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U.S. Senator: "There Is Military Option" On North Korea; Kenyan Election Official Killed Days Before Vote; Kenya Holds Presidential Election Tuesday; France Uncovers "Little Pompeii". Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired August 2, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, SITUATION ROOM HOST: Douglas Gregor (ph), thanks so much for joining us.
GREGOR: Thank you.
BLITZER: That's it for me. I'll be back 5 p.m. Eastern in the Situation Room. The news continues right now.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, bomb or diploma. A top U.S. Senate Republican says, President Trump's threat of
military actions against North Korea must be real.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think President Trump has no other choice. He's got to fix Homeland Security over the nation's stability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: I talked to experts on North Korea and on China.
Also, a Kenyan election officer tortured and killed just days before the presidential vote.
I'm joined by Kenya's U.N. ambassador.
Good evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Fred Pleitgen in for Christiane Amanpour.
Negotiate or attack on North Korea. It's not clear what President Trump will do. America's top diplomat Rex Tillerson favors dialogue. But
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says, war is on a table and that the president agrees.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: There is a military option to destroy North Korea's program and North Korea itself. He is not going to
allow President Trump the ability of this madman to have a missile to hit America.
If there is going to be a war to stop him, it will be over there. If thousands died, they're going to die over there and they're not going to
die here. And he's told me that to my face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: Kim Jong-un's most recent ICBM test on Friday flew within minutes of an air (INAUDIBLE) passenger jets, CNN learned today. But the
threat is far more severe in just in air collusion.
I want you to look at the following animation that we have.
North Korea tests its missiles by shooting them nearly vertically to avoid provoking neighbors too much. Friday's launch through 3,700 kilometers
high. That's more than 10 times the altitude of the international space station if you can believe that.
Experts warn that a missile like this could theoretically reach places like New York. So we have a lot to talk about.
And joining me now are, Sue Mi Terry, the former top Korea official on the U.S. National Security Council, and Jonathan Pollack who studies U.S.-China
relations at the Brookings Institution.
Jonathan, I want to start with you because we are obviously on this day where President Trump has just signed this new sanctions bill which of
course targets China -- targets Russia but targets North Korea as well. And one thing the president said is that he believes this bill is, quote,
remains seriously flawed. It will drive China, Russia and North Korea much closer together.
Do you believe that that's really true?
JONATHAN POLLACK, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Is that a question to me?
POLLACK: Yes. That's a postulated position. I'm not so sure. A lot of it would depend on exactly how these sanctions would or would not be
enforced. The president really didn't have any options other than to sign it frankly, just given the strength of the congressional position in all of
But sanctions, although important cannot be a veil and (INAUDIBLE). And so there are lots of other aspects in terms of making these choices. And any
of it, it's not a binary choice, it's not a question of dialogue versus war. I think we make a big mistake if we post those as the only two
PLEITGEN: And so as far as North Korea is concerned, do you believe that the U.S. needs to take a harder line and make sure that the threat of
military action is very real that for instance word from Lindsey Graham just now.
SUE MI TERRY, FORMER SENIOR CIA SENIOR KOREA ANALYST: Well, I think it's - - that's too much of a blustering and I think it's irresponsible honestly what Lindsey Graham said. And if President Trump said it himself when he
says somehow that lives of our allies are expendable in a way, never mind. You know, we actually -- we do have some 200,000 experts, U.S. experts
living in Seoul right now. We have some 20, 500 American soldiers living there.
And so I don't think military option should be truly on the table. So it's kind of a irresponsible statement by Senator Graham and Mr. Trump.
PLEITGEN: Yes, and, you know, Jonathan --
POLLACK: I would very much agree with --
PLEITGEN: Yes, let me pause that question to you Jonathan. One of the things that Lindsey Graham also said is he wants the president to present
China, of course your area of expertise, with two bad options. Either a massive American military campaign or dealing with Kim Jong-un. What do
you make of stuff like that?
POLLACK: Well, look, Senator Graham is free to say what he wants. I mean, he's not in the executive branch. I think he needs to be much more careful
about the kinds of sentiments that he expresses. Because as Sue Mi just highlighted, it's not as if this would be cost free.
[14:05:07] It would be, major war on the Peninsula would be a disaster on an extraordinarily scale as obviously any kind of a presumptive attack on
the United States will be the same. But either way, if the idea here is somehow you're trying to force China into choose this or choose that, it's
not going to go very far.
That's just simply not a way the Chinese conceptualized these issues. And it's a big mistake to think that we will force their hand and worse, force
it in a very, very public manner as Senator Graham is proposing.
PLEITGEN: Now, one of the things that some people have criticized is that, they're not sure whether the administration speaking with one voice. I
want all just really quickly to listen to what Rex Tillerson had to say on this as secretary of state. Let's listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We do not seek a regime change. We do not seek the collapse of the regime. We do not seek an accelerated
reunification of the Peninsula. We do not seek an excuse to send out military north of the 38th Parallel.
And we're trying to convey to the North Koreans, we are not your enemy. We're not your threat but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us.
And we have to respond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: So do you think that that is something that could get Kim Jong- un to tone it down a little bit?
TERRY: I don't think so and I don't think Kim Jong-un necessarily believes Secretary Tillerson. And this speaks to incoherence and dysfunctional
policy process that, you know, of the Trump administration. Because you have a multiple conflicting statements coming out by different officials in
the Trump administration.
I don't think North Koreans will be deterred or relieved. I think that they will continue what their provocations. They will -- and I'm pretty
certain there'll be more ICBM tests and nuclear tests coming our way.
PLEITGEN: Jonathan, do you think that, you know, some of the president's recent tweets, also some of the things that we're hearing from folks like
Lindsey Graham and the president himself about being disappointed in China in this whole process. Do you think that that is more than just him being
angry at China or North Korea?
Do you think of that as a more fundamental shift in the administration's stand towards China? Because there is also, you know, rumors floating
around that there could be an investigations with trade practices as well.
POLLACK: Well, yes, I think that you're hearing some of that as well. You know, on the other hand, the president says different things on different
days. And I think what's needed above all is real message discipline, real clarity that we don't see right now. Where there's a lot of the
freelancing almost from different people as is they can make authoritative statements on policy.
Now obviously, the president is more in a position to state these things but even here, I think it's a big mistake for him to, in a very, very
public way try to shame China into acting differently. Simply not going to go very far and it's going to make it even that much more difficult for the
United States and China to find a way to meaningfully collaborate on this because very frankly, if the United States and China can't find a way to do
this through common effort and some degree of understanding. All that is a gift to North Korea because it creates more latitude for them to do what
they want to do in the first place.
PLEITGEN: But you, you mentioned Jonathan before that you thought that it's not a binary choice between military action obviously and diplomacy.
But I want to ask you, Sue, it is true that at any sort of diplomacy has to go through China, doesn't it?
TERRY: That is true because China does probably have the most leverage when it comes to North Korea. North Korea's trade volume, 90% of North
Korea's trade goes -- is with China. That is why I think that Trump administration is so focused on China. Although previous U.S.
administrations have also tried to get China to more (INAUDIBLE) in North Korea but they have not been successful.
And that is why I think the focus is right now are trying to go through even sanctions, even secondary sanctions against Chinese banks and entities
that (INAUDIBLE) with North Korea.
And Kim, what do you think -- Sue, what do you think Kim Jong-un's gains is in all of this? Why is he doing this right now? Does he feel that the
U.S. really wants regime change?
TERRY: Well, Kim Jong-un spent on perfecting his nuclear arsenal and I think frankly nothing is going to stop him. He's very close to completing
his nuclear program.
Defense intelligence assessment was that within a year, the North -- Kim Jong-un is going to have a capability to attack United States' mainland
with nuclear weapon. And he's bent on completing that program. It's because he thinks nuclear weapon is an ultimate guarantor for a regime
survival. And that of course is his number one priority.
PLEITGEN: And Jonathan, I mean, you were saying that, you know, China is not going to allow the U.S. to force its hand but at the same time, you
know, it does appear true that the U.S. probably can't and shouldn't accept North Korea having ICBMs that can reach a lot of places in America, and
having nukes to put on them.
[14:10:07] POLLACK: Well, we don't know of course exactly when and how we would know whether in fact North Korea has achieved that kind of an
operational capability. Because what they have to be able to do is not only have a missile that can fly that far and now we know they have that.
But they've got at many tries a nuclear weapon and they've got to have the ability to have this weapon endure the stress, the heat, extreme heat of
reentry from outer space.
So, there are lot of questions there but, you know, again, I think it's very, very important that there is something else, it's called deterrence.
We have followed that ever since the signing of the Korean Armistice in 1953. It has not worked perfectly but it has more or less kept the peace.
It is simply now that with a nuclear dimension entered into this, it's not a question of whether we like it or not, but it's a question of degrees of
acceptable risks, and what we can do to impart (INAUDIBLE) to North Korea that anything they might do that implies or suggests or indicates the
beginnings, initiates any kind of an attack on the South, on Japan, on anyone else, will be meet with overwhelming American response.
That's not an ideal solution but that's a circumstance where that is a -- our vital interest would be at risk not to mention the vital interest and
expectations of the Republic of Korea, of Japan. And ironically also China has to fit in to this equation.
Let's remember that these missiles that North Korea is building and testing, they have the range to go anywhere in China as well.
PLEITGEN: It's a fascinating discussion. Of course a very big problem for this administration. Sue Mi Terry and Jonathan Pollack, I want to thank
you very much for joining us tonight.
When we come back, we look to Kenya. With a murder of an election official has raised fears of violence. We have a special report of the country's
vote. That's next.
PLEITGEN: Welcome back everyone. And a murder investigation is underway right now in Kenya after a senior election official is both tortured and
killed just days before the presidential election.
Chris Msando's body was found dumped on the outskirts of the capital Nairobi. His brutal death was raising fears of turmoil ahead of Tuesday's
If we look back, the election in 2007 was of course marred by significant ethnic violence. The last polls in 2013 however passed off peacefully.
This time, all eyes are on the two-named president candidates as our own Farai Sevenzo reports.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): In Nairobi's Kibera slum, one of Africa's largest, mother of five Evelyn is making chapati to sell.
Here in Kenya, this fat bread dish is popular with everyone. But when it comes to politics, Kenya face a far more (INAUDIBLE).
Eight candidates are running for president but polls show the real race is between two longtime rivals whose own fathers lead Kenya into independence
nearly 55 years ago, as president and vice president.
SEVENZO (voice-over): It is the name of the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta which reigns largest on this particular street.
[14:15:04] Fifty-five-year-old Kenyatta has served one term as president and he's going for a second. Seventy-two-year-old Raila Odinga has failed
three times of the post and he's going for the presidency for a fourth time.
The race is tight enough for him to hope that this time, the outcome will be different.
(on camera) This has been a fiercely contested election. These two men are fighting for a share of 19.6 million votes. And no matter where you go in
Kenya, people wants to know, will this be a free and fair election? And will it be peaceful?
And the question of the hour is of course, who will it be?
(voice-over) Evelyn tells us that the two men can't (INAUDIBLE) to win, and this worries her because she says, neither of them is ready to lose.
Even though Kenya's election in 2013 was peaceful, she says the violence have followed the disputed post in 2007 when over 1,000 people were killed,
still scares her.
But she's determined to vote for the opposition, Raila Odinga.
EVELYN ACTORIA, VOTING IN UPCOMING ELECTIONS: At least give another person another chance. We can't continue with somebody who is making our lives
miserable and continue with him again and again and again.
SEVENZO (voice-over): The word "peace" is everyone's mind. Go into the center of Nairobi and you will hear it again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) this election then at the end of the day whoever wins, it will be faint.
SEVENZO (voice-over): Make no mistake, this is a wealthy nation, popular with tourists. But Kenyans are worried about their cost of living. And
how this incredible wealth does not tend to trickle down to everyone.
President Kenyatta is promising to create more jobs and to keep Kenyans safe from terrorism. Mr. Odinga is promising to support the poor and to
end the corruption that many acknowledge has blighted development here.
When two bull elephants clashed, they say in these pads, it is the grass that suffers. Kenyans are hoping there will be no suffering. And that
their country will roll out an election without incident come the eight of August.
Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.
PLEITGEN: And Kenya's ambassador to the United Nations is Macharia Kamau. He joins me now live from the United Nations in New York. Your Excellency,
thank you for joining the program.
MACHARIA KAMAU, KENYAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Thank you for having me.
PLEITGEN: Sir, this murder that took place off Chris Msando is obviously something that really overshadows an election campaign that was already
very fierce. How does it change things as far as the public discussion is concerned? How does it somewhat maybe also undermine trust in the process?
KAMAU: Well, first of all, I think it's fair to say that the murder was obviously very unfortunate and it's a tragic thing to have happened. But
Kenya has always been a country of stability and democracy in Africa. And we are now in our 12th election cycle. Four of which have been multiparty
The last election cycle as you know went off very peacefully. In 2017 when we -- in 2007 rather when we had the unfortunate incidences with the post
election violence. This has come to characterize much of what is perceived as the problem of our democracy in Kenya.
However, since 2007, we've had huge reforms that have taken place in the country. The new constitution, new independent commissions, a stronger
judiciary, a free legislature. So we are in much stronger position now to have what we believe will be a transparent, free, and fair election.
PLEITGEN: At the same time, I think we saw in that report from our own Farai Sevenzo there that the lady is saying that one thing she's afraid of
is that neither of the two main candidates are willing to lose. That seems to be something were people do think back to 2007 and some of the events
that happened there.
KAMAU: Well, I'm sure they'll agree with me that nobody goes into an election with an intention to lose. Everybody goes in with the intention
to win. But the president has said in his campaign that he will step down should he lose. And this has been a very powerful signal to the
But of course the intention of everybody is that their candidate will do their very best to win the election because that is why they are voting for
PLEITGEN: But one of the big issues that people keep talking about is fighting corruption. One of the things -- I mean, we've seen, Kenya is a
very wealthy nation. Strategically so important in the east of Africa. How far is the country come in fighting corruption? What still needs to be
It is a very important issue for voters there.
KAMAU: I agree and for all of us Kenyans, corruption is a very important issue. It is an important issue. In fact it's a perennial issue even in
most other countries of the world.
In the case of Kenya of course, as I said, we've seen a huge effort being undertaken by the government, by the people of Kenya actually to push the
government to put in place systems that can create a better, more transparent form of government, a better more transparent form of managing
our resources, and a stronger judiciary that pursues cases of corruption much more vigorously.
[14:20:16] This is something that I think we take very seriously and corruption, yes, is a critical issue but it is something that everybody in
Kenya wants to see tamed.
PLEITGEN: And two things were also a big issue and I know that they have in this time as well. That's tribalism and ethnicity. We talked about
some of the reforms that are taking place. And yet, the candidates we saw in the runoff to this, they do speak to their ethnic and tribal
constituents more than anyone else.
That's also something the next president needs to tackle and also something that this vote needs to address as well, doesn't it?
KAMAU: Well, absolutely. And I think if you look at the parties and the Jubilee Party for example, it has brought together 12 different parties
which cut across the entire nation. This was an attempt to try to bring unity within the nation.
I think the voice of the government has been very forthright on this issue. The tribalism, ethnicity and anything that divides the country is something
that we want to put aside. But let's be fear to us as Africans, we will always be the people who we are. We see ethnicity everywhere in the world
in Europe and if it's race in other parts of the world, it's a very difficult things to untangle quickly.
But you're right. They do need to be dealt with and the institution that have been put in place now are looking to ensure that we minimize the
effects and the impacts of ethnicity and tribalism. Not just in our politics but in our business relations, in our interpersonal relations.
And if you look at the young people in particular, this issue has definitely subsided. It isn't the big issue that we've seen capturing the
imagination of people over the last, I would say 20 to 25 years.
Young people now are seen beyond this issue in very dynamic ways.
PLEITGEN: I want to talk to you about one thing that's obviously very important to us as a media outlet. And that is the role of fake news in
this election process. You know that there been fake CNN reports, fake BBC reports that had been shows to be such.
This is also a much more digital election as far as the campaigning is concern than we've seen before. What can be done to combat any sort of
effect of fake news? Because this is something where a lot of people in the runoff have said that they were confronted with phony reports.
KAMAU: You know, fake news has become a phenomena on earth. It is something that is really a testament of the age in which we live. The age
of the internet, the age of social media, the age of, you know, 24/7 accessibility to these channels.
It is something that we are also confronted with. The effort has been put in place and remember, fake news cuts both weights. And the challenge is
how to ensure we minimize it. And personally, I think that the main media channels have to work a lot harder to make sure that their reporting is
much more balance than much more representative of everybody so that people don't feel any urge to end up going anywhere else to find information but
trust that the main media will give them the best, most transparent news that they can get anywhere.
PLEITGEN: And of course they have to trust the process and the institutions as well. And I guess one of the big question that came after
Chris Msando's murder is, are other election officials safe now, and what's being done to ensure their safety.
KAMAU: You know, as I said when I started this, this murder was a tragic thing. The timing could have not been worse. But let's be clear. This is
not something that I think is been orchestrated to undermine the election.
I think we have to wait for the investigation to take place. We have to understand that anything could have caused this particular unfortunate
incidence. And I think all our election officials have been guaranteed security, support. And whatever back-up they need from the government has
Even the police has now -- the police commissioner has said that they'll be given even greater protection. So I think that everybody should feel very
confident that we are on track for a free, transparent, and a very participatory and of course, very competitive election as it's the
character of Kenyans.
PLEITGEN:: Ambassador Kamau, thank you for joining the program.
And when we come back, we go underground and back in time to imagine the Pompeii now found in France. The discovery, shocking and delighting French
archeologists. That's next.
[14:27:07] PLEITGEN: Tonight, imagine an ancient world hidden beneath your very feet. Just south of Lyon in France, archeologists have now found
Stumbling upon an ancient Roman neighborhood. A new building were set to be built on the space in the town of Vienne but luckily excavations were
made just in case something might be there. Those excavation unearthed this enormous historic treasure (INAUDIBLE) finding luxury villas, public
buildings, mosaics and even furniture with many items in absolutely excellent condition.
The oldest remains stretched all the way back to the 1st century covering 7,000 square meters scientists believe this could be the greatest ancient
Roman discovery in half a century. And they're calling it "Little Pompeii" because of its quality.
Now archeologists are scrambling to restore the artifacts before returning them to the French government which is planning to put the incredible
discovery on display in just a few years time.
And that is it for our program tonight. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.