omicron Coronavirus for you and

we are learning Africa's most populous country has now confirmed its first cases.

Nigeria says three passengers who traveled to South Africa have tested positive. You can see unvaccinated federal workers being barred from

entering work for not complying with vaccination rules. Today was the deadline Nigeria's neighbor Ghana also just confirming cases of the new


Well, my next guest says cases of the new variant in South Africa have been highest among younger people, ages 10 to 24 have been hardest hit while

there are also cases amongst 25 to 29 year olds.

Dr. Michelle Groome Heads the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response at the South African Institute or National Institute for

Communicable Diseases and she joins me now live. Just why it is that you are seeing more cases in those age groups do you know is it clear at this


DR.MICHELLE GROOME, SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR COMMUNICABLE DISEASES: I think this has mostly to do with kind of social gatherings in

that age group from what we can see this tends to be in South Africa the time of the year when high school learners are ending schools or

universities are ending.

And so there's a lot of congregation of that age group, who very much feel that they are less susceptible to the virus. We also have less vaccine

coverage in that age group as we started, obviously, vaccinating our older population and those with co morbidities first.

ANDERSON: The W. H. O. in a briefing just last hour called out countries who enforced blanket travel bans. It also gave new details regarding

transmissibility and immunity. Let's start with vaccinations because that's really what most people will want to know have a listen.


DR. SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN, CHIEF SCIENTIST, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The drops in antibody titers actually tell us, you know, whether, what's the

approximate level of antibodies you need in the blood to really feel that you are protected.

And unfortunately, we do not have a consensus on what we call a correlative protection, we cannot go out and say this is the number above which you are

protected, or this is the number below which you are vulnerable, but it's a range. And there's a range above which we think most people are going to be



ANDERSON: There is it concerning? Oh, I think I may have - Michelle, Can you still hear me?

GROOME: Oh, sorry. Yes, so I think definitely. We're still waiting data, in terms of, you know, response to the vaccines. I think our vaccine coverage

overall, we've only vaccinated about 36 percent of our adult population and very low vaccine coverage in those lowers age groups. And at this stage, I

think we're trying to collect data.

And there's some early evidence that you know, of increasing reinjections, which I think is a little bit worrying in terms of possible immune escape.

Our case numbers are really increasing very rapidly, I think, probably at the fastest rate that we've seen since the start of the pandemic, but it's

really unclear whether this is due to increase transmissibility of the Omicron variants or due to immune escape.

ANDERSON: Are these cases mild or worse?

GROOME: Yes. So at this stage, we are seeing mostly mild cases, I think this is also to do with the demographics in terms of this been the younger

population that is presenting, you know, mostly at this time. I think we do know that, you know, as these moves into - this will move into the older

populations as well. And I think as we know, I think that is the delay in the onset of severe disease.

And so I think it's hopefully by next week or the week after we will be able to just see whether we're seeing reciprocal increases in

hospitalizations and deaths associated with it or whether this really is more a mild disease. So I think too early to say, but I think it's driven

by these mild infections in the younger population at this stage.

ANDERSON: OK, all right. Here's what the W. H. O. had to say about transmissibility, have a listen.



MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, COVID-19 TECHNICAL LEAD, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We don't have all the information yet on transmission. In terms of if there is

a fitness advantage if it's more transmissible; there is some suggestion of that. But again, its early days, we expect to have more information on

transmission within days, not necessarily weeks, but in days.


ANDERSON: Does that equate with what you're here? And we are talking days here? Are we?

GROOME: Yes, so yes. So I think definitely from the neutral groups that in South Africa that are working on neutralizing antibodies, I think it's more

like weeks. But I think differently in terms of severity, we should have some more information.

Definitely it's spreading in South Africa, I think it has in the province, the - Province, where we've kind of seen the most increasing cases, it

seems like it has quickly overtaken Delta as the dominant variants in the province and like in several other provinces. So in from that point of

view, looking like and definitely has a fitness advantage over Delta.

ANDERSON: I want to put a question to you now, which has come up in our reporting. And I think it's really important, the viral load detected in

Pretoria's wastewater has reached similar levels as that at the peak of Delta.

So a very sudden surge at the end of October, beginning of November, as you look for clues on how this took hold and how concerned we should be. What's

your response to that information? How concerning is this?

GROOME: Yes, so I think it really is concerning just in terms of the rapid increase in cases. And I mean, our wastewater surveillance actually alerted

us relatively early to these cases in the Pretoria District. And a lot of that started out as clusters amongst the tertiary education, you know,


And we thought these were small pockets of Delta. And I think it has definitely, it's concerning in terms of. You know, two weeks ago, we were

seeing, you know, case numbers and percent positivity rates, which were the lowest since the start of the pandemic.

And those have climbed rapidly, you know, to today as looking at positivity rates of over 15 percent. So I think that increase definitely is

concerning, in terms of this rapid increase that we've seen.

ANDERSON: W. H. O. Chief today said we are looking at this sort of, as he described a toxic mix of low vaccination rates, and low testing rates, and

clearly, two things that I know that you will be encouraged to see better numbers on.

We're also looking at vaccine inequality, which on this show we've been talking about now for 9 or 18 months, so certainly 16 months since we've

actually had some vaccines. And that's really important that we continue to try and ensure that more vaccines get into the arms of people who need the

most particularly in Southern Africa. I just want you to describe what your job looks like, at the moment since the discovery of this variant.

GROOME: Yes, I think to put it mildly, it's been very hectic. I think we're really trying to just, you know, get a handle on these increases in cases.

Our scientists are really working around the clock to try and get a handle on you know, whether there is a possible immune escape.

And I think we have queries differently from globally in terms of wanting additional data. And at the same time, I think we're trying to cope with it

on the ground. Make sure that we've got enough hospital capacity in the event that, you know, this is followed by increases in hospitalizations.

At this stage, we have not instituted an increased kind of lockdown. We've worked on these different kinds of lockdown levels. And at this stage, we

have not, you know, gone to that. But I think it's you know, this is obviously we'll take it day by day and really trying to push our vaccine -

vaccination rates during this time, just to encourage people to continue vaccinating.

Just in terms of the testing rates, I think, you know, South Africa, in terms of Africa has one of the highest. You know, testing rates in African

countries and, and definitely are able to detect, you know, the spot earlier and, and definitely in terms of our sequencing as well, which I

think is kind of spot the you know, concerns over this backlash in that. We were the first ones to actually detect the variant. But, you know, it's

possible this was coming from somewhere else.

ANDERSON: Yes, a number of experts have been quite outspoken about how South Africa quite frankly, feels punished by actually sequencing this and

letting the world know that it's out there. And there's - some merit in that.

Michelle, thank you. We'll have you back. Best of luck! Let us know how things are going. And it will be really useful once you do have some more

data to join us again and let our viewers around the world know what's going on thank you.


ANDERSON: Well, despite travel restrictions for Israelis, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's family has taken off for a vacation overseas. He didn't

go with them. Just days ago the prime minister said he didn't recommend flying abroad because of the Omicron variant.

And the Israeli government announced last weekend it was shutting its borders to foreigners for two weeks and increasing restrictions for

Israelis returning from abroad. Troops near the border and now an ominous warning. The top U.S. diplomat says Russia is putting in place the capacity

to invade Ukraine. We're live from Kiev, just ahead.


ANDERSON: Well, a scary sense of deja vu in Ukraine as the top U.S. diplomat warns that Russia is poised to invade if it wants to. That's start

warning coming from Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he plans a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Thursday.

Now the U.S. believes that Moscow has moved around 100,000 troops near Ukraine's borders. Blinken says Russia could also be planning to

destabilize Ukraine from within.

Well, our Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance was there when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. He is tonight in Kiev for you. And our U.S.

Security Correspondent, Kylie Atwood is at the State Department. Let me start with you, Matthew, what do you make of what we've been hearing today?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I mean, this is a reiteration, I think of what the United States through its

various officials, including the Secretary of State has been saying for some weeks now that Russia has been engaged in a very worrying build up

indeed, of forces very close to the Ukrainian border.

I think he added to that or restated to that, but not just is there a potential plan by Russia. And they don't know whether that plan has been

activated or not to undertake a military invasion of Ukraine, something that Russia, of course, categorically denies.

But there are also these efforts underway. I know the Americans have said this before, but they're saying it again tonight, efforts underway to

potentially destabilize Ukraine from within. And that very much tallies with what the Ukrainian government itself is saying.

They warned last week President Zelensky of Ukraine warning last week, saying that his country's intelligence services, I don't cover the plot

involving that Ukrainians and Russians to you know, kind of overthrow a coup, rather coup to overthrow the government here in Ukraine, although I

have to say no intelligence evidence has yet been presented to prove that.


CHANCE: But nevertheless, it seems that the United States and Ukraine on this issue are now speaking from the same on the same page, as it were,

both saying that not only is there a military threat posed by Russia, you know, externally, but also a threat posed by from fomenting trouble from

within as well. Becky.

ANDERSON: Kylie, the problem for the United States is that these days, it struggles with what it describes as an intelligence blind spot when it

comes to Russia. As the Russians build up these forces, is it clear whether Washington genuinely believes that Putin has malicious intent at this


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, I think the bottom line is that they actually don't know right now, as you said, there

is an intelligence blind spot here. There's also the fact that there have been a smaller number of U.S. diplomats that have been serving in Russia

over recent years because of that diplomatic spat that has been happening back and forth.

That means there are fewer American diplomats on the ground, who have been able to kind of read the tea leaves, if you will, and really understand

what the motivation of President Putin is here.

Now, Secretary Blinken made it very clear that Putin is putting essentially the pieces on the puzzle in the case that he does want to invade Ukraine,

and do so as the Secretary said, on short order do so quickly.

But what he also said is that the United States doesn't exactly know what the end result is here, what Putin actually wants to do with these pieces

that he is putting down, listen to how he described that.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade. We do know that he's putting in

place the capacity to do so on short order, should he so decide. So despite uncertainty about intentions and timing, we must prepare for all

contingencies, while working to see to it that Russia reverses course.


ATWOOD: And, of course, the Secretary was very clear in laying out the buckets that the United States and NATO allies are looking at in terms of

consequences, right economic consequences, financial consequences, political restrictions.

The Secretary General of NATO said and Blinken also said that NATO is prepared to build up its military presence on the eastern flank, if that's

needed. So those are the areas that we will be watching.

He's being clear that they are working through what those possibilities are. But he's not being precise yet, in terms of what the U.S. and its NATO

allies are prepared to do, just yet.

ANDERSON: Away from the politics, Matthew, briefly, what's the atmosphere like in Kiev tonight?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, there's some tension, I mean, you know, hundreds of people, perhaps even more than that later on, but hundreds of people have

been protesting throughout the day, against the government of Volodymyr Zelensky.

There are more protests planned by Right Wing groups, later on this evening, which we're going to go in and take a look at to see if they

develop into anything. But there is a sense of, I think, you know, a sense of, I don't want to say crisis, it stopped slightly short of that.

But there's a massive COVID problem here is, of course, there isn't much of the rest of the world as well. But the situation here is pretty bad.

There's an economic crisis, there are reports of a fuel crisis as well, although I have to say I've seen evidence of that myself.

But, you know, generally the economic situation is not going brilliantly for Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, and I think is in the

middle of his term as well. And so his popularity has taken a bit of a hit. It's somewhere around 20 percent approval ratings, according to the latest

opinion polls.

ANDERSON: Fascinating, to both of you, thank you. Ethiopia says it is making gains against Tigrayan rebels. The government says the military and

its allies have recaptured several towns in the northern afar and Amhara regions.

Rebels have been claiming control of towns one by one as they marched towards the Ethiopian capital. The prime minister called them troops at the

front to "destroy the enemy". They've been fighting for more than a year.

You're watching "Connect the World" where it is 20 to 9 here in the UAE, is day 3 of talks over Iran's nuclear program. Is there any chance of a

breakthrough this week? Well, I'll speak to guests in Iran and in the U.S. and see if they are holding out any hope that is up next.



ANDERSON: Well, Iran is accusing Israel of trying to poison talks with major powers over the nuclear program as negotiators sit down for a third

day in Vienna. Iran is also urging negotiators to have the political will to reach a deal.

Now this is the seventh time they've come together. U.S. warning Iran against further enrichment of uranium and the Iranians wanting sanctions

lifted, and assurances any future U.S. Administration will not pull out of the deal again.

And this just into CNN, Iran started feeding more uranium into advanced centrifuges at the underground Fordow nuclear facility with the aim of

producing additional 20 percent enriched uranium all while these nuclear talks continue, that news just in.

Well, to discuss these talks, I spoke to Nasser Hadian, International Relations Professor at Tehran University and very plugged in to the

administration and its thoughts in Tehran.

And Michael Singh, Senior Fellow and Managing Director at the Washington Institute is here --to the ground on the U.S. perspective here. I started

by asking Michael, whether Washington can promise future administrations will not withdraw from the deal, this was his response.

MICHAEL SINGH, SENIOR FELLOW & MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE: This promise that future administrations won't again withdraw from the

deal; it's really a political question. And the only way to ensure more sustainability for the Iran nuclear deal is to get more political buy in

for it in the United States.

Now obviously, that's a task which falls to the Biden Administration. President Biden himself to sort of marshal that support in Congress or

amongst centrist Democrats and Republicans. Doing that will be much easier if the JCPOA can then can be superseded, can be replaced by the so called

stronger, longer deal that President Biden had hoped for.

And I think one of the real downsides of this drama that's playing out in Vienna; the difficulty in getting back to the JCPOA is it's really crowded

out any discussion of a new deal. And a new deal is I think; ultimately, what's necessary to get that sustainability.

ANDERSON: That new deal would speak to - go ahead Nasser.

NASSER HADIAN, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS PROFESSOR, TEHRAN UNIVERSITY: We don't want promises. You don't want the treaties. It doesn't make that much

difference. If it is, for the sake of our discussion, imagine which is obviously impossible.

Impossible that this is a treaty, not only president by himself promise, but rather Senate would approve it to as a treaty. That is still without

work and we are not speaking such as the surgical - never guaranteeing.


HADIAN: What we are seeking is like having extras, which we have collected last few months or a year to remain in Iran under the control of the IAEA.

In other words, it's going to be sealed or controlled and monitored by the IAEA.

The positive thing about this guarantee is, the next President of United States - that if he wants to withdraw from the JCPOA due to domestic

politics of American President Trump, whatever it is, they're all here. It has a deterrent effect on the next president. It's going to close his hand

for doing at the wheel, whatever he wants.

ANDERSON: OK, let me talk about the IAEA then because the U.N. nuclear agency, the IAEA is caught in between the parties here trying to monitor

Iran's nuclear program. Rafael Grossi was just in Tehran last week. Nasser, is Iran dragging its feet in cooperating with the IAEA?

HADIAN: Yes, certainly on - less the JCPOA is resolved or issues are resolved. Iran is not going to allow the IAEA to go beyond or safeguard

agreement, it cannot go to the additional protocol, and additional protocol is a part of JCPOA.

OK, so we're not going to let that happen. Listen, or less - we have an agreement on JCPOA. And on JCPOA as I mentioned, we are not asking anything

extra, we want exactly what it is - on the position that we're trying to get agreement on that that study should, that's not the problem.


HADIAN: The problem is sustainability. And number two, is verification.

ANDERSON: Correct, OK.

HADIAN: In fact it is a promise, if you're supposed to get the benefit from the JCPOA, you should get it. If you don't get those benefits, because of

whatever reason, last time, you know, the Europeans said that, you know what, these are private companies, and we cannot force the private

companies to come and to invest anymore.

They do their own risk analysis and decide on the basis of that risk analysis. You don't want to hear those stuff, again, you have to be sure

that they get the benefit that they are supposed to get. And what are proposed about those extras is remaining in Iran, if I could give



HADIAN: The CEO of --, the CEO of Siemens, that OK, the next U.S. president cannot withdraw at will. And it will give them confidence to come in to


ANDERSON: We are seeing so much recalibration around this region that I am in, Michael, what do you make of these new moves by the region by Arab

states who hadn't until now had Iran squarely as it were in the crosshairs?

SINGH: Well, it's certainly an interesting development. And I think for many in Washington, it's welcomed, you know, any moves towards de-

escalation and any reduction in conflict in the Gulf or in the Middle East, it's, you know, it's a good thing.

I think it is a reorientation mainly by the UAE, which, you know, obviously had had its differences, not just with Iran, but with Turkey had been

involved in conflicts in Yemen and elsewhere.

And I think what we've seen from the UAE is a kind of broad effort to, to de-escalate with these regional rivals and to exit from some regional

conflicts. So we've also seen, for example, a UAE rapprochement with President Erdogan in Turkey, which had also been a very difficult


And I think it comes down to, again, just looking around the region, some of the turbulence that we've seen for the last several years, maybe

understanding that the United States is less inclined to come in and intervene on behalf of partners in the region, for better or worse, and

therefore, to use this kind of diplomacy to de-escalate.

I don't think, though, Becky, that it means a resolution or dismissal of the underlying concerns. I don't think the underlying concern amongst the

Arab states either with Iran's activities in the region or with a nuclear program are gone. I think it's still a tremendous level of concern there.

ANDERSON: Do you Nasser finally see a change in stance, a changing position from this new Israeli Government, a post Netanyahu government certainly the

rhetoric is not as explosive. But is there is there a change in their position?


HADIAN: To be frank with you, I think that the JCPOA would serve Israeli interests more than any other country, including Iran. OK, no matter what

they say, rhetorically or publicly, in a final analysis that serves Israeli interests more than anyone else. Nobody was saying to me what they say

publicly, even foreign Prime Minister Netanyahu, end of the day, they know that that will serve their interests.

So that's why a number of intelligence security officials said exactly that, in fact, there was a report the day before yesterday, so yesterday or

the day before yesterday, by the person who was in charge of Israeli, the Iranian desk in the IDF, the relevance forces, he said that, you know, he

agreed, and he thought that would serve Iran that will serve Israeli interest.

So it's that's my view that no matter what, this return to the JCPOA would serve Israeli interest more than everyone else.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff. Just ahead we all know, moving can be stressful, don't we, but imagine the challenges. In moving a precious herd

of endangered animals more than 3000 kilometers, stay with us for what is a memorable trip.


ANDERSON: 30 white rhinos had been moved from South Africa to a national park in Rwanda. It's a massive effort to protect the species from the

threat of poaching. Conservationists say this gives the animals a safer environment, but it was a challenging move as CNN's Zain Asher now reports.


ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): 40 hours and some 3400 kilometers, 30 white rhinos complete a long journey from South Africa to a

new home in Rwanda. It's the largest single transfer of the species and a move to replenish the white rhinos struggling population, one largely

devastated by poaching since the 1970s.

The journey was no easy feat. White rhinos are one of the largest land mammal species and can weigh up to two tons. Following months of

preparation, the partially sedated rhinos were transferred from South Africa's Phinda Private Game Reserve, they boarded a Boeing 747 to Rwanda

to their final destination.

Akagera National Park, a space that the staff of African parks believes will provide a safe haven for the threatened species.

JES GRUNER, CEO, AKAGERA MANAGEMENT COMPANY: White rhinos are being persecuted on the continent, they are not stable. They're on a knife edge.

They could go either way.

If something happened to Kenya or to South Africa on the scene of white rhinos that is where the majority of white rhinos are. Then white rhinos

are really on the brink of extinction. So it makes no better sense than to bring them into safe areas. Areas we know where they would thrive.


AHSER (voice over): Gruner says the animals will be safer here than they were in South Africa, where he says three rhinos daily are killed by


GRUNER: We brought black rhinos here in 2017. They are thriving. We brought the lions here. They're thriving. We've proven as the management of the

park but also with the government collaboration that it's a safe progressive place, and that we can ensure the security.

AHSER (voice over): Poaching remains the primary threat to these animals targeted for their horns. There are only about 20,000 southern white rhinos

remaining, considered near threatened. And only two females have another subspecies the northern white rhino on the brink of extinction.

The 30 white rhinos are welcome additions to the park, which has seen a decline in tourism during the COVID -19 pandemic. White rhinos enjoy

grazing and open spaces, so visiting tourists can expect to get a good look.

IAN MUNYANKINDI, AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK: The white rhinos are going to be seen in the open spaces by almost all the tourists. So it's going to be

something that will really help a lot on the tourism side.

AHSER (voice over): Initially placed into large enclosures, authorities say the rhinos will soon be able to roam the expansive park with plenty of room

to grow. Zain Asher, CNN.


ANDERSON: We'll talk about Star Power. Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral now has a 12 point star atop its highest tower. It may be made of

glass and steel, but this is all about heart and soul. After all, the Catalan Architect, Antoni Gaudi once described his masterpiece as the Bible

made in stone.

The official inauguration is set for next Wednesday when the nearly five tons star will be lit up for the first time alongside the towers 800

windows, a work in progress construction on Gaudi's iconic cathedral began in the 19th century. It's not expected to be finished for another five

years, a very good evening from Abu Dhabi.