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Quick Guide & Transcript: U.S. and Iranian leaders address U.N., Thai military attempts coup

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(CNN Student News) -- September 20, 2006

Quick Guide

Addressing the U.N. - Find out what the presidents of the U.S. and Iran had to say at the United Nations.

Case Against Iran - Discover why some American officials are concerned about Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Thailand Coup Attempt - Get an update on the latest coup attempt in a historically unstable Asian democracy.

Transcript

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MONICA LLOYD, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Happy Wednesday and welcome to CNN Student News. I'm Monica Lloyd. At the U.N., two rival leaders square off. What President Bush said before Iran's leader took the podium. It's a delayed homecoming for the Space Shuttle Atlantis Why NASA's concerned about some unidentified floating objects. And in Thailand, tanks roll through the capital as the military seizes control. Why the prime minister was absent when things went down.

First Up: Addressing the U.N.

LLOYD: We begin today at the United Nations where President Bush was engaged in a speech-making showdown. He addressed the U.N. General Assembly yesterday citing Iran as an ongoing terror threat. He also spoke directly to Iran's people saying "the United States respects you" but said the U.S. would not meet with Iran until the country stops its uranium-enrichment program. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also addressed the U.N., but kept his distance from President Bush. Aneesh Raman is here, to explain the two leaders' contrasting views.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN REPORTER: Perhaps no speech at the U.N. was more anticipated than that of Iran's president...and that is exactly how he wanted it. This week, gracing the cover of TIME magazine...fresh from a meeting of like minded leaders in Havana...Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the talk of reporters from around the world. Just last year, fresh from his surprise electoral victory, he was relatively unkown. No longer.

MAHMOUD AMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT: Rejection of domination and aggression, defense of the oppressed and longing for peace constitute the legitimate demand of the peoples of the world, particularly the new generations and the spirited youth, who aspire to a world free from decadence, aggression and injustice.

RAMAN: But there was more than one Iranian view this day. Outside the U.N., a few hours earlier, a few hundred danced in protest of Ahmadinejad...And speaking, they said, on behalf of those in Iran who cannot...called for Ahmadinejad and the regime he represents to step aside.

PROTESTER: His time is up and its time that Iranians take over the destiny of their own country.

RAMAN: A notion U.S. President Bush was eager to emphasize. In his remarks to the U.N., he spoke not to Iran's government but directly to its people..

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: You deserve an opportunity to determine your own future. An economy that rewards your intelligence and your talents. And a society that allows you to fulfill your tremendous potential. The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism and fuel extremism and pursue nuclear weapons.

RAMAN: Iran's government has of course denied they are pursuing a nuclear weapon. But what is undeniable is that economic reform promised by Iran's President on the campaign trail a year ago has, for the most part, not been delivered.

Iran's president spoke often he said on behalf of oppressed people worldwide. This was a speech rife with references to peace, to compromise. And this was a man keen to be seen as the voice of disenfranchised Muslims throughout the world. And no signal there's any end in sight to the nuclear dispute between Iran and the west. Aneesh Raman, CNN, at the United Nations in New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Fast Facts

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS REPORTER: Time for some Fast Facts! The United Nations was formed in 1945 immediately after World War II. Its goal: to keep peace throughout the world. Today, 191 countries -- virtually the whole world -- are members of the U.N., and they send representatives to the U.N. headquarters in New York to discuss global issues.

Case Against Iran

LLOYD: At the U.N. and around the world Iran's nuclear ambitions are causing a chain reaction of concern. Iran's president says his country is developing nukes for energy purposes only. And so far U.N. inspectors have uncovered no evidence to counter that claim. But as one expert explains, it's Iran's nuclear facilities that could give some cause for suspicion. Brian Todd reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN TODD, CNN REPORTER: An ambitious leader... positioning himself as a major Middle East player...Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government says those ambitions don't include a nuclear weapon. His American counterparts disagree. We took Joe Cirincione, a weapons expert who's been to Iran recently, into the Situation Room-- to look at three trouble spots.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Natanz is where they have the centrifuges, that will turn uranium into enriched uranium. In Esfahan is where they take uranium from the ground and convert it into the gas for the centrifuges, and finally in Arak is where the Iranians are moving on a heavy-water reactor, that can be used to make plutonium, the other material for nuclear bombs.

TODD: Cirincione says the Arak facility is designed to make plutonium quickly... No reason for that capability, he says, except to make nuclear material for bombs. Then there are the mysterious tunnels at the sprawling Esfahan plant.

CIRINCIONE: In these tunnels near Esfahan, the Iranians say they're storing the uranium gas there, again, to protect it from a possible attack, but they might have a duplicate facility in those mountains. That's why we need intrusive inspections need to ferret that out.

TODD: Inspections that would be difficult to carry out under current rules that Iran has insisted on. But experts say all three facilities could also be used for legitimate, peaceful nuclear production -- which is Iran's stated intent. As for evidence...

DAVID ALBRIGHT, FORMER WEAPONS INSPECTOR: There's no smoking gun, and there's no evidence that Iran has made the decision to actually build nuclear weapons.

TODD: A finding backed up by the International Atomic Energy Agency. But the IAEA also says Iran hasn't stopped enriching low grade uranium, and hasn't allowed inspectors to interview key scientists.

An Iranian official at the U.N. tells me his government has complied with the agency for three years now, and will continue to. We may know more soon; inspectors are on the ground as we speak. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Shuttle Landing Delay

LLOYD: NASA is playing it safe with the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The orbiter was scheduled to return today. That trip was canceled when crew members spotted some unidentified objects outside the craft. Engineers say the debris might have come loose when Atlantis test-fired its thrusters. Foam shedding has been a problem on past shuttles. Atlantis' six-member crew is slated to return to Earth tomorrow.

Word to the Wise

AZUZ: A Word to the Wise...

coup (koo) noun

sudden change of government illegally or by force

source: www.dictionary.comexternal link

Thailand Coup Attempt

LLOYD: Martial law is still in effect in Thailand after a government coup attempt by top members of the Thai military. Here's what we know: Troops surrounded government offices yesterday. Then coup leaders met with Thailand's king to establish a new government. As tanks rattled through Bangkok, the country's prime minister declared a state of emergency from New York City, where he was attending U.N. meetings. As Jonathan Mann explains, coups are a common occurrence in this unstable democracy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN MANN, CNN REPORTER: Thailand has been through so much turmoil in recent months, and Tuesday, under the cover of darkness, a whole new chapter. Troops took up positions around the capital and inside government offices, announcing that a Council of Administrative Reform had toppled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawa, apparently without firing a shot.

The troops moved while Thaksin was out of the country, for the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. The meeting went ahead without disruption, but Thaksin was out-of-sight, while his loyalists back home were organizing against the plotters back home.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: So the prime minister with the approval of the cabinet decided to proclaim a serious state of emergency and asked everyone to be under the instruction of the supreme commander of the Thai military, who is in Thailand.

MANN: Thaksin is a telecommunications billionaire who was elected prime minister by landslides in 2001 and 2005. Early this year, his family sold its controlling interest in his business empire, in a tax-free deal worth 1.9 billion dollars.

Protesters took to the streets, accusing him of corruption and abuse of power.

And faced with their challenge to his authority, he called a snap election this April. He won once again, but the opposition boycotted the vote and the courts declared it unlawful. So Thailand was headed for still more elections, with Thaksin leading a caretaker government without a functioning legislature.

Monday, he publicly mused about stepping down as prime minister after the vote.

Thailand has endured more than a dozen coups. But the most recent was in 1991 - and many Thais hoped that their country had settled in as a stable democracy. Even if the coup attempt does not succeed, that ambition may be its biggest casualty. Jonathan Mann, CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Promo

LLOYD: What's up with our download? Our podcast is the newest way to get CNN Student News. Go to CNN.com/EDUCATION or get it on iTunes. Once there, be sure to subscribe and you can even write your own review of the show!

Before We Go

LLOYD: Before we go, how about a laugh from Elmo! Ten years ago your parents probably braved the crowds to get one for you. Well the tenth anniversary Elmo is still laughing himself silly. Fisher price unveiled "TMX Elmo" yesterday. The "x" stands for extreme. And as you can see, he's a belly-clutching, floor-thumping machine! The giggles start the second he's turned on. And his tickle tantrum gets more pronounced the more he's touched.

Goodbye

LLOYD: Well, time flies when you're having fun. Keep laughing guys. And keep coming back for more Student News. I'm Monica Lloyd.


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