Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

Uproar Over North Korean Nuclear Test; President Trump Expected to End DACA; Bracing for Hurricane Irma. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 5, 2017 - 04:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:33:21] NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We've kicked the can down the road long enough. There is no more road left.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Ambassador Nikki Haley telling the United Nations that North Korea must face strong sanction as South Korea suggests Pyongyang may test another weapon.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And the Trump administration expected to end the program that protects young, undocumented immigrants. Can Congress fix the program that shields DREAMers?

KOSIK: And Hurricane Irma strength tones a category four. Florida and Puerto bracing for impact.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik. Good morning.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 4:33 Eastern Time.

We begin with North Korea defying international condemnation over its latest largest nuclear test, with signs of more tests to come. U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, arguing at an emergency Security Council meeting that the international community must exhaust every last bit of leverage over Pyongyang to avoid a nuclear war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALEY: 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. His abusive use of missiles and his nuclear threats show that he is begging for war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: Among North Korea's few remaining pain points that could be targeted with sanctions -- oil imports, textile exports, and the regime's other sources of foreign currency. Pyongyang slamming the U.S. via state media, bragging it will use its, quote, nuclear strategic weapons to eradicate the land of the U.S. with no trace left on earth.

[04:35:10] BRIGGS: All of this as South Korea says it has spotted continuous signs the North is preparing another ICBM test.

CNN's Ian Lee joins us live from South Korea where that country is conducting exercises off the east coast of the Korean peninsula.

Good morning, Ian.

IAN LEE, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, Dave.

This is the continuation of the show of force that we've seen South Korea do after that nuclear test, this time involving the South Korean Navy with these live fire exercises. They've also conducted military exercises from their own ballistic missiles as well as air-to-ground missiles.

This is coming as we're hearing reports that North Korea could be preparing another ballistic missile. This is coming from South Korea's national intelligence service. This is significant because this would be the first ballistic missile test since Sunday's developments where North Korea announced that they, A, could put a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile. And then they detonated that nuclear bomb, a hydrogen bomb they say would fit on top of a ballistic missile.

So, intelligence agencies are watching this closely. This is a part of -- South Korea has a two-pronged approach. One, are those military exercises we talked about. The second is going through diplomatic channels trying to put more pressure.

But really, Dave, this is a game of chicken. Both sides willing to up the ante, neither side willing to back down.

BRIGGS: All right, 5:36 p.m. there in Seoul. Ian Lee, live for us, thank you.

KOSIK: North Korea has evolved from a regional menace to a global threat. Strong words from Yukiya Amano, the head of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency. He calls Sundays' test of what Pyongyang claims was a hydrogen bomb a new dimension of threat.

For more on the diplomatic efforts to cool tensions on the Korean peninsula, let's bring in CNN's Nic Robertson live from the IAEA in Vienna, Austria.

So, tell us what the head of the IAEA said.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. I mean, this is a man who knows the region, knows the Korean peninsula very well. And, of course, the position that he's in as the head of the IAEA puts him in a position to be very, very well-informed, as well as being an expert on nuclear developments to understand what's going on.

I asked him, is it not -- are we not at the point in time now where effectively North Korea has a nuclear weapon with which it can threaten the world. And he said, we can't know for certain. He said, but what we do know is that what North Korea says it's going to do, it generally does. And by evaluating the scale of the test, the massive scale of the tests over the weekend, the tests that they've done in recent years, their pace of progress is rapid, that they are rapidly developing this capability that they say that they're developing.

So, may be not there now, but essentially on the path. And that's why he says it's gone from being a regional threat to a global threat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YUKIYA AMANO, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY: I think North Korean threat is a global one now. In the past, we believe it is a regional issue. It is no longer the case. Everyone is aware that this is a global threat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: And for that reason, he's been preparing a core group of staff here, a North Korean team with monitors to increase training and increase the capacity and capability of the equipment it would take if they were to get a green light to go monitor the situation in North Korea.

KOSIK: You've got lots of people calling for diplomatic solutions and you've got like sanctions. And then you've got Russian president Vladimir Putin saying they are useless. So many thoughts about what to do.

CNN's Nic Robertson, thanks so much.

With sanctions showing little effect of slowing North Korea's nuclear and missile program, everyone is asking what happens next.

To discuss the limited options available for ending the North Korea nuclear threat, let's bring in CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. He joins us via Skype from Washington.

Thanks for getting up early for us.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You bet, Alison. Absolutely.

KOSIK: You know, what are the options here on the table? You've got really tough talk coming from President Trump and then pretty tough talk from Defense Secretary James Mattis, as well, saying, you know, they're going to use every option available, saying that many military options are available.

James Mattis talking about this over the weekend. Let's listen, and we'll talk on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We have many military options, and the president wanted to be briefed on each one of them. We made clear that we have the ability to defend ourselves and our allies, South Korea and Japan, from any attack, and our commitments among the allies are ironclad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[04:40:12] KOSIK: What do many military options look like?

LEIGHTON: Well, they range in extreme from doing very little but a show of force-type exercise, Alison, all the way to a major attack. So, if you took last as the most extreme case, a major attack would involve going after all the command and control nodes, going after the leadership. There are things we can call hardened and deeply buried targets, go after those. So, there would be a lot of things that could be done.

Another possible option would be interdicting North Korea, in other words, putting it under a blockade or a type of quarantine. That is also a military option. It would involve a lot less use of force than a massive attack. But it would also involve using our military to enforce, say, sanctions or some other international rules that would govern trade and other under-action with North Korea.

BRIGGS: All right. So, the most imminent situation there on the peninsula is what some expect to be another ICBM test, launch on Saturday, a national holiday in North Korea. When you've said that further threats will be met with fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen, have you boxed yourself in? How do you expect the United States to respond if there is another ICBM launch? At any point do you expect them to shoot down a missile?

LEIGHTON: It's certainly possible. When a missile is targeted at a particular place in the United States or at a particular location within an allied country like, say, Japan or South Korea, that would probably be the trigger for a shoot-down or at least an attempt at a shoot-down. The United States has capabilities to that allow it to shoot down incoming missiles from North Korea or from any other place.

And those capabilities would most likely be used if it were pretty clear to the people who measure this and who see the first indications of a launch if they believe that target is one that is legitimate, that it looks like that missile is heading toward, they will most certainly go after it in that way.

KOSIK: So, if you were directing this mission of how to handle North Korea, what would you suggest? Would you suggest, OK, United Nations, let's start with sanctions again, let's make them stronger? What would be your sort of step-by-step what if?

LEIGHTON: I think it has to be a ratcheting up of various steps. So, you know, when you look at what Ambassador Haley said at the U.N., you have in essence a -- let's give diplomacy one more chance-type effort. However, she clearly said we're not limitless in our patience. We are very much focused on solving this problem. And if it doesn't work using sanctions, then we will use a graduated military response.

She probably wasn't as nuanced as the word graduated implies, but nonetheless, it is something where she spent quite a bit of time underlying that there is muscle to back up what we're talking about. So, if I were to do this, Alison, what I would say is, let's give

sanctions a chance, let's do certain things that require China to do further actions to tighten the border with the North, to make sure, for example, that the north cannot send counterfeit currency into the world. That's one of the big things the North does. They can't send fake drugs. Another way North Korea makes a lot of money is sending fake medicines into -- counterfeit medicines -- into the world. So, those would be some of the types of things we would start.

But then you have to be prepared to wrap up exercises, to give them an indication that something is coming if they continue to misbehave. And then you take it further, that if they actually go and launch a missile against a particular target or even threaten a target such as Guam, then you have the possibility of taking even further military action which could involve not only a quarantine, like I mention earlier, but also the possibility of shooting down a missile or further attacks if they require that from a military standpoint. So, it would be in essence a doctrine of graduated response.

KOSIK: Right.

BRIGGS: So, a lot to be done at least on the sanctions front, cutting off the oil potential. The "Wall Street Journal" writes about also cutting off grain which would have a dramatic impact in their assessment to the North, as well.

Colonel Cedric Leighton, thanks so much for your analysis this morning we appreciate.

KOSIK: Thanks so much for your expertise.

LEIGHTON: You bet.

BRIGGS: All right. Later today, the Trump administration expected to announce that a program protecting young, undocumented immigrants will end. They're offering Congress, though, a short window to make a fix here.

[04:45:03] More ahead on EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: Later today, President Trump expected to announce his decision to end DACA. That's the Obama-era program that protects so- called DREAMers. Those young, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will hold a briefing at the Justice Department, 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time, to discuss the president's plans. Sources tell CNN the president wants to delay the dismantling of DACA so lawmakers have a chance to save it. If they so choose, if they are capable.

Sara Murray has more from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave and Alison.

Sources tell CNN, even though the president is expected to end the program, he's going to do it with a six-month delay, a window that allows for Congress to come up with a legislative fix to this issue.

[04:50:00] That news was welcomed by some Republicans who say Congress is the one who should be mending this issue. They shouldn't be legislating from the White House. But others, including the head of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Democrats panned President Trump's expected announcement, calling it heartless and saying it defies what he said on the campaign trail.

As a candidate, Trump took pretty much every side of this issue. He promised to end DACA as soon as possible when he came to the White House, but he also said that he would treat the DREAMers with heart and be sure to protect them. Now, sources caution that until the president actually makes the announcement, things could always change. So, we await the words from President Trump's mouth.

Back to you, guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: All right. Sara Murray at the White House.

KOSIK: A fix to DACA just one on the long list of agenda items facing Congress as lawmakers get back to work today on Capitol Hill.

Joining us to discuss that and more, "Washington Post" reporter Eugene Scott.

Good morning again.

EUGENE SCOTT, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Good morning.

KOSIK: You know, you look at what's happening kind of in the arena, as a sort of response to what the president is looking to do with DACA. Some of the biggest names in business are urging the president to continue DACA, are urging Congress to continue DACA. Names that we recognize, AT&T, Best Buy, Apple. They want DACA to stay because thousands of people potentially could lose their jobs.

We saw the president, though, on the campaign trail talk about this extensively. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will immediately terminate President Obama's two illegal executive amnesties in which he defied federal law and the Constitution to give amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants.

When somebody's terrific, we want them here. But they have to be legally --

REPORTER: So, they have to leave too? TRUMP: Look, it sounds cold and it sounds hard. We have a country. Our country's going to hell. We have to have a system where people are legally in our country.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: Here's the thing -- 30,000 people each month could lose their jobs. Is this about jobs for President Trump, or is this about campaign promises?

SCOTT: I think it's definitely about campaign promises. And specifically about addressing issues that he thought were inappropriate or even illegal during the Obama administration. We've seen Hispanic business leaders and people in that community come out saying that if president Trump encourages Congress to rescind DACA, he will be losing a significant demographic that the Republican Party has worked hard to try to win. And this could affect the Republicans in 2018 and 2020.

And so, I think these are things that the administration is paying attention to long term about the effects it will have on their ability to be successful in upcoming elections.

BRIGGS: We can probably read into the fact that it's Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, having a press conference later to announce the plan, because this ultimately might be about the rule of law. Fifteen or 10 states' attorneys general were prepared to sue if the administration didn't move on this.

The campaign rhetoric is one thing. But the most recent thing the president said about DACA is that he wants to have heart. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're going to deal with DACA with heart. I have to deal with a lot of politicians, don't forget. And I have to convince them that what I'm saying is right. And I appreciate your understanding on that. But the DACA situation is a very, very -- it's a very difficult thing for me because I love these kids. I love kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: His evolution shows -- it's a difficult issue for him, particularly when he may learn that there are members of the United States military -- Leon Panetta about a couple of hundred members of the Army who are DREAMers, serving, might be deported.

But how do you think given that he says he wants to have heart, he can square that circle with what he plans to do?

SCOTT: Well, I think one of the things he's planning that could, frankly, take the responsibility off of himself is punting it to Congress, right? And these are people who have been working on this issue far longer than the president has been in politics. And they have different ideas about how best to respond to this community. Nearly 800,000 young people in a way that benefits them and maintains law and order, which is something the president campaign odds effectively.

I think it's also important to realize, one of the reasons why the president finds himself in a tough place is because while he definitely spoke frequently about the need to maintain law and order and do what is legal, the narrative behind DREAMers is one that's very positive. We saw them during Hurricane Harvey, like you said, in the military, and doing great work in colleges and businesses as a whole that has made Americans sensitive to their plight.

[04:55:07] KOSIK: All right. The president's decision on DACA could come as early as today. Eugene Scott, thanks so much for your analysis.

SCOTT: Thank you all.

BRIGGS: All right. Coming up, Hurricane Irma headed straight for the Caribbean with Florida in its path. The latest forecast for you next on EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KOSIK: Welcome back.

As Hurricane Irma strengthens into a category-four storm, packing 130 mile an hour winds, they're preparing for the worst in the Caribbean and in Florida. American Airlines canceling flights to and from Caribbean destinations as Irma approaches. States of emergency are in effect in Puerto Rico and Florida.