tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN July 4, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
happening now, breaking news. testing trump, a disturbing new missile test by north korea prompts the trump administration to request an emergency united nations meeting. the kim jong-un regime claims it now has a missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon that could hit the united states. how will the u.s. respond? heavy move, president trump takes to twitter saying, quote, perhaps china will put a heavy move on north korea and end this nonsense. he says, he's already lost patience with pyongyang. is he now losing patience with beijing as well? first meeting, new details tonight of president trump's upcoming encounter with russian president vladimir putin. with tension between washington
and moscow rising, the two leaders are now just days away from their first face to face talk. and closing in, u.s. backed forces mark a key milestone in the fight against isis as they try to drive terrorist forces from their self-proclaimed capital. as the ground war reaches a critical phase, cnn gets exclusive access to the american fighter pilots leading the air war overhead. we welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. wolf blitzer is off today. i'm brianna keeler. you're in "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> we are following breaking news escalating concern tonight over north korea's latest missile test. this is apparently timed to coincide with america's independence day. the u.s. ambassador to the united nations nikki haley has just requested a closed door emergency meeting of the
security council to discuss missile launch. u.s. military analysts now believe the rocket was a two-stage inter-continental ballistic missile capable of striking alaska. north korea's latest provocation is coming just days before president trump's first face-to-face meeting with russian president vladimir putin. both the white house and the kremlin now confirm this is going to be a formal sit-down between the two leaders signalling hopes of improved relations. also, president trump just spoke to military families attending a 4th of july picnic at the white house. he said being commander in chief is the greatest privilege and said, quote, i will always have your back. we are covering all of that and more this hour with our guests including the top democrat on the house armed services committee, congressman adam smith. correspondents and specialists are also standing by for us this hour. we are going to begin with north korea's latest missile test. cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr working this story for us. barbara, this may be the regime's most troubling launch
yet. >> reporter: it may well be, brianna. based on intelligence gathered from u.s. spy satellites and other classified sensors, all of the intelligence is pointing towards north korea likely launched its first inter-continental ballistic missile. these are the first images of the north korean missile launch. the u.s. never wanted to see. u.s. officials calculate this is likely a two-stage inter-continental ballistic missile, an icbm that could some day hit parts of the united states. u.s. spy satellites for days had picked up imagery of a potential missile launch like this one launched in may being ready. now the latest assessment suggests the new launch was a more advanced missile that traveled farther than any previous missile test. the south korean and u.s. military estimates the missile
travelled more than 580 miles in 37 minutes. based on this, experts calculate the missile could have a maximum range of roughly 4,160 miles, long enough to reach all of alaska, but not the rest of the u.s. >> you have to remember that missile technology has been around for a long time so there are no particular secrets. a lot of it is just figuring out how to do the hard engineering and basically get everything to work at the same time, which is not always easy to do. >> reporter: the new launch comes as north korea also continues to pursue the development of a nuclear war head. >> buying nuclear war heads with ballistic missile technologies in the hands of kim jong-un is a recipe for disaster. so, i must take him at his word. i must assume that his claims are true. i know exasperations certainly are. >> reporter: top officials from the state department, the pentagon and the white house held meetings throughout the
july 4th holiday. administration officials emphasizing diplomacy, but with tensions rising, everything is on the table. >> i think essentially everyone agrees and i believe the trump administration agrees as well that there are no good military options. so, if you take the military option off the table, you come back to sanctions. we've seen in the past it's not going to solve the problem. >> reporter: the russian and chinese presidents offering up another solution at their meeting in moscow. announcing they'll work together to freeze the north korean program, but demanding the stop to u.s.-south korean military exercises and an end to the thaad missile defense deployment to south korea, both non-starters for the u.s. >> translator: there is, of course, the whole question of the korean peninsula, the building of peace and stability. it is very important to push forward our joint initiative on settling the korean problem with
the view of immediately freezing the ballistic missile strikes, and also dealing with the u.s. deployment of weapons in south korea. >> reporter: now, u.s. commanders recently had updated military options for north korea, specifically so they could offer the president rapid response options if he wanted them. officials are telling us tonight, don't look for any escalation, but what could happen is in the coming days and weeks there could be an increased u.s. military presence on the peninsula in south korea. brianna? >> all right, we'll see if they do mobilize. barbara starr at the pentagon for us. thank you so much. north korea is just one of the pressing problems that president trump is going to discuss as he meets with world leaders at the g20 summit this week. the most closely watched encounter, though, is going to be his first face-to-face meeting with russian president vladimir putin, and cnn's ryan nobles is following this for us at the white house. you're learning some details about this meeting. what can you tell us, ryan? >> reporter: yeah, brianna, there's no doubt there was
already going to be quite a bit of a big spotlight on this meeting between president putin and president trump. it is a going to take on an even bigger public focus because both sides agreed to make it a formal bilateral event which could be a sign that both sides are open to boosting diplomatic ties. as donald trump prepares for the second overseas trip of his presidency, rising tensions around the globe are raising the stakes for his meetings with world leaders at the g20 summit in germany. from yet another missile launch by north korea, to ongoing conflicts in syria and ukraine, and the growing international threat from isis and terrorism. but nothing will likely get as much attention as trump apartments face-to-face meeting friday with russian president vladimir putin. an encounter that will now be a formal bilateral discussion, the first between the two countries' presidents in nearly two years. >> if putin likes donald trump, i consider that an asset not a
liable. we have a horrible relationship with russia. >> reporter: the trump administration is hopeful for a breakthrough. >> our relationship with russia is not different than any other country in terms of u.s. kmup indicating to them where our concerns are, problems and opportunities. >> reporter: the meeting comes amid an ongoing special counsel investigation and multiple congressional probes into russia's meddling in the u.s. election. it's not clear if the issue will be raised when the leaders meet. instead, administration officials tell cnn the president plans to focus the time on syria and ukraine. trump will also meet with china's president xi jinping, a discussion that will be critical after north korea's latest missile test and recent u.s. sanctions against a chinese bank. >> the era of strategic partition with the north korean regime has failed. many years it has failed. and frankly that patience is over. >> reporter: trump signalled his
i am patience with the regime during a meeting with south korea's leader a week ago. last night on twitter, he went a step further, specifically calling on the leaders in the region to do more. writing, quote, north korea has just launched another missile. does this guy have anything better to do with his life? hard to believe that south korea and japan will put up with this much longer. perhaps china will put a heavy move on north korea and end this nonsense once and for all. this as trump delivers a promise to veterans gathered at the white house for independence day. >> i will always have you back. i will always under all circumstances. >> reporter: and this developing situation with north korea comes on the heels of the death of american student otto warmbier who was i am prisoned by the north koreans for more than a year. this is also a stark reminder of president obama's warning for president trump when they met just before he was inaugurated
that north korea will be among his biggest chaelz. brianna? he >> brian nobles at the white house. you may recognize him as the former pentagon and spokesperson frrt obama administration. admiral, whenever we see an action by north korea, it's taken very seriously. this, though, is a different level, underscore that for us. >> it is a very significant step forward in their program. they have been long building to getting an icbm capability. it looks like they have test it had. there will be other steps and try to improve it a little bit. of course what we don't know right now and what most analysts think is they can't weapon eyes this with a new war head just yet, but that is something they'll be advancing to. brianna, they see this capability as the ultimate bargaining chip for them and to ensure -- an insurance policy for the survival of the regime. that's what they really want here. that's why it's been so hard to
dissuade them to change their calculus on this particular program. >> having worked at the pentagon, what are folks there looking at as potential military options? there aren't a lot of them, right? >> no, and the closer they get the farther along their program gets, the harder it is to develop sound military options. look, nobody wants open war on the peninsula. that's in nobody's best interest. that said, at the extreme end of military options, obviously the defense department has to be ready for what we call kinetic activity for actual combat. that's why these exercises that we do, the republic of korea, are so important to keep up that readiness. but there is also a whole range of lower end options that the military is most likely looking at tonight in answer to whatever the commander in chief might want to do. for instance, you could fly a bomber over the peninsula. president obama did that a couple of times. president trump just did that recently as well. you could put more naval assets in and around the peninsula if you wanted to. you could certainly change the force posture on the ground.
i also think they are going to be looking at force posture in the region. we are all folk used on the peninsula as we should, but we need to remember that with this capability, he can now endanger more people in the region. so, i think one of the things the pentagon is looking at today is what do we need to do in terms of regional posture to make sure we're read i. the other thing i'd say, sorry to keep talking more, but the thaad deployment is really important. and i think we have -- we've added a lot of missile defense capabilities in that part of the asia-pacific. i think they'll be looking at that as well. >> so china and russia come to this joint statement, and they say they don't want to see that thaad missile defense system there. >> right. >> they don't want to see these joint exercises that you're talking about between south korea and the u.s. those are total nonstarters. the u.s. isn't going to go along with that. what is this joint statement really mean in effect? >> i don't think it really means anything in effect. i think this is a chance for russia and china sitting down together to find a way to sort of tweak everybody.
you read that statement, there is nothing in there that i think the international community would sign up to except the very broad statements about wanting to see peace and stability in the region on the peninsula. everybody can sign up to that. but the great irony is here that neither of those two countries has done anything to try to bring that about from a diplomatic perspective or from an economic perspective. i'm speaking mostly of china here. we have the toughest regime sanctions in place on north korea in 20 years and still the chinese won't fully implement those sanctions. they have the most influence over pyongyang and they have proven simply refused to be willing to actually use that flungs. >> we actually just got a new statement in from the secretary of state rex tillerson actually. my producers just thrown it up in the prompter. let me read this. in part, global action is required to stop a global threat. any country that hosts north korean guest workers provides any economic or military benefits or fails to fully implement u.n. security council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime. all nations should publicly
demonstrate to north korea that there are consequence to their pursuit of nuclear weapons. it says rex tillerson goes on to say, we intend to brick north korea's provocative action before the u.n. security council and enact stronger measures to hold the d.p.r.k. which is north korea, accountable. what is your reaction to that, especially the part where he's saying that if you house guest workers of which we know a number of nations do, right? what's his message here? >> they do. this is something we dealt with under the obama administration, was trying to put sanctions on places where these north korean workers are able to function because that money goes right back to the regime. i'm not really surprised by what i heard in that statement. it certainly is ratcheting up the tension. it is using the state craft to do it. they are obviously using the u.n. security council as the form now to make -- to ratchet up pressure from an international perspective. but, yeah, the aide workers, that's a problem.
that is a source of revenue. it is something that president obama tried to deal with as well. this certainly makes it -- i think takes it up a notch in terms of the threat of people complying with this. but it's very, to me, a predictable statement. >> predictable, you say. john, we thank you for the insight. i want to get more with congressman adam smith of washington. he's the top democrat on the house armed services committee. congressman, thank you so much for joining us on this 4th. it's such an important day as we see this missile launch by north korea. i think you just heard that the statement in part from the secretary of state rex tillerson where he is saying that there's global action that is required to stop the threat. any country that hosts north korean guest workers provides economic or military benefits or fails to fully implement security council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime. he's promising to take action there. it says the u.s. is going to take action. does this really have teeth in it? is this something that is going to really put pressure on north
korea? >> no, no is the answer to your question. the threat from north korea, regrettably, is not going to be removed. and if there is an idea floating around out there for how we can remove that threat, i'm open to it. but we've been circling around this discussion of what we want china to do and what we want sanctions to do and all these other different pieces. the bottom line is what we need against north korea, we need to put the best economic sanctions we can. i think it's perfectly appropriate for the secretary of state to try to put pressure on other nations to do the same. but the most important thing we need is a credible military deterrent. so that whatever north korea does in terms of building a missile, they know that if they act against south korea or against japan or against us, we would obliterate them. that's credit thaad is important. that is why our alliance with south korea and japan is important. to have that credible military force, because what's been proven and all of the options have been discussed with your
previous guests, is that north korea is going to do it. they want to build nuclear weapons. they want to develop an inter-continental ballistic missile. in short of an all-out war on the korean peninsula, we don't really have an option for stopping them. now, everybody comes back to china and i thought china and russia's statement was spectacularly disingenuous. neither one of them is doing a darn thing to top north korea and they want to use it as an excuse to push us out of the region. what we have to make clear to them is it's going to have the exact opposite effect. once north korea is able to threaten us and even now as they threaten our allies, we have to be in there to protect our own interests. china's not acting against north korea and the reason they're not acting against north korea is they don't want to cut off north korea's economic aide. they don't want north korea to collapse because they don't want millions of north korean refugees pouring across their border. they're not happy that north korea is causing such instability in the region, but the alternative of them trying to crush the regime somehow is
something they're not willing to do and they haven't been willing to do it through four administrations. so, we need a credible military deterrent and that is our only option. >> getting to that point, it just sort of underscores what a serious situation we're dealing with there. >> yes. >> you said it's been four administrations in the making. this didn't happen overnight, even though as we see overnight there is this -- there is a new alarm because of just how serious this is. but it didn't happen overnight. so, where does the responsibility for letting north korea get to this point to developing an icbm that could reach alaska -- who bears that responsibility? >> i'm not, i'm not a historian, i'm a policy maker. you know, you can argue that a thousand different ways. personally, it seems to me like north korea was bound and determined to go down this path no matter what we did. under both the clinton and the
george w. bush administrations, deals were made that provided north korea with some economic assistance and some other assistance in developing peaceful nuclear facilities. and you could argue that that was a mistake. but if we hadn't done that, north korea would have just kept plodding away anyway and tried to develop a nuclear weapon. i think one of your earlier guests said it best. this is all about ensuring regime survival. they feel, and they've looked at iraq and afghanistan and libya, and they feel that unless they have a nuclear weapon and a credible deterrent of their own, that their regime is in jeopardy. so, all the economic sanctions, all that needs to be done. understand what i'm saying here. as you have discussed, there is not a good military option. >> yeah. >> thinking that we can preemptively go in there and somehow take out their capabilities. whatever we do leads to a massive war in the korean peninsula. >> it seems now the military --
go on. >> the military option is to have a credible deterrent. whatever north korea may develop, they can hurt us. they can severely damage south korea. they can severely damage japan. we can obliterate them. >> okay. >> and we will if they step across a line and actually use these weapons against us or any of our allies. >> we see you're joining us obviously from seattle. you're there in washington state. >> yes. >> when we look at -- let's take a look at this map, right? this is the reach of this -- >> i can't see it now, but i've seen it before. i've seen it, i know what it looks like. >> this is cutting right in between -- cutting through canada right in between alaska and washington state where you are. >> yes. >> this is something that, as the progress marches on with north korea, i mean, your state is right there. this is where -- >> absolutely. >> is this a game changer, where people there in your state start to say, this is a different era, this is a different age, i feel
very endangered? >> well, some may say that. look, this has been coming for a long time. we've known this is what north korea has been building towards. as you mentioned, they haven't gotten there yet. i mean, they tested one two-stage rocket with the potential for reaching this far. it's a lot more come political indicated putting a nuclear war head on it. but as i've said, i think we have to prepare ourselves for the reality that they're going to get there. as one of your other guests said, missile technology at the end of the day isn't that complicated. if they put enough time and money into it, they can figure it out. but we need our thaad system in the region. we need a system to give us a shot at shooting down that missile if they decide to launch it. and we also need a clear diplomatic policy that we will destroy them. and the only other thing that we need to do as i said at the outset with russia and china, stop screwing around, all right. if you guys really want us to be less involved in the region, then you've got to figure out a way to control north korea. now, i don't think they're going
to do that. but that means that we have to stay active in the region. and it also means that our alliances are very important. anything that the president has said in the past, he's questioned the u.s. role as a police man in the world, why are we so -- spending so much money in south korea and japan and truthfully both south korea and japan give us an enormous amount of money to provide that military security. we need now more than ever to make it clear that we stand with our allies against the potential aggression of north korea and against their reckless behavior. >> that's part of what he's going to be -- he's going to be having meetings with those countries here at the g20. we have much more to talk about including what may be the most important meeting after a quick break, that president trump is going to have in germany. his first one on one with vladimir putin. we'll have more with congressman adam smith in just a moment. somewhere along the great journey of self-discovery: a breakthrough. ♪ it's in our nature to need each other.
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breaking news, u.s. secretary of state rex tillerson just issued a new statement strongly condemning north korea's ballistic missile tests and calling for global action to address what he calls a global threat. the trump administration is asking for an emergency u.n. security council meeting on north korea. that is likely to take place tomorrow. the same day that president trump leaves for europe and this big meeting that he has with russian president vladimir putin at the g20 summit in germany. we now know that their first face to face encounter is going to be a formal sit down, not just an informal pull aside and we're going to talk more about that now with congressman adam smith of washington. back with us now, he's the top democrat on the house armed services committee. we know, congressman, that the president has requested of
his staff to give him some options that he can have at his disposal when he goes into this meeting, and part of that is possible concessions. these facilities, these compounds that were taken away from the russians by the obama administration sanctions, what kind of message does it send that the trump administration is preparing what are really possible carrots for russia? >> a very bad one. putin takes advantage of weakness, and it's very ironic that for someone with as much bluster as donald trump throws around every day, certainly i guess i wish he treated vladimir putin more like he treats cnn, was more willing to stand up to a world leader who is threatening democracy and undermining countries all across the globe, because it's not just the u.s. elections that the russians have hacked into and influenced and manipulated. they've been doing it for quite sometime. they run disinformation
campaigns. they use very low-cost options, cyberattacks, dis nsktinformati. they don't have a strong military. what they do have, they decided to use these lower cost technology options to influence things. it is very clear what putin is trying to do. he's trying to make the world safe for autocratic dictator ships. that's what he believes in. that's what he wants to keep in russia and that's what he wants to spread. he wants to undermine democracy every place he can. the only realistic option is to counter that. to the extent we let putin get away with it, he's going to keep doing it. just like in the ukraine. we have not given ukraine the level of support i think we should have to raise the cost for putin's interference there. we need to up our efforts to counter their counter campaigns. we need to be very clear what putin is doing is unacceptable. it borders on an act of war the way they've been treating us. and to offer concessions is
simply going to encourage him to continue. we need to push back. >> this is going to be a very interesting interaction, whether you are on the president trump's side or you are not, especially in light of something that he said about vladimir putin back in february. here's what it was. >> do you respect pultin? >> i do. >> why? >> i respect a lot of people. that doesn't mean i'm going to get along with him. he's a leader of his country. i say it's better to get along with russia than not. if russia helps us in the fight against isis, which is a major fight and islamic terrorism all over the world -- >> right. >> major fight, that's a good thing. will i get along with him, i have no idea. >> putin's a killer. >> there are a lot of kill killers. got a lot of killers. what, you think our country's so innocent? you think our country's so nint? >> that is an alarming characterization for republicans and for democrats.
so, when the president meets with vladimir putin, how does he need to change his tune in defending american values? >> well, he needs to understand what's going on here. i mean, first of all, putin isn't helping us at all in the fight against isis. in fact, he's inflaming it by backing assad and syria and by propping up assad and making sure that he stays in power. and when you look at what the russian forces are doing in syria, they are bombing the people who are not isis. their entire campaign has been focused on antiregime forces that aren't isis, because for putin, as long as isis remains viable, as long as chaos reigns in the middle east, that sends refugees up into europe and helps potentially destabilize europe. and that trump doesn't understand this is a major, major problem in his understanding of vladimir putin and what he is trying to do and how he's trying to do things. now, look, it would be great if we could get along with russia. and back in the post-cold war world, we all envisioned a world
where russia and the united states could work together. i won't walk through the history of how that didn't happen. cnn actually did a very good outline of how putin came to be and why russia came to think it was a zero sum game, once again what was good for them -- sorry, what was good for us couldn't be good for them. if we can get back to that place, that's great. but that's not where we are right now. putin has no interest in that. he simply wishes to manipulate us to further his agenda and his agenda is to destabilize western democracies and to destabilize our interests. and i worry greatly that president trump -- he has -- the only time that president trump would acknowledge that russia might have had something to do with hacking into our election is when president trump decided that he could blame it on president obama. all of a sudden after six months of ignoring the question, calling it fake news, then all of a sudden it donned on him that it happened during the obama administration so he could say, look, this was obama's fault. what was obama's fault since you've been denying it even
happened? so, the trump administration needs to understand russia and start to counter it instead of worrying about the perception of russia having helped the election of president trump. they can look at all that. the issue is that a foreign power stepped into our election and interfered with it, and they did the same thing in england. they've done the same thing throughout europe. what are we doing to counter that? what is the trump administration's strategy for countering all of this russian aggression? they don't have one. except to the extent to shrug and go, well, you know, i don't think it's such a big deal. it's a huge deal. >> no, it is a big deal. there's bipartisan support of that for sure. congressman adam smith, thank you so much. and a wonderful independence day to you, sir. thank you for spending part of it with us. >> to you as well. thank you. >> and we have some breaking news next. the trump administration is calling for an emergency meeting
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okay, watch this. do the thing we talked about. what do we say? it's going to be great. watch. remember what we were just saying? go irish! see that? yes! i'm gonna just go back to doing what i was doing. find your awesome with the xfinity x1 voice remote. the break being news tonight, the u.s. is requesting an emergency meeting of the united nations security council in response to north korea's test of a missile that u.s. experts believe could hit alaska. all of this is coming as the
president prepares for a critical overseas trip which includes his first meeting with russia's vladimir putin. cnn senior diplomatic correspondent michelle kosinski is joining us now on this story. so, michelle, this meeting, it's actually been upgraded from a more formal meeting. >> reporter: that's right. the secretary of state has put out a statement on north korea's launch of this inter continental ballistic missile. three months ago he said the u.s. had spoken enough on north korea, but this clearly changes things and his statement reads, in part, global action is required to stop a global threat. any country that hosts north korean guest workers provides any economic or military benefits or fails to fully implement u.n. security council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime. all nations should publicly demonstrate to north korea that there are consequence to their pursuit of nuclear weapons. we intend to bring north korea's provocative action before the u.n. security council and enact stronger measures to hold the
dprk accountable. so, clearly there is a message to china in there. and this is made all the more interesting. today the chinese president met with vladimir putin. they put out this joint statement that sounded a lot like it was schooling the u.s. on how to deal with this issue and this comes, of course, as president trump is preparing for his first and potentially pivotal face-to-face meeting with putin. president trump will meet vladimir putin face to face on friday while they are in germany for the g20 summit. it could have been a simple pull aside meeting, a short chat, but the russians have been wanting more. and now trump agrees, it's time. the last time the u.s. met this way with putin was two years ago, and the last time obama spoke to putin in person was a blunt warning that it better stop meddling in u.s. politics. trump has had plenty to say about the russian president. >> if he says great things about me i'm going to say great things about him. i've already said he is really
very much of a leader. if putin likes donald trump, i consider that an asset, not a liability. i hope we have a fantastic relationship. >> reporter: but the relationship has been anything but fantastic. sanctions on russia have not loosened nor has its hold on crimea. trump bombed a syrian air field after assad forces supported bid russia attacked citizens with sarin gas. now both trump and putin are looking for some common ground, at least in fighting isis. >> there is a lot to talk about, and russia is an adversary of the united states. and they should talk about ukraine, they should talk about syria. the president should find the opportunity to speak about nato. he should speak about the activity of russian meddling in the united states election as well as other elections abroad. >> reporter: for now, though, the white house says there is no specific agenda, which worries some, even within trump's own national security team over his potential for distraction and distaste for extensive
preparation. concerns that putin will steer the ship, that trump may not even broach the subject of russia's cyberattacks on american democracy. >> the united states needs to arrive in hamburg and send a clear message that it will not tolerate direct attacks on u.s. soil against the united states. and also send the message that the united states stands with its allies. it's really important for u.s. credibility that president trump makes all those things clear. >> reporter: at trump's request, the white house has been preparing options of things to offer russia in exchange for cooperation, or a change in russia's behavior, possibly some sanctions relief or the return of russian diplomatic properties in the u.s. seized at the end of the obama administration. russia has repeatedly threatened retaliation if those aren't returned. but in the meantime, today putin met with chinese president xi and talked about the two of them working together on the north korea threat. a dialogue and change in u.s. behavior on the issue.
this as skeptical european allies and others stunned over some of trump's statements and moves including the u.s.'s pull out from the paris climate deal a speak of america turning inward, a need for others to take the lead. >> the fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course. >> reporter: you can just imagine the tensions that's geneva convention to be in this meeting. what are the photos that come out, what is the body language and the handshake like. what does each side then say about the meeting and how do those accounts differ? even before president trump meets with putin, he's set to deliver this big speech in wausau. he's going to talk about nato. so, the world is going to be watching how strong a message is that for nato allies and common
defense to counter russia's influence because remember the last time he talked about nato at nato headquarters his words were disappointing, to say the least, to many of those allies. brianna? >> michelle kosinski, thank you so much for that. i want to dig deeper on all of this with our experts and our analysts. we have congressional reporter for the washington post joining our phil mudd, ryan, and caitlyn collins as well. so, i'm intrigued, phil, by this tweet that the president sent out where he was talking about the launch, north korea just launched another missile. does this guy have anything better to do with his life? hard to believe south korea and japan will put up with this much longer. perhaps china will put a heavy move on north korea and end this nonsense once and for all. but going into this summit, isn't it important to assure south korea and japan that they have the backing of the u.s., not that they're the ones who are going to get fed up with this and somehow do something that they don't even have the military capability to do? >> look, they don't have the military capability.
let's do a contrast here. if you cesarean use of chemical weapons, you can use american missiles as the president authorized and the konsences for the u.s. are minimal. the searians captain do anything. here's the bottom line for a president who struggles with patience. if you issue an ultimatum to the chinese, the japanese, the south koreans about what the north koreas have done in terms of missile launches the question is what are you going to do about it, are you going to strike them, isolate them as we are suggesting with economic sanctions which is where the trump administration is going? the president may be realizing for a man who likes to move fast that his options in this world are very limited. there is not much you can do short of military action. maybe economic isolation, maybe squeezing the chinese. as they're seeing, slow down, we ain't moving that fast. >> all right. we just got a statement actually from army public affairs office. are we going ahead with this? okay, right. i want to bring in barbara starr. she's at the pentagon. we've been wondering, barbara, what type of response there
would be from the u.s., from south korea. now we may have our answer. what's going on? >> reporter: hi, brianna. it's early morning now in south korea and we are getting statements from the pentagon and from the army out there. they have just conducted an exercise, if you will, between the u.s. army and the south korean army and we want to show this video. this is a missile that they are firing into south korean territorial waters off their eastern coast. this is called the advanced army missile. and it's designed, as we bring up that video right there, to show a response. this is a deep strike weapon. precision all weather aimed at being able to prosecute targets in north korea if it came to that. you could fire it from south korea into or targets in north korea. it's designed to be very time
sensitive, all-weather. you could go against a fixed target. you could potentially even try and go against targets with some mobility. but it's more about the message that this is sending. this is the u.s. and the south koreans trying to send a visible message north. we have weapons. if you attack, if you have another provocation, we could prosecute -- we could go against your targets. let's be clear. this is not aimed at going against north korean ballistic missiles, but it could potentially maybe go against launch site, fixed targets that are devoted to the missile program to the nuclear weapons program potentially. not the missile launches themselves. but this is not something we've -- for. normally when the u.s. tries to have a show of force, if you will, they'll fly aircraft over south korea and make sure that the world sees that video. this video this time, a bit different. >> and i want you to take us
through this video. just tell us what we are seeing here for the uninitiated, especially as you say this isn't something that you normally see. >> reporter: right. well, let me be clear. this is a very typical weapon that the army has used for many, many years in prosecuting conflicts in the middle east, iraq, and that. but as we continue to play it and you saw that launch there, this is a land-based system. it is mobile. they can move it around. it comes off a mobile launcher. heavy duty, it takes awhile to get it out there and set up, but you can see the truck, essentially the launch vehicle there. and the missiles coming off the vehicle. i think some of your other guests probably know more about it than me, but it's in a so-called pod. in other words, they can launch multiple missiles at the same time very quickly to go against multiple targets.
heavy fire power. so, you see there, again, this is being fired early morning, first flight, south korea, we are told, this is the video we've been handed, off the east coast of south korea. very carefully into south korean territorial waters. so, it's all legal under international law. but the message, of course, is headed north across the dmz to pyongyang because the concern always is that north korea has artillery, other weapons pointed directly at the south. it has these missile launch sites. it has this weapons program. so, this shows an additional capability. so, why is this so important? because you can launch from inside south korea. the problem with airstrikes is you would have to cross most likely into north korean air space, not something the u.s. wants to do.
and tomahawk missiles launched from submarines, launched from ships, they could do it some day, but that's a problematic situation for some of the targets you might be going after in north korea. >> all right, barbara starr, stand by for us at the pentagon as we have this developing here. what appears to be the u.s. and south korea response to north korea's launch of an inter-continental ballistic missile. the u.s. and south korea holding a joint ballistic missile drill. you used to work in the moscow bureau for the washington post before being a congressional reporter for the post. and one of the things we saw in this joint agreement from russia and from china was they said, hey, u.s., we don't want you doing this. we don't want you doing joint military drills and here just a matter of hours later we're seeing one. >> right. it's definitely a sign that the united states is not listening to this little warning from russia and china. russia and china have a different approach of dealing with north korea. they deal with north korea more closely than we do.
we have basically isolate the north korea. russia and china have not. it is closer to their neighborhood so they are more concerned potentially about the fallout of what's going to happen if something does end up turning to a military conflict. in the same way in which south korea and japan are concerned if we take this step, it is important to see that that test did happen in lockstep with the south koreans and that that is all being planned jointly. but you are potentially seeing here an opportunity for there to be a splint erring around the coalition that needs to hang together if anything actually is going to be done about north korean that is not going to potentially lead to having to do these things in less of a just show man way and more of a actual fight. >> let's get back down to the pentagon. we ha >> what we're also being told and reminded of is that since 2003, actually, the u.s. military has fired about 100 of these missiles, prosecuting the war in iraq over the years. and it's interesting to note. most of these missiles have been
fired against air defense targets, so radars that might protect north korean air space and command and control note. so what this missile system can do, and it is part of the message here, is you could clear out air space. you could clear out north korean air defenses. you could attack their command and control, their essential ability to direct their own military force. you can take out some of those targets, and that can begin to clear the way in a conflict for other heavier weapons to come in. you can't put u.s. aircraft into north korean air space unless you clear out and attack and destroy their air defense network. let's be clear. this is a drill. this is an exercise. we are looking at a message being sent north because at the same time, we are also being told that the trump administration has no intention, we are told tonight, of escalating the situation, does
not want to get into a shooting war with north korea. secretary of defense james mattis has been clear his view is that would be disastrous for the asia pacific region. but it is very interesting they chose this missile, this system to show the world tonight that they do have a capability to affect the north korean military inside their own borders. >> thank you for that, barbara. i want to bring in john kerr by, one of our analysts and used to be the spokesperson for the pentagon under the b to obama administration. i don't know if you heard the congressman who was on a short time ago and he said the message from the u.s. to north korea is we will obliterate you if you try this, right? it is one thing to have this intercontinental ballistic missi missile. if you actually use them other than having them as a threat,
that's it. we're going to end you. when you look at this drill, what's the message? >> the message from this drill clearly is one of showing our ability, our deterrence and our offensive, potentially offensive capabilities. a couple other things i noted going through this release and going through the video, this was a joint exercise. that's not unimportant for people to remember. number two, it is a mobile system. it is a precision strike capability, which sends a strong message about our ability to reach into the north if we need to. but it is also mobile. you can see the launchers are on trucks. that gives us unpredictability and should send a message that we can be just as quick firing back if we have to. this is about what you might expect given what happened today, that the military would
do something visible, something overt. it wasn't by accident that the military released this video very quickly with the press release to make it clear that we take our alliance commitments very, very seriously. >> with video. that's no accident either. >> that was no accident either. this is all very designed. and also i'll note it came after the statement by secretary tillerson. this is in keeping with secretary mattis's declare that the diplomacy take the lead always. >> you are looking at this. north korea launches what very much appears to be an intercontinental ballistic missile. it appears that's going to happen. is this a critical moment for donald trump as commander in chief? >> it is. this is the issue that president obama in their first and only meeting during the transition, obama told him this is the issue that will seize more of your
time and attention than you realized. you didn't talk about it on the campaign much, but this is the big one. i wouldn't call it a come pro hen sieve strategy, but you're starting to see policy developments that is more than a couple tweets off his head. you have the state department calling for further isolation of north korea. you have a call for the united nations meeting. and you have this video that the pentagon is putting out to remind the north koreans and the world of our capabilities in the region. >> do you get a sense of -- covering the white house, do you get a sense of what the president's style is on this? because as he is being tested, what are we to expect? do you know? >> we've heard for a long time from donald trump that north korea is the united states biggest national security threat. but until just now this is the first we're hearing from the white house on this. last night donald trump tweeted two times saying that japan and
south korea are going to get sick of the activity and he suggested china should do something. but today there was no other statement from the white house until about an hour ago until we heard from rex tillerson. so we haven't heard much of his plan besides what he said on twitter. >> he is deferring more to his secretary of state. we see this military response. besides twitter, we're not really seeing him address this. >> his statement on twitter was fairly bass ipassive. >> today he was playing golf. >> and he tweeted that before we started having the discussion of whether it was an icbm or not. that's why you're seeing a different response because it is a new kind of level. >> i do think we're seeing them take a stronger stance on this, though. because the statement just issued was lengthy and had strong wording in it.
three months ago it was short and two sentences and said no further comment. >> the issue being forced there to have more comment. i want to get back now to the pent began. barbara star, give us an update. >> i want to point out, cnn has reported for several days now, the whole cnn pentagon team on line and on tv that military commanders several weeks ago began to update military options in particular because of the concern about an icbm test, the concern about an underground nuclear test. they wanted to give president trump a series of rapid response options to look at. we have reported that. so this is not such a surprise inside the highest levels of the u.s. military. they don't like to wait around to be asked. they are ready to go with options for the president all the time. the concern always is how north korea may react to any of this. that's what nobody can predict.
will north korea react with additional provocation? are u.s. troops at a higher state of alert? you can assume we are completely ready to defend themselves as well as the south koreans at all times on the peninsula. but all of this that we're seeing had begun to be put in the mix as we reported at cnn many weeks ago as the concern grew and the intelligence grew that north korea in fact was making progress on an icbm and was continuing very strongly to pursue a nuclear warhead program. so what they wanted to do was have a series of escalating options for president trump that, in fact, could be put into place very rapidly. that's what we're seeing tonight. >> john, i know you said earlier about this rex tillerson statement you said this is somewhat predictable.
kaitlyn brings up this really good point, though, which is a reaction is being forced by this action, by north korea. >> sure. >> the state department has to respond. this is -- this is where they are -- it is essential that they react. >> i agree with that. i think kaitlyn's right. they had to react to this with something. what i meant was that there wasn't anything all that dramatic in the statement. they are using the vehicles of state krapt, the un security council and this, you know, issue of aid workers obviously to make their point, this threat, if you will. but a couple of things you also should notice about this. interesting that the pentagon's press release came from the eighth army headquarters. not from the pentagon. they pushed it down the chain of command and you don't see anything coming out of the white house officially. i think this was very deliber e deliberately to not escalate
this too much both rhetorically. it was designed to send a message that wouldn't increase the instability or provoke any more drastic action by pyongyang as a result. >> i want to ask you. so when kim jong-un sees this, is he going to make that connection that this isn't coming straight from the straight department -- this isn't coming straight from the pentagon? would that be a bigger deal to him or does that not even matter? >> that's a fair question. i don't think he's going to necessarily make a difference between coming from the eighth army headquarters or the white house. i think that's what the communication strategy was here. he will have some sort of reaction to this. obviously this will provoke him in some way. but i think they tried to do this in a way that would cause him to do something more drastic. we've seen this in the past where we react and he still keeps on developing this