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North Korea Claims Successful ICBM Test; Trump Prepares for Europe Trip, Meeting with Putin. Aired 4-4:30a ET
Aired July 4, 2017 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[04:00:02] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Max Foster in London.
We begin with breaking news here out of North Korea. North Korea says it tested -- successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. And as the United States prepares to celebrate its Independence Day, this rocket in theory could reach the U.S. state of Alaska.
Pyongyang released these pictures a short while ago of what it says was the launch. State-run television says those orders came directly from Kim Jong-un.
Here's what else we know about it. North Korea says the missile reached an altitude of more than 2,800 kilometers. That's in line with what Japan's military had earlier estimated.
South Korea's military says it flew a distance of more than 930 kilometers, landing in the waters east of the Korean peninsula. According to the Japanese defense official, to one of them, that may have put it within Japan's exclusive economic zone.
U.S. President Trump reacted on Twitter: North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have another better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with it much longer.
Let's get more from correspondents in the region. Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, South Korea. Andrew Stevens is in Hong Kong. And Kaori Enjoji is in Tokyo.
First, though, to Paula.
So, this is what North Korea was looking for and what South Korea and the U.S. are afraid of.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly what, Max. This is what North Korea is claiming at this point, looking at the figures. Their experts are trying to figure out exactly how far that range is and how far it could hit we've had on air. Experts saying in theory, it could hit potentially Alaska.
But what we are hearing from the North Koreans is triumphant acknowledgment, triumphant announcement that they have launched an ICBM. They say it is successful. They even said that they could now target the whole of the world. Now, clearly, with the figures that they have given us, that's not accurate. But it shows that they have made a significant leap in technology if, in fact, this is all accurate.
We are being shown images on KCTV, on North Korean television, also on state-run media. KCNA, they have the full article declaring that Kim Jong-un was there, he ordered this. We saw a photo of him actually signing something, and then a piece of paper which looked like it was the test order that he had signed himself.
So, putting Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, center to this ICBM test as we've seen with all the missile tests in recent months. Certainly, this will be of great concern to those in Washington, in Japan, and also here in South Korea. That tweet from the U.S. president was before North Korea had claimed that it was an ICBM.
So, it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction we have from him. The South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, just before saying that the military here was looking at the possibility it could have been an ICBM and saying that if it was, then he would make sure there was an appropriate response. We don't know what that appropriate response is, whether he will ask for more sanctions, whether -- we simply don't know what it would be.
But we have heard just in past couple of days, President Moon while standing to the U.S. president in Washington saying he wanted North Korea to come back to the negotiating table. Clearly, now, that is going to be a bit more tricky -- Max.
FOSTER: Yes, that's one of the issues, isn't it? It was a clear provocation, wasn't it, to the U.S. because it came on Independence Day. And Kim Jong-un would be well aware of that.
HANCOCKS: It came on Independence Day in North Korea. It wasn't quite Independence Day in the United States due to the time change. But these missile launches always come fairly early in the morning or within the morning hours in North Korea.
So, much has been made of the timing. It's anyone's guess whether or not this was specifically targeted for July 4th. We know a couple of times in the past, North Korea has favored this date for making a statement to the United States.
But let's bear in mind they also need to test their capability. North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, has made it abundantly clear he will try and perfect an ICBM. He wants to have an intercontinental ballistic missile that can hit the mainland United States, and he wants to be able to put a nuclear warhead on top.
He says for self-defense. He says it's necessary because of a hostile U.S. policy. But North Korea has been abundantly clear that is what it wants to do.
But when you look at the timing, you have to point out President Moon just came back from a summit with the U.S. president. President Moon actually mentioned that, saying this was disappointing, this came just a few days after his summit and it comes just ahead of the G-20 meeting in Germany where you will have all the leaders, the heads of state who would have been potentially talking about other issues. They're now likely going to be talking specifically about North Korea.
[04:05:03] So, yes, something can be said of the timing. But quite frankly, we don't know exactly why North Korea does things when it does -- Max.
FOSTER: No. Well, certainly, conversations, as well, between Tokyo and Washington.
Let's go to Kaori, because when we talk about responses, one of the ones that the world is afraid of is a military response. Do you think Japan would support a U.S. military response to North Korea?
KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, the U.S./Japan security alliance is the bedrock of Japanese national security agenda. And the U.S., of course, is critical in that sense.
But I think for now the Japanese side is saying that it wants to try and bring more nations to the table to try and cooperate internationally, particularly using a venue like the upcoming G-20 to put more pressure on North Korea, to try and contain the situation. But a lot of strong language, I think stronger than usual, from the prime minister today regarding this latest missile launch, saying that it is a clear sign that the threat from North Korea is increasing, and the Japanese government issuing a protest to what it called a clear violation of U.N. resolutions.
And these protests and comments from the prime minister are coming within minutes of the launch this morning, very quickly this time, because the missile launches are becoming much more frequent. It wouldn't be the first time that one would land within the exclusive economic zone. But clearly the Japanese authorities are growing increasingly frustrated at their inability to contain the frequency of these launches.
And I think the point that Prime Minister Abe mentioned, the fact that he not only wants to cooperate and discuss with the U.S. and China and South Korea with the trilateral meeting scheduled this week on the sidelines of the G-20, but stressing the importance to engage other countries, particularly China and Russia, to take what he called a constructive action regarding the North Korea issue.
So, I think clearly Japanese prime minister frustrated, but keen to play sort of a mediator role in trying to contain this crisis.
FOSTER: Would that involve mediating with the North Koreans themselves? That's not certainly the sort of message we're hearing from Seoul and Washington, increasingly hearing at least.
ENJOJI: I think it would be difficult to assume that at this point. I think it would be more through a concerted effort with its partners in South Korea and the United States at this point. But remember that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself is in a very
difficult position locally within Japan. His support rating is falling. He's coming off a very, very big blow in local elections over the weekend. So, I think he's very keen to raise his profile here among local voters. And I think that might play a part in what steps he might take from here on.
FOSTER: OK. And Andrew Stevens in Hong Kong, we'll expect to hear from Donald Trump this morning, no doubt he'll tweet something. It's likely to be targeted at China, isn't it, and expecting China to step up and resolve this.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely. We've heard from Donald Trump saying that he perhaps, in his words, that China would make a heavy move. Again, his words, on North Korea over this latest missile test, because really, the Chinese have been all about engaging North Korea in dialogue. They have continued to stick with this line, despite the U.S. administration wanting more economic action coming from China.
There's no doubt that China does hold a lot of leverage over North Korea in terms of economic -- basically an economic survival for North Korea. Something like 90 percent of North Korean trade is with China. So, it does give you an idea of how powerful China could be.
China will tell you and quite rightly that it is implementing all of the U.N. sanctions on North Korea and is a signatory to the U.N. sanctions against the country. But it says that's the way forward is pushing for dialogue. We've just heard from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs just in the last half hour or so, that they say that they're still gathering -- they note the reports, they're still gathering information.
Certainly this stage, you can't detect a change of tone from China, from the foreign affairs. We've stated our position many times. China opposes the launch of this missile. It urges North Korea to stop action that's breached the United Nations Security Council resolutions, et cetera, et cetera. We've heard all that before.
Now, interestingly, given the fact that we've got the G-20 coming up next week with all the key players, virtually all the key players involved, that may be the time for China to start pushing for more dialogue, a concerted attempt to bring North Korea to the table.
[04:10:04] But it's almost as if the U.S. may be the odd one out and certainly listening to Donald Trump in pushing for economic action, that hard-line action from China against North Korea.
FOSTER: Some suggestion that Donald Trump might call for a meeting with Kim Jong-un in response, to do a deal and resolve it that way. Is that something that China would support then?
STEVENS: Yes, China would support that, very much so. It believes that the U.S. should be speaking to North Korea about this. China says that is the most positive way forward. And that the Chinese backed up by Russia on this point. So, it's very much a question of dialogue rather than economic action,
certainly not military action against North Korea. So, how Donald Trump goes forward now obviously remains to be seen. He has spoken to President Xi.
What you have to take into account as far as the mood music to this in a way, Max, is that China and the U.S. are having their own tensions. Strains are rising. After that meeting or telephone call between Xi and Donald Trump, the Chinese made it pretty clear that there's negative impact on the relationship because two of or three incidents recently by the U.S. which affects China, which the Chinese are not happy about. So, there is that background, as well.
FOSTER: All right. Andrew in Hong Kong, thank you.
Martin Navias is a research associates at the Center for Defense Studies at King's College here in London. He joins me now.
How do you think Donald Trump is going to respond later today, if you can try to predict it?
MARTIN NAVIAS, CENTRE FOR DEFENCE STUDIES, KING'S COLLEGE LONDON: Very difficult to predict his behavior, but he will take this as a personal slight, as a provocation. He's already tweeted earlier derogatory things about Kim Jong-un. I expect in the first stage he will try and bring additional pressure to China to cut off links to North Korea.
China provides the ultimate lifeline to North Korea. Still does. It's within China's strategic interest at the moment, ton create a major crisis with North Korea. It's because of this different viewpoint between the United States that is trying to curtail the nuclear and missile program in China, and doesn't want to push the North Koreans too far that we have the basis of a real emerging crisis between Beijing and Washington.
FOSTER: Well, exactly. Where's the compromise there?
NAVIAS: Well, I think a compromise is possible. First thing to recognize is that Kim Jong-un will never, ever, ever give up his nuclear weapons or his ballistic missiles. I mean, we have moved past that stage.
What the United States does not want and what would be a red line for the Americans is for the North Koreans to actually deploy an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States. So, if they can reach an agreement whereby Kim Jong-un retains his lost line of defense -- his last line of defense, his nuclear capability, and America is protected from extended range missiles on the nuclear warheads, then a compromise is possible. We have to still get to that stage. We seem quite far from there.
FOSTER: Yes, apart from anything else, China's got so many other issues it's concerned about around the world, as well. And when it comes to the G-20 they're not going to just want to focus on North Korea.
NAVIAS: Well, they may not want to focus on it. The question is how far is the United States prepared to escalate the problem. I believe that ultimately the United States will escalate the problem and make it the number-one issue in American/Chinese relations.
I cannot believe that the American President Donald Trump or anybody else can tolerate a situation where a leader like Kim Jong-un is able to target New York and Los Angeles with nuclear armed missiles. It changes the strategic equation that we have grown used to over the past few decades qualitatively. I mean, everything will be different if the North Koreans are able to do that. And every effort will be made by the Americans to stop them doing that.
Now, whether that will lead to actual military conflict, that's hard to say because the military options are not great. I cannot believe that we can carry on at this stage with the North Koreans constantly testing more missiles, moving on as we suspect to another nuclear test in the not too distant future and perfecting delivery capability. Because once the continental United States becomes vulnerable to a North Korean nuclear strike, the American strategic position has deteriorated in a manner that we've not seen since the Russians first acquired nuclear weapons.
[04:15:16] FOSTER: OK. Martin Navias at King's College, thank you.
You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
A big test for Donald Trump, another one, as he heads to Europe for the G-20 Summit. How world leaders are repairing for the man who says America first.
Stay with us.
FOSTER: Returning to our breaking news this hour. North Korea has announced it successfully fired an intercontinental ballistic missile. In a televised announced, Pyongyang said Kim Jong-un ordered the test. The missile may have landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone. South Korea's military says it landed in the waters east of the Korean peninsula after traveling some 930 kilometers.
U.S. President Donald Trump says he is concerned about Pyongyang's ability to target the U.S. with one of its missiles. One analyst told CNN this one would have been capable of hitting Alaska. North Korea is sure to be on the agenda for the G-20 Summit which kicks off in Germany later this week.
[04:20:05] There's a lot at stake for the U.S. president. And all eyes will be on his first face-to-face meeting as well with Vladimir Putin.
International diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is with us from Abu Dhabi with more on what's at stake in the week ahead.
And we can assume now, Nic, that North Korea will up the agenda. I know it was already there. But perhaps it will be more important now.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's certainly going to focus minds a lot. There's a lot on the agenda at the G-20. But President Trump was already planning a trilateral meeting in the margins with Japan, with South Korea, over concerns about North Korea. President Trump goes into this with many tensions, not just with the Russians, for example. Ukraine, Syria, those are expected topics to come up in the conversation with Vladimir Putin.
There isn't a specified agenda for that sideline meeting there at the G-20.
We're told from the White House likely not to expect President Trump to confront Vladimir Putin on allegations of Russian hacking during the U.S. presidential campaign. So, you know, those tensions, if we listen to what the Kremlin is saying, the spokesman for president Putin, just yesterday said patience is running out with the United States over those diplomatic facilities that were closed late last year by the United States.
President Obama expelled several Russian diplomats to the United States. Russia did nothing at the time. But now, the indication from the Kremlin is that patience is running out on that. President Trump has tensions with China, as we've been talking about, over trade, over weapons sales to Taiwan, over sanctions on a bank in China for not complying enough with sanctions on North Korea.
Then you go into sort of bigger picture, President Trump at odds with the world on climate change. You have President Macron just recently saying, you know, that you know, we should put -- to paraphrase what President Trump said about put America first, make America great again, he said make the world great again. Then there are tensions with our hosts, President Trump has tensions with Angela Merkel over trade, over the way he's criticized her policy toward refugees.
So, from a President Trump perspective going into this, he has a lot of tensions ahead of him. Yet, many of these leaders will look to him, and he will also feel the pressure to try to gather consensus on what to do about North Korea. As we can see, he's not shown so far the temperament to gather that kind of compromise.
FOSTER: OK, Nic, thank you.
Trump's unpopularity may be shaping how some world leaders deal with him. We're going to see a few tested at the G-20.
To discuss it is Leslie Vinjamuri. She's a senior lecturer of international relations at SOAS at the University of London, associate fellow at Chatham House, as well.
I mean, he's a disrupter, isn't he? Does he want people to like him, this meeting, or is it all about his constituency at home?
LESLIE VINJAMURI, SR. LECTURER IN INTL. RELATIONS, SOAS UNIV. OF LONDON: Well, I think Donald Trump wants to be liked. There's a question of who he wants to be liked by. He's always speaking in multiple languages or he's targeting multiple audiences. He's got his concern forever about his base, that sort of 70/20 percent who are very loyal still. But even the 38 percent that continue to support him.
Remember, he's going to the G-20 at a time when he's under a lot of pressure at home. Not only on the ongoing investigations about Russia and the allegations that there might be a connection between his campaign team and members of the White House and that. But also, even just yesterday, there was a court ruling that restricted his ability to undo the regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to undertake with respect to methane. And now, we have, you know, climate change is a key issue at the G-20.
So, he's facing a lot of pushback in the courts and more broadly at home. Very negative reactions over the weekend to his tweets. So, he does want positive feedback. But this is also taking place at a time where he's had very difficult relationships with European partners and he's taken in the past several days a harder line with China, with South Korea, and then, he, of course, wakes up to an ICBM, we're told, being launched by North Korea on July 4th -- as we approach the July 4th holiday.
So, this is a difficult time for the president. He will, given what we've seen from his personality, approach this a bit on the back foot, could send them in to a very aggressive mode, as he was about to have this first meeting with Putin, which, of course, will be what many Americans and certainly those in Washington are watching very intently.
FOSTER: But some people suggesting you shouldn't underestimate the two of them, because they might try and find a way, both coming out of this stronger, realizing, they're going to going head to head against each other. It isn't going to work for either of them.
VINJAMURI: No, and, of course, Donald Trump has wanted a strong relationship with Putin and Russia. He's wanted to change the nature of that relationship.
[04:25:00] And his attempt to do that has probably been the one thing most disappointing to him. Now, having -- forging a strong partnership with Putin won't necessarily put him in a better place with respect to Washing to and the United States, given the intensity of this focus on the investigations. And Putin will approach that bilateral meeting with a very clear agenda, with a lot of flexibility. He's popular at home. Donald Trump is not.
And so, Trump doesn't, we're told, according to H.R. McMaster, doesn't have a very clear agenda, is willing to talk about anything. But that also means that, you know, it's unpredictable what he'll say and how that will go. Could go anyway as we know.
FOSTER: And meeting, also his dealings with Angela Merkel will be interesting, as well, won't it? Because it does feel as if after the meeting amongst European leaders, that they're going to unite behind her, try to give some sort of united message to give a bit of pushback on issues over trade, for example, and climate change in particular. VINJAMURI: That's right. I mean, remember the G-20 really emerged
after the 2008 financial crisis as being the key forum for bringing together the major economies, major economic powers to cooperate, to ensure the success of globalism. And now, we have Macron and Merkel emerging at the forefront. And Donald Trump's on the back foot with his American-first agenda, with his very combative approach.
And Merkel's got the upper hand. She's also facing elections, as we know, in September. So, it's playing very well in a German context to take a harder line on Donald Trump. I think we'll be watching this very carefully.
The last meeting between President Trump and the European leaders, his first foreign visit, didn't go terribly well. So, this will very be interesting, to see whether he really does try to change the contours of the relationships, or whether he goes home with a much -- in a much more difficult position.
FOSTER: It's going to be interesting. Leslie --
VINJAMURI: It will be interesting, of course.
FOSTER: Thank you very much indeed.
You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
Still to come, the Chinese and Russian presidents will be holding their own talks in the coming hour. We'll have a live report on that.
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