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Your World Today

Top Iranian Government Officials Speak Out Against the West; Sectarian Attacks Drive Iraqis From Their Homes; Calls for Rumsfeld's Resignation

Aired April 14, 2006 - 12:00   ET


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The supreme leader speaks in Tehran, heaping scorn on Israel and the United States, urging support for Hamas.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Nepal's king speaks as well, but who's listening? Not these people, apparently, in the streets of Katmandu.

CLANCY: And brass versus the boss. There's more pressure on the top man at the Pentagon. Another former general wants Donald Rumsfeld to quit.

It's 7:30 p.m. in Tehran, 10:00 p.m. in Katmandu.

I'm Jim Clancy.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani.

Welcome to our viewers throughout the world and the United States.


An international conference in Iran on the plight of the Palestinian people turned into a platform for bashing the United States and other countries who opposed Iran's nuclear ambitions. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei described what he called the arrogant policies of the Bush administration. He accused Washington of conspiring against his country, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, in order to place the entire region under Israeli control.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also addressed the conference, taking a thinly-veiled swipe at Washington and its allies.


MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): These governments who use force become obstacles to the progress of other countries. They won't allow countries in the region to tread the path of progress or advancement, they're against the advancement of technology and science in the region, but they support the occupying Zionist regime. Look how they treated us and our achievement in our nuclear program.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GORANI: All this rhetoric comes as the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog returns from Tehran pretty much empty-handed. All Mohamed ElBaradei got was a promise for more cooperation and a defiant commitment by Iran to continue on its current nuclear path.

Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth joins us now with what's next.

Now, we heard other statements from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel is a "... rotten, dried tree that would be annihilated by one storm."

Will statements like these make any difference at the U.N. Security Council, Richard?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Unlikely, though it certainly doesn't present a good image on the international stage for Iran in the eyes of the 15 nations of the Security Council. It's not exactly the confidence-building measures that they're looking for, at least even on the verbal side of the political sphere.

It seems that every side now has options. Tehran has options. It has announced whether it wants to pursue further uranium enrichment, while in the Security Council, there are options now going to be considered when Mohamed ElBaradei completes his report in about two and a half weeks, options on how tough to get right now with Iran or whether to let diplomacy continue in some manner or form. Right now it's -- as the British ambassador told me the other day, the ball is in the Iranian president's court.

GORANI: Now, what about the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council? There was a time when Britain, the United States and France were pretty much, you know, going down one diplomatic path, or one policy path. And then China and Russia, another. Is there the sense now that they're all coming together?

ROTH: There's still going to about split on sanctions. The U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, saying yesterday, there are going to be consequences, but she's not really spelling out. Because the U.S. can talk very firm right now, but inside the closed-door negotiations, the U.S. has proven unable to convince China and Russia right now to crack down on Iran, at least diplomatically, with stronger language, because Russia and China fear that the path will be open to a military attack, perhaps. Though the British ambassador guaranteed reporters yesterday that language in a new resolution that would be introduced if ElBaradei reports continue to find (ph) Tehran would not open the door to military attack language.

GORANI: Richard Roth in New York -- Jim.

CLANCY: Well, as Iran's supreme leader urged the Islamic world to support the Hamas-led Palestinian government, the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniya, had defiant words for his Western detractors. He was speaking before supporters in Gaza, saying the suspension of Western aid is not going to bring down his government. The prime minister criticized what he called an unholy alliance trying to undermine the results of the recent democratic elections.

Now, the U.S. and Europe cut off direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, but not humanitarian assistance after Hamas won the polls in January.


ISMAIL HANIYA, PALESTINIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): It is a message to the European Union and the American administration and the occupation, and to anyone who is trying to abort this government, that the Palestinian people will not give up their government no matter how many sacrifices we have to make.


CLANCY: All right.

The Hamas officials also blaming the Palestinian Authority, led by a Fatah member, Mahmoud Abbas, serving as president, of assisting in the looting of funds from the coffers of the Palestinian Authority. Now a Hamas minister is on a fund-raising tour. He's going around Arab capitals hoping to, in one way or another, alleviate their severe cash shortage.

GORANI: Well, after an attempted coup in Chad, that country severing diplomatic ties with neighboring Sudan. It's accusing it of sponsoring a rebel attack meant to overthrow the government.

President Idriss Deby is also threatening to expel all 200,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur currently living in Chad. A move that could further destabilize the region. Sudan denies backing the rebels who attacked the Chadian capital in N'djamena on Thursday, while the government says some 350 people were killed in fighting there.

CLANCY: All right. Let's turn our attention now to Iraq, where dozens of policemen are reported missing Friday after insurgents ambushed a police convoy. That was near a U.S. base north of Baghdad. At least six police officers killed in that incident. Officials say insurgents set off roadside bombs and then opened fire Thursday night on what was a large police convoy.

North of Baghdad, in Baquba, four people were killed Friday, six others wounded in two separate bombings at Sunni mosques.

And in southern Basra province, a suicide car bomber targeted a British military convoy. Police say an Iraqi civilian was killed, three British soldiers wounded in that explosion. That happened near Shiba (ph), about eight kilometers from Basra.

GORANI: Well, as violence rages across the country once again, increasingly along sectarian lines, a growing number of civilians are abandoning their homes in mixed neighborhoods and taking up residence in tent cities -- refugees in their own country.

Aneesh Raman reports.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): These are the faces of refugees in their own land, Iraqis who fled their homes, threatened with death because they were Shia or Sunni, now living in tent cities. Their numbers are exploding.

Iraq's government says there are now 65,000 displaced Iraqis countrywide. Only two weeks ago it was half that number.

DR. SAID HAKKI, DIRECTOR, IRAQI RED CRESCENT: The numbers start becoming some form -- some way alarming sometimes at this 22nd of March, when we made our first assessment. And we were doing it every, like, three or four days. We were beginning to see a serious trend.

RAMAN: The head of Iraq's humanitarian group called Red Crescent, Dr. Said Hakki, is the man managing the relief effort. It was always his worst fear, camps splitting Sunni and Shia apart. At the end of February, it became a reality.

After a bombing destroyed a sacred Shia shrine, Iraq spiraled towards civil war, and in returning from that brink has seen formerly mixed neighborhoods stripped the residents. Shia fleeing Sunni areas, Sunni felling Shia areas, left with nothing but despair.

In Baghdad, Shia are still arriving at this camp. They show us a letter that threatened them death if they did not leave their homes.

In Falluja, at this camp for displaced Sunnis, the men are largely missing. Some taken away and presumed dead. Others disappeared before their families fled.

"Armed men came to our house all with masks on," she says. "They knocked on the door and they took her husband and they handcuffed him. And they had a knife to his back. She is now on her own with her children and no support."

Dr. Said is now working overtime to equip these camps with proper facilities to provide for the growing numbers and to prepare for what could soon be the country's biggest problem: helping those who had little and are now left with nothing.

HAKKI: They left their schools, work. And they, all of a sudden, moved to a foreign neighborhood. And they're living in a camp instead of a house.

RAMAN (on camera): And they don't know when they'll leave?

HAKKI: They don't know how long they're going to stay in these camps, yes.

RAMAN (voice over): Aneesh Raman, CNN, Baghdad.


CLANCY: Well, if Iraqis are feeling the pressure, so, too, is one of the major architects in the war. Back in Washington, more pressure on the man heading the war effort, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Another retired general speaking out against his former boss.

This time, it's the general who led the elite 82nd Airborne in Iraq, and he's joining five others who have now called for Rumsfeld to step down. They say it's not a coordinated effort, but the Pentagon chief still has friends in high places -- the White House.

Barbara Starr is on that story.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Major General Charles Swannack retired last year after commanding the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq. He is the second combat commander from Iraq calling for defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to step down.

MAJ. GEN. CHARLES SWANNACK, JR. (RET.), U.S. ARMY: I feel that he has micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces there to achieve our strategic objectives. I really believe that we need a new secretary of defense.

STARR: Swannack, along with Major General John Riggs, both speaking for the first time, makes six retired generals who have call for resignation. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says generals should speak in private while they are still on active duty.

GEN. PETER PACE, CHAIRMAN, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We had then and have now every opportunity to speak our minds. And if we do not, shame on us, because the opportunity is there.

STARR: But generals who want to keep their jobs and get promoted keep quiet. If you don't like the policy, you retire.

SWANNACK: I don't think our generals feel comfortable providing Secretary Rumsfeld their honest beliefs. I think it almost boils down to, explain the party line and stay loyal to me, or you might end up as General Shinseki did, at odds with Secretary Rumsfeld.

STARR: Right before the war, then Army chief of staff Eric Shinseki was questioned by senators about troop levels.

GEN. ERIC SHINSEKI, U.S. ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: Something on the order of several hundred thousands soldiers are probably -- you know, a figure that would be required.

STARR: Rumsfeld was, by all accounts, furious. The plan was to keep troop levels at a minimum, just 125,000 inside Iraq.

Several current and retired generals say Rumsfeld's anger at the well-liked Shinseki began the era of bad feelings. After the insurgency erupted, the question never went away, should the U.S. have sent more troops?

GEN. ANTHONY ZINNI (RET.), USMC FMR. CENTCOM COMMANDER: I think the biggest mistake was throwing away 10 years worth of planning. Plans that had taken into account what we would face in an occupation of Iraq, and it had to be an occupation. We couldn't do it on the cheap with too few troops.

STARR: Retired General Mike DeLong insists the war plan was solid and the secretary's style is tough, but fair.

LT. GEN. MIKE DELONG (RET.), USMC FMR. CENTCOM DEPUTY COMMANDER: Dealing with Secretary Rumsfeld is like dealing with a CEO. When you walk in to him, you've got to be prepared. You've got know what you're talking about. If you don't, you're summarily dismissed.

STARR: Those who called for change see it very differently.

MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE (RET.), U.S. ARMY 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION: When decisions are made without taking into account sound military recommendations, sound military decision-making, sound planning, then we're bound to make mistakes.

STARR: Rumsfeld's predecessor, William Cohen, says there is really just one judgment that counts for now.

WILLIAM COHEN, FMR. DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's really not a question of how many generals come out and express dissatisfaction. It's a question of whether Secretary Rumsfeld himself feels he can be effective and whether President Bush feels he can be effective.

STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


CLANCY: Coming up, another look at Iran's nuclear facilities and the military option.

GORANI: Now, how difficult would it be to stop Iran in its tracks? We'll take a closer look in a moment.

CLANCY: Also ahead, more pro-democracy demonstrations on the streets of Katmandu, despite a plea from the Nepalese king.


CLANCY: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

The Bush administration says all of the options are on the table when it comes to dealing with Iran's insistence on developing nuclear technology, including a military option to stop Iran from developing a bomb. Is it military option really a viable one? And what would it accomplish?

Joining us from Washington, former U.S. Air Force colonel Sam Gardiner. Back in 2004, he participated in a war game simulating an attack on Iran.

And I want to thank you for very much for being with us. You know, with all of Iran's style of diplo-speak, wiping countries off the face of the earth, defiance being spewed from Tehran, a lot of people are thinking that this military option might be the only way to go and that there's only a handful of sites, such as Natanz and Isfahan, and a little research site there in Tehran, this would be fairly surgical, fairly easy.

What's the reality?

SAM GARDINER, FMR. U.S. AIR FORCE COLONEL: Not so surgical, not so easy. A couple things happen, Jim.

One of them is that, if you're going to do it, you're under a lot pressure not to just stir up the bees' nest, but to go after the stingers. I don't mean to be cute about that, but if there's going to about strike, you can't leave the medium-range ballistic missile unhit, you can't leave the air bases that are within 30 flying minutes of Baghdad unhit, you can't leave the chemical facilities unhit. You may want to hit the terrorist training camps.

So what happens is, very quickly, you end up with a relatively large operation, even though you started with just the nuclear sites.

CLANCY: Well, "TIME" and "Newsweek," "The Washington Post," everybody says there's about a half a dozen nuclear sites.


CLANCY: How many sites would a military analyst look at it and say there were?

GARDINER: Well, my chart that has sites on it now has about 20. And you may not have to hit all of these, but there are reasons for you to look very carefully at them.

The one thing the Iranians have done is spread out their facilities extensively, so that if you're going to seriously set them back a number of years, you would want, also, to be extensive in your targeting.

CLANCY: How vulnerable are U.S. troops in Iraq, then? Because obviously, if you did pursue a military option, you would expect there would be some reaction from Tehran.

GARDINER: Right. And they've said they would. And I think that's probably a major significant thing that has to be talked about.

U.S. troops in Iraq -- the Iranians haven't done all that they can there. And then you have to add in access to the Gulf, Jim. They could very easily shut that down or attempt to shut it down.

CLANCY: Well, they've been showing off some new torpedoes, high speed, other technology.

GARDINER: The technology is probably not that important. They could revert back to just mines, which is what they did during the Iraq-Iran War. Just plain old World War II mines could provide a significant slowdown of oil out of the Gulf.

CLANCY: Well, Colonel Gardiner, from what you're saying, it would seem like military men, then, might be cautioning, don't go ahead with this. But what are the signs that are out there right now? Is there any evidence of any movement in that direction?

GARDINER: Sure. Actually, Jim, I would say -- and this may shock some -- I think the decision has been made and military operations are under way.


GARDINER: And let me say this -- I'm saying this carefully. First of all, Sy Hersh said in that article which was...

CLANCY: Yes, but that's one unnamed source.

GARDINER: Let me check that. Not unnamed source as not being valid.

The way "The New Yorker" does it, if somebody tells Sy Hersh something, somebody else in the magazine calls them and says, "Did you tell Sy Hersh that?" That's one point.

The secretary point is, the Iranians have been saying American military troops are in there, have been saying it for almost a year. I was in Berlin two weeks ago, sat next to the ambassador, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA. And I said, "Hey, I hear you're accusing Americans of being in there operating with some of the units that have shot up revolution guard units."

He said, quite frankly, "Yes, we know they are. We've captured some of the units, and they've confessed to working with the Americans."

The evidence is mounting that that decision has already been made, and I don't know that the other part of that has been completed, that there has been any congressional approval to do this.

My view of the plan is, there is this period in which some kinds of ground troops will operate inside Iran, and then what we're talking about is the second part, which is this air strike.

CLANCY: All right. You lay this whole scenario, but there are still a lot of caution flags that one would see out here.

GARDINER: Sure. True.

CLANCY: If they do decide on a military option...


CLANCY: ... what's the realistic chance of success? What's your -- your prognosis for that kind of reaction here?

GARDINER: Yes. Let me give you two answers to that. First of all, the chance of getting the facilities and setting back the program, I think the chances go from maybe two years to actually accelerating the program. You know, we could cause them to redouble their efforts. That's on one side.

The other side is this sort of horizontal escalation by the Iranians.

My assessment is -- and it's because of regime problems at home -- that if we strike, they're likely to want to blame Israel. Now that's -- because that sells well at home.

Blaming Israel means that there's a chance that we could see Hezbollah, Hamas targeting Israel. We could very easily see this thing escalate into a broader Middle East war, particularly when you add Muslim rage.

You know, if you take the cartoon problem and multiply it times a hundred -- you know, the Danish cartoons, you could see how we could end up very quickly with a very serious problem in the Middle East.

CLANCY: Former U.S. Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner. Not a very rosy outlook here. A man who thinks the decision may have already been made.

Thank you for being with us.

GARDINER: Certainly.

GORANI: Interesting stuff.

The king of Nepal has broken his silence, but few appear to be listening. King Gyanendra addressed the nation at midnight in a traditional Hindu new year's message. He calls for a dialogue with the seven opposition parties who have been vehemently protesting the king's rule. But his words failed to end demonstrations that began during the past week.

Pro-democracy protests continued in the capital, with some calling on the king to quit the country. Riot police arrested about 20 demonstrators. Four people have been killed in the protests, with hundreds wounded. The king seized absolute rule 14 months ago by sacking the government.

CLANCY: Just the mention of September 11th painful enough for many of the people who lost loved ones that day.

GORANI: But now a conspirator in those attacks is mocking those victims and their grieving families in court.

Coming up, we'll have more on the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui.

CLANCY: Moussaoui -- Moussaoui is the focus of our inbox this day. We're asking you this: What sentence would you give him?

GORANI: E-mail your answers,

We'll be right back.


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Daryn Kagan at CNN Center in Atlanta. More of YOUR WORLD TODAY in just a few minutes. First, though, let's check on stories making headlines here in the U.S.

A 10-year-old girl is missing, and she may have been abducted by a man she met online. An Amber Alert is out today for Jamie Bolin. She was last seen riding a bike near her home in Purcell, Oklahoma.

Police believe that Jamie may be with a white man in his 20s. The man was driving a dark blue Chevy Tahoe. The word "Fox" is on its back window. The SUV Texas license plate including the word Z -- the letter Z and the numbers 6 and 9.

Police are trying to search dorm rooms at Duke University. It is another development in the investigation of an alleged rape.

During a news conference today, university president Richard Brodhead said he was aware that police attempted to search the rooms of some lacrosse players, but he had had no other information. Brodhead met with community leaders to discuss the fallout from the investigation. He was asked whether Duke needs tougher rules on conduct.


RICHARD BRODHEAD, PRESIDENT, DUKE UNIVERSITY: You know, the code of conduct at Duke is pretty comprehensive, and it covers a great variety of behavior. We have committees that have begun to look at the question of the adequacy of our procedures. That was in the announcement that I put out on the 5th of April. And if there are changes to be made, we'll step forward and make them.

CHANCELLOR JAMES AMMONS, NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY: For the last few weeks, Durham has been shaken by allegations arising from the incident of March 13. While feelings of pain, anger and confusion are understandable in times like these, let us remember that justice is served in the courtroom, not in the media, nor at the hands of individuals.


KAGAN: No charges have been filed so far in that investigation.

Outrage and disbelief. A high school sex scandal shakes the small town of Coffeeville, Alabama. An English teacher is behind bars accused of having sex with at least four students. Well, that's shocking enough, but it gets worse from there.

Police say 30-year-old Sharon Rutherford (ph) was plotting to kill her husband. They say one of her alleged victims was involved in the plan. This might make your travel plans a little bit easier. Delta Airlines has reached a tentative agreement with its pilots union. Don't have details on it now, but for now, a threatened strike is on hold.

The bankrupt airline wants pilots to accept pay and benefit cuts. It says a strike would force the company to go belly up.

On to weather. Take a look at these incredible pictures out of Iowa. A nighttime tornado lighting up -- lit up by lightning strikes during a major storm. At least two other twisters touched down in the area. One person was killed.

And the damage was overwhelming there. Cars were flipped, trees and power lines toppled. Many homes and businesses were hard-hit.


KAGAN: Do you remember the boy who battled "Frank the Tumor"? Well, he won. Today he's going to Disneyland. Doctors have given 11- year-old David Dingman-Grover a clean bill of health. In 2003, he was diagnosed with a grapefruit-sized tumor at the base of his brain. He nicknamed the tumor Frank, short for Frankenstein. David underwent surgery last year, and now doctors say his brain is cancer-free. He was given a gold key to Disneyland.

"LIVE FROM" with Kyra Phillips comes your way at the top of hour. And meanwhile, YOUR WORLD TODAY continues after a quick break. I'm Daryn Kagan. Have a great holiday weekend.


CLANCY: Hello again, everyone, and welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Jim Clancy.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani. Here are some of the top stories we're following for you this hour.

During an international conference on the plight of the Palestinian people, the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized countries who are trying to stand in the way of Iran's technological advancements. Earlier, he said he won't budge one iota on the country's nuclear program. Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the U.S. of conspiring against countries in the region so that Israel can take control.

CLANCY: Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya says the suspension of Western aid will not bring down his Hamas-led government. He was speaking, of course, for supporters in the Gaza strip, criticizing what he calls an unholy alliance that's trying to undermine the results of democratic elections. The U.S. and Europe, of course, cut off all direct aid to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas won at the polls in January.

GORANI: There's more pressure on the top man at the Pentagon. Another retired general is speaking up against his former boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. This time, the general who led the elite 82nd Airborne in Iraq is joining others who haev called for Rumsfeld's resignation. They say it's not a coordinated effort, but the Pentagon chief still has friends in another high place, the White House.

CLANCY: Well, covering news in the United States can be a tough job if you're a reporter from Iran. Washington limits the movements of Iranian journalists by restricting their visas.

Richard Roth talks with a pair of frustrated reporters who are stationed in New York.


ROTH (voice-over): The work day begins like many in American homes. Morning coffee, some news of the day, the all-American sport, baseball. Every day Magsoud Amiriam commutes to work from his home in Tukahoe, a small town outside New York City.

Just like thousands of other New Yorkers, with one large difference: his boss is the government of Iran. Last stop, Grand Central Station. A towering reminder of the temporary home hangs over his head. It is the nation facing off with his over nuclear fears. He melts into the busy crowd.

Magsoud writes for government of Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency. He says his government, his boss, does not edit his news.

MAGSOUD AMIRIAM, JOURNALIST, IRNA (voice-over): I work with the Iranian government, but there are a lot of people working for the government. I'm not some kind of diplomat. I'm actually trying to report what's happening here, like you guys.

ROTH: Magsoud wants to report from other cities like Washington, but under his restricted U.S. visa, he can't travel more than 25 miles from the United Nations, the same limit the U.S. imposes on Iran's diplomats.

AMIRIAM (through translator): There are a lot of events happening in actually Washington, D.C.. You know, for example, President Bush had some speech at this university, John Hopkins University. I saw that and I really wanted to be there.

ROTH: So Magsoud spends most of his time on international territory, the United Nations, where his own country is now the hot news. It's also where you can find the only other Iranian state journalist working in the U.S. right now. Morteza Ghoroghy reports for the Iranian network IRIB. He's also frustrated by the visa limitations.

MORTEZA GHOROGHY, REPORTER, IRIB: I'm 25 years as a journalist. And they know I'm a journalist, but I don't know why they have restrict me. You must ask the U.S. government.

ROTH: The U.S. says journalists who work for government news agencies could be acting as intelligence agents, and the U.S. must know where they are.

SEAN MCCORMICK, U.S. STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: I'm not aware of any move at this point to reexamine these -- any restrictions that may be placed upon their movement. I would assume that there are good reasons for those -- for those restrictions.

ROTH: Both men deny any links to intelligence agencies.

AMIRIAM (through translator): This kind of accusation is actually always following news reporter. That's not true. It you are some reporter, that doesn't mean, you know, you are working for the intelligence network in the country.

ROTH: The restriction can also mean missing your family. Magsoud says they have not been granted visas.

AMIRIAM (through translator): This is the not the lifestyle I had before. I was never lonely like this. I have a wife, two beautiful children, haven't seen them for almost a year. And we feel -- we are a little bit depressed here.

ROTH: In 2005, the U.S. government issued only a handful of visas to Iranian journalists, angered by what they call extraordinary restrictions. Pro-government Iranian journalists have urged their leaders to retaliate by not issuing visas to American journalists.

U.S. news organizations, including CNN, say getting visas to report in Iran can be very difficult anyway, and while reporters can travel, they have government minders. And seeing America is something Magsoud would like to do.

AMIRIAM: I feel like I am in prison.

ROTH: Richard Roth, CNN, the United Nations.


GORANI: The reserve is very true. Getting a visa to report in Iran is also different when you're not Iranian. Now, leaders the world over have weighed in on that Iranian nuclear dispute, but what about voices from the younger generation, ordinary Iranians?

To give us an idea how young Iranians view the controversy, let's bring in Ali Herischi, host of He's in Washington. a Ali, thanks for being with us. You've been in the U.S. for just a few years, but you're still in touch with Iranians inside of Iran of your generation. What is their view on what's going on right now?

ALI HERISCHI, HOST, RADIOSALAM.NET: It's good to be here, thank you for having me.

And basically, the Iranian young generation who are a part of the movement for democracy and freedom in Iran in the last few years of Khatami presidency, they are following all the matters in the United States very closely. And they are really -- you know, they have concerns about the policies of nuclears and the problem that Americans attack Iran and how it's going to damage their movement and their freedom that already they gained.

GORANI: So what do they feel, in terms of what Iran is doing and their president right now, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is doing? Do they feel that Iran has a right to develop this nuclear technology, that Iran is basically being judged there, that's there's a double standard being applied to Iran? Or do they feel like this is a bad idea, that Iran should not develop nuclear technology, even if just for power, in order not to confront the international community.

HERISCHI: Basically their belief is that Iran has a right to have the nuclear technology, and are believing that the international community treated Iran with double standard, compared to the other countries in the region.

But at the same time, they understand that there is a mistrust between Iran and the international community, and they'd prefer to, first of all, solve those problems and then start to have the nuclear technology.

GORANI: Now Iran is a country where the vast majority of people are under the age of 30. It's a very, very young country. What generally is there desire? Do they want confrontation, or do they want cooperation with the country like the United States?

HERISCHI: There is no difference between the young generation of Iran and any other place in the world. They want jobs. They good quality of life. They want their freedom, and the freedom of speech. And definitely they don't want a confrontation. What are they going to gain with a confrontation? Nothing. They don't want to move back again to the revolutionary period, and war period that we already passed. We are just came out of those decades which we had problems, and now they are open up, and they are trying to, you know, gain some education and economic growth. So who wants a confrontation? Definitely they don't want it.

GORANI: I'm just curious as to how they view their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There was a period in Iran where there was a feeling that reform, reformists, you know, a more modern outlook for the country, was going to prevail. Then a very conservative president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with statements like Israel should be wiped off the map. It's a rotten country, et cetera, et cetera. What do they feel about that? Are they disappointed that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is representing them on the world stage?

HERISCHI: Basically, yes. There's two phases for this question. First, why Ahmadinejad is the president if the reformists exists in Iran. The reformists lost, but the reform idea exists in Iraq. That's two separate identity, reformists and the reform. Maybe some politicians who are part of the reform movement, they now lost their trust with the people, but the reform idea is alive. That's why more than 20 million people haven't vote for Ahmadinejad or even Afsengeni (p), because they are -- these two candidates are -- belong to a regime that does not support reform. On the other hand, we have a president who is a statement causing problem for Iran. As Iranians looking for pride in the international community has certainly brought them that pride. Ahmadinejad and the other side really destroyed those pride, and they are not agree with his statements and policies.

GORANI: All right, Ali Herischi of, with the view of young Iranians. Thank you very much for being with us on CNN.

HERISCHI: Thanks. Good to be here.

CLANCY: Well, one of the boys of summer is under scrutiny.

GORANI: Ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAY, the investigation of baseball star Barry Bonds. We'll tell you what's being looked into, next.


CLANCY: Hello, and welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN International.

GORANI: And this is Good Friday, Christian holiday marking the day Jesus was crucified.

CLANCY: It opens Easter weekend, of course, and it ends with those Sunday services, that highlights the biblical account of the Resurrection.

GORANI: These pictures from the Vatican, where Pope Benedict XVI is preparing to preside over his first Good Friday service as leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

CLANCY: Meantime in Jerusalem, Christians marked Good Friday, and they had to jostle with Jews observing the eight-day Passover festival, while Muslims were on their way to Friday prayers.

Along the Via Dolorosa, some Christians re-enacted Jesus' journey to his crucifixion.

GORANI: In Mexico, reenactments of the Crucifixion took the form of the divine prisoner, where black hooded man carry 50 kilograms of branches along cobbled streets.

CLANCY: Other holy week observances also involved forms of self- inflicted pain and punishment. In the Philippines, men walked through streets beating themselves with whips. The ritual designed to re- enact the suffering of Jesus Christ.

GORANI: Well, it's been called the toughest foot race in the world, where for seven days contestants have to battle through the Moroccan deserts.

Now, the runners started out on Sunday. They conclude tomorrow, but there's been a record number of dropouts, and Femi Oke has more on their story -- Femi.

FEMI OKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Jim. Hi there to you, Hala.

Well, the Marathon des Sables, or "Sand Marathon," is not for your average athletes. The race through the Sahara is the same length as about five and a half normal marathons. And contestants have to camp along the route.

Now so far, Jordanian Salimar Al Akra (ph) won the fourth stage. That was on Thursday. The overall winner is Lachen Amsil (ph) of Morrocco.

And I believe you're just seeing there one of the ladies, who's about second. Let's here it for the women. Here's Loretta Devito (ph) of Italy. But what kind of person would enter this monstrous endurance event?

Joining me live from the Moroccan desert is a first-time French competitor Olivia Assant.

Olivia, what made you do it the very first race? Why did want to do this?

OLIVIA ASSANT, ON PHONE WITH MOROCCO: Well, it's a great adventure to actually try to run through the desert for seven days, carrying your food. Obviously, quite an effort. This year, conditions were quite extreme, in terms of heat, in terms of humidity. They were about three times as much -- as many drop-offs from the race.

OKE: Yes, about 100 people dropped out. What's given you the staying power to keep going through the desert?

ASSANT: Well, actually, we've been training hard with my runningmate Christopher Brown for almost a year, and well, you know, once you're in it, if your feet can run, then you just move forward. You just start wondering and asking yourselves questions when you're there.

OKE: Take us through the different stages. What are you having to do each day?

ASSANT: Well, you run between 30 and 60 Ks per day. And obviously, the main thing you have to think about is drink, eat salt and try to maintain the right amount of calories in your body to keep going. It's funny to actually think about these simple needs for seven days and nothing else.

OKE: Olivia Assant, you're on the last leg of the Marathon des Sables. Good luck to you. It ends tomorrow. I'm sure you'll be looking for a nice rest indeed.

And that's a wrap. From the (INAUDIBLE) weather center, heading back to the newsdesk -- Jim.

CLANCY: All right. What a race. Femi Oke.

GORANI: Right. CLANCY: Still ahead, new troubles for Barry Bonds.

GORANI: Ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAY, the grand just investigation of one of baseball's stars. We'll have details, next.


GORANI: ... the grand jury investigation of one of baseball's stars. We'll have details next.


CLANCY: Well, it's time now for us to open up our inbox.

GORANI: And we've been asking for your thoughts about the trial of convicted 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

CLANCY: What sentence would you give to Zacarias Moussaoui? This is how some of you replied.

GORANI: Sterling from Switzerland says: "It would be a colossal mistake to Moussaoui. He is a nobody seeking fame and martyrdom with his bizarre fantasies."

CLANCY: Prince Andrew from Nigeria says: "Everyone who kills should be killed also. If he's left in prison, he might possibly plan another attack."

GORANI: Coco from China writes: "Zacarias Moussaoui should be slaughtered with a rusted kitchen knife so that he can suffer the pain of the innocent people who jumped out of the World Trade Center."

CLANCY: Finally, this from Mark in Paris. "Locking him up forever and letting him rot quietly away in prison is a much more effective way of making his him disappear from this world than execution."

All right. CNN is learning now -- and another story here before we go -- learning about federal grand jury that's considering whether to indict the San Francisco Giants star player Barry Bonds for perjury. Bonds told another grand jury 16 months ago that he had never used steroids. The U.S. Attorney's Office would neither confirm nor deny this report. Grand jury proceedings are generally kept secret. An attorney for Bonds says they are unaware of any such proceedings.

Let's get more on this story. Mark Starr, who's senior editor and correspondent, sports correspondent, for "Newsweek" joins us. He's in Boston. That's a baseball city if there ever was one.

Barry Bonds and his attorneys know this is coming, don't they?

MARK STARR, "NEWSWEEK": Well, as much as two years ago, Barry Bonds' attorney told "Newsweek" this was a perjury trap, when he testified before the grand jury. And I kept wondering and asking, but never getting a satisfactory answer, what's a perjury trap if you don't perjure yourself? And so I think they've known it's coming. I just wonder -- they think had they they escaped it? Why did it take so long?

CLANCY: Mark, when you look at this, baseball is supposed to be a cleaner game than a lot of other sports games that are out there, and this is destroying a lot of, perhaps, hopes and illusions, nevertheless?

STARR: I think those illusions have been punctured over the last several years. I think they've been punctured in a lot of sports. Baseball wasn't the only one tarnished by this BALCO scandal. It's just that Barry Bonds is such a preeminent athlete in the game today that he's under scrutiny.

But if you look around the game of baseball, Rafael Palmeiro, who was suspended last year, couldn't get a job. Sammy Sosa couldn't get a job. And Mark McGwire today seems ashamed to come out in public. So Barry Bonds is hardly the only one singled out by the steroid tarnish.

CLANCY: More guys -- more guys with an asterisk next to their names. They may hold some records, but they're not holding sway over the fans, are they?

STARR: Well, I think we're going to get a feel for this at the end of this year. That's when Mark McGwire will come up for the first time for the Hall of Fame. And I think we're going to see how think affects sports writers who vote. I think it's going have a tremendous effect. And we won't be dealing with this Barry Bonds until five years after he retires. But certainly if he's indicted -- and it's hard to believe they call a federal grand jury to investigate perjury if they don't plan to indict.

CLANCY: We're going to have to leave it there. Mark Starr, I want to thank you for being with us, as sad as this story really is.

We've got to go. That is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

GORANI: All right. I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy. This is is CNN. Stay with us.