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Growing Threat of North Korea Hanging Over Trump's G20 Trip; Fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 6, 2017 - 06:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The growing threat from North Korea is hanging over President Trump's visit to the G20 summit this week. He says he is considering, quote, "pretty severe things" to counter the North Korean threat.

What exactly, though, does that mean?

And what options does he have on the table?

Let's bring in our David McKenzie. He is live in Seoul, South Korea, with more.

Good morning.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. Yes, around the world and in the U.S., they were waiting to hear what President Trump would say about the Korean issue, the North Korean crisis, and possibly the most dangerous period we've seen from the Korean Peninsula in a long time.

And what he said came from a position of strength. But it was certainly low on details.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must also confront the threat from North Korea. And that's what it is, it's a threat. And we will confront it very strongly. President Duda and I call on all nations to confront this global threat and publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences for their very, very bad behavior.

I have some pretty severe things that we're thinking about. That doesn't mean we're going to do them. I don't draw red lines.


MCKENZIE: Well, certainly, those red lines he says he doesn't draw. But on the table, potentially, could be some kind of military option. Most analysts say that could be disastrous for cities like Seoul, which are permanently in the firing line of North Korea. And on the other aspect of this you have Russia and China, who have

drawn the wagons over their approach, really saying that the U.S. and South Korea should stop their provocations, in their view, to get to the negotiating table -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. That was a --


CUOMO: -- strong statement that came from the Russians and China there, basically putting North Korea and the U.S. on even footing in this dispute.

David McKenzie, thank you very much.

The Trump administration insisting the use of force is on the table to deal with North Korea.

What options would the U.S. have?

What could be the plan?

We have an expert with the realities -- next.





CUOMO: President Trump is in Poland this morning. He's going to give a speech in a little bit less than an hour. We'll bring it to you.

Earlier, he said he doesn't draw red lines but says he is considering, quote, "pretty severe things" when it comes to North Korea. U.S. officials believe the missile Pyongyang tested this week had the potential to reach Alaska. This is a new level of threat for North Korea.

So what are the options for the U.S.?

Let's discuss with CNN military analyst and U.S. Army retired Major General James "Spider" Marks and Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World."

Options: military, diplomatic. We keep hearing everybody say all bad options. There are no good options. That's why nothing has changed in North Korea for so long.

How do you see it, Gordon?

Is that absolutely true?

Is there nothing that can be done? GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR: Well, there's a lot that can be done but there are no good options because we've pursued misguided policies over the course of decades and that has left the American people in peril.

So everything going forward is going to cost the United States in tangible ways.

But there are a lot of things we can do. We can enforce our own laws, for instance. We can drive a lot of Chinese banks out of dollar business because they've been laundering money for North Korea.

And it's not the small bank that we unplugged last week, Bank of Dandong. It's also Bank of China, which was implicated in a money laundering scheme by the U.N. last year.

But also there are some military options that people don't talk about. So for instance interdicting North Korean shipping, carrying weapons like missiles to Iran. We don't have authority under U.N. rules as a general boarding of North Korean ships.

But the North Koreans, they have abrogated the peace armistice three times this century and that gives us the authority to seek North Korean ships.

We're not going to do that. But we should stop this flow of missiles to Iran and weapons to other countries because that is completely unacceptable and dangerous to not only our interest but the interests of the international community.

CUOMO: General, do you agree that we would not interdict with these types of shipping operations?

And what do you see as the option?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, as Gordon said, absolutely, I doubt the United States would take that type of operation. It is very provocative if we did.

However, it should be done. We should be provocative. Inarguably, everything we have done to date, has had zero effect on North Korean behavior. That's the concern I have.

Were we to other military options, for example, could be increasing naval presence in the region -- we've done that before -- increasing the deployment of aircraft, different types of bombers as well as intelligence collection, as well as attack aircraft -- we've done that before -- increase special operations, increase military intelligence collection.

The priority for intelligence collection can go to the North. Understand that all of our intelligence collection has to compete with all the other challenges that are going on in the world at any one time.

So there are a number of things that we can do and, in many cases, what Gordon just described and what I'm offering right now are things we should do, understanding, of course, that we want to try to avoid pushing too hard against the regime in the North because you could have what are not unintended consequences but are absolutely known consequences of Kim feeling threatened.

And his ability to do some tremendous damage against the South immediately, that has to be avoided.

CUOMO: Now you understand the intel situation there intimately, General.

Were you surprised to hear about this ICBM and its capacities?

MARKS: No. Not at all. I mean, look, North Korea, since '09, has pulled itself out of any type of -- it may have been a charade in terms of the controls or at least the protocols in place for nuke development.

So they have unimpeded been able to get the technology that Gordon described from Pakistan, from Iran, others to achieve this capability.

And what we saw with this launch looks like probably solid fuel, which is denser, which gives you more thrust, what gives you more altitude, which is exactly what they achieved.

And the additional piece that we haven't seen before is a reentry vehicle. They brought this thing back down. They put things in space before; that's it. They've never been able to take it from extra- atmospheric and bring it back down to Earth.

They did just the other day. That should be very, very concerning to us -- and it is.

CUOMO: So you get to this perplexing question of what do you about it?

Gordon, you know, and things have been tried before. Now the general just said something that we hear from time to time, that North Korea doesn't operate in a vacuum.

Whether it's Pakistan, Iran or, of course, China or Russia, they have people, whether you want to call them friends or allies or convenient operatives, in specific situations. They're there.


CUOMO: What about those angles?

Are those plumbed enough by the United States?

Are there possibilities in working with the people who help the North Koreans?

CHANG: Yes, that's exactly where we need to go. We can increase sanctions on North Korea but only by a little bit. What we really need to do is to make sure the sanctions are enforced by other Security Council members, China and Russia. And also, we have got to make sure South Korea doesn't try to help

North Korea because they have now got a very pro-North Korean president, Moon Jae-in.

But the real issue here is China. The missile we saw yesterday, that was carried to the launch site on a Chinese launcher.

I mean, President Trump, instead of talking about CNN a few minutes ago, he should have been saying to the Chinese in public, at conference, how come they're launching Chinese missiles?

This is really completely unacceptable. He needs to actually bring this, not only to, you know, private discussions but public ones as well. And as I mentioned, there's a whole suite of options that we have against China, Russia, the rest of them.

CUOMO: Well, General, Gordon, let's see what the president says in his prepared remarks, if this issue comes up either in Poland or then the G20. We'll have more to work off. We'll bring you guys back and get some perspective on whether or not we're finding a better way forward.

Gentlemen, thanks.

MARKS: We hope it comes up.

CUOMO: Poppy.

HARLOW: It will indeed.

All right, a Russian tennis star now apologizing after making a pretty memorable exit at Wimbledon. Details next, in the "Bleacher Report."





CUOMO: You see what happened at Wimbledon, this Russian tennis player is in hot water for throwing coins towards an umpire in this fit of pique. Coy Wire has more on in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

What was that about?

COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I tell you, this kind of slow clap from even John McEnroe. Never seen anything like this before, Chris. Daniil Medvedev not happy with the umpires, calls throughout the second round match at Wimbledon with Ruben Bemelmans.

As you can, see Medvedev arguing calls with the umpire. He even told her that he wanted a new umpire at one point. Well, after Medvedev loses, he opens his wallet and starts throwing coins toward her as she's coming down the umpire's chair. And after the match, he was asked if he was trying to insinuate that

the umpire was biased in some way. He said no, it was just that heat of the moment, not sure why did it.

Medvedev will probably have to keep that wallet open, likely a fine coming his way.

All rise. Court is in session.

And once again we hear the case on whether or not Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is in fact human. The 6'7", 280-pound beast belted his league-leading 29th home run of the season, tying the legendary Joe DiMaggio's Yankee rookie record for most home runs in a season.

Joltin' Joe needed 138 games to make the mark, Alisyn. Judge needed just 81. It's going to be a clash of the titans at the Home Run Derby in Miami on Monday between the Judge and reigning champion, Giancarlo Stanton -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Good to see you, Coy Wire, thank you so much for that.

Coming up, U.S.-backed forces, close to recapturing Raqqa and Mosul from ISIS.

The question becomes, then what?

What's the plan after that?

We're going to take a closer look -- ahead.





HARLOW: U.S. allies on the ground in Syria have breached a wall surrounding the city of Raqqa, that's a key milestone in the campaign to try to liberate Raqqa. In Mosul, Iraq, officials tell CNN liberation of that city from ISIS is imminent.

So the question becomes, what happens next?

Then what?

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, and CNN investigative reporter for international affairs, Michael Weiss.

So, Barbara, this is something that you've talked repeatedly about and it's imminent.

If Raqqa is liberated and that is not imminent, as is Mosul, what does Raqqa taking away from ISIS accomplish?

How significant is it?

Because they are still a potent force, even without Raqqa.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are. And they will remain a potent force. And that is the risk to U.S. national security, the continuing ability of the ISIS, whether they have control of Raqqa or not, to be able to inspire attacks, direct attacks, plot and plan.

President Trump's so-called ISIS strategy has pretty much been the same as President Obama's: bomb, conduct combat operations, train local forces to go after them, you know, do more war, if you will.

But that's not really going to solve the ISIS problem. If you get them out of Raqqa, they've already moved southeast into the Euphrates River Valley. You can pursue them there, of course. But this is an ideology.

So this is a long-term, generational prospect for reconstruction of these areas, for rebuilding -- that's going to cost billions of dollars.

Will the U.S. really be there for this area?

But Syria is a unique example because it's Bashar al-Assad's country, isn't it?

He has got the Russians, he's got the Iranians behind him. You get ISIS out of Raqqa, how soon before Bashar al-Assad and his forces come back in?

HARLOW: That creates a hole.

And who fills that hole?

Because as you said, Assad still rules Syria.

So, Michael, help me understand something. Secretary of State Tillerson came out with a long statement yesterday. And at the end of it -- here's part of what he writes.

He writes, ISIS, quote, "could be on the brink of complete defeat in Syria if all the parties focus on that objective."

He went on to write that Russia must remove the obstacles to defeat ISIS. He specifically pointed out Russia and specific obstacles.

What are they?

And does it signal to you that he has in the U.S.' confidence in Russia on that front?

MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the obstacles are as follows: when Russia went to war in Syria in September of 2015, they really didn't go after ISIS, though that was the fanfare of intervention. They instead went after (INAUDIBLE), rebel groups and other opposition (INAUDIBLE) that are deemed more a (INAUDIBLE) which is to say not (INAUDIBLE) jihadists, terrorists but the (INAUDIBLE) that stood a chance of (INAUDIBLE) when Bashar al-Assad --


HARLOW: Michael, stand by, having a really hard time hearing you. We're only getting about every other word.

So, Barbara, let me just go to you on that front.

STARR: Well, look, I think that, in terms of Syria, the key issue right now, if you're going to defeat ISIS, has always been, to a very large extent, Russia's support for Bashar al-Assad.

If President Trump, at the G20, when he meets President Putin, is going to talk about Syria, he's going to be talking about support for Assad.

Russia is not backing off. Russia wants to stay in Syria. They want that toehold in the Middle East and Iran also, very much influencing the militia movements there.

So, again, you know, the whole question of whether you can defeat ISIS in Syria, you can defeat them where they stand on the ground. You can kill them off exactly where they stand.

Do you defeat the movement?

And do you actually have Raqqa come back under civilian control for the benefit of the people who live there?

How soon before Russia continues to exert its influence?

How long, if Russia comes back with Assad into areas like Raqqa, into the Euphrates River Valley, if they expand their sphere of influence, how long before the U.S.-backed forces, the Syrian democratic forces, the Kurds, the Arabs that the U.S. has been trying to train to fight and have been making progress against ISIS, how long before those forces are pushed to the background or even worse?

HARLOW: And of course we're watching Mosul even closer, given that it is believed that retaking Mosul is imminent.

But the question is, you've reported a lot about, Barbara, is what happens then?

What fills the hole left in Mosul?

What does a post-ISIS Mosul look for all of the people that call it home?

Barbara Starr, thank you for the reporting from the Pentagon.

We have a lot of news, President Trump about to speak in Poland in just moments. NEW DAY continues right now.


TRUMP: Barack Obama found out about this in terms of if it were Russia. He did nothing about it.