Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

Russia Using Plant as Safe Location to Attack Ukraine; Fears Grow over Safety of Europe's Biggest Nuclear Plant; Ex-Trump Organization CFO Pleads Guilty to 15 Felonies; Work Stoppage Due to Heat Slows the Economy; Israel Raids Offices of Palestinian Civil Society Groups; 12 Whales Swim with Paddle Boarders in Argentina. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 19, 2022 - 11:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Hello and welcome back. We begin with concerns of a "New Chernobyl" that stark warning from the

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as fears grow over the safety of Europe's largest nuclear plant, which is in Ukraine, Russia and Ukraine

accusing each other of plotting an attack on Zaporizhzhia plant amid reports of fresh shelling on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's nuclear power operator claims that Moscow plans to soon disconnect lines from the plant that supply power to Ukraine and

instead divert them to Russian controlled areas. Now, the UN Chief stressing that electricity belongs to Ukraine while reiterating calls to

create a demilitarized zone at the facility. So far Russian officials have rejected that idea.

Well, our team of reporters covering the story from all angles. Fred Pleitgen has been monitoring the developments in the rhetoric from Moscow.

First to Sam Kiley, who is on the ground for us in Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine? You're on the ground there. You've been speaking to local residents. What

have they been telling you about the perceived risks at present?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, I think the main issue for people here on the ground for the authorities is that they

believe that there is a risk that something catastrophic could happen in that nuclear power station and indeed there have been drills to try to

mitigate that nuclear reaction drills.

Now part of that is part of the propaganda campaign with both sides making accusations against one another. But there is no question at all in the

minds and the experiences of Ukrainians in Ukrainian government held territory that they have been at the receiving end of rocket attacks from

Russian troops based in or near that nuclear power station. And this is our report.


KILEY (voice over): It's an all too routine scene a Ukrainian home destroyed by a missile. But here the lucky escape of a young couple is

overshadowed by a potential catastrophe. The first Russian rocket hit the local soccer pitch and sent them scrambling into their basement safe from

the second.

After what happened we jump at every sound Andrei says the Ukrainian authorities say that both rockets were fired by Russian troops from the

grounds of a nuclear power station captured in March.

The International consternation over the future of the - nuclear power station is very obvious when you stand here and you can see the six

reactors of the biggest nuclear power station in the whole of Europe. The United Nations, the international community is all reacting in horror at

the mere thought that this could be at the center of fighting.

Ukraine blames Russia for using the nuclear plant is a fire base, and insists that it's not able to shoot back for risk of blowing up the nuclear

facility. The Russian occupies shoot all the time to provoke the armed forces of Ukraine and to spread panic among the people. We understand that

the power plant may explode because of their actions. I just don't understand. Maybe they just don't get it. He told us.

The United States, the United Nations and Ukraine have all called for Russia to leave the nuclear plant and for it to be demilitarized. These

demands are growing in volume as the bombardment of Ukrainian towns allegedly from around the six nuclear reactors, has intensified.

Andrei - worked at the plant until he escaped the Russians. But then he was recaptured he says and tortured before being released. Now he's in hiding

in Western Europe. And he says the possibility of a disaster is very high. I would say 70 to 90 percent we're talking about the most optimistic

scenario. I'm very worried about it.

And civilians in the Russian occupied town next to the plant have been stuck in traffic jams, trying to flee a potential nuclear escalation.

Ukraine's claims that it hasn't shelled the nuclear site cannot be verified. But there's no doubt that Russia has used it as a safe location

to attack Ukraine from.

Ukrainians have been conducting nuclear disaster drills in cities nearby. And both sides have said that some kind of incident is imminent, and could

cause massive radioactive contamination or a meltdown a cataclysm that could be felt far beyond Ukraine, even in nearby Russia.


KILEY: And I think that's the key issue here Becky, it is actually in both sides case perhaps to make hay in terms of propaganda over this nuclear

power station and raising the specter of the Chernobyl type catastrophe. They have garnered a lot of international attention.


KILEY: But it's very difficult to work out in whose interests some kind of nuclear destruction could possibly be. It would affect Russia almost as

badly as it would affect a Ukraine, notwithstanding the - not to mention the wider ramifications, both environmentally but even politically. But of

course, whether people behave rationally in times of war is still open to question.

ANDERSON: Yes, let's bring in - thank you, Sam. Let's bring in Fred Pleitgen who is in Moscow at present. I mean some frightening reporting

there in the piece filed by Sam there. A former plant worker suggesting the chance of disaster is 70 to 90 percent. What's the perspective from the


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Russians are also saying that there is potential obviously for a big

disaster. And one of the things that the Russians have acknowledged is that they do of course, have forces inside the territory of that nuclear power


However, the Russians are saying that they don't have any offensive forces and they're not targeting any Ukrainian areas, Ukrainian towns from the

territory of that nuclear power plant. We can see here, some video on our screens right now that CNN has managed to geo locate apparently showing

Russian vehicles in what appears to be inside the Zaporizhzhia Power Plant. It's unclear, however, when this video was taken.

And again, the Russians are saying they are not shelling any territory from there. However, they do say that the potential for a big catastrophe is

there. In fact, Vladimir Putin, just a couple of hours ago spoke with the President of France with Emanuel Macron. And we have the readout here in

that he said "Vladimir Putin" or this is the readout of the call from the Russian side. "Vladimir Putin in particular stressed that the systematic

shelling by the Ukrainian military, on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, it creates the danger of a large scale catastrophe

that could lead to radiation contamination of vast territories".

That is, you know, that Chernobyl scenario that both sides seem to be talking about, of course, accusing each other of allegedly shelling the

territory of that plan. Vladimir Putin apparently also saying that the Russians do want a mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency to

take place to go through - to go to that plant they say that that could happen sometime in early September.

But of course, right now with the way the front lines are going there really difficult to tell. But the Russians are ever say Becky will not

happen is demilitarizing that area, of course, something that the UN has wanted the U.S. its allies have wanted and the Ukrainians well, the

Russians saying that's not happening, because they believe that that would make the power plant even more vulnerable than it already is, Becky.

ANDERSON: That's a Kremlin perspective. Sam, as you listen to that reporting, and you consider Zaporizhzhia within the sort of wider context

of this wall what's your assessment of what is going on at this point?

KILEY: Well, I think one of the most important things to take away immediately reflecting back what Fred was reporting there is that on this

side of the conflict, journalists can operate really pretty widely. There are many thousands I'm guessing here, international journalists operating

on near and around the frontlines scrutinizing claims being made by the Ukrainians.

There is no such opportunity to get into the Russian occupied area. So there is no way of Vladimir Putin's claim that the Ukrainians, for example,

is shelling the nuclear power plant to be independently verified.

Indeed, we have been close to that nuclear power station as indeed of dozens of my colleagues from around the world and see no evidence

whatsoever recently at any rate of Ukrainian fire into that location, and it will probably would show up.

But this goes to the much wider issue that this is an enormously long front, it is very difficult for both sides and either side rather, to gain

the initiative. What we have seen is quite a lot of initiatives being taken. It's not exactly clear whether it's been Special Forces or modern

weaponry coming from NATO.

But something is managing to get behind Russia's front lines into airports or airfields inside Crimea, destroying aircraft there destroying ammunition

dumps. So the Ukrainians are trying to take the initiative there to attack the logistics and the military bases in the rear or middle rear areas of

the Russians.

That's a relatively new dynamic. And they're doing that because ultimately, they know that in a longer term war, they could probably be ground down by

the sheer weight of numbers that the Russians have.

And in any case, a frozen frontline, a long term stalemate effectively means a Russian victory because destabilization and preventing Ukraine from

becoming a successful Western leading democracy with a substantial Russian speaking population right on the doorstep of Vladimir Putin's Russia is

ultimately Putin's aim.


KILEY: That is an existential threat in and when he's not going to try; we're not going to allow existing if he could possibly avoid it, Becky.

ANDERSON: Sam Kiley is on the ground in Zaporizhzhia. Fred, who has been in and out of Ukraine over the past year - for years now, in Moscow for you

today. Thank you both.

My next guest says that Russia's focus on Zaporizhzhia is turning its invasion of Ukraine into what he describes as an electricity war. Robert

Kelly spent decades as a Nuclear Weapons Analyst for the U.S. government and worked as an Inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency.

He's now a Consultant in Nuclear Non Proliferation, and he joins me now live from Vienna. I know you've been analyzing satellite imagery around the

plant, just describe what you have seen, and what you know about the damage to the plant itself first?

ROBERT KELLY, NUCLEAR ENGINEER, FORMER IAEA INSPECTOR: The first thing that you notice is there isn't much damage, if any, around the planet itself. So

the hysteria that's being trumpeted out there is really uncalled for.

There's more information from the ground, if you will. What you see on the ground is things like power poles being toppled and attacks on the

infrastructure outside of the plant. The plant itself is essentially in perfect condition. So the hysteria that there's going to be a disaster

there, but doesn't make any sense at all I certainly don't think the Russians are showing themselves and some are claiming.

ANDERSON: So concerns of a "New Chernobyl" a stark warning from the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as fears grow over the safety of Europe's

largest nuclear plant. Do you think in Ukraine - you think are unfounded?

KELLY: I think they're a million times overstated. This plant is not Chernobyl. It's a completely different design. It's not designed the same

way and it wouldn't catch on fire the way that one did. So comparing it to Chernobyl is absolutely ridiculous and scaremongering.

This facility might suffer, might suffer in the worst of cases, meltdown, similar to Fukushima that would be the worst case. And I think we're

getting way ahead of ourselves, to wonder how that's going to happen? I don't know if your guests realize that this plant is worth $14 billion. So

both sides have a very large interest in keeping it safe.

ANDERSON: No, and Sam Kiley was very quick to make that point. You know, the interests of both sides here are you know, at stake. And so, you know,

we have been making that point. You have described this invasion, then of Ukraine as the Russians, focus on Zaporizhzhia turning it into an

electricity war that explain what you mean by that?

KELLY: The Russians raced to take this war prize in the third week of the war, and they wanted it ever since. They have operated the plant

intermittently during that period. And they're either selling electricity to other parts of Ukraine or to themselves.

What do you see now, particularly since Ukraine, has said that they are going to attack Crimea, because Crimea is a part of the country held by a

hostile power? What's happening I think is they're trying to isolate this plant, to where it can't supply electricity to anybody? And if you can't

run the plant, and you can't supply electricity, you have to shut it down.

You shut it down. You put it into cold standby, which is a very ordinary thing. You have redundant systems to keep it safe while it's shut down. And

both sides will be very careful not to damage a $40 billion prize. And they will also be very careful because nobody wants one of these large


ANDERSON: Sir what do you make of Russia's threat to divert the energy from the plant to Russia? And what impact would that have on Ukraine's energy

grid? And if you will, the wider impact on energy and in Europe?

KELLY: Just for the war. The day before the war, the Ukrainians disconnected from the Russian grid on purpose as part of an exercise and

they've never connected back. They've made themselves a Ukrainian based system and tied to you.

So if you are in a situation now where the Russians own the place, and they want to connect it back to Russia, there's quite a bit of work to do. And

an awful lot of the lines will pass through Donetsk. And so there's going to be a difficult time because of the war there and getting it back to


What it means is that they've six power stations are offline there's winter. And by the way there are some other coal burning plants that have

been taken by the Russians as well.


KELLY: If all that electricity is either not available or sent to Russia, they're going to be some very cold people - in Ukraine this winter.

ANDERSON: Coming back to the IAEA's deep concern, this is coming from the UN Chief himself about what is going on at Zaporizhzhia. How important is

it at this point, that the IAEA get access to that plant?

KELLY: I don't think it's very important at all. Their main goal in trying to get back to the plant is to do safeguards inspection, which is to

account for nuclear materials, and making sure they're not being stolen and taken somewhere else.

That's very unlikely in these circumstances, it would be important to know what IAEA inspectors because they won't be safeguards inspectors would be

sent on such a mission. They really should be thermal hydraulic engineers, and electrical distribution engineers.

IAEA is basically a nuclear science organization. And I would be very concerned about whether they would send people with the right skills to

deal with this particular problem. IAEA is not going to make much difference except as a symbolic move to visit the plant.

ANDERSON: Do you expect that access and I hear what you're saying? And this is your analysis and insight here as a Former IAEA Inspector. Do you expect

that access to be granted? I mean, there's an enormous amount of politics at play here.

KELLY: The two signs are squabbling over that. The Russians are asking them to come in. But that's primarily for the purpose of applying nuclear

material accountancy and inventory. I don't think the Russians have any interest in the IAEA coming in and tell them how to run the plant that they

built decades ago.

There are lots and lots of experience in the Russian team, because they built these plants and many others like them. So when you mentioned me as

Inspector, remember that my work was primarily looking for nuclear weapons in Iraq, Libya, and places like that. And that was a very unusual

application of inspector credentials.

ANDERSON: Sir, it's good to have you on and your insight and analysis is important as we explore this story. Thank you. You can folks take a deeper

dive into Russia's war on Ukraine and Zaporizhzhia situation There you will find out more about the security of the plants reactors.

What our experts say is the worst case scenario and why they don't think this could be another Chernobyl, the 360 here on CNN. Just ahead, the U.S.

Justice Department has a week to suggest what to leave out of the document behind the FBI's search of Donald Trump's Florida Estate more on that up


Plus in one Afghan village there's much respect for Taliban fighters who died in battle. Hear what Taliban supporters are saying now about life

before and after U.S. troops left the country.



ANDERSON: Sharpening the focus on former U.S. President Donald Trump as a possible subject of the criminal probe, that's quite a statement. And it's

one CNN has been hearing from several legal experts after U.S. federal judge released a new document related to the search of Trump's Florida

residents that you see here.

That judge is also weighing whether to release the probable cause affidavit on the Mar-a-Lago search and we'll hear more arguments before next

Thursday. He says portions of the affidavit should be unsealed.

And we'll hear from the U.S. Justice Department about how much of it should be redacted. I want to bring in Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn

Polantz live from Washington, DC. Are we getting any closer to understanding what the results of this investigation will be?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, we don't know what the result will be. Because the Justice Department may not even know

what the result will be at this point in time. They haven't, as far as we understand, decided whether to charge any crimes that they're

investigating. But we have learned a little bit more Becky about what is being investigated here. Specifically, you said sharpening the focus around

Donald Trump that certainly appears to be what the documents that are in court already related to the search warrant, say.

So when the search warrant was released last week at the Justice Department's prompting, it said that there were three crimes under

investigation, the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, the criminal handling of federal records.

And then yesterday, the judge who has overseen this process this search judge Reinhardt in Florida, he released a couple more documents in this

case, and one of the documents released was a cover sheet that listed what's being investigated. And one of those things the Espionage Act

statute said it is specifically the willful retention of National Defense Information that is being investigated here.

So that specifies that it is someone who the Justice Department believes may have had access to National Defense Information, then kept it that

certainly appears that it could be Donald Trump that would become a subject of this investigation, potentially others, but it does really point toward

Trump, as they continue to investigate this mishandling of potentially classified records.

All of that said, most of the substance here all of the substance here that we know of that's in the court record right now is in this sealed

affidavit. That is the document that the Justice Department is trying to black out almost entirely.

They are going to go through a process behind the scenes confidentially with the judge where they make their proposals. They make their arguments,

and then the judge ultimately determines if we can learn anything about this.

But Becky, this is an ongoing investigation. So the possibility we don't learn much more right now. That's certainly possible. And finally, when we

would learn more that would be if an indictment is approved. And we don't know when that time will come.

ANDERSON: Katelyn, it's good to have you on this. Thank you very much indeed. Because Trump is often tied to more than one court case at a time

there is this.

The former chief financial officer from the Trump Organization has pleaded guilty to a tax fraud scheme. And as part of the deal he's agreed to

testify against Trump's real estate company at trial. CNN's Kara Scannell explains.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The longtime Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to 15 felonies on

Thursday, admitting to his role in a decade's long tax fraud scheme. As part of the deal, Weisselberg has agreed to testify against the Trump

Organization, a company he has worked out for more than 40 years.

Trump organization goes to trial in October in the Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg has said that Weisselberg's testimony will be

invaluable. Also as part of this deal, Weisselberg has agreed to pay nearly $2 million in back taxes, interest and penalties and in exchange he will

receive a five month sentence in jail.

Now Weisselberg will not implicate the former president at the trial. He also is not cooperating with the Manhattan District Attorney's long running

investigation into the Trump organization's finances. The Trump Organization put out a statement today calling Weisselberg a fine and

honorable man and said they look forward to going to trial in October, back to you.

ANDERSON: Well, today is Afghanistan's Independence Day. And a year ago the Taliban were claiming victory over the United States. This is what it look

like on this day in 2021. Scenes of the chaotic evacuation of Americans and others at the Kabul airport just days after the Taliban took control of the



ANDERSON: Many in Afghanistan were devastated by the Taliban's return to power and the departure of U.S. troops. Others though, express happiness

and relief. Clarissa Ward spoke to some of them in her return to Afghanistan one year on.


CLARRISA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There were no tears in the Tangi Valley when U.S. forces left Afghanistan. The landscape is awash with

white flags, marking the graves of Taliban fighters killed in battle. Among them is the son of --.

WARD (on camera): This is your son?

WARD (voice over): He tells us he was killed during a U.S. supported Afghan Special Forces night raid on the family home in 2019. Video of the

aftermath shows the scale of the destruction after a protracted gun battle, the house was leveled, killing a second son of --as well as his niece and

her daughter.

There was a lot of blood spilled, a voice says off camera. The rebuild living room is now a shrine to the dead.

WARD (on camera): What was your reaction when American forces left a year ago?

WARD (voice over): I said the peace has come to Afghanistan, he says, there will be no more mothers becoming widows like our mothers and sisters who

were widowed and our children killed. Across this rural Taliban stronghold, American forces were seen as invaders that brought death and destruction

with their night raids and drone strikes. Piece has brought a chance to air long held grievances at the local market were immediately surrounded. Every

household had at least one fighter this man tells us and every house had people who were killed by the Americans and their drones. And we are proud

of that.

Sheer Muhammad Hamas is treated like royalty here. His brother is believed to be responsible for downing a helicopter full of U.S. Special Forces.

WARD (on camera): So he's taking me to the spot where he says his brother shot down at Chinook.

WARD (voice over): It was August 6, 2011. Hamas says his brother was hiding behind the trees and shot the Chinook down with an RPG as it prepared to

land by the river. 30 Americans were killed, the single greatest loss of American life in the entire Afghan war.

There were a lot of celebrations and not just here, he tells us, it was a big party. I'm sure you can understand that it's hard to hear that people

were celebrating about the deaths of dozens of Americans.

This was a heroic achievement because the people who were killed on this plane, they were the killers of Osama bin Laden, he says and Sheikh Osama

is someone who is the crown on the head of Muslims. So definitely the people were happy about this. Days later, the U.S. says it responded with a

strike that killed Hamas's brother, another white flag raised in a valley where martyrs were made and views hardened Clarissa Ward, CNN, Afghanistan.


ANDERSON: Well, next on "Connect the World" how scorching temperatures in China could impact the rest of us. We'll tell you the ways or at least some

of the ways supply chains could be hit by a heat wave shut down.



ANDERSON: A near operational standstill that is how a new assessment sums up Russia's invasion of Ukraine nearly six months in. Western officials say

neither side has influenced the course of the war on the ground but they add that Russia's fleet in the Black Sea has been on the defensive after

recent attacks.

Meantime, the French government says Vladimir Putin indicated that he agrees independent inspectors should be allowed into this Zaporizhzhia

nuclear plant. The Russian president and French President Emmanuel Macron are discussing growing concerns about the plant in a call on Friday.

Well, let's get you up to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar right now. And a government Truth Commission says the

disappearance of 43 Mexican students in 2014 was a crime of the state, the students went missing in the southwestern city of Iguala.

After local police and military forces intercepted their bus the panel says the truth of what happened to them remains unclear, but there is no

indication they are still alive.

A ball rampage through parts of Lima, Peru on Wednesday is destroying part of a local shop. The ball was being taken to a slaughterhouse when it

escaped. It was on the loose for about 14 minutes at least one person was taken to hospital after being injured by the beast.

Well, New Zealand's Nelson Tasman region is under a state of emergency due to catastrophic flooding. Hundreds been forced to flee their homes. The

local mayor there says recovery will take years. We'll tell what heat waves that have been making headlines all over the world could see an impact

production of Tesla cars of iPhones and many other electronic products.

And that is because China has shut down all the factories in Sichuan province as it attempts to conserve energy during one of the worst heat

waves on record. Much of that province relies on hydroelectric power, but the region has been plagued by a terrible drought with rainfall less than

half of what it normally is.

Well, CNN's Selina Wang is tracking the story for us from Beijing. Just what do we know about the impact of this extreme weather and indeed whether

there is any relief from these temperatures inside Selina?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky it has been incredibly severe it is in fact the worst heat wave on record and the longest lasting more

than 60 days China has issued a nationwide drought alert for the first time in nearly a decade.

It's also issued the highest heat warning to almost 250 cities and counties. Now this heat wave it's just putting even more pressure on an

economy that's already in bad shape because of the country zero COVID restrictions.

This is a country that are still locking down cities over just a few COVID cases. Consumers here already spending less, factories are producing less;

youth unemployment is at a record high. And for global factories this is just the latest headache after COVID related shutdowns.


WANG (voice over): A scorching heat wave grinding work on the world's factory floors to a screeching halt. As China battles its worst heat wave

on record, factories in the key manufacturing hubs of Sichuan province and Chongqing city have come to a standstill.

For about a week, power has been saved for its more than 100 million residents amid a crippling crunch. But the diversion threatens an economic


It hits factories for semiconductor companies like Intel and Texas Instruments and suppliers of Apple and Tesla. Most importantly, Sichuan is

rich in one of the world's most important commodities, lithium.

DENNIS IP, PURE RESEARCH, DAIWA CAPITAL: Sichuan produce like 30 percent of their medium hydroxide for China. So we think that this is going to affect

the EVM surprising the short run. Very likely we are going to see the lithium price are going up.


WANG (voice over): Lithium is essential for technologies like electric car and smartphone batteries. While experts say the impact will be minimal if

the shutdown only lasts a week. If they drag on, it threatens to snag already strained global supply chains and hike up prices for global


The power cuts are yet another headache for factories after COVID related shutdowns. It could encourage the U.S. and Europe to move more of their

battery supply chains back home.

SUSAN ZOU, ENERGY METALS ANALYST, RYSTAD ENERGY: Also kind of strengthen people's belief that you can't rely on China too much for the battery

materials processing.

WANG (voice over): This is China's strongest and longest heat wave on record lasting for more than 60 days, pushing temperatures above 110

degrees Fahrenheit in some regions. It's put extreme pressure on the power grid because of spikes and air conditioning use and hydropower plants that

are struggling to meet demand.

Droughts are sweeping across the country. Parts of China's longest river the Yangzi and other reservoirs have completely dried up. Fire trucks are

sending water to places struggling to get enough drinking water.

Villagers line up with their buckets. In the south, the heat and droughts are ravaging crops, impacting 159 million acres of arable land; many

regions are taking desperate measures.

Central Hubei province is firing rockets into the sky with chemicals to help clouds produce more rain. Videos of staff pouring ice cubes into

swimming pools have gone viral.

As did this woman's video diary showing her bag of live shrimp cooked after she was outside for an hour. Office workers are sitting around giant ice

cubes to cool down because of power cuts. Some cities are operating subway stations in near darkness to save energy.

Other residents are sleeping in subway stations to take refuge from the heat. China's heat wave is expected to get worse, so all of this might be

the new normal.


WANG: And Becky, the human and economic toll of this heat wave, it has been massive. Millions of acres of farmland have been impacted by droughts and

more than a million people are facing water shortages or are struggling to access drinking water.

And experts tell me that these factory shutdowns we're seeing in Sichuan well, it could just be another reason that encourages the U.S. and Europe

to move more of their battery supply chains back home.

And the impact that the world is really watching for here is the knock on effects this lithium issue has because lithium is so critical in Sichuan.

Because lithium supply is already barely able to keep up with growing demand as the whole world is trying to shift towards clean energy and

battery powered cars, Becky.

ANDERSON: And you're making a very good point. Switching gears, you've just secured an exclusive interview with the U.S. Ambassador to China. What did

he tell you, Selina?

WANG: Well, we had a wide ranging discussion. Of course, the big topic was the U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visit to Taiwan and the fallout of that

visit following that China had conducted many military drills that were provocative; China decided to cut communications with the U.S. on a number

of key issues ranging from climate change to defense.

He told me that the world is now growing concerned that China is becoming an agent of instability. He said it is incumbent on Beijing to prove to the

world that it will be a peaceful force.

He defended Pelosi's visit and this visit by Pelosi has made his job more complicated in some ways. The night that she visited, he was summoned by

China's Vice Foreign Minister.

And in that visit that summoning he called it a very spirited but contentious discussion where there were obviously many, many points of

disagreement and take a listen to what else we discussed.


WANG: When we look at this event, let's say 20 years from now, are we going to see that Pelosi visit as a moment that fundamentally changed U.S. China


BILL BURNS, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: We do not believe there should be a crisis in U.S. China relations. Over the visit the peaceful visit of the

Speaker of the House of Representatives to Taiwan, hundreds of members of Congress have traveled to Taiwan over the last decades. Those visits are

going to continue and you've seen in the news, other countries are announcing that their members of parliament are going to travel to Taiwan.

So it was a manufactured crisis by the government in Beijing. It was an overreaction. And I think our job now is try to lower the temperature be

steady and responsible in our own actions. And we stand up and we will stand up for peace and security in the Indo Pacific.


WANG: The challenge right now is that there are so many issues between the U.S. and China where the two sides are essentially talking past each other.

The words from U.S. officials often seem to ring hollow in Beijing. China is becoming increasingly convinced that America's actions are trying to

contain and weaken China.


WANG: They see the U.S. behavior whether it's increasing trade engagements with Taiwan or sending these high level U.S. officials, they believe that

it is chipping away at the One China policy.

The other big issue which I discussed with the ambassador is that China controls the narrative here. They can censor what information reaches the

public and we are seeing growing anti-American sentiment growing nationalism that constrains the ability for the U.S. and China to properly


Zero COVID, of course, hasn't made that any easier. The ambassador told me he wants to engage with the people. He wants there to be more people to

people exchange. This is a country where the leader has not left the country since the start of the pandemic.

There has not been any face to face meeting between the President of the U.S. and China in years at this point. So this is one of the most important

jobs and diplomacy right now but also one of the toughest, Becky.

ANDERSON: Selina Wang is on the story. Thank you very much indeed, coming up, Palestinian nonprofit groups are targeted with raids in the West Bank.

We'll discuss with Human Rights Watch after this short break.


ANDERSON: The Israeli army raided the offices of five Palestinian civil society groups this week in the West Bank. Seven offices were closed and

property was confiscated according to the Israeli Defense Forces.

Israel declared these groups as terrorist organizations last year claiming they operate in behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of

Palestine. The PLFP is long been designated as a terror organization by Israel by the United States and by the European Union.

The United Nations says the closures appear to be arbitrary and say they haven't seen evidence for Israel's claim. Well, the U.S. has expressed

concern about the raids and says it is requested more information on the basis of Israel's actions.

Well my next guest is Sari Bashi, the Program Director for Human Rights Watch. She tweeted a photo of herself outside one of the offices that was

raided saying, Human Rights Watch stands with these groups and that "peaceful defense of human rights is not terrorism". Sari joins me now live

from the West Bank, you visited these offices, describe what you saw and the extent of the damage?

SARI BASHI, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well, it depended on the offices but the Israeli military entered these offices early in the

morning, they broke down doors, they stole files, they removed equipment, they throw a copy machine down the stairs. They cause serious damage and

they then left a military order barring these offices from reopening under the guise of a counter terrorism law.


ANDERSON: Well, Israel is labeled the group's terrorist organizations. Last year a characterization rejected by many in the international community,

including the EU, I have to have to say, are you aware of any links that may, they may have to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine?

BASHI: Well, first of all, it's not up to these organizations to prove that they're not engaged in unlawful activity. It's up to the Israeli

authorities to show evidence suggesting that wrongdoing has been done. And that has not happened.

The Israeli government says it bases its designation on secret evidence, but it did provide a dossier both to the U.S. government as well as to the

EU and nine European countries that are actually funding these organizations for their peaceful civil society actions.

Both the EU as well as these nine individual European countries recently announced that they would continue to fund these civil society

organizations. Because they had found no evidence that the groups were doing anything other than what they said they were doing, defending

children being tried in Israeli military courts, providing loans to female business businesses, as well as farmers and also documenting abuses both by

the Israeli authorities as well as by the Palestinian authorities.

ANDERSON: So have you seen that that secret document that was passed on and if not, are you aware of its contents?

BASHI: So a version of the dossier was leaked and widely viewed. It contains allegations that are unsubstantiated, including vague accusations

based on people who were imprisoned by the Israeli military and interrogated under conditions that we know to be extremely problematic.

Further information was provided to the European governments who are directing taxpayer money to support these, these prominent and well

respected Palestinian or civil society organizations.

So nobody has seen any evidence suggesting that these groups have anything to do with terrorism. What's really going on is that the Israeli government

is escalating a dangerous crackdown against Palestinian civil society under the guise of anti-terrorism.

Some of these groups have strenuously objected to Israeli abuses against Palestinians, including committing a crime against humanity of apartheid.

And rather than engaged with these allegations in a responsible way, the Israeli government is trying to silence peaceful dissent.

ANDERSON: From your perspective, why there's action now?

BASHI: So recently, the Israeli government confirmed the designations. There was an appeals process for some of the groups and the night before

the raid, the Israeli government announced that it had rejected those appeals.

Beyond that, what I can say is that things have only been getting worse for Palestinian civil society. And they've been getting worse because there has

been insufficient action on the part of close allies of the Israeli government, including the United States, and the European Union and

European countries.

The U.S. and the EU have special relationships with the Israeli government where they grant privileges, funding and weapons based on so called shared

values of democracy and freedom.

If that's the basis for the relationship, the U.S. and the EU should clearly and unequivocally call on the Israeli government to cancel these

designations, and stop cracking down on peaceful activism and peaceful human rights defense.

ANDERSON: That's your call. What does this mean meantime, for the future of civil society groups in the West Bank? And can you imagine that their work

will be able to continue unabated?

BASHI: I've got to say it's very scary. I've worked in this field for well over a decade. These are colleagues; these are people who I respect deeply.

These are people who've been through a lot. And they were scared.

They were scared because their offices had been violated because they're being threatened with further action. And I would also say, because things

are just getting worse, in the sense of the Israeli government is being allowed enabled to do this kind of activity because there is not a strong

enough action from the Israeli government's allies. It doesn't look very good right now.

ANDERSON: Sari Bashi is on the ground in the West Bank. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. You're watching "Connect the World", I'm Becky

Anderson, back after this.



ANDERSON: Actor Alec Baldwin is speaking out to CNN amid new findings from the rust investigation. Baldwin maintains he never pulled the trigger of

the gun and explains why he was scared former President Trump could get him killed. CNN's Chloe Melas explains.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN REPORTER (voice over): 10 months in and confusion still persists over the sequence of events that led to a deadly shooting on the

set of rust. This week an FBI report concluded this gun could not be fired without the trigger being pulled while the gun was cocked and eventually

malfunctioned after internal parts fractured. In his first interview with CNN, Alec Baldwin denies pulling the trigger.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: I never once said never that the gun went off in my hand automatically. I always said I pulled the hammer back. And I pulled it

back as far as I could. I never took a gun and pointed at somebody and click the thing.

MELAS (voice over): While waiting for the results of the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office investigation, Baldwin says he hired his own investigator.

BALDWIN: That private investigator, as you probably know, did not have a difficult time accessing the staff of the Sheriff's Department. And that

person told us "We've known in the department since January that Alec would not be charged with a crime".

MELAS (voice over): A sentiment echoed by his attorney.

MELAS (on camera): Do you think that there is a possibility, though, that he could face charges at all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be a huge miscarriage of justice.

MELAS (voice over): But that then president fanned flames against him.

BALDWIN: The former president of the United States said he probably shot her on purpose. To me was really the only time I thought that I needed that

I was worried about what was going to happen, because here was Trump who instructed people to commit acts of violence. And he was pointing the

finger at me and saying I was responsible for the death.

MELAS (voice over): No one has been charged for the tragedy on set. But Baldwin said there are two people responsible, armorer, Hannah Gutierrez

Reed and Assistant Director Dave Hauls. Through their attorneys, they accused Baldwin of deflecting blame. But Baldwin points to the findings of

an occupational safety report.

BALDWIN: Hannah Reed handed the gun to Hauls and said, don't give it to ALEC until I get back to the set. I got to go do something else. And he

proceeded to the set and a) handed me the gun.

MELAS (voice over): Baldwin said Gutierrez Reed should have known the difference between dummy rounds which make a rattling sound and live


BALDWIN: I mean anybody on earth who works in that business can determine that.

MELAS (voice over): Baldwin raised questions about the supplier of guns and ammunition for the film, Seth Kenney, who is being sued by the armorer and

FBI report, said 150 live rounds were found on set.

BALDWIN: What was the provenance of all the bullets on the set? Where did those come from?

MELAS (voice over): Well, according to the FBI report, as far as I'm aware, the bullets were commingled.

BALDWIN: That's the case then that commingled them. Did Seth Kenney provide her with Prop ammunition where he commingled live rounds with blank rounds?

MELAS (voice over): Questions Baldwin says kept him up at night as he replayed the final days of a talented friend and cinematographer.

BALDWIN: And she was great at her job and she died and she died and that's that hurts me every day, every day of my life I think--


ANDERSON: Talk about close encounters. Take a look at this; a pair of paddle boarders got the shock of their lives out in the water in Argentina.

A dozen well surrounded the two and swam next to them for about an hour.

One of the wells got playful and pushed the guy with the camera off his paddleboard. You can hear his friend over there laughing in the background.

What's your mind, I'd be happy if my mates but I'll - in that situation but anyway there you go, that's it from us.


ANDERSON: You've been watching "Connect the World", more from CNN up next. From the team working with me here in London and those working with us

around the world it is a very good evening.