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U.S. Agrees to Stronger Missiles for South Korea; Trump Expected to End DACA with Delay; Interview with Antonio Villaraigosa; Harvey Aftermath; North Korea Nuclear Threat. Aired 12m-1a ET

Aired September 5, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:20] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Vause. We are live in Los Angeles. It's just gone 9:00 here on a Monday night. Great to have you with us.

SESAY: From the U.N. headquarters in New York to the Korean Peninsula, condemnation and confrontation over North Korea's latest nuclear test.

VAUSE: The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. has accused Kim Jong-Un of begging for war. Nikki Hailey also says the U.N.'s current strategy just is not working. She now wants the strongest sanctions possible on Pyongyang.

SESAY: In South Korea more live-fire drills intended to show Seoul's ability to quote, "wipe out" Kim's regime.

Plus, a new willingness from the South Korean defense minister to review plans of the U.S. tactical nukes on the Korean Peninsula.

VAUSE: A lot to get to with this story over the coming hours. But we will start with Kristie Lu Stout who is live in Seoul -- Kristie.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Isha -- the U.S. and South Korea are increasing the military pressure on North Korea after the North tested its sixth nuclear weapon over the weekend believed to be its most powerful weapons test yet.

Now we know that the president of South Korea Moon Jae-In finally spoke on the phone with Donald Trump on Monday and they agreed to lift restrictions on just how powerful the South's ballistic missile can be.

Now with more on South Korea's show of force, here is CNN's Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: This large-fire exercise by South Korean forces, a direct military response to the North's largest nuclear test. Army and Air Forces simulating an attack on North Korea's nuclear test sites even as North Korean state media issued new threats to the U.S. including Guam one editorial saying "Every time the U.S. goes crazy talking about sanctions and war, our will of vengeance will become and hundred and thousand times stronger."

U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley very much in the hard line mode back at Kim.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: 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.

STARR: Rising tensions pushing Defense Secretary James Mattis to exactly where he never wants to be, center stage at the White House.

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

STARR: But are there credible military options without thousands of casualties.

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: What I think Secretary Mattis was doing was simply trying to convince the North that we have this option and they cannot be certain we would never use it under certain circumstances.

STARR: It may be the most critical decision ever for Donald Trump.

STEVE WARREN, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: How much a price we're willing to pay. How much we are willing to bleed to accomplish our objectives. This is a decision not for military members. This is a decision for elected political leaders to make. And they always have to weigh the cost versus the benefit.

STARR: Short of U.S. attack the Pentagon could send an aircraft carrier offshore. The Ronald Reagan is nearby. More bombers could be sent. South Korea and Japan both upping their missile defenses and cooperation with the U.S. but there is no indication Kim Jong-Un is listening.

JANG KYOUNG SOO, SOUTH KOREA ACTING DEPUTY MINISTER IF DEFENSE POLICY: We predict that North Korea could fire an intercontinental ballistic missile to show that they have obtained the means of delivering a nuclear bomb to the United States.

STARR: Some U.S. military assets could move closer to the Korean Peninsula in the coming days. Nothing has been announced yet. But the bottom line is would any of this change Kim Jong-Un's mind about proceeding with his weapons program? The betting money is it won't.

Barbara Starr, CNN -- the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE) STOUT: CNN has reporters covering this story around the globe. Ian Lee joins me here in Seoul. Alexandra Field is live in Tokyo.

Let's go to Ian first. And Ian -- again another show of force this morning, more live fire drills in South Korea. What is Seoul trying to prove?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is just a show of force to the North Koreans. This time that show of force coming from the eastern seas where they have these naval warships demonstrating their readiness in the event of a war.

[00:05:05] Now we've seen the air force. We've seen the army and the navy getting involved; South Korea saying that they're ready for any acts that is aggressive by the North Koreans.

We had that very important phone call between President Moon and President Trump; this phone call coming well after 24 hours after that nuclear test.

In that same time period, President Trump spoke with Prime Minister Abe twice. That didn't go unnoticed in Seoul. But in that phone conversation they did come to some agreement about further military cooperation as well as, as you pointed out earlier, lifting the limit on the ballistic missiles -- the payload that the ballistic missiles can carry from South Korea, also talking about billions of dollars of weapons and equipment.

The one big question, though, as well Kristie is, will South Korea allow American nuclear weapons to be placed on their soil? We heard from the defense minister saying he's willing to consider that as an option, although the president's administration, their office said that right now they're still committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula -- Kristie.

STOUT: That's right. And that debate is under way.

Now, from Ian, let's go to Alexandra Field standing by in Tokyo. And Alex -- it's interesting because today we saw that second day of the show of force in f South Korea. Visually we haven't seen that kind of response from Japan. Why is that, and what options does Tokyo have?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. The only real visual move that you have seen from Tokyo in response to that sixth nuclear test has been the decision to deploy its sniffer planes in order to monitor the air in the region to see if there has been any radioactive material.

And that sort of underscores just how close the potential threat from North Korea is to Japan. But the posture here in Japan is always a defensive one. Yes, they do regularly engage in military drills with the United States to enhance its defensive posture, but you don't see this kind of show of force from certainly the Japanese military that you are seeing right now from South Korea's military.

They are, though, very much focused on the threat that North Korea has continued to present. And don't forget, this is something that Japan has been dealing with very much at the forefront not just for days or weeks but really for months now as we see the Kim Jong-Un regime undertake this really unprecedented volume of ballistic missile tests.

We've seen so many of these ballistic missiles splash down in the waters off of Japan, not to mention the latest intermediate range missile that actually flew right over Japan, prompting that warning that told residents on the northern island of Japan to seek shelter.

Again, we always talk about the pacifist constitution in Japan. We've talked about what kind of options Japan has. Yes we know that they're leaning closely on their ally, the U.S. and on international partners to try and resolve the crisis.

What option are they really pushing for though? Well, the only solution that they see at this point is really the diplomatic solution. They were quick to call for that emergency meeting of the United States Security Council. They have been loudly and forcibly pressing not just for the full enforcement of sanctions against North Korea but also for additional sanctions. hey think it's essential to really cut off that hard currency to North Korea which helps fuel its illicit programs.

On top of that, we're now hearing from the cabinet secretary in Japan who briefed the press today, talking again about the need for additional sanctions which was discussed at the U.N. Security Council meeting.

But he also did comment on that proposal that you continue to hear from China and from Russia, this freeze for freeze option by which you would have the U.S. and the South Korean military put a stop to this annual training exercises which enraged Pyongyang.

In exchange they say Pyongyang could suspend its nuclear and missile program. Japan, through the cabinet secretary, saying no, that's not something that they support. They see these exercises as an essential deterrent in the face of this mounting nuclear threat -- Kristie.

STOUT: Got it. So Japan still firmly putting the emphasis on diplomacy after that sixth nuke test and also after that assessment from South Korean government officials that North Korea may very well be launching yet another ICBM and conducting another test.

Alexandra Field, live in Tokyo for us; Ian Lee, live in Seoul -- a big thank you to you both.

Now, let's go back to my colleague John Vause standing by in Los Angeles -- John.

VAUSE: Kristie -- thank you. We'll hear a lot more from you in the coming hours.

But in the meantime, we'll continue on with this story. Joining us now, Paul Carroll, a senior adviser with N Square, a group working on reducing nuclear threats; and CNN military analyst, retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona. Paul -- let's start with you. The biggest question it seems to be who is helping the North Koreans? You know, U.N. experts looked at rocket parts which were recovered from a satellite which was launched last year by Pyongyang.

They found many of the key components were foreign made. They were bought from businesses based in China. And they reportedly then found that this demonstrates the continuing critical importance of high-end, foreign-sourced components.

[00:10:06] Is Beijing unwilling or unable to stop those sales? And if it can't stop the sale of missile parts, can they actually cut off fuel or are they willing to cut off fuel to North Korea?

PAUL CARROLL, SENIOR ADVISOR, N SQUARE: Thanks -- John. I think it's more unable than unwilling. They're two parts of the same coin. There's a vast array of international businesses, front companies, many of them are Chinese, but they're not all only Chinese.

And the North Koreans have shown that they're very deft at exploiting gaps in the international sanction system, in the export control system. So I wouldn't lay the blame at the government of China necessarily. But I would say that the North Koreans have figured out how to exploit the network of relationships and of motivations to get around these sanctions.

VAUSE: And Rick Francona, as far as the military option goes here, is the U.S. in any position right now to start an offensive against North Korea? Wouldn't that type of buildup take weeks, maybe even months?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Absolutely. There is no -- there is no stomach for that right now. I don't see any possibility that the United States would launch a pre-emptive attack against North Korea unless they thought there was an imminent threat of an attack on the United States or one of our allies or an island like Guam.

I don't think that's in the cards. I know they're doing the plans for it, but I just don't see that happening because the consequences of such an action would just be catastrophic. It would trigger a regional war. It would trigger a North Korean invasion of South Korea and we would be in a long ground war that we're not prepared to fight.

VAUSE: And Paul -- the immediate challenge though is this possibility of another ICBM launch in the coming days, maybe in the coming hours. What happens then?

CARROLL: Well, I don't think that would necessarily be a game-changer either. This has been something that Kim Jong-Un has shown that his frequency and his tempo of missile test is quite rapid, unprecedented from his grandfather Kim Il-Sung and from father Kim Jong-Il. This is something that should be expected.

And so what I would worry about is that the United States or the allies would attempt to shoot down such a missile launch. There's been a lot of discussion about the capabilities of the so-called THAAD Theater Defense system, the Pac-3 systems. We have a number of systems there that have checkered success rates.

And I would be concerned if we attempted to shoot something down where there was not an imminent threat to our allies' territory or our own.

Because two things would happen: either we would miss and then we would have egg on our face; or if we would hit on of those missiles that would be tantamount to war that Colonel Francona just laid out would be very ugly to say the least.

VAUSE: And Colonel, that's the U.S. side of the equation. What we're seeing on the South Korean side here is that the defense minister said he's told the United States to increase its military presence in the region, send more long-range bombers or aircraft carriers on a more regular basis, even possibly looking at this redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons.

How would that increase not just the tension but the risk of some kind of accidental conflict?

FRANCONA: Well, he's looking at this as a show of force. And we've seen the South Korean military do that over the past few days. And they're trying to prove to the North Koreans that they're not just going to rely on the United States for their own defense but they're actively involved and they're not willing to, you know, to kowtow to North Korean nuclear blackmail.

But the reintroduction of tactical nuclear weapons in the peninsula, I don't see that happening. There's no need for it. We can deliver nuclear weapons to North Korea from a variety of different platforms. We don't have to have them on the peninsula. Putting them on the peninsula puts them at risk.

But we need to make sure that the North Koreans understand that we do have that capability. And I think Secretary Mattis' statement was about where we need to be. Any threat would trigger this massive retaliation but careful to indicate that we're not looking for a war with North Korea. We are looking for some diplomatic strategy that works.

But we have to make sure that when we do that, I think, you know, recognizing as a nuclear power, a nuclear weapons power is the first step.

But we have to make sure it doesn't go beyond that and we end up in a position where the North Koreans start dictating our policy in the region by saying, well unless you withdraw troops from South Korea, then we're going to start a nuclear war. We have to make sure we don't get to that point.

VAUSE: That point seems just getting ever and ever closer -- Colonel. Thank you for being with us. Also Paul there in San Francisco -- appreciate it. Thank you.

SESAY: All right. Time for a quick break here.

Next on NEWSROOM L.A. the fate of hundreds of thousands of young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children hangs in the balance. How President Trump's coming decision could change everything for so-called dreamers.

VAUSE: Also ahead, why the international community has been so slow to offer help in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.


SESAY: Hello, everyone.

U.S. business leaders are urging President Trump and Congress to preserve an Obama-era program that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

VAUSE: On Tuesday the President is expected to announce an end to the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, but he's giving Congress a six-month window to act.

As candidate, Donald Trump promised to terminate DACA but after winning office, his tone seemed to soften.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will immediately terminate President Trump's two illegal executive amnesties.

We're always talking about dreamers for other people. I want the children that are growing up in the United States to be dreamers also. They're not dreaming right now.

DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you. To me, its one of the most difficult subjects I have. It's a very, very tough subject. We are going to deal with DACA with heart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should dreamers be worried?

TRUMP: We love the dreamers. We love everybody.


SESAY: For more on this decision and how it will affect young, undocumented immigrants moving forward, we're joined by former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa. Mr. Mayor -- thank you so much for joining us.


[00:19:57] SESAY: President Trump has been all over the map when it has come to the issue of DACA and what he said about dreamers. Most recently he's talked about love and heart. How do you square that with this expected decision?

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, obviously, there's no heart. It breaks your heart. Certainly breaks mine. I love this country. My grandpa came here 100 years ago. I know what this country has always stood for.

It hasn't always been true to what it stood for but you have to feel a disappointment in the fact that the President and this administration would go as far as saying that these people are no longer welcome; that we're going to send them back.

That they can't work here. That they can't fight for our country. That they can't contribute to the economy. And I think we should all feel a little ashamed today.

VAUSE: Is this decision, if it happens as expected by Donald Trump, is it more to do with the legality of DACA? Is it more to do with the constitution? Presidential overreach? All of these sorts of open- ended legal questions right now.

Or is it more to do with a president who seems to be doing everything he can right now to shore up his own base? He's been voted for this.

VILLARAIGOSA: To feed his base.

VAUSE: Right.

VILLARAIGOSA: It's all politics. You've heard him say he's got a heart. These are decent people there working. They can stay here -- to the things he may be doing tomorrow. The fact of the matter is this is an attempt to feed his base at a time when his approval ratings are in the toilet, they're in the tank.

And it's clear I think to many of us, it's also a way to distract people from the fact that they haven't accomplished anything in the last nine months or so.

SESAY: You mentioned politics and the lack of accomplishments. Well, the expectation is that the President will punt this to Congress.

Speaker Paul Ryan -- he did say in the last couple of days that he did not want to see the end of DACA and he felt that Congress should have a chance to fix this.

The first Dream Act was introduced in 2001, the last time it was voted upon and it failed in the Senate was December 2010. Do you see anything in 2017 to make you believe that they can fix this in Congress?

VILLARAIGOSA: I hope so. I don't see it but I hope so. And I pray.

Look, whether you're Democrat or Republican, we have to acknowledge these young people know no other country but this one. As I said -- they're defending our country. They're contributing to our economy. They're going to our schools.

We should be able to come together, Democrat and Republican, and put the country first. Put these kids first. Over the next ten years, it would be a $460 billion impact to our economy. Not to mention the wasted lives that would come if we just sent them back. If we said they couldn't work here, if they had to go back underground, in the underground economy again.

I'm praying that if the White House doesn't have the heart that the Congress will have the heart to move ahead and give these young people a legal status.

SESAY: Mr. Mayor -- let's talk quickly about options going forward. You know, if this goes down the way it's expected to, we've already heard from the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the attorney general saying that they will sue on behalf of the dreamers.

What do you want to see California do? What are you thinking in terms of how to fight this?

VILLARAIGOSA: We'll take a page out of Texas' book, use the Tenth Amendment to stand up for these young people. We'll pass laws. As an example, you need a warrant to come into hospital, to come into a courthouse, to come into a school, to come into places where you otherwise don't have a right to be except if you have a warrant.

We're going to mark a different path. Nearly 25 percent of the dreamers live in California. We're the sixth largest economy in the world and we're the epicenter of the undocumented immigrants in the United States of America. We're the most diverse state in the nation. And it's been good for us.

So, I think you're going to see us creatively use the laws in the courts to stand for a different proposition. Mother Liberty's proposition -- bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses. Come to this country, work hard, play by the rules, and you'll make it. And you'll live that American dream.

VAUSE: Just very quickly, you talked about the sheer facts, the cost here, the numbers. You said $400 billion from dreamers over the next decade --

VILLARAIGOSA: $460 billion.

VAUSE: -- to the GDP of California. This is how the Treasury Secretary though --


VAUSE: U.S., yes.

VILLARAIGOSA: U.S. and by the way, that's the Center for American Progress that studied that.

VAUSE: This is what Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary said about you know, if all these immigrants are forced to leave. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [00:25:05] STEVE MNUCHIN, UNITED STATES TREASURY SECRETARY: As it relates to immigration, the President is very focused on legal immigration. As you said, this is a complicated issue and something I'm sure that the President will consider carefully.

As it relates to the economic impact, I'm less concerned about the economic impact. We'll make sure that we have plenty of workers in this economy. We want to put more people back to work. There's a lot of people that left the workforce and our objective is to bring them back into the workforce.


VAUSE: How do you respond to that?

VILLARAIGOSA: There's no basis in fact for what he just said. It's not just the Center for American Progress. Virtually, every academic look at the impact of immigration here in the United States of America. A recent study said there's a $715 billion impact to the California economy alone; the dreamers -- $460 billion over the next ten years.

The notion that we could just lose these kids when we have in California alone 1.5 million without a college -- who need a college education by 2030, another million people who need skills that are currently going unfilled by 2030. These dreamers are people that could help us meet those goals and impact the economy.

So, what he's saying has no basis in fact. I haven't seen a study that would confirm what he's just said.

VAUSE: Ok. Mr. Mayor -- thanks so much for coming in.

SESAY: Thank you.

VILLARAIGOSA: Thank you both for having me.

VAUSE: Appreciate you being with us.

VILLARAIGOSA: Good to be with you.

VAUSE: Come back again, ok?

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, I'm just down the street, so invite me.

VAUSE: Any time.

SESAY: We'll call, don't worry. We'll call.


VAUSE: Thank you.

Well, coming up here, the world rushed to help the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina, but 12 years later in the wake of an even bigger disaster, there seems to be fewer offers of aid and support. The reasons why -- in just a moment.

SESAY: Plus just as recovery ramps up after Harvey, another dangerous storm could be heading towards the U.S. We are tracking for you Hurricane Irma. The latest after this.




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It's 9:30 in Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I'm Isha Sesay, live for you from Los Angeles.

The Hurricane Harvey victims recovery efforts are slowly but steadily moving forward. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced they would, quote, "rush recovery money" to those with flood insurance. Up to $20,000 may be provided with proof of damage.

VAUSE: Meantime, concerns are growing that floodwater has been contaminated with hazardous materials, including waste, pesticides and solvents. Add to that material from damaged toxic waste sites.

The EPA says the full impact of the flooding on those sites remains unclear right now. Officials are waiting for the water to recede before making a full assessment.

And the mayor of hard-hit Houston says most of the city is now operational, more than 95 percent dry. Most businesses are expected to reopen on Tuesday.

SESAY: Just as people are starting to breathe a sigh of relief and they're beginning to recover from Harvey, another dangerous storm is barreling towards the U.S. Hurricane Irma is now a category 4 storm, packing winds of 215 kilometers per hour or more than 130 miles per hour.

VAUSE: Both Florida and Puerto Rico have declared states of emergency. Landfall is expected in the Caribbean by Wednesday.

SESAY: Well, let's get the latest on Irma's path. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with that.

Pedram, how is the storm looking?

Where exactly is Irma?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, it's as organized, as symmetrical, as disturbing to look at as any storm we've seen in quite some time. This storm system on a beeline towards the Leeward Islands into Puerto Rico, where, as you said, state of emergency issued. Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas are going to be in line for a very powerful storm as early as this Thursday into Friday.

When you look at the models, it's great news in the sense we're seeing excellent agreement in the models. That gives us confidence in the forecast environment of this model. Just about every one takes it west, compacted across this region. A lot of them want to take it towards northern Cuba by late this weekend, with a few outliers pushing it to the north.

From Saturday into Sunday, we think a right turn possible with the storm based on the steering environments in the atmosphere. At that point, Florida would be, of course, in line with the direct impact across this region. Some outliers take it back to the Gulf. Others push it back into the Atlantic, where we want to see this storm end up.


VAUSE: A lot of comparisons have been made between Hurricane Harvey and the last big natural disaster to hit the U.S., which is Hurricane Katrina, which left most of New Orleans under water.

Here's one very big difference: 12 years ago there was a staggering number of offers of help from around the world. Not just from countries you would expect like Britain and Canada.

Afghanistan pledged $100,000. Sri Lanka donated $25,000 to the Red Cross. Cuba's president at the time, Fidel Castro, a guy the U.S. tried assassinate --


VAUSE: -- seven times, offered to fly more than 1,000 doctors and tons of medical supplies.

Even Iran, yes, Iran, who describes the United States as the Great Satan, offered humanitarian aid.

This time not so much.

On Monday, Mexico began sending aid north of the border, even though there has been no official announcement from the Trump administration that it's actually accepted that offer of help.

Canadians are shipping baby formula and Israeli aid crews are on the ground in Texas as well.

So is this the rest of the world sitting on its hands some kind of political payback for an administration that has alienated its friends and allies and America first translates to every nation for itself?

Markos Kounalakis is a fellow -- a visiting fellow at the Cuba Institute, joining us from San Francisco.

Good to see you. You've described this as possibly being the what goes around comes around approach to foreign policy.

If that's the case, what specifically is driving it?

MARKOS KOUNALAKIS, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: I think that's exactly it. You're seeing this trepidation across the world at helping at a time when a state like Texas, after this devastating hurricane, really needs help.

So I think what you're seeing is the first signs of the Trump America first policies, which include dropping international aid, insist on being rather aggressive in its rhetoric against other nations, is questioning whether or not those who are residing within the country are valuable.

And so I think you're seeing around the world a response, saying, look, if you're going to practice every nation for itself, that may actually come back to haunt you.

VAUSE: There's also been a political boost for President Trump in the way he's dealt with this disaster. You've also raised the idea that there could be another reason why some countries just don't want to jump in here and help out.

KOUNALAKIS: Yes. These other nations don't exist in a political vacuum. They have domestic political concerns that they have to worry about. And in some cases there are places that have elections coming up rather closely.

I don't know if Angela Merkel in Germany is concerned about looking -- appearing to be helping a guy who wouldn't even shake her hand. But certainly what you're seeing across the world is a retarded advance and a slower response to what is clearly a grand tragedy in the United States.

VAUSE: There also could be a simpler explanation and this comes from a report by conservative Heritage Foundation. This is what it found: $850 million of foreign aid, which was offered up in the wake of Katrina, just $115 million actually reached the U.S.; a year after that, only $40 million had actually been spent.

That report then concluded, the U.S. remains ill prepared to accept offers of foreign aid and put them to use in a way that will save lives and property.

Could it be that countries have just found other ways to help out?

Maybe thought all this aid wasn't needed last time so we'll sit this out?

But I guess that sort of belies the benefit of making the offer in the first place.

KOUNALAKIS: Yes, in fact, I quoted from that report, which is a good report, in the column I recently did. In fact, $400 million worth of oil aid was unable to be used.

So yes, there might be some of that. And I think the Heritage Foundation made a terrific point, saying, we have to have the capacity.

But here's what happened in the meantime. The State Department actually reviewed those problems from Katrina and tried to change things so that we can, as a nation, the United States, can absorb, accept and implement some of the aid that's forthcoming.

It's really -- it's really sad because what we need to see is that international aid that both the United States is able to give to other countries but that we're also able to accept in times of need.

VAUSE: And if that system breaks down, if the U.S. doesn't receive the aid and doesn't offer the aid for future disasters or scales back the aid which is offered, what are the long-term implications here?

KOUNALAKIS: Well, I think that you're seeing a nation, the United States, is the largest -- is the largest aid donation nation in the world -- not by GDP. That would be Sweden.

But the United States gives the largest total amount of money on an annual basis around the world. A lot of it goes to Afghanistan, number one, and Israel is number two.

But if we're unable as a nation to continue this type of largesse and really exemplify a humanitarian response to other nations in need, especially with the great resources that this country has, well, then maybe the rest of the world won't respond when we need help, whether for humanitarian reasons or, perhaps, in other realms.

VAUSE: OK. Markos, as always, thank you --


VAUSE: -- so much for being with us. We appreciate your insights.


SESAY: Fascinating conversation.

VAUSE: It is interesting. Maybe it's just a different system in place. Maybe they're going about doing things differently or maybe there is a little resentment. Who knows.

SESAY: Who knows.

We're going to take a quick break. North Korea is claiming major nuclear progress. Next, we'll examine those claims and what those could mean for Pyongyang's nuclear program.




VAUSE: North Korea's nuclear missile programs are moving ahead at a clip few within the intelligence community had predicted. The nuclear test on Sunday was the most powerful so far.

SESAY: The North is claiming is tested a hydrogen bomb and that they could mount it on an intercontinental ballistic missile. If true, that would be a significant accomplishment.

Let's discuss North Korea's nuclear program with Jacob Ward, he's a science journalist and the former editor-in-chief of "Popular Science" magazine and Jacob is joining us from Oakland, California.

Always good to have you with us, Jacob. Within a matter of hours on Sunday, North Korea boasted of having developed a hydrogen bomb that could be loaded into an intercontinental ballistic missile and then launched a nuclear test more powerful than any of its previous five.

Do we have a read on the sophistication level of North Korea's H-bomb program?

JACOB WARD, SCIENCE JOURNALIST: Well, certainly, Isha, at this point, it is clear that the sheer explosive power at their command --


WARD: -- is far greater than we ever really thought possible. At this point, this latest test looks, sheerly from the magnitude, this sort of earthquake, the geological magnitude of it, that it's at least 10 times greater than the last five tests that have happened. So they certainly have an explosive that the world should be worried about.

And then the question is, can it fit that onto an intercontinental ballistic missile, which can than reliably reach a target?

We've seen them certainly test out a missile that we know can do at least 930 kilometers, which isn't yet the ICBM range. But experts predict that could have gone, if they set it on a different trajectory, this test back in July could have gone as long as 8,000 kilometers, which is certainly enough to reach Guam.

The question at this point is they have the destructive potential. They have a missile they think they can probably put into space.

That really remaining hurdle here is can they bring it back down in one piece onto the place that they intend?

That would be the final trifecta of a full nuclear weapon.

SESAY: OK. Let's focus on those outstanding hurdles, if you will.

I mean, what is our understanding of the level of difficulty to master those issues, trajectory of missile and re-entry?

WARD: Well, it's really one of the great difficult things that an engineer could take on. It requires so many different disciplines, Isha, to put all of these different expertises (sic) together.

I mean, you have not just the material science, the -- you know, the incredible fuel science and all of that to just put an object into space, to get it a little bit out of our atmosphere and escape Earth's gravity to some extent, that alone is crazy. That's an incredibly difficult thing to do.

But then to have it survive re-entry, the violence, the burning, the trauma of coming back into our atmosphere and have it arrive not just in one piece but set down where you would need it to go, that part is very, very hard.

We're talking about launching sort of a space program and one of the world's most sophisticated ballistic programs all in one go. So certainly the setting off the enormous explosion, that's a big breakthrough. Being able to create an ICBM that might at least pierce the atmosphere and get back into space, a big deal.

But the last step is a big, big step. Until we know they can cross that, there's at least a little reassurance to be enjoyed there.

SESAY: Jacob, KCNA, the North Korean state broadcaster on Saturday, claimed all components of the H-bomb were 100 percent domestically made. Let's be clear for our viewers. These are claims that have not been independently verified.

But what would that mean for the making of the H-bomb in significant numbers?

Should they get up to that place of mastering those problems you just laid out?

WARD: Right. I mean, certainly the ability to create all of that within a -- you know, within the country is a huge, huge deal. You know, being able to marshal all of that fissile material into one creation like that is a huge undertaking. And it's not clear that the sanctions and the effort to cap imports into the country is going to sort of stop that.

That said, I think there is some help to -- there's something to be understood here from knowing that it would take, you know, everything that country has to probably put together one or two or three of those weapons.

We're not at all clear yet that they can do the things that American, Chinese, French and other nuclear programs can do, which is not just put the thing into space, have a nuclear device on board, but then also create all the sophisticated decoys that would come off it, all of the things that make it so hard to track and intercept.

That's the big question for the United States is, do we have the technology to intercept something like this if they were to try to launch it?

That's the big question mark here.

SESAY: Yes, it is remarkable, Jacob, in and of itself, that a country associated with such high levels of poverty has even been able to get to this stage. Jacob Ward, there we must leave it, joining us from Oakland, California. Thank you. WARD: Thank you, Isha.

VAUSE: Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., the nuclear threat from North Korea means booming business for Japanese companies selling nuclear shelters but peace of mind comes with a price.





VAUSE: Well, given the current threat of a military confrontation with North Korea, it may not come as much of a surprise that sales of nuclear shelters in Japan are on the rise.

SESAY: The fiery rhetoric between U.S. president Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un is also fueling fears. Here is CNN's Kyung Lah.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Down this skyline staircase, through an airlocked steel door, Ichiro Nishimoto (ph) welcomes us into his insurance against Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.

LAH: Tell me what we're sitting in.

"A shelter against nuclear fallout; 55 years ago when I started selling shelters in Japan, people thought I was crazy," he says.

"Who's crazy now?" he asks.

As North Korea edges closer to a long-range missile capable of hitting the U.S., America's new president engaging in a war of words with Kim Jong-un.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

LAH (voice-over): Japan caught in the crosshairs of any conflict. In Trump's first six months as president, Nishimoto (ph) has sold more than a dozen of his tropical-themed, concrete-fortified shelters. While that's not a lot, that's more than he sold in 55 years. Housing developer Kazumi Yoshiyama (ph) wants in.

LAH: Are customers asking for this?


LAH: How many of these are you thinking of building?

YOSHIYAMA (PH): Maybe 100 home (INAUDIBLE).

LAH (voice-over): It may not seem as ridiculous as it sounds. In a suburban neighborhood in --


LAH (voice-over): -- Wakayama, Japan, nestled behind this traditional Japanese home,,,

LAH: What is this made out of?

(Speaking Japanese)


LAH: Concrete. So three layers of reinforced concrete right here.

LEACH (voice-over): Yoshihiko Kuratori (ph) bought this small shelter, fearing earthquake, tsunami and the neighbor to his north.

YOSHIHIKO KURATORI (PH), SHELTER OWNER: I always worry about the nuclear by North Korea.

LAH: Having the shelter, does it give you peace of mind?

KURATORI (PH): That's right. I feel very peaceful in my mind.

LAH (voice-over): Selling that personal peace in these shelters that range from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. But you won't hear Nishimoto (ph) celebrate the windfall.

"Trump's extreme rhetoric has heightened tensions with North Korea," he says.

"You don't know what he is going to do next. It's good if it goes well but if it doesn't, it could lead to a national disaster."

Go ahead and say they're prepping for the impossible. But for a region watching two unpredictable leaders, they call it just being realistic -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Osaka, Japan.


SESAY: He did seem rather peaceful.

VAUSE: I don't think I would want to survive a nuclear strike. So I don't want one.

SESAY: I'll make a note.

VAUSE: Thanks.


You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. We will be back with more news after a short break.