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Officials: North Korean Missile Classified as "Brand New"; Tillerson on North Korea: "Global action is required."; Trump Heads to Europe as North Korea Tensions Mount. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired July 5, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We do have breaking news. The Pentagon just released new information on the intercontinental ballistic missile launched by North Korea. The Pentagon says, it is something, it has never seen before.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get straight to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara, you have new details. What have you learned?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Just to clarify, these are U.S. Defense officials speaking exclusively to CNN who are telling us at this hour, the assessment is, that the North Koreans fired a two-stage missile that has not been seen before by U.S. Intelligence. U.S. Intelligence will now classify this as a new North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile, something brand-new to the inventory they haven't seen.
Why is that so important, of course, because U.S. Intelligence tracking every move North Korea makes. They are trying to assess exactly what capability this configuration may have? How soon it could be able to actually launch and reach the United States, possibly Alaska. What they now believe is that a satellite initially saw something called a KN-17.
That's the big part of the missile that sat on the ground, liquid fuel. The satellite picks up the detail that that liquid fuel is pouring into that part of the missile. But at some point, the North Koreans attached a second-stage on top. That is the part that perhaps gave the missile the ability to reach intercontinental range. It added about 30 seconds to the flight of the missile. That's all important because originally, the part that they saw was intermediate, a much lesser range. North Koreans, pretty brilliant deception -- suddenly put another stage on top and suddenly you have an intercontinental ballistic missile.
So, now this is being all assessed, we are told. They're looking at every frame of that video, every piece of electronic radar intelligence, satellite imagery, trying to determine exactly what this missile may be capable of, whether it can re-enter the earth's atmosphere as a missile. That's important because that is what would get it to a target. So, a lot of questions still to be answered about what North Korea have done and what road it is now on to being able to achieve its goal of attacking the U.S. John, Poppy?
HARLOW: Barbara Starr, thank you for the exclusive new reporting, critical information from the Pentagon. We appreciate it.
The fallout from this missile test is one of several foreign policy challenges that faces President Trump who is in the air right now on his way to Europe for a set of crucial meetings.
BERMAN: The president has first to Poland and then he attends the G20 summit in Germany. Obviously, North Korea will be something that's discussed everywhere during this meeting, but it also will include the president's first one-on-one with Vladimir Putin. Leave aside for a second, the president, he claimed before that he met with the Russian leader twice. That aside, the White House now says this is his first meeting.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is calling the North Korean actions a new escalation of the threat to the U.S. and the world. Suzanne Malveaux at the White House, with really expectations heading into this trip. Suzanne?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And one of the things that we're looking at, of course, is the response to the North Korea provocation. We asked the president this morning, reporters shouting questions to him before he left. And he said, we're going to do very well. That's all that he was able to say about that. But the White House, clearly wanting to project strength and independence to these world leaders. That is their goal here, whether it comes to climate change, immigration, trade or even dealing with North Korea.
The president tweeting this morning a couple of times, saying, "The United States made some of the worst trade deals in world history. Why should we continue these deals with countries that do not help us?"
Also, seemingly a dig, if you will, against China and the Obama administration policy in trying to influence North Korea's behavior with incentives from China, economic incentives with this tweet, saying, "Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40 percent the first quarter. So much for China working with us -- but we had to give it a try."
What is important is that it seems the administration is certainly projecting the message here that they are willing to go it alone, but also at the same time, encouraging U.S. allies to join with them. The U.N. Security Council meeting -- an urgent meeting, has been set for 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, but the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson making it very clear, saying that global actions required to stop a global threat but at the same time saying that the U.S. does intend to further punish North Korea. John, Poppy?
[10:05:06] BERMAN: All right, Suzanne Malveaux at the White House. Suzanne, thank you very, very much.
Joining us now to discuss, Jackie Kucinich, CNN political analyst, Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast," Jim Walsh, international security analyst, and Frida Ghitis, a contributor for CNN.com and "World Affairs" columnist for world policy review.
JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Jim, I want to start with you on this breaking news we just got from Barbara Starr. This is a missile that U.S. Intelligence officials have never seen before. Two stage, liquid on the bottom, solid at the top. It happened, despite the fact that satellites were watching it very, very closely. How does it now change the diplomatic calculus, what the U.S. can and cannot do here?
Well, I think in some ways, it lights a fire under those who are going to be advocating for diplomacy. At the G20, President Trump will hear that from Russia, China and South Korea, our ally. And the reason I say that is there's disconnect here, a policy disconnect. And North Korea is able to advance its capabilities pretty quickly. You know, this is the most capable missile they have tested so far.
So that, that train moves pretty quick. The policy tool we have for stopping that has been mostly sanctions. That takes a long time. And so, while we're waiting for more sanctions to be enforced or new resolutions, the North Koreans keep building better missiles. And so, to stop that, dynamic - I think at some point, the parties are going to have to come to the table but I think this test may enhance North Korea's bargaining position.
HARLOW: If you read, Frida, the president's statement on Twitter this morning. Literally, you would think that he has given up on China, but the United States knows that he can't give up on China it's incredibly hard to go at it alone and be successful against North Korea. So, the U.S. slaps sanctions on a big Chinese bank for the first time within the last two weeks. Will they do it again and will that really pressure China to do anything? What would it take to actually move Xi Jinping's hand?
FRIDA GHITIS, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN.COM: Well, it's really extraordinary, Trump's tweet this morning, so much for China working with us. Trump campaign on this overly simplistic policy form - policy proposals such as working with China to solve the North Korean problem, as if no one has thought of that before he came to office. Now it turns out it's not so easy.
China has very conflicting objectives, but very, very subtle and seemingly conflicting objectives on North Korea. They don't want to see a war in the Korean Peninsula, but they don't mind seeing the peninsula divided. They don't mind seeing the United States and its allies, South Korea, fretting over what's happening in the north. And there's no question that North Korea with all these provocations is strengthening the hand of China.
Now, China can make demands of the United States. China can ask for concessions from the United States in exchange for pressuring North Korea. So that is a very unfortunate position for the United States to be in. And until now, I don't think anybody can contest the claim that North Korea has outplayed the United States, not just Trump, but also the preceding presidents. BERMAN: You know, North Korea, the land of no good options as this has been said which president after president after president has learned about this. And Jackie Kucinich, what's interesting to me, is this is an area where President Trump has, you know, exerted some political capital. He had a meeting with Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago. They've talked. They got to know each other. They liked each other. You know, but he's still not getting what he wants out of this. What do you think the president has learned about maybe about the limits of his personal diplomacy and this is as he's in the air heading to the G20?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, he was warned. Let's not forget when President Obama met with incoming President Trump, he told him that the North Korea was going to be one of the major problems, if not, the major problem he was going to have to deal with. So, this should be a surprise and I don't think it was to Trump. But it does seem like -- perhaps he had a little bit more -- let's say optimism after the meeting in Mar-a-Lago this winter with President Xi.
And as you said, it has turned out to be a lot more complicated. He also is dealing with a bit of a different landscape than President Obama. We should say that. He's dealing with a South Korean leader who doesn't want to take as -- to taking a softer line on North Korea than the predecessor.
So, he really is -- all presidents learn on the job. He's also dealing with a State Department that's not fully staffed, that is not as perhaps ready to deal with this problem as previous State Departments because there are a lot of holes in the positions there. So it certainly -- we'll all be watching what happens over the next couple of days and to see what the president has learned because obviously this is in progress as we speak.
[10:10:06] HARLOW: Jim, let's talk about the G20 ahead this week and President Trump and his critical meeting, not just a pull aside, now a full bilateral meeting with President Putin -- of China. He has been very critical of the Obama administration's handling of Russia and he tweeted just last week, the real story that President Obama did nothing after being informed in August about Russian meddling. That's not totally factual, but he's talking about that "Washington Post" story.
My question to you, how can he then get away with not focusing on the Russian hacking of the U.S. election with President Putin? We know he'll focus on Ukraine. We know he'll focus on Syria. We don't know, according to those in the White House, whether or not he will even bring up Russian meddling in the election.
WALSH: Yes. I think -- you know, it would be very difficult for him to handle this and have it come out well. You know, just starting down that path, I think that would end badly for him. So, I think he will attempt to keep it focused on this large policy issues. Certainly North Korea is one. Because Russia is part of the six-party talks, obviously, developments in Syria and elsewhere.
There are a lot of problems in the world and they're tough to solve in any case. They're even tougher if the great powers aren't all together on the same page. And so, there's plenty to talk to Russia about on areas of cooperation. Anything said about the elections, I think that's probably going to be said private or handled in another way, because there's no way for the - because this is double-edged, right? It's a foreign policy story and a domestic politics story. There's no way he can focus on that and come out ahead. So, I assume they're going to try to bury it.
BERMAN: Frida, back to North Korea for one moment. The U.N. Security Council meets today at 3:00 p.m. for an emergency session on North Korea. Can the United States realistically expect any kind of strong action from the Security Council members, specifically China and Russia here?
GHITIS: Well, the most the United States can hope for is a strong statement. And we have seen that accomplishes nothing. It could be a show of support. It would be symbolic. It would be nice. It would be a big defeat for the United States if it cannot get a strong statement. But we're down to a point where practical results are more important than symbolic ones. And you know North Korea is making very, very real progress here. It has developed a missile capable of reaching U.S. territory. Statements from the United Nations don't seem to stop that.
BERMAN: All right. Frida Ghitis, Jim Walsh, Jackie Kucinich, thanks so much for being with us, guys. Appreciate it.
WALSH: Thank you.
HARLOW: Thank you, guys.
The stakes could not be higher. Trump -- President Trump to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin as tensions rise over North Korea. We will ask one Democratic lawmaker what he thinks about the president's big tests overseas ahead.
[10:17:10] HARLOW: President Trump is in the air right now. He's en route to Europe. This as tension with North Korea escalates significantly. The U.S. now conducting joint military drills with South Korea in the wake of North Korea's successful test of a new long-range missile, one that has not been seen before, according to U.S. officials.
BERMAN: And in just 48 hours President Trump and Russia's leader, Vladimir Putin, will meet face-to-face. Obviously, North Korea will come up. One thing not going come up, at least according to the White House, Russian election meddling.
I want to get reaction to all of this from Democratic Congressman Tony Cardenas. He joins us now from California. Thank you so much for being with us, sir. I want to get your reaction to what is an ominous milestone with North Korea. The first time they have tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. It is a new kind of missile. The White House has responded by this military exercise in South Korea and also, this statement from the president about China. Is this the right response from the White House?
REP. TONY CARDENAS (D-CA), DEMOCRATIC ASSISTANT WHIP: I think that the president has been operating too much out of tweets and not out of long-term planning. He's starting to realize that being the president of the United States, it's complicated. And North Korea, yes, they met a milestone and it's something that we would never ever want to see. But he said, earlier it's not going to happen. Well, Mr. President, it did happen. Now what's the plan?
HARLOW: OK. So, tweets aside. What concrete actions then have you seen from White House that you disagree with or what actions do you want to see taken that have not yet been taken, Congressman?
CARDENAS: Well, I disagree and am disappointed with the actions the White House has taken, which is just a lot of strong talk, tough talk. For example, when it comes to China, what we need to see happen is, we need to get tough with China and say, look, you're the biggest trading partner with North Korea - you enabled that.
HARLOW: Well, Congressman, with all due respect, the actions were the sanctions against that big Chinese bank. You have these joint military exercises. So, those actions you disagree with?
CARDENAS: Well, I disagree that that's not enough. And the bottom line is the president is not dealing with China the way we should. China can and should be our biggest ally when it comes to putting North Korea in its place.
BERMAN: So, Congressman, as you sit here now, because President Trump has called strategic patience, which was President Obama's policy toward North Korea. He calls that a mistake. Are you prepared, as you sit here right now because you're saying President Trump needs taking the stronger actions, was strategic patience under President Obama a mistake?
CARDENAS: Well, strategic patience is incredibly complicated. And with all due respect, I had yet to see what this president - President Trump has laid out when it comes to the complicated plan of that strategic patience.
BERMAN: -- But as you're testing intercontinental ballistic missiles, six months in the administration, is that a sign in and of itself that President Obama's policies fit?
CARDENAS: Well, I wouldn't say that the former president's policies have failed but what I will say it's a confluence of actions that would have been taken with North Korea and by North Korea.
[10:20:03] And the bottom line is Donald Trump points way too much whether it comes to health care, North Korea, or it comes to Russian meddling. He just points to the previous administration instead of realizing, you are the president today and you've been in the president going on 20 -- excuse me -- six months. So, therefore, what have you been doing? What's the plan?
HARLOW: So, Congressman, I'm having a hard time following your argument. Because you're very critical of the Trump administration for not going far enough but you hesitate to criticize the Obama administration who could have implemented these sanctions against China, who could have taken a harder line with Xi Jinping and did not.
CARDENAS: Well, the bottom line is the previous administration did take a lot of actions. They did do much more than this administration did in any six-month period in my opinion.
BERMAN: You're not talking about North Korea, are you?
CARDENAS: What's that?
BERMAN: You're not talking specifically about North Korea. What did the previous administration do?
CARDENAS: I'm sorry. I was responding to the point about China. But the bottom line is North Korea is in fact, the bad actor. We've known that for decades. The bottom line is this. What is this president doing? What's his plan? I haven't heard anybody articulate that plan. Forgive me. But what is it?
HARLOW: Congressman, my question about China was pertaining solely to North Korea. China is necessary. -
Right, so my question to you is, should the Obama administration have done more to sanction China, to put pressure on China sooner?
CARDENAS: Well, when you look at it in 2020 hindsight, perhaps they could have or should have. But the bottom line is this. Six months have gone by and this president has absolutely no plan. He talks up. He said that missile test was not going the take place. It did, in fact, take place. They finally admit it that that was a two-stage missile and it has intercontinental capability. Now what do we do?
BERMAN: We'll have to wait and see. He did try to pressure China. He had a meeting with Xi Jinping, which he now says, it did not work. And he's going to try something else. So we will see what that is the G20.
Congressman, if we could shift to domestic politics here. You were part of a meeting after the special election in Georgia that apparently discussed the possibility of replacing Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader. Do you feel that is necessary?
CARDENAS: I think that those meetings are necessary. We're a body of members elected by the public. And the bottom line is this. The question that I have to my colleagues, are we putting our best foot forward? What do we need to do? We lost the House in 2010. We didn't regain it in 2012, 2014 or 2016. We're fast approaching 2018. And what are we doing to make sure that our message is there. That we are working for the people of America. We care about children's education. We care about health care. We care about those things. Obviously, we need to do a better job of communicating that.
BERMAN: Does that mean with or without Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader?
CARDENAS: No one person is more important than this country. And the bottom line is this. We need to move forward with our best foot forward, with the plan, with the best individuals and having the best honest message.
HARLOW: Can you do that with Nancy Pelosi, yes or no?
CARDENAS: As far as I'm concerned, we have to look in the mirror and realize whether we can or can't and then move forward and make some tough decisions.
HARLOW: That's not an answer. But we have to get to commercial, Congressman.
CARDENAS: That is an answer, thank you.
BERMAN: Appreciate your time, sir.
All right, President Trump, as we have been discussing has some big meetings in the coming days, perhaps none bigger that his face-to-face with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. What should he say to the Russian leader and what does Vladimir Putin want out of this? We'll speak to Fareed Zakaria, next.
[10:27:49] BERMAN: All right. Two days until President Trump meets face-to-face with the Russia leader Vladimir Putin. So, what does he, Vladimir Putin, want out of this.
HARLOW: The Kremlin says the meeting will focus on possible U.S./Russia cooperation, quote, in case the U.S. is ready to cooperate in the interest of the joint battle against terrorism, we know that the Trump administration wants to talk about Ukraine and Syria. Let's go to Matthew Chance. He's in Moscow with more. Also, given all of the breaking news and concern and heightened tensions about North Korea. You really have Russia and China on the same page, as united front in opposition to the U.S. actions when it comes to North Korea.
MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, the Russians say that the main thing for this first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin of Russia is that they establish a working relationship. It's incredibly important for the Russians that they get the sanctions from the United States lifted. They normalize this relationship.
They've got some ideas about what the agenda should be. You mentioned they want to talk about the areas of possible cooperation between the United States and Russia, the fight against international terrorism. They talk about that a lot when it comes to the conflict in Syria. That may be an area as well that President Trump wants to speak about. You're right, with the crisis unfolding on the Korean Peninsula, that's banged to come up as well.
And Russians have been very strong position on that. They want negotiations. They're saying that the United Nations Security Council should not be used as a pretext to try in regime change in North Korea. They're against regime change. They've seen it in Iraq and in Ukraine and elsewhere and strenuously resisted. They also want negotiations because it gives them a key role. They want to be part of the solution into this key international crisis in diplomacy.
BERMAN: All right. Matthew Chance for us in Moscow, thank you very, very much.
Again, you know meetings with key world leaders about to take place in Germany as part of the G20 summit, which means we have a lot to discuss. Joining us right now, the host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Fareed Zakaria is here.
Fareed, thank you so much for being with us -- rushing in just for the occasion, we do appreciate it. We're talking about President Trump on his way to the G20. He will have what is this first official - his first face-to-face -
[10:30:00] HARLOW: Even though he's -
BERMAN: Even though he claimed for a long time he'd already met him -- with Vladimir Putin. What does Putin want out of this?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": I think what Putin wants is an end to the sort of paralysis of U.S./Russian relations.