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U.N. Reports North Korea Still Making Nukes; Trump Undermines His Own Team on U.S. Policy; Zimbabwe Election; Iran Military Drills in Persian Gulf; Challenging Mental Health Taboos with Art. Aired 3- 3:30a ET

Aired August 4, 2018 - 03:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Despite a pledge with the U.S. to work towards denuclearization, a new United Nations report says North Korea is doing the opposite.

Uncertainty in Zimbabwe after the presidential election, as the opposition challenges the results.

Plus temperatures soaring in Europe and it's likely part of a bigger trend.

We are live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta. And I'm Cyril Vanier. It's great to have you with us.


VANIER: So there's disturbing information coming from a confidential new United Nations report. It says North Korea is still pursuing its nuclear and missile programs, which is a direct violation of international sanctions.

This comes after the U.S. restarted talks with North Korea on denuclearization as well. Two months ago, President Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and he proclaimed after that meeting that the country was, quote, "no longer a nuclear threat."

Let's bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks, who joins us from the South Korean capital, Seoul.

Paula, what we finding out in this report?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cyril, this is a report that's made by independent experts. They give their findings every six months to the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee.

And what they have found this time around is that North Korean government's, according to them, is continuing to evade sanctions. They're doing that by ship-to-ship transfers, by illicit transfers at sea of petroleum product, of crude oil and also trying to avoid the sanctions against exporting its coal products. We understand from this report that one U.N. member was actually

saying they believe that North Korea has procured about 500,000 barrels of refined petroleum products from January to May.

Certainly this is going to be a concern to the Security Council Sanctions Committee. It's not going to come as a huge surprise, as we have seen over recent months that there have been these incidents of ship-to-ship transfers.

And certainly the report is saying that North Korea is really trying to disguise the fact that its tankers are at sea, disguising the fact that they're North Korean, saying that they're using increasingly sophisticated evasion techniques.

So this will be something the Security Counsel will have to look at if the North Korean government is, in fact, evading these sanctions. Then they will have to act on it.

VANIER: The news we're getting, that North Korea is still pursuing its nuclear and ballistic missile, that's consistent with recent news saying pretty much the same thing. There's a steady picture building up here.

HANCOCKS: Well, that's right. We've been hearing this consistently, "The Washington Post" reporting that it appeared as though North Korea was trying to build one, if two intercontinental ballistic missiles, the liquid fuel ballistic missiles.

A U.S. official saying to CNN that report was consistent with what is already out there. The intel agencies are saying publicly they believe North Korea is continuing with its nuclear and missile programs.

Now there's not the testing that we've seen in the past, the nuclear testing, the missiles. We've seen from 38 North, a think tank in the U.S., they believe that North Korea has started to dismantle an engine test site, this satellite landing strip, which is what Kim Jong-un had promised the U.S. president when they met in Singapore.

But experts point to these developments as very small, quite minimal and easily reversible. But it really does appear at this point that the missile and nuclear program is continuing and certainly this U.N. report adds a great deal of credibility to those beliefs.

VANIER: Paula Hancocks, reporting live from Seoul, thank you.

VANIER: And as we get news about this United Nations report, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is at the ASEAN summit in Singapore. That's the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Ivan Watson is there for us.

Ivan, has Mike Pompeo addressed the report?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not specifically yet in front of journalists. But I can tell you, moments ago, we saw, during a group photo of the dozens of ministers that have gathered here for this meeting, that Mike Pompeo walked across a kind of crowded stage and took time to shake hands briefly, somewhat warmly, with his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, the foreign minister of North Korea, who has been attending this gathering here.


WATSON: Now U.S. officials said before the gathering that there was no plan to -- for these two diplomats to meet face to face. And a couple of hours ago when asked about this, Mike Pompeo told journalists, no, there had not been any face-to-face encounter with the North Koreans here.

But we saw him clearly trying to reach out to his North Korean counterparts. And that's kind of interesting because Pompeo came here with a tougher message than we've heard in some time coming from the Trump administration, towards North Korea, with Pompeo saying that North Korea's behavior was inconsistent with what he said was North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's pledge for denuclearization.

He's been urging Southeast Asian nations to continue to isolate North Korea diplomatically and economically. He's been urging them to enforce a ban on what he describes as illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum.

And he's been singling out Russia, accusing Russia of helping North Korea break United Nations economic embargos on North Korea. Take a listen to this accusation.


MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: We have seen reports that Russia is aligned for joint ventures with North Korean firms and granting new work permits to North Korean guest workers. If these reports prove accurate, then we have every reason to believe they are, that would be in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 2375.

I want to remind every nation that has supported these resolutions, that this is a serious issue and something we will discuss with Moscow.


WATSON: So we're getting mixed messages from America's top diplomat here. Clearly the Trump administration keeping the door open to Pyongyang, a door that was opened less than two months ago, when President Trump had that historic first face-to-face meeting with the North Korean leader here in Singapore.

But we are hearing what sounds like admonitions, it sounds like criticism coming from officials like Pompeo toward North Korea, that it isn't moving fast enough in the disarmament of its nuclear weapons arsenal.

VANIER: What's really fascinating to me, Ivan, is, as you say, we're hearing admonitions and criticisms from Pompeo and it's becoming more and more pointed. But at an even higher level of government, at the head of state level, it seems that meanwhile there is still direct, if not frequent communication between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un himself.

WATSON: And when you look at the kind of language coming from President Trump himself, his tweets, for instance, he's still very much invested in this diplomatic first, this first face-to-face meeting between a U.S. and North Korean leader.

He tweeted just this week that he had received a letterer from Kim Jong-un, that he's happy with it, that he sent back a response and he looked forward to seeing him soon and also thanked him for the release of the remains of 55 individuals believed to be U.S. troops lost during the Korean War more than half a century ago, that this was a confidence building measure.

And Pompeo mentioned that as well. That said, Pompeo, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, they have all indicated that North Korea is still making fissile material that could be used for nuclear weapons. It still appears to be working on ballistic missiles.

And that's not the kind of direction that Washington was perhaps anticipating when President Trump came here to Singapore less than two months to ago to meet face-to-face with Kim Jong-un.

VANIER: Yes, absolutely. Ivan Watson, reporting live from Singapore, thank you, my friend.

The U.S. midterm elections are only three months away and senior U.S. officials on Thursday warned that Russia is actively trying to interfere just like it did in a presidential election in 2016.

This was a sobering message. And the assembled officials, you see the team there, seemed to signal it was all hands on deck, a show of force by the White House. Yet just a few hours later, President Trump undermined the entire premise, calling it a hoax. Once again, it showed that the president and his most senior advisors are not in sync on U.S. policy. Listen to this exchange.


DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The intelligence community continues to be concerned about the threats of upcoming U.S. elections, both the midterms and the presidential elections of 2020.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR OF THE FBI: Make no mistake, the scope of this foreign influence threat is both broad and deep.

TRUMP: Now, we're being --


TRUMP: hindered by the Russian hoax. It's a hoax, OK? I'll tell you what, Russia's very unhappy that Trump won, that I could say.


VANIER: Except, of course, Vladimir Putin, when he was asked at that press conference, his meeting with Trump in Singapore, who he wanted to see win the election, he directly answered that, yes, he had been in favor of Donald Trump.

Earlier I spoke with political analyst Michael Genovese about the glaring disconnect between Mr. Trump and his own national security team. Here's part of that conversation.


MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The hoax argument the president continues to use while his administration, virtually everyone else, is on a different page. So you've got, in Trump world, there's one story. But in the real world, there's another and they are worlds apart.

So you've got the administration saying this is a serious problem. We're going to tackle it, we're going to handle it, and the president undermining that message by saying, it's a hoax. The Russians didn't really do it. There's nothing here. There's no there there.

So if the president is not on board with his administration on dealing with Russia in the upcoming election, he's going to undermine everything. And so, you know, we're really on very thin ice on this. The president believes and needs to believe it's a hoax. Virtually everyone in his administration is arguing otherwise.


VANIER: And that perspective from political analyst, Michael Genovese. Always good to have him on the show.

Zimbabwe's president is calling for calm after this week's election sparked violence. The country's opposition party is saying the election was rigged. The leader of the movement for democratic change calls the vote a coup against the people.


NELSON CHAMISA, ZIMBABWEAN OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER: We are not accepting (INAUDIBLE). We are not accepting this (INAUDIBLE). We want the (INAUDIBLE).

We will pursue all means necessary, legal and constitutional, to make sure that we protect the people's vote. The people have voted. They are cheated. The people have won. They are subverting that win. We will not allow it and we will not accept.


VANIER: President Emmerson Mnangagwa defends the election, saying it was peaceful and it was transparent.

Here's why this vote is important. A stable Zimbabwe would go a long way to attracting foreign investment, to getting loans from the International Monetary Fund, something the country desperately needs in order to rescue its economy.


VANIER: The political crisis comes as the country looks to recover from nearly four decades of authoritarian rule under Robert Mugabe. When Mugabe was forced out last year, many saw that as an opportunity for the country to remake itself. And that's why these elections were pivotal.

Zimbabwean journalist and writer, Peter Godwin, joins me now.

Peter, this election was about one thing: could the country really turn the page of the Mugabe era?

What say you?

PETER GODWIN, JOURNALIST AND WRITER: No. I think that, in a sense, that was a foregone conclusion insofar as Zanu-PF's, Mugabe's party, is still very much an institution in -- it follows his more still. And Emmerson Mnangagwa was Mugabe's assistant or consigliere, if you like, for the last 38 years.

So in that sense, if the country went Zanu-PF, there was no question that the page of history was not been turned.

VANIER: You're saying Zimbabwe can never turn the page of the Mugabe era under Mnangagwa?

GODWIN: Yes. In my opinion that the DNA of Zanu-PF runs very, very deep. This is a political party that was a liberation army before it became a government. And it, like many of the liberation governments, liberation parties in Southern Africa that fought wars for independence, none of them have lost power.

VANIER: But Mnangagwa is saying the things and trying to send out all the -- trying to burnish his democratic credentials, if you will, and saying the right things. Let me read to you some of his latest tweets.

This was in the last few hours after the Zimbabwean police initially tried to break up the press conference by the opposition leader, Mr. Chamisa.

So Mr. Mnangagwa wrote, "The scenes today at the Bronte Hotel have no place in our society and we are urgently investigating the matter to understand exactly what happened.

"Over the past nine months we've protected freedom of speech, of assembly, the right to criticize the government. This is an indispensible part of the new Zimbabwe. It is non-negotiable and will not change," and it goes on.

So Mnangagwa is clearly aware that he has to prove to Zimbabweans and also to the international community that he can be the conduit for democracy.

GODWIN: And fine words indeed they are. But bear in mind that when Mnangagwa himself was the head of the secret police, the minister in charge of internal security for many, many years and that his vice president, General --


GODWIN: -- Chiwenga, who was the person who perpetrated the coup against Mugabe, was until extremely recently the head of the army.

So in that sense, the protests about the overreaction of the police and the army to protests following the elections rings a little hollow. I mean, they are a little bit between a rock and a hard place.

They desperately need the approval of the international community to lift sanctions, to encourage new foreign investment, because Zimbabwe, economically, is in an absolutely terrible state. It is a failed state. It has soaring unemployment. The government really doesn't provide any services at all.

So they are desperately in need of these things.


VANIER: They need those loans by the International Monetary Fund. They need to attract international investors.

Now the opposition, Mr. Chamisa in particular, says we do not accept these election results and they are apparently drawing up a plan. They haven't explained what it is yet, as to what they are going to do the next few days. But they don't -- that's their message. They don't accept this.

Where do you see this going?

GODWIN: There have been election irregularities -- and these things don't just start a day or two before the elections. They go back many, many months, before the elections begin; for example, in the electoral role itself, electoral regularities there and they don't get access to the state media.

There are many, many things that they are complaining about. What I think happens now is quite interesting, which is that, to some extent, Emmerson Mnangagwa needs Nelson Chamisa and the MDC to sign off on these elections, which, as you quite rightly say, they are not prepared to do at the moment.

So I think there's a sort of game of chicken going on. And my speculation would be that ultimately where this has to go is toward a government of national unity, that basically Mnangagwa needs the opposition to come on board and then say to the international community, OK, we will do this together.

VANIER: Yes, Mnangagwa has extended an olive branch to Chamisa. You wonder whether perhaps there might be some deal in the making down the road. But it isn't there yet. Peter, thanks so much for joining us today, Peter Godwin, thank you.


VANIER: Portugal and Spain are sweltering in a brutal heat wave. But there is life at the end of the tunnel -- or hope at the end of the weather forecast, I should say. That's after this.




VANIER: The U.S. is keeping a close eye on Iran's military exercises. There is concern that Tehran might be using a show of force to demonstrate that it can shut down the Strait of Hormuz if it so desires. That is a strategic passage for global oil supplies. Nic Robertson reports.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): At anchor, tankers, waiting to help slake --


ROBERTSON (voice-over): -- the world's unquenchable thirst for oil. Between them and their vital cargo, the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic choke point in the path of 20 percent of global oil supplies and a massive military exercise by Iranian forces.

ROBERTSON: U.S. Defense officials say that dozens of small Iranian vessels are involved in these military drills that normally happen much later in the year. The timing now so close to the reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran and Iranian threats to close the strait is raising concerns.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Typically in the past, Iran publicizes its naval training exercises. This was similar maneuvers last year. Not so this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given the ongoing saga of the geopolitical (INAUDIBLE) Arabian Gulf, UAE, like many other countries, has taken a set of measures to ensure the (INAUDIBLE) supply of this oil exports.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Iran's threats aren't new. During the 1980s, the so-called Tanker War saw U.S. Naval ships escorting oil tankers through the Strait of Hormuz. Since then, regional oil producers here, like the UAE, have been making contingency plans.

The port of Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman is at the end of a massive pipeline begun a decade ago to bypass the Strait of Hormuz. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fujairah, historically, has been always considered as a kind of a natural hedge again any geopolitical risk that take place at the Arabian Gulf.

ROBERTSON: So it's a backup.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it is a backup.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): In recent weeks, a war of words has been escalating between Washington and Tehran, Iran's president warning a war with Iran would be the mother of all wars. President Trump firing back an all-caps tweet, demanding an end to threats or else face serious consequences, then changing to this tactic.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

I believe in meetings, I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don't know that they are ready yet. They're having a hard time right now. No preconditions, no. They want to meet, I'll meet, anytime they want.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The Iranians not taking up the offer.

ROBERTSON: No one here knows how long the current tensions in the Strait of Hormuz are going to last and that what makes this oil pier here so valuable to the port. They are developing it so another 11 large oil tankers can dock here. They are future-proofing their security -- Nic Robertson, CNN, the port of Fujairah, near the Strait of Hormuz.


VANIER: Parts of Europe are flirting with record high temperatures as a blistering heat wave covers the Iberian Peninsula. In Spain this week, three people died from heatstroke. Temperatures reached 45 degrees Friday. That is the hottest day this year.



VANIER: In many places around the world, mental health is still somewhat of a taboo. Take Sant Boi, Spain. In the heart of the town is a mental health hospital. People often refer to Sant Boi, on account of that, as the town of, quote, "the loonies."

A group of artists is trying change that perception.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Speaking foreign language). UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we were asked to do two things. And I think we're doing that. One is to work on the hospital and the town being more integrated. And I think the mural will do this.

The second thing we were asked to do is talk about mental health taboos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's helping to integrate because it's sort of inviting people in through the curiosity of seeing what's on the other side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ever since the group of artists, young artists, arrived here -- and we had a really big participation from the residents of the hospital as well -- it was all so natural. It was really lovely to see how everybody blended in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).


VANIER: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I've got the headlines for you in just a moment.