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U.S. Warns North Korea Of "Massive Military Response"; South Korea: North Korea Has Nuclear Warhead "Small Enough" For ICBM; CNN: Trump Expected To End Program Protecting "Dreamers" Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 4, 2017 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Its when an intermediate range missile like the one they launched over Japan last week or South Korea says it could be an intercontinental ballistic missile like the two they tested in July. Only this time South Korea believes they may attempt to launch this missile toward the Pacific Ocean. They don't say where, they don't know where but of course North Korea has hinted at firing missiles in the direction of the U.S. territory of Guam.

And they may be doing this by Saturday, which is a major holiday. The Foundation Day holiday in North Korea, holidays are a time they like to show force. Last years Foundation Day they conducted their fifth nuclear test. They've all ready done their sixth nuclear test but they may follow up now (inaudible) another missile.

After putting out pictures of their supreme leader Kim Jong-un standing in front of, what they claim was a hydrogen bomb that could be placed on one of those missiles and launched in the direction of the United States. (Allyson).

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, well thank you very much for reporting all of this for us. South Korea responding to North Korea's threat by simulating an attack on the north main nuclear test site and now Seoul is signaling what they might do next. (Inaudible) in Seoul for us with all the breaking details. What to you have Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN HOST : Well Alison this was a live fire drill that we saw this Monday. It involved fighter jets from South Korea, surface to surface ballistic missiles. It was very visual and it was intended to be visual. Because it was suppose to send a message to North Korea. The message was, that they are showing a willingness to be able to take out North Korean nuclear assets and also to be able to take out the leadership if need be.

So a very clear threat to Kim Jong-un, saying this is what we are able to do. Now we also know that the fact Koreans are hoping the U.S. will send more strategic military assets. No word on whether they will, but they're hoping for aircraft carriers for bombers, which they have done in the past. And we also know that anti-missile defense system.

There were two launches in that were in the country, very controversial here in South Korea. The government has agreed to bring the four remaining ones in temporarily they say but clearly showing that they are concerned with the level of threat from North Korea. But on a political note, there are some concerns here after that Tweet from the U.S. President Donald Trump, saying that South Korea is using appeasement against North Korea.

There is confusion as well on the streets of Seoul as to why is Donald Trump is speaking twice in 24 hours to Japans leader. And yet, since that nuclear test happened has not once picked up the phone to South Korea's President. That's something that we're seeing playing out here in Seoul, (Dave).

(Dave): Certainly that is a curious situation. Paula Hancock live for us in Seoul. Thanks. President Trump and his national security team closely watching this situation. Defense Secretary James Mattis, delivering a stern warning to North Korea from the White House. CNN Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon for us this morning with the latest. Good morning Barbara.

Barbara Starr, CNN: Good morning, (Dave). No word yet from the Pentagon on what the next steps might be. What the Trump administration may decide to do about all of this from a military perspective, but President Trump Tweeting, the economic perspective a very thinly filled message to China.

In the Presidents latest Tweet where he said and I quote, the United States is considering an addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea. Now that may not be practical at all. Economic experts will tell you, when it comes to China, in fact could have a very significant impact on the U.S. economy.

On the military page, as you say, Defense Secretary James Mattis delivering a warning outside the White House, very unusual for him to willingly come before TV cameras and speak, have a listen.

James Mattis, Defense Secretary: Any threat to the United States or its territories including Guam, or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming. We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country namely North Korea. But as I said, we have many options to do so.

Barbara Starr: The ultimate warning perhaps, many option for the annihilation of North Korea, but the Trump administration trying to make it clear. It's not looking for regime change not looking for total over throw of that country but looking for Kim Jong-un to change his mind.

If he were to attack, they're trying to make it clear that he must understand, he and his leadership would not survive such an attack. Alison, (Dave).

CAMEROTA: OK, Barbara thank you very much for all of that from the Pentagon. Joining us now to discuss it, we have retired Admiral John Kirby. He is a CNN military and Diplomatic Analyst, he was stage department spokes person and Pentagon Press Secretary. And David Sanger he is a CNN Political and National Security Analyst;

he's also National Security Correspondent at the New York Times. Great to have both of you here. David Sanger you have all sorts of new reporting on this. What a stunning report to wake up to yesterday, that it was possible that the north had detonated a hydrogen bomb that was stronger than the ones used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So is that confirmed? Do we know that to be true? What are the details you know about this detonation?

ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY: Well Alisyn we don't know if it was a hydrogen bomb. And a hydrogen bomb can be hundreds, even a thousand time greater than a normal atomic bomb. What we do know about this explosion is that it was four to 16 times greater than anything the North Koreans had done before, and that would make it roughly four to 16 times greater than the kind of bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

So if they haven't gotten to a hydrogen bomb yet, they are well on their way and there are three or four stages on the way to getting to a hydrogen bomb and we have a fairly interesting graphic that's in the Times today that will sort of walk you through the steps. Politically, I'm not sure it makes any difference. Because what they've now shows is that they could destroy a very good size city.

And of course, with these ICBM launches, they're trying to establish a case that they can actually reach some of those cities. That doesn't mean they've gotten to the last stage, which is fitting the weapon onto the warhead, the nose cone of the missile. They'll get there at some point soon. So clearly, the message here is that President Trump and his team have a lot less time to deal with this than the intelligence community believed even a year ago.

CAMEROTA: And Will Ripley (ph) reports we could have another test as early as Saturday, a national holiday in North Korea. Admiral James Mattis warned of massive military response. What does that look like?

KIRBY: Well, I mean he's right. We're certainly capable of that but it would be obviously devastating not only to the peninsula but probably to the region. And I think also, you heard in Secretary Mattis' comments there that there's no desire to end up going in that direction, that we're not seeking regime change, that we're not seeking the annihilation of the country of North Korea but that we have to do what we have to do to defend ourselves and defend our allies.

He's speaking about military options in a defensive way, which I think is appropriate, rather than an offensive way.

CAMEROTA: So, David, I mean outside of the military option, which we've heard so many people say really should never be used, what are the options today?

DAVID SANGER, CNN ANALYST: Well, there's some short of war options. Using cyber. Again, we reported back in March that President Obama had authorized a cyber program against North Korea's missiles and that was successful for a while. We've seen less evidence of success this year. There are diplomatic options. The President tweeted about one of them and you referred to it before, about trying to cut off trade with any country that trades with North Korea.

I don't think that that's possible. China accounts for probably -- China trade accounts for probably about four percent of our GDP. There's some disagreement on the numbers. That would be a huge hit and I don't think the President's fully thought through what the implications to the U.S. would be. There could be the interception of ships and other transit in and out of North Korea, but that doesn't solve the problem of the over land shipments of oil.

There could be a complete energy cut off. And then of course, there's the effort to get North Korea back into a diplomatic dialogue. But right now, the North Korean view seems to be build up the nuclear power until they're at the stage that roughly Pakistan is at and then basically present it to the U.S. as a fait accompli.

CAMEROTA: Admiral, one thing that is clear -- the President's rhetoric has had little if any impact on the situation, whether it's fire and fury, locked and loaded, Kim Jong-un has proceeded along the same line. The one thing that might have an impact, though, is a tweet the President sent out about South Korea, our allies. Quote, South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work. They only understand one thing.

There's also been talk of cutting of trade with South Korea. There are 10 million people 35 miles away from the North Korean border in Seoul. How might that tweet read if you are Kim Jong-un?

SANGER: Well I think if you're Kim Jong-un, one way to read that is to think that you're finally having an effect on potentially fracturing the U.S. South Korea alliance. I don't understand where the President's logic is here at all. I've never understood the threats and bellicosity through his Twitter account to China, either. That -- China's not going to be bullied into doing more. And there is a real limit to what China can do.

I agree that they can do more and should to more but there's a real limit to the kind of influence they can actually have in a tangible way on Pyongyang. This strategy of sort of tweeting this kind of stuff out to South Korea absolutely befuddles me. I mean this is an alliance. We have ironclad security commitments that we have to meet to defend our South Korean allies, and while President Moon Jae-in is taking a different approach than his predecessor.

It is still an approach that pursues diplomatic options. The kind of options some of - that David just laid out, which I think are still - there's still room for. So, it's really self defeating. I absolutely don't see any logic in it. And I'm troubled by the fact, as Paula reported just a little bit ago, that he hasn't talked to President Moon here over the course of the weekend in the wake of this most recent test. We need the South Koreans on our side, and more importantly they need to know that we're on their side.

CAMEROTA: So, David, now this new troubling development this morning, there's news out that Russia says it will, or may, boost - if considering, boosting it's missile presence in the North Korean region to counterbalance the U.S. missile system. I mean where does it stop?

SANGER: Well, this is the down side of any kind of threat to bolster missile defense. We believe in our American way of looking at this whole thing that we're putting in missile defenses to defend ourselves against North Korea, and we'll set aside for a moment how well those defenses work. Some - some are pretty good, and some are not very good. But when the Chinese and the Russians look at this, they believe its cover for the United States to basically put in greater missile defenses against them.

That's pretty ridiculous. The Chinese and particularly the Russians have arsenals so large they could overwhelm American missile defenses very quickly if they needed to, but it becomes an arguing point for them that the U.S. is increasing it's presence in the Pacific and gives them something to build up against. And it's one of the reasons that the diplomacy of this, as John just suggested has to be handled so deftly, because if you don't have Russia and China along the way on whatever sanctions you do, whatever energy cut-offs you do, its not going to work.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much for your expertise on this, this morning. So the U.N. Security Council convening another emergency session this morning on the North Korea threat. Is there a diplomatic solution? If Pyongyang says they will not ever put their nukes and missiles on the table, we're going to ask former U.S. Ambassador, Bill Richardson, next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And ahead this shocking video of a nurse arrested for doing her job going viral. With that, nurse joins us live to tell us her side of the story. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:16:21]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies, will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, that was Defense Secretary James Mattis, issuing a very stern warning to North Korea. The Trump administration is weighing all of their options, including stronger sanctions and, as you heard, a military response if North Korea threatens the U.S. or its allies. So, what is the best strategy today?

Joining us now is former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and former governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson. Governor, thanks so much for being here. It's so great to be able to call upon your experience with North Korea.

But can we start with James Mattis' -- his quote there? I don't quite understand it. James Mattis says if the North threatens Guam or the U.S., there could be a big military response from the U.S.

But the North Koreans have threatened Guam and the U.S. Does Secretary Mattis means if North Korea attacks Guam or the U.S.? Because those threats have already happened.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Well, I thought what Secretary Mattis said was appropriate, after this potentially hydrogen bomb that was detonated. An act of defiance not just against the U.S. but China, too, their main supporter in the region.

I think the secretary had to say that, that there would be serious consequences, that there would be -- we have to protect our allies, that we have to stand behind our treaties and Japan and South Korea and Guam.

I think he had to say that because this is an act of extreme provocation. I still believe very strongly that preemptive military strike is not our best option, is not realistic.

That some kind of diplomatic effort to deescalate the situation. I think the first step should be how can we deescalate this extreme tension that exists right now?

CAMEROTA: Governor, what's the answer to that? How can the U.S. deescalate anything at this point?

RICHARDSON: Well, a diplomatic dialogue of some kind. I think what we want to do is potentially try to freeze any kind of missile, nuclear activity on the part of the North Koreans. Then the North Koreans, I think the dialogue is what do they want in return, obviously.

My view is that you're not rewarding bad behavior by talking to them. It doesn't mean you're going to do what they want us to do by having a dialogue. I just don't see an end game in the administration's strategy which involves diplomacy.

But I do think that the national security team -- I like what General Kelly has brought order in the White House, General Mattis. I think they're putting out the diplomatic potential breakthrough by saying, look, you know, we're not going to take it if you continue this escalation.

But there is a diplomatic option and you have to come forth. And this is where I think we are right now.

CAMEROTA: Listen, there's breaking news as well on this front. The South Korean defense minister has just said to his parliament, North Korea has a nuclear warhead that is small enough for an ICBM.

So, they believe, in their assessment -- South Korea's assessment, this sixth nuclear test that happened this weekend. In other words, that they have successfully militarized this nuclear warhead and it will fit on the ICBM.

[08:20:04] And as you know, the North is threatening to conduct another intercontinental ballistic missile test this week. Things are escalating there in terms of the timeframe so much more quickly than we had ever heard the North was going to be capable of. So, what happens today?

RICHARDSON: Well, what happens today is the first thing we need to do is cool down the rhetoric against our main ally in the region, South Korea. You know, we shouldn't threaten abolishing the free trade agreement, the appeasement talk.

This is the way the South Korean president was elected. He wanted a dialogue with North Korea, tried to stamp out corruption. This is his own internal politics. I think we have to stand behind South Korea. I think a phone call from the president to the South Korean president now is in order.

That is the first step. We now go to the U.N. Security Council and try to test China one more time. We put sanctions on North Korea that are pretty tough, coal, seafood, North Korean workers.

CAMEROTA: But those didn't work. I mean, in terms of de-escalation, those sanctions do not appear to have worked.

RICHARDSON: You know, they've only been on for a couple of weeks now. The next set would be oil and food. Now, we will see if China or Russia would veto that. I think they probably would. I think that China has reached the point where their influence on North Korea is minimal.

The North Koreans have defied China with this nuclear test also. This is why I believe you have to go to plan b. Plan b is a diplomatic option and plan b involves a dialogue. And plan b involves maybe getting new actors into the negotiations.

That's what I believe needs to happen. We need to immediately deescalate what is going on. I do think what Secretary Mattis -- I do think what General Kelly, they've brought some order in the national security team.

You have to respond to this provocation the way that Mattis did. Look, we're not going to tolerate this, but we're not necessarily for regime change. We don't want to annihilate you. What is it that you want?

Kim Jong-un is somebody that is unpredictable, but I don't believe he's suicidal or he's impractical to think that he can defeat the United States. I think there is an end game he wants.

The problem is, we don't know what his end game is. I mean, all these experts have come on and tell you this is what he wants. We don't know what he wants. I think he wants to stay in power. I think he wants to say he's the big guy in the region and lastly, he wants the U.S. to deal with him bilaterally. That's what he wants, in my view. CAMEROTA: Governor, before we let you go, what are your thoughts on what President Trump did this weekend in reference to the so-called DREAMers, 800,000 young people brought to this country through no choice of their own? If there's not some sort of legislation passed to keep them here in the next six months, they will have to be deported.

RICHARDSON: Well, I'm disappointed if he's going to end the so-called DACA legislation because it involves 800,000 young men and women that have contributed to America, that are patriots. But we don't know what the end policy is going to be.

Apparently, it's going to be announced Tuesday. A lot of trial balloons are floated before. My hope is that let's protect those 800,000 that already have the status. Let's not change that. I hope that the program is not ended.

The legality issue, I believe it is legal that President Obama was acting on an executive order. In the end, you want protection for these kids and maybe eventually Congress, in a bipartisan way, can pass legislation.

But you really don't know what he's going to do until it's announced. There could be a lot of trial balloons but objective one is protect those 800,000. They've earned their status. They should be left alone. They should stay in America and with a status that they deserve.

CAMEROTA: That's such a great point. Even the White House has warned not to take anything as sort of confirmation until Tuesday, when the president announces it himself. Governor Bill Richardson, thank you very much for your thoughts on all of this -- Dave.

BRIGGS: President Trump has talked to Japan's prime minister twice this weekend about North Korea's aggressions. What will the U.S. and its allies do next when they convene at the United Nations? Japan's ambassador to the U.N. joins us live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:28:39]

BRIGGS: Japan is one of the countries leading the international diplomatic effort to stop North Korea's nuclear escalations. The leaders of Japan and South Korea calling for stronger sanctions against the Kim Jong-un regime.

Joining us now Japan's ambassador to the U.N., Koro Bessho. He will be part of the United Nations Security Council's emergency meeting on North Korea this morning. Good morning to you, Ambassador.

AMBASSADOR KORO BESSHO, JAPANESE AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Good morning. How are you?

BRIGGS: What is your response to the news from the South Korea defense minister that North Koreans have miniaturized a nuclear warhead to fit on ICBM?

BESSHO: That was the announcement that was made by North Korea. We will have to assess that. Maybe South Koreans came to that conclusion. We, in Japan, have not made a firm conclusion on that. However, the fact that they announced it is news and very worrisome one.

CAMEROTA: OK, so an hour and a half from now, you will be part of this emergency meeting. What's going to happen? Take us behind the scenes. How does it work when the Security Council gets together for an emergency meeting?

BESSHO: Right. Well, first of all, one must remind oneself that less than a week ago we had this ballistic missile shot by North Korea that went over Japan. That, itself, is big news and we -- that is, Security Council came up with presidential statement, which strongly condemned North Korea and told them to stop this kind of policy.

CAMEROTA: It didn't really work.

BESSHO: Well, it was a policy statement from the Security Council, which should be loud and clear. Now we've been having lot of sanctions imposed on them.