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Your World Today

Iran Removes Seals at Nuclear Plant; Pentagon Confirms Iran Weapons in Iraq; Gaza Withdrawal Struggles

Aired August 10, 2005 - 12:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Up and almost running. Iran says its uranium conversion plan is ready for full operation despite the call from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog to hold off.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: As the insurgency next door in Iraq continues, the U.S. says some weapons may be coming from Iran.

CLANCY: Conflict in Colombia. Leftist guerillas declare an armed blockade, bombing oil pipelines and ordering civilians to stay off main highways. They're battling the so-called Patriot Plan, paid for by the U.S.

Also ahead...


FATHER SHAY CULLEN, CATHOLIC MISSIONARY: Just showing them respect, decency, friendship, security, helping them with their court case, getting them out of those filthy dungeons. You know, they have a new start.


VERJEE: Rescuing Philippine children from a life behind bars. More of the shocking expose.

It's 8:30 p.m. in Tehran, 11:00 a.m. in Bogota. I'm Zain Verjee.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy. Welcome to our viewers throughout the world. This is CNN International and YOUR WORLD TODAY.

Iran has taken the next step on the road to its nuclear ambitions, removing the seals that will allow it to restart uranium conversions, although Tehran insists its intentions are purely peaceful. The move is an early step toward uranium enrichment, and some fear that could lead to nuclear weapons. Iran says no.

Walter Rodgers joins us. He is in Vienna, where the International Atomic Energy Agency is trying to end the standoff or make some progress.

Walter, have they been able to do either? WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not at all, Jim. The diplomats here in Vienna at the International Atomic Energy Agency are having the devil of a time, grappling with what the Iranians have done, restarting that controversial nuclear conversion process at the Isfahan nuclear installation.

We are told by western diplomatic sources that the British, the French, and the Germans want to take the issue to the United Nations and raise the threat of sanctions against the Iranians because they have restarted that controversial conversion process. The British, French, and Germans, the European big three, are supported by the United States, which for two years has wanted sanctions against Iran at the U.N.

Additionally, they are joined by the Canadians, the New Zealanders, and the Australians. The difficulty is the so-called non- aligned nations. They do not want a confrontation with Iran at this time.

So what comes out of here is likely to be a greatly watered-down statement. Almost a plea with the Iranians to cease and desist. That is, stop that nuclear conversion plant which is up and running.

At this point, again, diplomats here, publicly, are trying to put a less than conflictual (ph) face on all of this. Mark Gwozdecky is with the IAEA, and he made little, or made -- tried to downplay Iran's defiance.


MARK GWOZDECKY, IAEA SPOKESMAN: This plant is fully monitored by the IAEA. We have a surveillance system in place there, cameras, we have inspectors on the ground.

So we do have a very, very keen understanding of what's happening here. And this is not a uranium enrichment plant. It's important to bear that in mind.

Their uranium enrichment facility at Natanz remains frozen, and they've indicated that it will remain frozen for the time being. This plant at Isfahan is a plant that produces feed material that might one day be used at the enrichment facility at Natanz. And that's important to bear in mind.


RODGERS: Nonetheless, that Isfahan facility is so important, at least in western eyes, because it demonstrates a willingness on the part of Iran to defy the western community, to defy the International Atomic Energy Agency. And what it produces, that is, the seed material, is what would be a first step in the nuclear conversion process, the seed material going to the Natanz plant later that could be used for uranium enrichment and weapons-grade uranium -- Jim.

CLANCY: Well, if the IAEA is only capable of raising some harsh language now to deal with the problem, can others move to the Security Council and raise the questions of sanctions?

RODGERS: Well, the IAEA is caught between a rock and a hard place. I was told earlier today by diplomatic sources that the Iranians threatened the west with higher oil prices if, indeed, there's any confrontation over Iran's nuclear facility.

The Iranians were playing real hardball with the west, and they made it clear that they have leverage both in the oil market -- remember, that Iran is the second biggest OPEC producer after Saudi Arabia. They also hinted they would play their Iraq card.

Iranian diplomats here telling the west that they could be helpful and cooperative in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria. But implicit in that, according to one western diplomat, was the veiled threat that if there's any confrontation with the west over Iran's nuclear facility, they could also make some severe mischief -- Jim.

CLANCY: It's going to be pretty tough to find some good news coming out of Vienna today, as Walter Rodgers is outlining for us there now.

Thank you, Walter.

VERJEE: As Walter was saying, the European Union and the U.S. could refer this issue to the U.N. Security Council. Earlier, we asked journalist Shirzad Bozorgmehr if Tehran was nervous at the possibility of facing sanctions.


SHIRZAD BOZORGMEHR, JOURNALIST: Officials here have said already that they are prepared for every eventuality, including being referred to the Security Council. And they are saying that we do -- we also have measures that we can use to counter every move that Europe or the Security Council could -- could impose.

And any sanctions, they say, we can take care of. You know, we can bear that out, because Iran is already under sanctions for many years.

And as far as the oil is concerned, they are pretty certain that the state of oil would continue considering the fact that the price of oil is going up. And if Iran's production of oil is stopped or not presented to the market, then the price would go even higher. And nobody wants that.


CLANCY: Could there be further repercussions if the U.N. Security Council decides to impose sanctions on Iran? Well, we put that question earlier to Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.


DARYL KIMBALL, EXEC. DIR., ARMS CONTROL ASSN.: We're in a tough position if we are going to try to cajole and persuade Iran to stop doing this, because not only do they have a large energy sector a lot of countries like Japan depend on, but the non-aligned states that make up a large number of the states at the IAEA board, and, of course, the U.N., see this situation as a test of their own right to pursue peaceful nuclear energy, a right that they have under the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

And Iran is trying to appeal to those states. But, at the same time, what the EU3 are trying to say is that we will help guarantee your ability to pursue peaceful nuclear energy production, but we have to find a way to prevent the proliferation of the technologies that can be used not just to produce the fuel for energy production, but also the material for nuclear weapons, highly enriched uranium, and plutonium. And that's what's at issue here.

CLANCY: Why doesn't anyone trust Iran on this? They say they want just a peaceful program.

KIMBALL: That sounds nice. However, Iran for 18 years pursued secret activities. They didn't notify the International Atomic Energy Agency. They violated the safeguards agreements that require it and other states under the nonproliferation treaty to report all such activities. And they are still under investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

So the international community is saying, Iran, you have to do more than other states in order to build back the trust that you lost by pursuing those secret activities. And a big part of building back that trust would be to suspend the uranium enrichment operations. And now they've just restarted some of those operations.


CLANCY: And now from Iran to Iraq, where the U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says there is new evidence that Iran is smuggling weapons into Iraq for use by insurgents. Iran's defense minister denies that, but as Barbara Starr reports, the Pentagon says the weapons present a problem for the entire region.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the latest worry about the Iraq insurgency, the Pentagon has confirmed Iran is now smuggling weapons into Iraq.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It is true that weapons, clearly, unambiguously from Iran, have been found in Iraq.

STARR: Military officials tell CNN Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is talking about a truckload of explosives seized recently at a border checkpoint. Explosive devices more sophisticated than the improvised explosive devices, IEDs, so many have come to fear on the streets of Iraq.

U.S. intelligence officials believe the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, but not the central government in Tehran, may be behind it. Either way, Rumsfeld is furious.

RUMSFELD: If one sees it there on the ground, you identify it, it's from Iran, and you don't know who brought it in, or who tolerated it being brought in, and who facilitated it to be brought in, who sold it to someone to take in -- to bring in. What you do know of certain knowledge is the Iranians did not stop it from coming in.

STARR: This, as the insurgency continues its march of violence. News agency video from a U.S. military drone showing insurgents scrambling after firing mortars, trying to escape attack by U.S. forces in Haditha a few days ago. But they didn't get very far.

As the violence continues, General Richard Myers says the insurgency retains much of its punch.

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: And their capacity has stayed about the same, in terms of numbers of incidents, particularly the number of incidents that have any effect, wounding people, killing people, be they coalition or being the Iraqis or whatever.

STARR (on camera): In one of the worst attacks against U.S. forces, the Pentagon now confirms the roadside bomb that killed 14 Marines in Haditha last week was made up of three mines strung together.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


VERJEE: Just ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAY, more on the story of young children in the Philippines sharing prison cells with hardened criminals.


CHRIS ROGERS, REPORTER, ITN: Minors aren't allowed to be imprisoned. They're not allowed to go into a cell. Did you know that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we know that.


CLANCY: In part two of this special series of reports, we're going to take you inside the prisons and tell you what is being done to help get the children out.


VERJEE: Welcome back. You're watching an hour of world news here on CNN International.

CLANCY: For thousands of children in the Philippines, the only home they know is a prison cell, a cell that even very young children often share with adult criminals, even pedophiles. VERJEE: In part two of his explosive report, ITN's Chris Rogers looks at efforts to rescue them. And just this warning: you may find this report quite disturbing.


ROGERS (voice over): Yesterday, we brought you evidence of thousands of children imprisoned in adult overcrowded jails. Today, we take you on a journey only a handful of child prisoners ever make, a journey to freedom, to a place where there's a chance for childhood and opportunity rather than abuse and disease, where, through therapy, their cries for help are heard, not ignored.

Thirteen-year-old Edwin has a real chance of making that journey. But there's only one man that can help him. Catholic missionary Shay Cullen is searching for children arrested overnight for petty crimes. A hundred and fifty are thrown into adult overcrowded jails every day, where they spend months waiting for justice.

Thirteen-year-old Edwin has been in this adult cell for four months, awaiting trial for stealing flip-flops. Father Shay's child rescue team are going in, armed with a court order to release Edwin into their care. We filmed undercover as part of the team about to end Edwin's misery.

Edwin told us that police beat him on the head with their guns.



ROGERS: "All the children here look out for each other," he says. He's also developed scabies.

(on camera): As you speak to some of these children, you begin to realize that the only true crime that's been committed here is by the authorities. They are breaking every single international law and United Nations convention on children's rights.

Minors aren't allowed to be imprisoned. They are not allowed to go into a cell. Did you know that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes, we know that. But the problem is we have (INAUDIBLE) centers for minors. So that is why they are put in chains.

ROGERS: Doesn't that make you angry? This sickening attitude is so widespread. Twenty thousand children are currently behind bars rather than in youth detention centers.

Prada (ph) can only help the most desperate cases. And this is the moment Edwin's life changes forever. As he takes his first steps of freedom his battles will overcome, poverty and crime ends, and a chance for childhood begins.

He leaves behind other child prisoners they can't help right now, all hoping it will be their rescue next time.

The Prada (ph) center is just 100 miles from the city jails where they've rescued over 50 children, but a million worlds away. But before Prada (ph) can begin to give them back their childhood, they must first deal with their emotional scars.

In a padded, dimly-lit room, they are encouraged to let out their anger, sadness, and fears from imprisonment. Already, Edwin shows the signs of a deeply troubled child. For each scream, each tear, there is a horrific story.

Twelve-year-old Jamie was cleared of theft after seven months in jail. He told me the adult inmates always asked him for sexual favors.

"We were beaten when we refused," he says.

J.R. was a street kid. He says he eight pig food and the cell flood when it rained. "I was almost sexually abused," he told me, but I fought them off.

Until now, these children were too unloved to let their experiences go. Now they also have a chance for a proper education, and, more importantly, freedom. There are no prison bars, barbed wire, or overcrowded cells.

CULLEN: They stay. I mean, these are kids who have been in prison. You'd expect them all to have escaped by now.

We took -- we took a risk at the beginning. We weren't sure how this would work. But, you see, by just showing them respect, decency, friendship, security, helping them with their court case, getting them out of those filthy dungeons, you know, they have a new start.

ROGERS: But, of course, thousands of children still face another day in a crowded filthy cell, while Edwin builds his first sand castle. Prada (ph) hope our films can be used as evidence to put pressure on the Philippine government, and perhaps put the right people behind bars.

Chris Rogers, ITV News, Manila.


VERJEE: Earlier, CNN's Andrew Stevens spoke to the Philippines secretary of justice about the plight of imprisoned children.


RAUL GONZALEZ, PHILIPPINES SECRETARY OF JUSTICE: We are aware of some of these conditions, but I'm not certain whether the figures that you have are really accurate. At any rate, we are not disputing that there are children in conflict with the law at our detention centers.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VERJEE: Gonzalez said his government's trying to tackle the situation bit by bit, but he says there's a shortage of money to deal with the problems.

We are going to have a lot more on this story on "INSIGHT" at 22:00 GMT.

CLANCY: Well, the financial world weighing the U.S. Fed's latest move, as well as a slight shift in oil prices.

VERJEE: We'll bring you an update on the markets.

That's coming up, as well as stories making news from the United States, including one from Detroit, where dramatic explosions and fireballs lit up the night sky. We'll bring you details when we come back.


CLANCY: You are watching YOUR WORLD TODAY. We are going to check some of the other stories that are making news in the United States.

President Bush just a short while ago signed the $286 billion highway bill at a ceremony in Illinois. It's going to pay for six years worth of roads, bridges, parking garages, and other transportation projects. Critics say it is loaded with what is called pork, including some 6,000 pet projects of lawmakers across the country.

VERJEE: A Pakistani cleric remains jailed in California after an immigration judge refused to set bail. Shabir Ahmed (ph) served as the head of a mosque in Lodi, California. He's accused of overstaying his visa. At the bail hearing, an FBI claimed the cleric was planning to train followers to kill Americans. His lawyer denied the allegation.

CLANCY: Hundreds of people in suburban Detroit are out of their homes after an explosion and fire at this chemical plant. The blast sent fireballs billowing into the air, along with black smoke. All of the workers managed to get out safely. And right now there are no serious injuries reported.

Hard to believe.

VERJEE: Let's take a look now at what's moving the markets in the U.S.


CLANCY: We're going to have a roundup of the main stories.

VERJEE: And then...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a victory for the resistance, as the victory for the American when running an effective armed struggle to push the British occupation outside.


VERJEE: A leader of Hamas looks ahead to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

This is CNN.


VERJEE: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN International. I'm Zain Verjee.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy, and these are some of the stories that are making headlines around the world.

Two separate attacks in Baghdad killed four Iraqi police officers just five days before the deadline for drafting a new constitution. Insurgents also hit at a patrol near Beiji and killed four U.S. soldiers who were investigating a rocket-propelled grenade incident on Tuesday. Forty-two U.S. service members have been killed in Iraq this month alone.

Iran has removed the final seals from the uranium conversion equipment at a nuclear processing facility. The International Atomic Energy Agency says the plant is not a site for uranium enrichment. That's a step that could lead to fuel for nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa declaring the production of nuclear weapons goes against the beliefs of Islam.

The top U.S. negotiator and six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear program says he isn't sure Pyongyang is ready to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Christopher Hill saying that the list of issues is now down to what he termed a finite set. But Pyongyang's new demand for civilian nuclear reactor, raised just before the talks recessed, gives him some doubt. But there are some signs of change, even if slight, in North Korea today.

Senior Asia correspondent Mike Chinoy is there with this exclusive report.


MIKE CHINOY, CNN SR. ASIA CORRESPONDENT (on phone): I'm speaking on a cell phone about 120 kilometers northwest of Pyongyang, near a place called Mount Yongbyon. This is where the North Koreans have constructed two elaborate exhibition holes. These exhibition holes hold all the gifts that foreign dignitaries have given to the late president Kim Il-Sung and his son, the current leader, Kim Jong-Il.

What's interesting about it is that North Korea has been a very, very closed society for a very long time, but now for the first time in 14 visits to North Korea, I'm able to use a cell phone. It's not possible to dial internally, but I am able to dial internationally. This is one of a series of very fascinating indications of slight easing of North Korea's isolation. Another earlier this day. I spoke with a German businessman in Pyonyang who is working on making the Internet available in hotels to foreign businessmen, with the blessing of the North Korean authorities.

It's all part of North Korea's very -- still very tentative attempt to experiment with market mechanisms in order to reverse the country's long-standing economic downturn. And yet, it does take place at the same time that the North Koreans are in, a sense, in confrontation with the United States and at odds with many others in the international community over their nuclear program.


CLANCY: That is senior agent, correspondent Mike Chinoy. He was reporting there from North Korea.

VERJEE: Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he is hopeful that next week's Gaza withdrawal will help restart peace talks. Just how the pullout will affect the Palestinian position is what we want to look at now.

Our John Vause sat down with Hamas leader Mahmood Zahare.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First up, is the disengagement, is that a victory for Hamas?

MAHMOOD ZAHARE, HAMAS LEADER: Believe me, it's a victory. To put your head and facing the sun or to put your head in the earth, it's a victory for the resistance, as a victory for the American who (INAUDIBLE) effective (INAUDIBLE) to push the British occupation outside as (INAUDIBLE) confronting the (INAUDIBLE) occupation in the second world war, and considered as a hero. It's a victory for any people who are fighting to liberate their own people and to create a new state.

VAUSE: So if it wasn't for the suicide bombers and the Kassam rockets and the other attacks, the Israelis wouldn't be leaving?

ZAHARE: Our aim is to push the Israeli occupation outside. And resistance, we will enforce it, to use after failure of all peaceful methods. We are an effective peaceful demonstration. We force the ones (INAUDIBLE) to convince the Israeli, unless we fail. And we lost many, many of our people. So it's not our aim to run an effective armed struggle for the army struggle, but for the withdrawal.

VAUSE: So does this struggle now go to the West Bank?

ZAHARE: It depends on the Israeli behavior. Our aim is to reconstruct our education system, our health system, our agricultural system, our economic system. That's our intention. So, if the Israelis give us a chance to provide that in Gaza and in West Bank, I think, as I told you, it will be serving a peaceful existence of the present situation. But, if they are going to (INAUDIBLE) our life, don't expect that the Palestinian people are going to accept that.

VAUSE: So if the West Bank settlements continue to grow, if they don't remove checkpoints, if construction of the barrier continues, then there will be no quiet for Israel. Is that what you are saying?

ZAHARE: I think it's our right to defend our land, to defend our life and our interest. We have to do it.

VAUSE: Many of the Israelis who are opposed to the disengagement say that this will become Hamas's stand, a hotbed of terrorism, so they say. Is that the case?

ZAHARE: We are saying that depends on the Israeli behavior. If they are going to stop their aggression in Gaza and in the West Bank, if they are going to withdraw -- up to this moment, we are not speaking about withdrawal. We are speaking about disengagement. So, at any time, can be reengaged. This is well-known as (INAUDIBLE) as indicating. We are here speaking about full withdrawal from Gaza strip, full implementation all the efforts and (INAUDIBLE) signs of our sovereignty. Land, the sky, borders, including the Egyptian border, and the sea. All things will be in the hands of the Palestinian people. And we have to choose our representative according to the Palestinian people will.

VAUSE: Will Hamas be in control of Gaza by the end of this year?

ZAHARE: If it will be Hamas, how it will be Hamas, by gun or by election? If by election, this is a democracy, so I can't understand people who are considering (INAUDIBLE) a democracy in the area, why they are not accepting voting for the Palestinian people. You hear about the final results in the first and second campaign of the municipal election. Hamas is number one, and everybody is expecting Hamas to be number one in the legislative council.

VAUSE: So what you're saying -- you said if the people in Gaza decide to elect Hamas as their representative, then the Israelis have no choice but to accept that?

ZAHARE: They should accept it, if they are believing in democracy, if they are believing in democracy.


VERJEE: CNN is going to take an in-depth look at Israel's disengagement plan, including how it's polarized the nation and how it could influence the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Join CNN's John Vause and Guy Raz for "Gaza Pullout," a special report at 1630 GMT on Thursday.

CLANCY: Let's turn our focus now on Latin America, where leftist guerrillas in Colombia are fighting back against the so-called Patriot Plan in an armed blockade in the southern part of the country. Now, that plan is an 18-month-old military offensive that is backed by U.S. funds and advisers. It aims at battling the rebels in one of their main strongholds.

Karl Penhaul reports.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The smoke of guerrilla warfare billows above the jungle. This oil pipeline was still blazing 24 hours after it was bombed by the leftist rebel group FARC. It's part of their armed blockade, aimed at sabotaging key economic targets and stepping up attacks on the Colombian army.

"We saw the guerrillas go by and just waited for the bang," he said.

This banner hangs outside the nearby military base, offering rewards for FARC guerrilla chieftans. Washington lists them as international terrorists and wants some to stand trial in the U.S.

Lieutenant Colonel Fransisco Cruz (ph) is commanding the Colombia army's offensive, known as the Patriot Plan, in this corner of the Putumayo Province. "The FARC leadership is ordering terrorist chiefs to step up attacks across the country," he says.

From the air, Colonel Cruz shows us the tough terrain he and his soldiers are up against. Not only must he try and hunt the guerillas on their home turf, he also has 200 miles of pipeline and 114 oil wells to protect. "Without doubt, all the attacks we're seeing now is the guerrillas trying to deflect the pressure from Patriot Plan," he says.

As the weather closes in, our helicopter has to turn back to base. If it flies too low into the canyon ahead, Colonel Cruz says it will draw rebel gunfire.

A few miles west, the ground war is slow-going. These counter- insurgency troops fear guerrilla units have dug in on the other side of the river, and that the bridge is mined. This is a type of Claymore mine. It's wrapped in plastic and a metal sheet, he explains.

Washington is partly funding the Colombian army offensive, and U.S. military advisers are gathering intelligence and helping plan anti-guerrilla operations.

"Have everything ready there for an ambush, this could happen at any time. We have to be decisive," this unit's commanding officer says. Once the mines are deactivated, soldiers race across the bridge, but there's little prospect of a quick victory today, or any other day, when troops can only advance a few yards at a time.

I make my way among muddy jungle trails in search of the guerrillas. In a peasant farmer's house, a radio's tuned to Radio Resistance, a rebel station that broadcasts across parts of the south. And up ahead, I find guerrilla fighters preparing mortar bombs with gun powder and shotgun cartridges. They say they'll lob them at the army from afar, and then just melt back into the jungle, an elusive enemy, waging a hit-and-run war.

"The state will never defeat the FARC. With every operation, the army launches, the worse it gets for them, because they realize we can deal with anything," he says.

Colombia's conflict has been simmering for 40 years now. Nine- year-old Dieva Morbano (ph) has seen it up close. The oil pipeline, one of the guerrilla's favorite targets, winds right past his front door.

"I've seen they put some patches on the tube, and it's been marked with gunshots. And I've seen oil spills in the pasture," he says.

Each day, he walks miles along the steel tube and daydreams.

"I'd like to join the circus, and walk on the high wire," he says. But like always, he comes back to earth with another bang. Twenty minutes away, smoke rises after a fresh rebel attack.

(on camera): Witnesses say there were three explosions in quick succession over there. All around, there's a smell of burning crude oil. Where I am now is about as hot as I can stand it, and there is, of course, the risk of further explosions.

(voice-over): Crude oil runs downhill like a lava flow. Peasant farmer Selimo Solano's (ph) home seems to have escaped the inferno for now. But as the growing number of guerrilla attacks in southern Colombia show, the flames of war are burning strong.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Putumayo Province, Colombia.


VERJEE: Next on YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN INTERNATIONAL, the space shuttle's back, so what next?

CLANCY: Well, Discovery proved that shuttles can still fly. But this is an experimental craft after all, and NASA engineers are headed back to the drawing board.


VERJEE: Welcome back. You're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY, an hour of world news on CNN INTERNATIONAL.

What's next for the U.S. space program. Space correspondent Miles O'Brien tells us now that Shuttle Discovery's back on Earth, NASA engineers have their work cut out for them.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Glowing hot, but guided by a cool, steady hand, Discovery dropped like a rock from the dark desert sky, then eased up and kissed the runway, an apparition that brought with it the words NASA's shuttle team yearned to hear: EILEEN COLLINS, DISCOVERY COMMANDER: Team Discovery, wheels stopped.

O'BRIEN: Wheels stopped. The phrase set a ripple of cheers throughout the far-flung NASA empire. And in mission control, a palpable sense of relief.

LEROY CAIN, NASA ENTRY FLIGHT DIRECTOR: It really was an incredible feeling, almost, a little bit unreal, that we had just accomplished what we did.

O'BRIEN: More than anything, they proved they could return to flight after Columbia.

COLLINS: We have worked very, very hard to do the right things and to make sure that we didn't miss anything.

O'BRIEN: It was, in fact, a mixed bag -- a step forward; a step back. Discovery did bring essential supplies to the space station and repaired some crucial gyroscopes. The seven crewmembers took home a lot of space station clutter, and even fixed their own spaceship. But after 2 1/2 years of work trying to stop big pieces of foam from falling, NASA's best and brightest realized just two minutes into the mission that they must head back to the drawing board.

WILLIAM READDY, NASA ASSOCIATION ADMIN.: We've got some more work to do. But now we have some data to work with. And for the first time in the shuttle era, we've got a real solid place to start.

O'BRIEN: Twenty-four years after the first shuttle launched amid inflated promises of a cost-effective spaceship that could be flown like an airliner, NASA is talking as if it is the dawn of a new experimental age.

MICHAEL GRIFFIN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: This was the 145th American-manned space flight. Compare that with the development of aviation, and we are in still the very first stages of learning how to do space flight. It's just barely possible to do it. If anything goes wrong, it's not possible to do it.

O'BRIEN: After all these year, it still isn't as easy, or for that matter, as cool as the movies. Not by a long shot. And perhaps that is where the public and NASA disconnect. The agency that gave us the moon is still refining an idea that first took shape when we were walking on it.

KATHRYN SULLIVAN, FORMER ASTRONAUT: It's taken many decades, and we're an impatient bunch as a species, but this really is the very first halting steps, and each one of these really is still a work of engineering art.

O'BRIEN: But it is also about a commitment to continue building the space station. The shuttle was conceived to service an orbiting outpost. It just took a while for it to materialize. But now that it is in space, and 15 other nations are partners in the project, NASA is unwilling to simply take its shuttle and go home. COLLINS: We're going to continue to fly the shuttle until we finish our commitment to the International Space Station.

O'BRIEN: (On camera.) In the end, the space station seems more like engineering than exploring. And it clearly isn't selling the program. NASA's next big thing -- a manned mission to the moon, and perhaps one day to Mars -- might be different. But you can't get there before you learn a little something more, no matter how painful and slow that process may be.

Miles O'Brien, CNN, at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.


CLANCY: Let's check on some of the other stories that are making news in the U.S.

Attention travel shoppers. For $100 million apiece, you and a friend can take a trip to the moon. That's what Virginia-based firm Space Adventures is going to be charging two passengers to ride aboard a Russian rocket to the moon and back. That back part is very important. The trip could come as soon as three years from now. The company has already arranged for two millionaire space tourists to visit the International Space Station. The rocket will orbit the moon with no plans for a landing there.

VERJEE: An escaped prisoner and his wife remain at large one day after a shooting outside a courthouse in Kingston, Tennessee. George Hyatte had just been in court on an armed robbery charge. Police say his wife Jennifer shot and killed a guard who was escorting her husband and they escaped together.

CLANCY: The so-called runaway bride is walking behind a lawn mower these days. There she is, Jennifer Wilbanks. She mowed the lawn of the government building in Lawrenceville, Georgia. That's all part of her court-ordered community service. If you remember, Wilbanks sparked a massive search when she skipped town before her scheduled April wedding. She later then lied to police, saying she had been abducted.



CLANCY: This is story about someone with a face only a mother could love.

VERJEE: But this little piglet doesn't really have a mother because it's a clone, China's first cloned pig, actually.

CLANCY: Now, six other countries have cloned pigs. They are used for scientific research. Chinese scientists cloned a cow last December. And it appears that if they keep going at this rate, they are just a few clones short of a barnyard. There he is. Welcome into the world.

VERJEE: This has been YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN International.

CLANCY: Thanks for watching. Join us tomorrow.