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U.N. Security Council holds Emergency Meeting on North Korea; Haley Speaks at U.N. Emergency Meeting on North Korea. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired September 4, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Poppy Harlow in New York, good to have you with us.
The U.N. Security Council back to begin its emergency meeting on North Korea, this is the U.N. nuclear watchdog says the North now possesses a global threat with the apparent successful test of a hydrogen bomb yesterday, far more powerful than anything Pyongyang has tested before. More powerful and apparently smaller and that is key.
South Korea says the North has succeeded in building war heads small enough to fit on top of its ICBMs and it expects another missile test any day now. In the meantime, the South has carried out its own live missile exercises. It is planning more.
And President Trump was due to speak just moments ago with his South Korean counterpart for the first time since this crisis has most recently escalated yesterday. He accused the South of appeasement. He also told a reporter we'll see when asked whether the U.S. is planning a preemptive strike.
We're following all of these developments this hour from the Pentagon to the U.N. to Tokyo. Let's go to Tokyo as we wait for this U.N. Security Council meeting to get underway. That's where we find our Will Ripley.
Look, Will, what is your take given the access you've had to the regime inside Pyongyang. You have been there 14 times. You just got back from your latest trip this weekend. What do you make of the latest rhetoric and also this test?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the rhetoric is obviously concerning, Poppy. It's not necessarily what we - things that we haven't heard before but the difference is the North Korea has been following through on the threats it has been making because they have been talking about - we know they've put out a photo of their leader Kim Jong-un standing in front of a miniaturized nuclear warhead. And then hours later they tested a nuclear device. They launched an intermediate range missile and they said that future launches would be targeting the Pacific Ocean and aimed to contain the U.S. territory of Guam. And now you have South Korea saying that they believe we could just be days away from another North Korean ballistic missile launch possibly fired toward the Pacific, possibly toward Guam. And so, North Korea continues to make these threats that they are delivering on. Now again, what we've seen from North Korea continue to be tests that don't cross the red line of actually in attack. Something that the U.S. will be forced to respond to. And I think that needs to be pointed out. That North Korea has had very dangerous weapons capabilities for a long time and what they have done is they have tried to demonstrate their abilities as a deterrent against military action by the United States.
So I don't get any indication from my trip just last week to Pyongyang right back on Saturday that North Korea wants to start a war with the United States. I think it's the opposite but the fear is that this is so much provocation in the region and one misstep could cause this region to stumble into a war because that's how wars often begin. It's not an intentional act but you stumble into a war. Like World War I. That's the fear out here right now.
HARLOW: Will, as someone who has had this unprecedented access inside the country and in these meetings with some members of the Kim regime. He has been in power for six years. He's incredibly young, 33 years old. He's unpredictable. It's a simple question but I think an important one. What does he want? Is that clear to anyone?
RIPLEY: He wants a better seat at the table for his country. He wants legitimacy. He wants respect. He wants leverage. And that's why he is building these weapons of mass destruction because when you look at North Korea and the United States, the United States is far more powerful, far more wealthy, far more influential. In every sense of the word, the United States has the advantage. And yet, what Kim Jong- un has done is created this weapon and this military approach that the U.S. doesn't have a good answer to right now. And as the U.N. Security Council prepares to meet, they're talking about more sanctions. Sanctions haven't been effective so far, Poppy.
HARLOW: They have not at all. And we're looking at the leaders there, the ambassadors gathering ahead of this meeting that is just about to get underway. And we will hear live from U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.
Will Ripley, stick with us. Thank you very much for that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MATTIS, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Any threat to the United States towards territories, including Guam or our allies, it will be met with a massive military response, a response effective and overwhelming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Those are the words yesterday from Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. Barbara, you cover obviously all of this and Secretary Mattis very closely. What did you make of his remarks yesterday? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think he once again is putting North Korea on notice but it is being done a little bit differently, right? We have seen the president tweet. We have seen the Secretary of State come out. The U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley seen Mattis with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dunford, standing next to him is a very specific military message.
These are two of President Trump's top military advisers. This is not sort of the usual political side of the House if you will.
[10:05:01] They don't even like coming out in front of the TV cameras but they did it. And they did it because Mattis wanted to read that statement very precisely and send that message that there would be the U.S. meeting any North Korean challenge with overwhelming massive military response.
Short of that, we may begin to see some shows of force as we often have, additional U.S. bomber flights over the Korean Peninsula, or something like that. But military options, any kind of military action short of North Korea, threatening or attacking the U.S. or its allies seems still, thankfully, frankly, very far off. Mattis still very much hoping for a diplomatic solution.
HARLOW: Indeed. And we'll see if any of that diplomatic needle if you will, can be moved by whatever the U.N. Security Council decides on today. We're waiting for that.
Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you very, very much.
Now to Richard Roth, he is our correspondent who has covered the U.N., shall I say for decades. It is nice to have you here. What is your take on this? I mean, this is the second emergency meeting of the Security Council in less than a week on North Korea. They could step up sanctions. There's a lot of questioning this morning about how effective it could be. But what are we waiting for?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're going to hear speeches right now including from the U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley where the U.S. will certainly display its latest anger at the nuclear tests, the talk on the way in more sanctions, though that hasn't been able to stop Kim Jong-un's regime. There are still many more options for the Security Council. They always leave themselves open. You could go after textiles, oil, tapping international workers. Various ambassadors saying let's keep the pressure on but they know here very well that it may not be enough.
But of course, everyone here opposes any type of military action. So you may be headed toward containment which happened with various other rogue nations in the past and have to live with a nuclear nation. However, North Korea's actions are certainly getting the attention once again of the Security Council for this urgent meeting here, Poppy. It's really a lot of bad options on the table here.
HARLOW: Never a good thing for anyone to hear on a Monday morning, a lot of bad options. We'll see how they are dealing with it and coming together. Richard Roth at the U.N., thank you very much for that.
Joining me now is Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, our CNN military analyst and John Park, director of the Korea Working Group at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. It's nice to have you both here.
And General Hertling, you just heard Richard Roth use the words containment. And it's worked before, right? The United States has done this before with other nations. Look at the USSR. However, this is different times, different capabilities. Is containment the only answer here at this point?
LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's a starting answer, Poppy. And here's the thing, if you combine what he just said with what both Barbara Starr and Will Ripley have mentioned about Secretary Mattis giving some very precise and some -- language about what the threat might be. And it's a threat to the United States, our territories or our allies. So the continued tests give us additional time and I said before that we control the ball on this.
We can control the momentum and the initiative. And we should continue to do that. As Secretary Mattis has also said to force more diplomatic action. That comes in the way of continued talks. Perhaps, looking and as you asked Barbara Starr a little bit ago, what do they want? What North Korea wants is to continue its military strategy, they call it Songun, which is the military is the top of the line in terms of what they're trying to do. Number two, they want to get recognition throughout the world and number three they want to start improving their economy. Now, there are some other minor things that are associated with all of that but they want to be recognized. And one of the key things is to see it from their perspective, not just our perspective. And that might create some additional diplomatic inroads. They could cause some additional talks while we're making sure that they know that they shouldn't threat territories or alliances.
HARLOW: OK. So seeing it from their perspective, John, as General Hertling suggests is important. If you are you Kim Jong-un and you look at the United States this morning saying that it is drafting additional sanctions against any countries that do business with North Korea, i.e. China and you look at what potentially they could do -- the United States could do when it comes to sanctions on oil export which is are fundamental to the operation of North Korea's economy and agricultural sector. Then what do you do diplomatically?
JOHN PARK, DIRECTOR, KOREA WORKING GROUP, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: Diplomatically, that's one part of it, Poppy. But I think if you look at the reality of the situation in the border area - this is a China/North Korea border, it's a very forced border. And when you look at situations of restricting supply into North Korea, it incentivizes smugglers.
[10:10:00] And with this type of coping mechanism, there is room to maneuver and this is a part of the expectations on the North Korea's side. So you're looking at a North Korean regime that has planned in terms of these types of counter measures. This is something that if you look at the type of preparations on the North Korean side, we usually interpret a period of calmer or quietness as something that is good. That they're receiving the message but in reality, you're looking at these quiet preparations and we have yet another round of escalations.
HARLOW: So, John, explain why because I think it's critical for everyone to understand that the United States and China do not have the same end goal here. Of course no one wants to see nuclear war but putting that aside, China wants something very different when it comes to the Peninsula than say the United States does and that matters.
PARK: Well, we see a lot of the Chinese statements pretty consistent about stability on the Korean Peninsula that any type of difficulties be resolved for negotiations, peaceful means and so forth. But in terms of the end state, the shared goal of denuclearization is a common one but it's the timeline and tools that are very different. We're going to see a lot of resistance from China and Russia in terms of economic measures that could potentially inadvertently tip the North Korean regime and this puts, frankly, the United States and Japan on one side and China and Russia on the other side when it comes to how to deal with this current crisis that we're in.
HARLOW: So, General Hertling, you'll remember - we all remember when one of the president's former top advisers, Steve Bannon, said not long ago, just a few weeks ago in that interview shortly before he left the White House, quote, "There is no military solution to North Korea's nuclear threats." Forget it. Is he right?
HERTLING: That's an incorrect statement. -- It's somewhat amateurish for him to say something like that. He's not an expert in national security. What I would say is there's always a military option but what you have to understand is a military option in Korea would probably result in - as Will Ripley said a minute ago, massive escalation and a humanitarian and disaster crisis like the world has never seen before.
You know it's not only from the standpoint of do you try and limit the objectives in terms of a military strike with precision like the president did in Syria? That doesn't happen because there's the potential for a massive overreaction on the part of North Korea. Remember the North Korean dictator seems to think that we're trying to shun him from power, get him out of power. So any kind of attack on his regime would be seen as a last ditch effort for him to defend himself. So that might result in massive artillery strikes in Seoul. We've all talked about that in the past.
If you go anything more than just precision strikes on a couple of key targets, it could result in an all-out war and when I tell you, Poppy, from conducting war games on the Korean Peninsula, you know combat would be challenging, would be extremely difficult but I think what John just said that a humanitarian crisis and a flow of people into China is what China is confused about. It would make what's going on in Syria with millions of displaced refugees look tame in comparison. And that's the problem of what's going on in the Peninsula.
HARLOW: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, thank you. And John Park, thank you as well. We appreciate the expertise. You're looking at live pictures on the other side of your screen of the U.N. Security Council getting underway in its second emergency meeting in less than a week all about North Korea. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley will speak any moment. We'll see that live. Stay with us.
HARLOW: U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaking at U.N. Security Council meeting. Let's listen in.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: -- in this past month. For more than 20 years, the Security Council has taken actions against North Korea's nuclear program. And for more than 20 years, North Korea has defied our collective voice. It's worth taking a few moments to recount some of the history.
In 1993, the Council approved resolution 825, calling on North Korea to remain in the nonproliferation treaty. That didn't work. North Korea withdrew from the treaty and continued its nuclear pursuit.
[10:15:09] In 2006, the six-party talks faltered. And North Korea conducted several ballistic missile launches that lead to resolution 1695 condemning them. The same year, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test. That led to resolution 1718, establishing a U.N. sanctions regime aiming to stop all nuclear ballistic missile and other weapons of mass destruction programs. After six-party talks fell apart again in 2009, North Korea conducted additional missile launches and its second nuclear test. That led to resolution 1874 which expanded sanctions including an arms embargo and cargo inspection obligations.
In 2012, the Leap Day Deal failed and North Korea conducted two new space launches. The Security Council responded with the adoption of resolution 2087, following North Korea's third nuclear test in 2013. The Council adopted resolution 2094 expanding sanctions to restrict financial, maritime, aviation and diplomatic activities. By 2016, North Korea had conducted its fourth nuclear test and another space launch. They followed that with more missile launches. In response, the Council adopted multiple resolutions expanding sanctions even further, targeting whole sectors of North Korea's economy.
Finally, this year, the Council got even more serious. First, we adopted resolution 2356 designating high ranking North Korean government officials and the military strategic rocket forces command for individual sanctions. Then, just last month, after the regime's first two ICBM launches, we adopted resolution 2371. The strongest sanctions we have ever imposed on North Korea. That resolution banned North Korean exports of coal, iron and seafood and imposed several other measures that will significantly cutoff the revenues needed to fund their nuclear program.
Why did I take the time to go through this history? To make this point. The United Nations Security Council has spoken with unusual unity and consistency on North Korea. That's a good thing. Along the way there have been problems with implementation and the Council has at times been too slow and too weak but this is not a situation in which we have allowed divisions among us to stop any action. Still here we are.
Despite our efforts over the past 24 years the North Korean nuclear program is more advanced and more dangerous than ever. They now fire missiles over Japanese air space. They now have ICBM capabilities. They now claim to have tested a hydrogen bomb. And just this morning, there are reports that the regime is preparing for yet another ICBM launch.
To the members of the Security Council I must say enough is enough. We have taken an incremental approach and despite the best of intentions it has not worked. Members of this Council will no doubt urge negotiations and a return to talks but as I have just outlined we have engaged in numerous, direct and multilateral talks with the North Korean regime. And time after time they have not worked.
The time for half measures in the Security Council is over. The time has come to exhaust all of our diplomatic means before it's too late. We must now adopt the strongest possible measures. Kim Jong-un's action cannot be seen as defensive. He wants to be acknowledged as a nuclear power but being a nuclear power is not about using those terrible weapons to threaten others. Nuclear powers understand their responsibilities. Kim Jong-un shows no such understanding. His abusive use of missiles and his nuclear threats show that he is begging for war.
War is never something the United States wants. We don't want it now but our country's patience is not unlimited. We will defend our allies and our territory. The idea that some have suggested a so-called freeze for freeze is insulting.
[10:20:00] When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an ICBM pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard. No one would do that. We certainly won't. The time has come to exhaust all diplomatic means to end this crisis and that means quickly enacting the strongest possible measures here in the U.N. Security Council.
Only the strongest sanctions will enable us to resolve this problem through diplomacy. We have kicked the can down the road long enough. There's no more road left. This crisis goes well beyond the U.N. The United States will look at every country that does business with North Korea as a country and the United States will look at every country that does business with North Korea as a country that is giving aid to their reckless and dangerous nuclear intentions. And what we do on North Korea will have a real impact on how other outlaw nations who seek nuclear weapons choose to conduct themselves in the future. The stakes could not be higher. The urgency is now. 24 year of half measures and failed talks is enough. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thank the representative of the United States for her statement. I give the floor to the representative of Japan.
HARLOW: That was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaking there saying that 24 years of diplomacy and work by the U.N. Security Council to try to deter North Korea's nuclear ambitions has not worked, her words that freeze for freeze is insulting. Also, she said the time has come to implement the strongest diplomatic measures and exhaust all diplomatic means. She also noted that the United States patience is not unlimited.
Let's bring back in General Hertling, also John Park, of the Harvard Kennedy School and our Will Ripley who has spent an extraordinary amount of time inside of North Korea.
General Hertling, to you, there's a lot to unpack with what Nikki Haley said. What stands out to you the most?
HERTLING: Very powerful speech, Poppy, first of all. She outlined all the violations of U.N. resolutions over the past. Several decades and she made some very specific comments so she positioned herself in the United States, saying we will not get the freeze for freeze comment was one that really reached out to me because that has been North Korea and others attempt, Russia and China saying we should stop providing defense for South Korea. And as you know, South Korea and North Korea are still at war. They don't have a peace treaty after the 1953 war. So that is basically saying we're not giving up the defense of this ally.
The other thing that she said that I thought was very important was when she said adopt all measures of sanctions. What she is doing and shooting across the bow of countries like China, like Russia, like Iran, like others who have continued to trade with North Korea even though the United Nations have repeatedly sanctioned North Korea and said that they were going to have embargoes against many of those trade partners. And the one that really struck me is when she said if you do business with North Korea, you'll be seen as aiding in my words a nuclear pariah.
That's probably the most important thing that's been said at the U.N. regarding North Korea and I think it will entail some requirements for further coordination with diplomacy, with economic means, with informational means. And it also sounds like she is trying to set up the potential for future military alliances against North Korea if it comes to it.
HARLOW: Will Ripley, to the General's point, she was clearly talking - you could say, directly to President Xi of China there. I mean she's clearly saying that those countries that facilitate the economic - the ability for North Korea's economy to churn are not only partly responsible here but they are aiding North Korea in this. So the question becomes, what are those, in her words, strongest diplomatic means, the strongest possible sanctions that have not been enacted but can be enacted that will move China's hand?
RIPLEY: Well, the United States wants China to do is to cutoff North Korea completely economically and perhaps even cutoff the flow of oil into the country. China has not done that for a number of reasons. China isn't trading with North Korea for economic reasons. They have far more important economic relationships with many other countries around the world, far more profitable, certainly the United States being the greatest economic relationship. And yet, China continues to kind of hold its nose even when they're not happy with what North Korea is doing. Because they don't want to see anything happen that would destabilize the North Korean regime and they certainly don't want to see a U.S. allied reunified Korea with the presence of U.S. troops and military assets at China's doorsteps. Strategically, that's not something that China is willing to allow unless North Korea were to fire the first shot and then the U.S. in- turn responded.
[10:25:14] But if the U.S. were to stage some sort of a preemptive strike there have been editorials in Chinese state media calling on the Chinese government to step in, to intervene, to keep the situation, the geopolitical dynamics of the region in place.
And then, that's also assuming that if China were to do everything that the U.S. asked that North Korea would implode. And again, I keep making this point that North Korea has been through very difficult times in the past. There have been predictions that the regime would collapse during the famine of the late 1990s. And they managed to defy many people's predictions and state firmly in control and to continue to grow their missile program and their nuclear program even during times of tremendous hardship.
So when I was in the country just last week and I have spoken repeatedly over the last year with officials, with citizens. And I've talked to them about what if China were to stop -- allowing you to import cars and consumer goods and all the things that have improved the living conditions for at least the elite in Pyongyang and have caused the North Korean economy to grow, according to South Korean Central Bank estimates by almost 4 percent last year.
I said what if that were all stop? And they all give the same answer. They're not worried about it. They'll still develop these weapons. They'll still launch missiles. They'll still test nuclear devices because they believe that these are the ticket to their national survival. Certainly the ticket they believe to keeping Kim Jong-un in power.
HARLOW: Because that's the lynch pin for them to all of it, Will.
John Park, to you, as someone who studies this extensively, Will just outlined all of the reasons why China would not want to and has not wanted to cooperate with the United States on these sanctions, would not want to cut off all of that oil supply, doesn't want to see a unified Korean Peninsula with potentially American troops, sees that as a threat to China. So when Nikki Haley says this and when the Treasury Department, Steve Mnuchin, is preparing possible sanctions against China, any country that does business with North Korea, is there any indication that it will move China's hand?
PARK: Poppy, one thing we have to take into account is that there are different interest groups in China. China is not a monolithic entity. Even at the senior leadership level, there is elevated concern, there's an effort to implement sanctions. We've seen that in the sectoral ban on the purchase of North Korean coal. But with respect to the local players on the Chinese side there's something of a co-existence. You know North Korean provinces trading with Chinese provinces in the border area. One thing that we have seen with Afghanistan, Pakistan, we see similar type of phenomenon with the movement of goods and people for the localized economies there.
But the important thing here is with this type of statement coming out of the U.N. Security Council resolution, we now have elevated risk. The warning is if you do business with the North Koreans you will be in the crosshairs but for those who have the appetite for the risk in the marketplace, they could charge more commission fees from North Korean clients and others. So this is a part of the unintended consequences that we have to keep an eye out for but we've seen this phenomenon in the past. And it's lead to more efficient and effective procurement mechanisms and channels for the North Korean regime.
HARLOW: John Park, appreciate it. Will Ripley, General Hertling, thank you all very much for jumping on that breaking news out of the United Nations. We will of course keep an eye on the Security Council meeting as it continues.
Ahead, the president is expected to scrap the DACA program that of course protects children brought into the United States illegally by their parents, an update on that ahead.