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Connect the World

IAEA: Uranium Particles Enriched to 83.7 Percent Purity Found; APC's Bola Tinubu Wins Presidential Election; Ukraine: Russian Efforts to take Bakhmut have Intensified; FBI Director: Pandemic Most Likely Product of Chinese Lab Leak; Abrahamic Family House Inspired by Document on Human Fraternity; Alicia Keys Wows Audience in Saudi Arabia Desert. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 01, 2023 - 11:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: This hour, are we on a collision course over Iran's nuclear program? CNN's Christiane Amanpour

speaks exclusively with Iran's Foreign Minister that is coming up first.

First up though, at least 36 people are dead after a head on train coalition in Greece the Greek Transportation Minister resigning after the

incident. Pulling Party Candidate Bola Tinubu has been declared the winner of Nigeria's Presidential Election. The country's largest election

monitoring group says there are serious causes for concern and the Opposition Labor Party plans to challenge the results.

Ukraine's army is not retreating from Bakhmut not yet, but President Zelenskyy says defending the key town is Ukraine's biggest challenge in the

battle for the wider Donbas region. More backing of the Coronavirus lab leak theory from the United States the FBI Director saying that the Bureau

believes the deadly virus likely emerged after an accident in a Chinese lab.

Welcome to what is the second hour of "Connect the World" with me Becky Anderson. Iran has enriched uranium particles to nearly 84 percent purity.

That's according to a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency which CNN has obtained.

Now remember, weapons grade uranium is 90 percent enriched or more. So this is a big deal. And a leading Pentagon official says Iran could potentially

produce a nuclear bomb in less than two weeks. Have a listen.


COLIN KAHL, U.S. UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR POLICY: Iran's nuclear progress since we left the JCPOA has been remarkable. Back in 2018, when

the previous administration decided to leave the JCPOA it would have taken Iran about 12 months to produce one fissile one bombs worth of fissile

material now it would take about 12 days.

And so I think there is still the view that if you can resolve this issue diplomatically and put constraints back on their nuclear program, it is

better than the other options.


ANDERSON: So tonight, we ask how close Iran to be having the capacity to produce nuclear weapons should Tehran choose to do so? Well CNN's Chief

International Anchor Christiane Amanpour spoke to Iran's Foreign Minister yesterday in an exclusive interview and she joins me now from London.

Thanks for doing this Christiane. It's really important.

We've heard the view from the United States then there. What did the Foreign Minister have to say in your exclusive interview about Iran's

nuclear program? Is there any chance at this stage from his perspective of diplomacy?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, from his perspective, is the short answer. And really interestingly, that sound bite

you played from the United States looks like it is a public explanation of why the U.S. wants to go back into the JCPOA.

And that is what the Iranian Foreign Minister told me as well. He said we want to go back into it. We want to have negotiations in good faith. It is

Trump, it is the U.S. who pulled out and left us at this situation for now that we're in now, but we want to go back but he said the window is

closing. Here's what he said.


HOSSEIN AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We have a roadmap with the IAEA. And on two occasions, Mr. Grossi Deputy came to Iran in the past

few weeks, and we had constructive and productive negotiations. We have also invited Mr. Grossi, to come and visit Iran soon.

Therefore, our relationship with the IAEA is on its correct and natural path. And we have said this to the U.S. side through mediators that we are

on the path to reach an accord. But if the Iranian parliament adopts a new law, then we'll have to abide by the parliamentary act.

So the window for an accord is still open. But this window will not remain open forever. The U.S. party has been sending us positive messages through

diplomatic channels. But in its media remarks, they make very deceptive remarks that are totally different. And really, as an Iranian Foreign

Minister, sometimes I have serious doubts.


AMANPOUR: So you see, Becky, what he's saying is there that we want to do it but it may be up to our parliament, if they decide that the Americans

are not Bonafide good faith negotiators. They may you know pass a motion that prevents us the government from doing this. So he's basically trying

to pressure the Americans and the Europeans but mostly the Americans to say let's get this done now.


ANDERSON: Let's be clear, the U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy also said publicly there, that the deal is on eyes at present talks of

returning to a deal, of course fell apart after the brutal crackdown against protesters last fall in Iran. Until that point, we'd sort of it

felt like being inching towards a deal. What did he say about the widespread reports of severe human rights abuses used against the citizens

of Iran, Christiane?

AMANPOUR: You're absolutely right. He that is the U.S. position and the European public position as well that because of this moment, of the severe

violation of human rights inside Iran against peaceful protesters they don't even want to discuss this, at least not in public. I put that to him.

And I obviously asked him in many, many different ways about how they could justify the deadly crackdown on peaceful protesters? For much of the

interview, he said it was because they were infiltrated by those who wanted to cause regime change in Iran backed he said by the international


But then I specifically asked him about CNN reporting and other reporting that said, female prisoners, those who had been arrested and in some cases,

you know, kept within the establishments, detention centers had been sexually abused. This is that exchange.


AMANPOUR: When you say the Islamic Republic of Iran, respects human rights. One female protester says that she was detained inside a revolutionary

guard facility for more than a month and raped by three different men.

She went to a cleric - afterwards because she was having suicidal thoughts. She was so upset. CNN spoke with that cleric. Is that acceptable? Is it

acceptable for a woman, whatever she's done, to be arrested and raped? And there are many, many, many reports of sexual abuse in this situation

against women and men?

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN: Firstly, in the peaceful demonstrations in the fall, no one was arrested.

AMANPOUR: So you're just denying that?

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN: However, in those protests that have become violent, some individuals, some of whom had entered Iran from the outside, and we're

using firearms and killing the police were arrested.

You do know that the Supreme Leader actually issued an amnesty and all those who were imprisoned were released with the exception of those who had

killed someone or were being sued. Regarding the Iranian women that you mentioned, I cannot confirm it. There have been so many such baseless

claims made on social media and in media.

AMANPOUR: OK, these are not baseless and they weren't on the internet this CNN spoken to a cleric a religious person inside your country and got this

for us.

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN: We have seen some of CNN reports that are targeted and false.

AMANPOUR: That's not true. We report the facts, and we report the truth. And that's why you're sitting here with me, Mr. Foreign Minister.


AMANPOUR: And Becky, the conversation went on more questions on the human rights situation. More questions on Russia's use of Iranian drones. That is

the charge by the international community and sanctions have been leveled because of that, using those Shahed drones against Ukrainian targets, most

of which are civilian infrastructure and buildings. He denied that.

ANDERSON: You showed on your exclusive interview, of course, with the Iranian Foreign Minister is coming up. You covered topics, including

crackdown on protesters supplying those drains to Russia. And as we began this conversation, Iran's uranium enrichment those are just a few hours

from now. 7 pm Geneva time 10 pm here in Abu Dhabi.

And wherever you are watching in the world, folks, you'll be able to work out the times locally for you. Christiane appreciate it. Thank you very

much indeed.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Well, the whole of Europe is mourning with you. Those are the words of EU Chief Ursula Von Der Leyen offering condolences to the people

of Greece after a devastating train crash. State media reporting the Greek Transport Minister has resigned after at least 36 people were killed late

on Tuesday when a passenger train and a freight train collided head on in central Greece.

We're told the death toll could go higher. Let's bring in CNN's Eleni Giokos so she's live out - and has been covering this story. What do we

know about the ongoing rescue efforts at the scene?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is 19 hours after the collision and there are still firefighters on the ground going through what is left

are the first few carriages Becky that course lights and reach temperatures of 1300 degrees Celsius heat so intense that it was difficult to put out

the fire and of course caused major delays and issues in terms of getting people out of the remaining carriages.


GIOKOS: 36 facilities at this stage it is anticipated there will be that number is going to rise. We also have been hearing that people are outside

of the hospital in Larissa weeping crying waiting for news of their loved ones.

And you get the sense of just how badly hurt the victims are because a lot of the process to identify these people requires DNA testing. There are

massive lines in Larissa right now of people trying to donate blood. There are 72 people that are injured around six critically in intensive care at

this stage.

I also have to say this is after a celebratory weekend, a festival and then Ash Monday and many people are many young students going back to university

heading from Athens to Thessaloniki are victims of this.

The President put that in a statement saying that this is a travesty. This is a national disaster. The biggest of its kind in terms of railway

crashes, and so many questions Becky right now around how this could possibly have happened?

ANDERSON: State media reporting the Greek Transport Minister has resigned. The local station master reportedly arrested and as you rightly point out

more questions and answers about how this happened. Is there any indication at this point?

GIOKOS: Yes, I think it's important to note that you have two trains one freight train and a passenger train on the same track heading towards each

other, no electronic indicators showing the danger. Importantly, why did the passenger train get moved on to the same line as the freight train?

And perhaps one of the most important statements that we heard from the Transport Minister who actually broke out in tears early in the day when he

was at the crash site he resigned and he said it is a fact that we received the Greek railway system in a state that is not up to 21st century


In these three and a half years, we have made every effort to improve this reality. Our efforts have not been sufficient to prevent such a bad

incident. This is in a way an admission. This is I guess, just so much information about the state of the railway system in Greece and in the

state it was in people are an absolute shock. This is a popular route Becky.

And then the Larissa Police have also confirmed to CNN that the arrest of the local station master he has been charged with causing mass deaths

through negligence and also causing grievous bodily harm through negligence as well.

The Greek Prime Minister was at the crash site. In fact, a lot of political leaders also arrived at the crash site today visiting the hospitals as well

and they say that a deep investigation will be occurring with regards to what happened? How it happened and then what happened and ensuring that

this never happens again?

This is an interesting time and Greece's political landscape happening under the watch of Kyriakos Mitsotakis. General elections will be held they

should be held before June. No date has been given yet but this is a send so many Greeks into absolute shock watching these horrific images Becky.

ANDERSON: Eleni Giokos on the story for you, Eleni, thank you! Still to come, Nigeria's ruling party celebrates an election victory that some say

was tainted by mismanagement, if not outright fraud. A live report from Nigeria is after this. And the battle for Bakhmut; we are live in Eastern

Ukraine, where horrifying violence is causing - to consider what it might do next that is after this.



ANDERSON: Supporters of the ruling APC Party celebrate their victory in Nigeria's Presidential Election but many say that victory was anything but

fair. Longtime political kingmaker Bola Tinubu has become king himself winning Nigeria's presidency by taking 36 percent of the vote.

But independent election observers say the vote was poorly managed with allegations of voter intimidation. And one Nigerian group says the result

is simply not credible. And rival political parties are calling for a redo.

Well, CNN's Larry Madowo has been tracking the election and the controversy around it. He joins us now from Lagos. These results have been dogged by

claims of election fraud. The opposition party now says they'll challenge the results. What are the chances of a successful challenge at this point?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it's fair to say that thin. The Nigerian Supreme Court has never overturned an election before. And there

are some people who don't even trust that there's - it is independent enough to actually overturn an election, especially that of a candidate of

the ruling party.

So that's the next step though. Though there is Nigerian law also allows the Electoral Commission in this case, INEC, the Independent National

Electoral Commission to review what happened within the seven days. So there's still a possibility there, thin as it may be.

But this election is getting in for criticism, not just from voters on the opposition from some observer groups, also from at least one collection of

70 civil society groups in Nigeria that said it lacked credibility because of a host of issues essentially blaming INEC for incompetence. I want to

hear from Yemi Adamolekun, she's the Executive Director of "Enough is Enough Nigeria".


MADOWO (on camera): What are your thoughts about how this election played out?

YEMI ADAMOLEKUN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, NIGERIA: Certainly not what we expected. INEC over the last one year has talked a lot about

how technology will play a role, not only in terms of transparency, but also engagement with citizens. So you can actually see how results are


Not only have they not done that, but they've just not communicated. Now technology can have challenges granted, but you should you owe it to

Nigerians to explain what the challenges are and what you're doing to mitigate them.

MADOWO (on camera): That bimodal voter accreditation system BVAS and the electronic transmission of the results to the national collection center.

There was a big update, and there's something to bring more transparency to the election, but both appear to have failed spectacularly?

ADAMOLEKUN: Indeed, for the accreditation of it. I think it worked quite well. I think he does report said probably 80 something percent of cases it

worked. But the point is way now has to do with results. So collection agents had problems uploading into the portal.

Even if you did it online, it wasn't uploaded. The system was shut down for a while. And the key thing is INEC did not communicate. You had said that

that was going to be an important part of the process. Yes, the law does allow manual coalition, which is what they did.

But what we then found out what there were several occasions where results were altered. But the commission literally said nothing. And that's before

then worried. You promised us a transparent process. You promised us we could follow in real time was what the words the chairman kept using, but

that didn't happen. And we still don't know why? And someone shouldn't be - the commission should be held accountable.

MADOWO (on camera): Yemi, just to be clear, somebody might say you're saying the same thing. The opposition has been saying the Labor Party of

the PDP is enough is enough is enough affiliated with any political party?

ADAMOLEKUN: No, we're not. We're nonpartisan organization. But the truth is the truth. For the political parties is about their votes. For us as about

as Nigerians we expected a transparent process. We have no skin in the game.

But the skin that we have in the game is ensuring that after five cycles of elections, we should be able to deliver elections that Nigerians feel

represent their votes. Nigerians do not feel well maybe except for those who won do not feel that these elections represent their desires know what

actually happened on Saturday.

MADOWO (on camera): This big observation group says that this was a missed opportunity in terms of what Nigerians expectations were do you agree?

ADAMOLEKUN: Certainly, I do. Because there was a lot of hope we had the insights in 2020 a lots of young people saw it as an opportunity to

actually engage in the process.


ADAMOLEKUN: Obviously, people had different candidates at different levels. But what was exciting for them was that this was a promised process that

was transparent. The chairman repeated it over and over again, electronic transmission is part of the process, you will see it in real time. So,

there was not, so beyond also what political parties tried to do in at the polling units. There were incidents of violence, stuttering polling booths.

And like beyond the electronic part, created new polling units that a lot of people didn't know where they were going. So that disenfranchised

people, the process of using your permanent water Scotch was also a challenge.

So, there were multiple failure points along the way. But by Saturday, people were like, you know what, we're here. We're going to vote, then you

vote and you don't feel that your vote counts for a young democracy, trying to get its predominantly young population engaged. This is not; this is a

failure in a sense.

MADOWO (on camera): Yemi, thank you so much.


MADOWO: Yemi Adamolekun, Executive Director of Enough is Enough Nigeria a lot of questions for INEC, the Independent National Electoral Commission.

And turnout in this election was only 27 percent. So, there are about 68.5 million Nigerians, Becky that just didn't turn out to vote, partly because

of the cash shortage. They couldn't travel, maybe partly because of all the problems identified that some are calling voter suppression.

ANDERSON: Yes, it's fascinating, isn't it? Very, very low turnout indeed all right, thank you, sir! Let's get you up to speed on some of the other

stories that are on our radar right now. And the Turkish president sticking to his plan for early elections, Mr. Erdogan said general elections will be

held on May the 14th.

Class ones devastating earthquake had cast outs on the timing of that vote. The quake's death toll in Turkey and Syria has now risen to more than

51,000 men, women and children. Police in Tel Aviv fight stun grenades to try and disperse people blocking roads on what's been called a day of

disruption in Israel. The crowds protesting moves by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to weaken the judiciary, 11 people were

injured, two are in hospital.

Meantime as American Israeli citizen Elan Ganeles was buried in Israel, police arrested three people suspected in his death, another suspect was

killed. Israel's military says the suspects were tracked down to a house and one was fatally shot while trying to flee.

And Israeli police also arrested six more suspects in connection through a rampage by Jewish settlers in the West Bank village of Huwara. A

Palestinian man was killed and others were injured.

The settlers moved on the town after the shooting deaths of two Israeli brothers and you can find a lot more news and analysis from this region in

our meanwhile in the Middle East newsletter, including our latest story just added explaining how Gulf Arab states are changing the way they lend

financial support to their North African ally, Egypt and a lot more delivered right to your inbox sign up at newsletter.

Well, no retreat yet. The words of a Ukrainian soldier in Bakhmut, that eastern town have become a vocal point of the country's war. Ukraine's

president says Bakhmut presents the most difficult obstacle across the frontlines and an advisor says all options are being explored including a

potential pullback.

More than 4000 civilians are said to still be there including dozens of kids. And while a soldier says things appear to be a little calmer than on

previous days. The challenges remain immense.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the past 24 hours the enemy is raging shelling with all they have. They don't really have success on the ground. Hence, they

are making it up from the skies. They are just breaking this city into molecules.


ANDERSON: Well, let's get more from the frontlines. Alex Marquardt is in eastern Ukraine. How significant a loss would Bakhmut be for Ukraine, Alex?

Just provide some context for us if you will.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's an excellent question, Becky, because there are many who argue that it would

not actually change the battlefield all that significantly, it wouldn't give Russia a major boost in terms of its efforts to move deeper into

eastern Ukraine. But there's no question that it would be a significant victory, at least symbolically for Russia.

This is a city that the two sides have fought over for months. It has been ferocious fighting; both sides have lost thousands of men. And so, if

Russia were to take Bakhmut, and it is certainly not a foregone conclusion we heard earlier from the Ukrainian military saying that no decision has

been made about a withdrawal, Ukrainian troops for now are standing firm.


MARQUARDT: It would give Russia a boost; it would give Russia another foothold in the Donbas from which to launch attacks. The goal now is not to

just try to defend Bakhmut on the Ukrainian side. But they are certainly trying to make sure that their defenses west of Bakhmut are firm so that if

Russia was to take Bakhmut that they wouldn't be able to progress much farther.

And at the same time, Ukraine is trying to bleed Russia and Bakhmut. We have seen wave after a wave of fighters on the Russian side, primarily from

the Wagner mercenary group, getting mowed down by Ukrainian forces. And so, Ukraine is certainly trying to, to kill as many Russian soldiers as they

possibly can there, so that even if Bakhmut were taken by Russia, that they would end up in a weaker position with a weaker force and unable to move


Now Ukraine says that they are still fighting hard. President Zelenskyy has softened his tone over the past few weeks, in terms of a surrender of the

city saying that they're not going to defend it at all costs. It is certainly something that they are weighing right now, Becky?

ANDERSON: Alex, appreciate it. Thank you. Alex is in eastern Ukraine. The country continues to cause geopolitical fissures leaving other countries

scrambling to strengthen their diplomatic ties Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, no different pictures here with his Chinese

counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Mr. Lukashenko used the opportunity to say that he fully supports China's 12-point position paper on the war in Ukraine, which called for the

resumption of an end to the violence. He also pointed to China's increasing importance on the world stage.


ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELERUSIAN PRESIDENT: We can see the situation developing on the international scene, and we congratulate you on your calm

and thoughtful progress. You're following your own path. You don't stand in anyone's way. And you don't react to the petty jabs coming from left and

right at the People's Republic of China.


ANDERSON: Well, in the same meeting, President Xi interestingly told Lukashenko that China's position on Ukraine is consistent and clear, and

one that promotes peace. It does not appear there will be any Thor in frosty relations between the U.S. and China or indeed, Russia at the G20

foreign ministers meeting in India.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he's got no plans to meet with his Russian or Chinese counterparts during this week's meetings. Coming up,

the FBI director in the U.S. Batson intelligence assessment on how the COVID pandemic began why the Bureau believes the virus came from a lab in

China. And it's been called one of the most aggressive moves yet by social media company. How TikTok is targeting endless scrolling, that is ahead.



ANDERSON: Here's a quick look at your headlines this hour. And ahead on train crash in Greece has left at least 36 people dead and dozens more in

hospital. Officials expect the death toll to rise. Greece's Transport Minister has resigned following that collision.

Nigeria's ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu has been declared the winner of that country's presidential election. But observers say the vote was

marred by mismanagement and voter intimidation and rival parties say they will go to court and demand a revote.

And Ukrainian officials admit Russia is making gains around the eastern town of Bakhmut. More than 4000 civilians are still in that town. Ukraine

admits it may be forced to pull its forces out but says no decision has been made yet. The FBI Director Christopher Wray says the COVID-19 pandemic

most likely originated from a lab accident in Wuhan in China.

Well, this is the FBI's first public acknowledgement since investigating how the virus emerged three years ago. Well, China says the lab leak theory

has no credibility at all. The FBI directed told to Fox News about how the agency arrived at that assessment.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The FBI has folk's agents, professionals, analysts, virologists, microbiologist, et cetera, who focus specifically on

the dangers of biological threats, which include things like novel viruses like COVID and the concerns that they're in the wrong hands some bad guys,

a hostile nation state a terrorist a criminal, the threats that those could pose.


ANDERSON: Natasha Bertrand is at the Pentagon. Natasha, as I understand it, despite this announcement today from the FBI, it's now two agencies in the

USA, that they believe that this is a lab leak, but this is a minority view. Just explain what's going on how much closer we are, if at all, at

this stage to really understanding what happened three years ago.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Becky. Well, even though two of those Intel agencies now say that they believe the most

likely explanation for how this pandemic began, was that it leaked from a laboratory, those agencies are still in the minority.

And we should note that four of the eight Intel agencies that looked at this and came to an assessment back in 2021, they believe and they still

believe that the origin of this pandemic was from an animal that occurred naturally in the wild and then spread to humans.

Now, we are a little bit closer to figuring out, you know, where the pandemic came from in terms of the Department of Energy being the latest

agency to kind of change its position on where this came from. They were originally undecided. And now they're saying that they believe that the

most likely explanation is that it came from a lab.

So originally, it was just the FBI with medium confidence assessing it was a lab leak. Now the Department of Energy becoming the second Intel agency

to say that, but a number of the intelligence agencies in the Intel community here are still undecided. They say that, that really, we can't

say one way or another whether this came from the lab or whether it occurred naturally, because we just don't have solid enough evidence.

And a large reason for that is because China has not really cooperated with the international investigation here. And senior U.S. officials have said

openly in recent days, including the State Department spokesperson that China is actually thwarting the investigation into the origins of the


Obviously, it would not be a good thing, right? If it came out that this was in fact, a laboratory accident that spawned this pandemic. And that is

why we have seen China pushing back so acutely, really against this this latest kind of intelligence that is coming out now with Christopher Wray,

the FBI Director and doubling down and saying that the FBI has believed for quite some time that this pandemic originated from a lab.

So ultimately, you know, the U.S. intelligence community believes writ large that this is not a bio weapon. This pandemic was not deliberately

engineered in the laboratory. But the Intel community believes that both hypotheses are pretty plausible, but getting to the bottom of it is going

to be very difficult, if not impossible, Becky.

ANDERSON: Natasha Bertrand is at the Pentagon, thank you. One thing is clear, folks, more than 6.8 million people around the world have died from

the virus. And the reality is that we may never know the truth about how COVID came about. John Avlon walks us through several theories that have



JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Let's dig into the debate around the origins of COVID. Here's what we know. The virus, of course first

reported in humans in Wuhan, China trace to a seafood wet market that also just happens to be very close to a government virology lab and the local

Chinese version of the CDC.

Here's another piece of relevant information. Accidental lab leaks happen a lot. Don't take my word for it. Here's former FDA Commissioner Scott



SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER COMMISSIONER, U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: These kinds of lab leaks happen all the time, actually, even here in the

United States, we've had mishaps and in China, the last six known outbreaks of SARS one have been out of labs.


AVLON: So, given that you might think at the outset, all theories would have been considered equally open to investigation. But that's not quite

what happened. On February 19, 2020 weeks before lock downs in the USA, a letter signed by 27 scientists appeared in the British Medical Journal, The

Lancet that read in part, we stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories, suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,

conspiracy theories.

And that sort of set the tone right, scientific inquiry in the direction of a lab leak was seen as suspect. So, when former CDC Director, Dr. Robert

Redfield told CNN this.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in

Wuhan was from a laboratory you know, escaped.


AVLON: Redfield was stunned by the kickback he received from the scientific community. And when Jon Stewart raised questions about a lab leak, he was

also surprised by the backlash. Here's how he described it yesterday.


JON STEWART, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: The two things that came out of it were I'm racist against Asian people, and how dare I align myself with the alt



AVLON: Now this may be the only recorded instance where Jon Stewart had an experience share with a Trump official. But China of course is quick to

angrily deny the lab link theory and condemn it as a sign of phobic slur, which would have a lot more weight if China didn't have a record of

suppressing information and silencing COVID whistle-blowers.

Over time, more and more evidence has suggested that a lab-leak theory can't be dismissed, including intelligence report that Wuhan lab workers

got sick from an unspecified illness in November of 2019 shortly before public reports of a local infection.

In May 21, The Washington Post even offered a helpful timeline on "how the Wuhan lab leak theory suddenly became credible". That followed by the

administration's intelligence assessment came back with a mixed bag with most agencies saying there wasn't enough evidence to determine national

origin or lab leak though.

Notably, the FBI backed lab leak theory with moderate confidence, which director Chris Wray doubled down on just yesterday. Now on the flip side,

in the summer of 22, two peer reviewed articles published in the journal Science, found that the most likely origin was natural transmission at the

wet market, take it all together, it's a reminder that science isn't ever settled.

It's a process of the accumulation of knowledge and data constantly building upon itself towards human progress. The missing pieces of this

investigation are on China as Dr. Deborah Birx said on CNN this morning, just yesterday.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We're never going to get the data from China, China has not been transparent.

They were not transparent with COVID in 2019. They're not transparent today in 2023.


AVLON: So, given that, in some ways, all we can say definitively is that the origins of COVID are not a settled question. That's exactly why we need

more independent, open minded data driven investigations. Pursuing the facts without fear or favor is what we should always do, and trying to shut

down debate because of political discomfort is what we should never do. That should be clear upon further review.

ANDERSON: Coming up on "Connect the World" a beautiful new interfaith complex opens here in Abu Dhabi. Join me for an exclusive talk after this

short break.



ANDERSON: Well, Christian Jewish and Muslim worshippers here in the UAE now have a new interfaith complex to call home. The Abrahamic family house in

Abu Dhabi opens to the public today and it includes a country's first purpose-built synagogue. I had the opportunity to take an exclusive tour of

the grounds and of these stunning houses of worship. Take a look.


ANDERSON (voice over): A mosque, a church and Abu Dhabi's first purpose- built synagogue, three deeply reverence and architecturally stunning places of worship in the heart of the United Arab Emirates, a project aimed at

fostering interfaith dialogue and understanding. I sat down with the President of the Abrahamic family house, Mohamed Al Mubarak and world-

renowned architect Sir David Adjaye.

ANDERSON (on camera): Mohamed, what does it mean to the UAE?

MOHAMED KHALIFA AL MUBARAK, PRESIDENT, ABRAHAMIC FAMILY HOUSE: You have the UAE today over 200 nationalities that called UAE home. So, we need to make

sure that all these nationalities have the comfort to call this place home.

ANDERSON (on camera): Why was the David chosen as the architect?

MUBARAK: He was chosen because of what's inside. You know, his human his human perspective and to accomplish a project like this and understanding

the essence of Islam, the essence of Christianity and the essence of Judaism. It needed an individual that can open his heart for that.

ANDERSON (on camera): Can you just take me through the project as it evolved?

DAVID ADJAYE, ARCHITECT: In my work, I'm always interested in really looking at the roots of things and the histories of things. But this

allowed us to almost go back to the resets that go back to ground zero, what brings people together, what makes their faith, what makes their


And it was just so enriching for the studio for my team for me, diving into the essence of Islam the essence of Christianity, the essence of Judaism

and really understanding what these things are meant in the way in which human beings have constructed them over millennia.

ANDERSON (voice over): The Abrahamic family house was inspired by the principles of human fraternity. A document signed by the pope during his

visit here in 2019.

MUBARAK: The document was signed by Pope Francis by --Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khaled

Bin Zayed, the president, and it's a document of world peace. It's a document of coming together.

It's a document that reminds us what humans are supposed to be doing, understanding each other, accepting each other and looking forward to a

much brighter future.

ANDERSON (voice over): Walking through each house is a profound experience. So, David incorporates these elements into each house to create immensely

spiritual and inspirational spaces.

ADJAYE: So, what you have is basically an interpretation of the power of the Word of God in Islam. It's really this idea of a system that makes an

egalitarian space for the worshipers to face the --. So, you have four columns that are holding the roof they're square, they have nine domes that

are coming from these four columns.


ADJAYE: And it's the rotation from the square to the dome that's creating this extraordinary sort of tension in the building. And then the framing

between the columns of the - which is basically diffusing light from all directions all around you and creating this beautiful dappled light.

What you're going to see in all the projects is that it's always about a filtering of light splitting of light. In each project, I do it in some

way. But in the mask, the light surrounds you until you get to the silence and the stoic nests are facing Mecca.

ANDERSON (voice over): The synagogue is oriented towards Jerusalem.

ADJAYE: So, this is the dedication to the temple. And each, each one of the temples has this dedication when you walk through the doors. And then you

find yourself in this chamber which is somber, quiet, slightly dim, dimly lit. And that's because the synagogue is inspired by the idea of the Succot

the sojourn in the wilderness and your relationship to God.

So, I'm preparing you taking you from the urban world into this environment, which is about your spiritual wealth. And so, then you're in

the Succot. And this is this 30-meter volume. And you're in this congregation of the beamer in the center and one Oculus. So, in this temple

one Oculus, and this is so great, the timing, because the light of the midday kisses, the rabbi in the center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Historic places have storytellers to carry the story of why it matters.

ANDERSON (on camera): David, this is remarkable.

ANDERSON (voice over): The elevated garden links all buildings and creates a sense of grounded calmness.

ADJAYE: Nothing here is about bringing things from away from the continent, the things that you find on the continent that we've made into a

concentrated garden. So, the grasses, the fruit trees, hibiscus is the Jasmine's.

And they blossom and bloom in different ways, so that we have seasonality in this garden. But we really thought that this was an opportunity to bring

all the species that we could get our hands on into this garden, and have that as a celebration of this region.

ANDERSON (voice over): The church is oriented towards the rising sun in the east.

ADJAYE: With this project, the church I think it's about faith. So, these monumental structural columns look at the suddenly up stopping above your

head, as you enter saying, with faith, enter. So now we're in the church. And you're in this moment, which have been working on this idea of the

spirit of the Word of God. And, you know, I made it in timber, because it's also in a way reflects on the idea of the art.

ANDERSON (on camera): You talked about the use of woods, and this is something that has been reflected in the body of your work ahead of this.

ADJAYE: Yes. Yes, absolutely. I'm fascinated by the atmosphere that is created with timber, and how that works within spaces, and we create

motion. So, what happens in this is that light daylight kisses through at certain times of the day as these kinds of little fragments shots, and then

they're supported with artificial light.

And that creates this atmosphere where you're all together in the congregation and the body of this, of this vessel is the church.

ANDERSON (on camera): It's beautiful.

ADJAYE: Thank you.

ANDERSON (on camera): As we sit here today, can you just reflect on the process and the project and how it fits in to your life?

ADJAYE: The journey has been incredible, and I think it's transformed us all. And, you know, I still can't believe that this idea that was in my

head is now a space that we are sitting in and talking about. It's such a humbling experience to be able to create space and to create form.

ANDERSON (voice over): Three houses of worship on a common foundation, fostering a sense of faith and understanding.


ANDERSON: "Connect the World" will be right back after this.



ANDERSON: TikTok making moves to curb endless scrolling amongst young teenagers. Now the social media app is limiting screen time for one hour a

day for users under the age of 18. Now this new feature is expected to roll out in the coming weeks.

Earlier on Capitol Hill, House Committee voted to advance a bill that will make it easier to ban TikTok in the U.S. For its part the European

Parliament prohibiting the app on staff devices over what it calls cybersecurity concerns. CNN Tech Writer Clare Duffy is with me now live

from New York. Look, there's an awful lot of pressure on this company. But walk me through this decision to limit screen time, let's going on in.

CLARE DUFFY, CNN TECH WRITER: Right. So TikTok along with a lot of social media companies, let's face significant concerns from lawmakers, especially

from parents about the amount of time that young people spend on these apps. And TikTok's app in particular, the design of it really encourages

users to just keep scrolling and scrolling.

And people have raised concerns about the way that teens could fall down concerning rabbit holes of content or sacrifice sleep to keep scrolling

late at night. And so, this new feature is certainly an effort by the company to address some of those concerns, the company is going to set this

one-hour screen time limit for users under the age of 18. But there are some pretty significant caveats here.

While this is going to be a default feature, teens can turn it off, although the company says that once they reach 100 minutes of screen time,

that the app will prompt them to set some kind of limit for themselves.

And even when users have this feature installed or on turned on, they can enter a passcode once they've reached that one-hour limit to continue

scrolling. And so, some caveats here but this is the first, the sort of most major step that we have seen a social media platform take in order to

curb some of this overuse by young people.

ANDERSON: Bottom line is the longer though, that TikTok and other social media organizations can keep youngsters on these phones, the better right

as far as business is concerned. So, this is very much sense of getting ahead of any sort of, you know, regulation or parents basically saying

that's no, you're not using TikTok in London. What's the future here do you think?

DUFFY: I think that's exactly right. You know, TikTok, as you said in the opening here, Becky is facing a range of concerns from lawmakers,

especially about a variety of things here. And so, I think this is TikTok sort of trying to get ahead of some of those concerns that you mentioned

this draft bill that has been passed out of committee in the House today.

That would make it easier for the Biden Administration to ban TikTok altogether. It's still a long way from becoming law. But I think the

company is doing some sort of scrambling here to try to address some of these concerns.

ANDERSON: Thank you, good to have you. Your parting shots tonight, American singer songwriter Alicia Keys allows an audience at AlUla in Saudi Arabia.

She performed some of her top hits with a traditional band including Girl on Fire, City of Gods and Empire State of Mind.


ANDERSON: The Grammy Award winning artists according to media reports also spoke on the second edition of the Women to Women panel, while there which

highlighted the challenges women can face and the pressure of success. Keys tweeted after the events that her time in AlUla was magical with much more

to come in the region.

And for those who've been friends of mine, yes, they join her in saying it is a simply magical place apparently haven't been, thanks for joining us.

You've been watching "Connect the World" with me Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. "One World" with Zain Asher is up next.