tv Lockup Cleveland - Extended Stay MSNBC September 2, 2017 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
information about this with other countries. the exchange of intelligence information among the united states and europe and our allies in asia is fairly robust. but perfect information is impossible to be had. not just about north korea, but it's impossible to be had about the proliferation we're talking about. so while we may focus on the detonation of even a thermal nuclear device in north korea, we should be equally concerned about will this turn out to be in the last couple of decades is a fairly wide proliferation of nuclear technology and fissile material, richard. >> great summary, colonel jack jacobs with us. colonel, if you could stand by for a second, those just joining us at the top of the hour, 2:00 a.m. eastern time, it is 11:00 p.m. pacific time at the moment. as we look at an early or
midafternoon there in north korea, about 2:30 p.m., i believe in north korea, the news that we are covering, the breakingew're covering at this moment started with a release from north koreat around 6:00 p.m. eastern. and this picture articulating what they were claiming, that they had put together a hydrogen bomb, miniaturized, potentially into that white metal sphere that you see on the left side, and that they were able to then put it into a delivery device. a missile, an intercontinental ballistic missile, icbm. that was the claim that came in at 6:00 p.m. eastern time, roughly, on saturday. and then we got news about four or five hours later that an earthquake 6.0 magnitude or greater from the u.s. geological survey in areas close to some of
the reported nuclear facilities in north korea. then the follow-on development in that was, was this a test of some sort of nuclear device? some nuclear bomb? and then after that, about 10 or 15 minutes later, another report of a tremor, of a quake, in the 4.0 magnitude after that. so that is what came up within the last seven hours and why we are looking at what will be next, we expect in about 30 minutes at 2:30 a.m. eastern time an announcement from north korea. and as courtney kuby was telling us before, it is common that after such tests and claims have been made that they will then come to the cameras, come to the microphones, and articulate that which they are claiming in more detail. so we will be watching that, of course, at 2:30 a.m. richard engel now joins us on the phone right now.
richard has been watching the developments in this story. and richard, what is it that you are gleaning from the information as you have been learning about the details that came out in the last bunch of hours? >> this had been expected. many people thought there was going to be another nuclear test. there had been activity detected at this nuclear test site, facility. south korean intelligence officials had actually briefed the government to expect another nuclear test. people thought perhaps it would come in september when there is a major holiday in north korea. when they had tested last year a nuclear device. but it came earlier. so i think that's something of a surprise, that they were -- that it happened so quickly after the missile test that flew over japan. that's one thing. and i think people will be watching the size. if in fact it was, as being
reported, 6.3, that could be a significant escalation. and then they will want to know what kind of device. can they determine whether this was just a fission bomb or nuclear device, a fusion bomb, as north korea has claimed in the past? i think they'll be looking at timing. was this test rushed or moved forward in any way? what's the size of the output? and what kind of device? so i think there will be a lot of analysis that will be taking place in the next 24 hours or so. >> in your job as chief foreign correspondent for nbc news, you watch this region, you visit all of these countries fairly frequently. you can be found in airports, if nobodies are in those airports passing through in your reporting. what's the dynamic there in asia as this latest development and claim, which is a big one if it's true -- there's a lot of ifs as has been said.
what it means for japan, south korea, taiwan, as they try to bolster their military capabilities, waiting for reason, basically, to potentially move away from a u.s.-dominated military structure in that region? >> so the international dynamic to this is very important. and probably not adequately explained most of the time. so japan, south korea, and the united states work in a close alliance. if you remember after the missile test that flew over japan, there was a show force. and the three countries that i just mentioned -- japan, south korea, and the united states -- participated in that show of force with south korea and the u.s. actually dropping bombs at the end of it at a test site. japan didn't actually cross over the peninsula out of historic sensitivities. but those three countries work very closely together. then you have north korea, which is the rogue state, the pariah
state, pretty much everywhere in the world. but the only thing, the only country that north korea considers something of an ally, something of a benefactor, is china. china has expressed condemnation in the past because of north korea's activities. but china has not necessarily done, according to many sources and according to many u.s. government officials, all that it can to rein in north korea. so the question is, why not? and most analysts and most experts will tell you it is because they do not want to see north korea collapse, they don't want to see potentially millions of refugees spilling out over the border into china. and they also don't want to see the government of north korea collapse and be quickly replaced by a south korean government which is closely allied with the united states. don't forget there are 28,500 u.s. troops in south korea. and if north korea were to collapse, china's assumption is
and china's concern is that those troops might multiply and that they might move closer to the chinese border and china certainly does not want to have thousands of u.s. troops on its border. >> richard, does china like north korea as a potential irritant to the united states? >> it seems to be that china doesn't want to see this escalate. china does not want to see a nuclear war on the korean peninsula. but china has been happy to have north korea as something of an attack dog keeping the u.s. at bay, keeping the u.s. firmly in south korea, and keeping the u.s. somewhat unsettled. i've spoken to u.s. military officials who believe that china has even more ambitious goals that china wants to see u.s. troops off of the korean peninsula entirely and is therefore happy to see north korea act in a belligerent way. but it is a very delicate
balance. you can have an aggressive proxy in north korea, but you don't want that aggressive actor to go too far and risk a massive escalation which could lead to the north korean collapse, it could lead to a catastrophic loss of life in south korea, could lead to a catastrophic loss of life of american troops and civilians who are in south korea as well. because in addition to those 28,500 troops, there are tens of thousands more civilians and family members, american civilians and family members, on the peninsula as well. it is an incredibly delicate balance where the u.s. and chinese strategic interests might not be aligned long-term, but their short-term interests, which is to avoid a catastrophic, potentially nuclear war in korea, are aligned. >> how do you discuss the options that the united states might undertake at this moment, given a new administration,
seven months old, that certainly has not done things typically, quote-unquote, as other administrations have when it comes to foreign affairs? what are some of the considerations you're watching? >> well, it's a question of how the u.s. acts. does the u.s. show restraint? or does the u.s. try to show force? or does the u.s. try to take some sort of action? or does the u.s. try to -- some of those actions could be potentially diplomatic action. so if the u.s. showed restraint and again, this is according to briefings i've had. i was just in south korea a few days ago. with officials there. and they say the u.s. has tried to sew restraint in the past. and that restraint has been met with nuclear tests, has been met with ballistic missile tests, and the result has been escalation. when the u.s. has tried to show force, like when it did the
fly-over a few days ago, we are seeing now the response which is yet another nuclear test. so showing restraint doesn't seem to be having an impact. curbing north korea's aggressive behavior and its missile front and its nuclear front. and showing force doesn't seem to be having much of a deterrent impact as well. so that leaves the other options, which is to actually do something. and the doing something could either be diplomatic or military. military if you're talking about some sort of strategic strike or surgical strike or some sort of direct action against the north korean regime, by all accounts the results would be a tremendous loss of life. because the north korea's border with south korea is fortified. it is fortified with tens of thousands of rockets and artillery pieces that are tested technology, they are proven technology. and would in a very short amount of time be deployed at the city
of seoul and at american troops and their families who are based there. so some sort of action, military action, would -- like a cold war dynamic, you have this mutually assured destruction factor in play, that a military action would trigger a huge is loss of life. then the other option is diploma diplomacy. and just recently president trump tweeted that he doesn't think that diplomacy is the answer. talking is not the answer. but even in that tweet it was somewhat ambiguous. did he mean talking to north korea? or talking to anyone? and most people say that there does need to be some sort of diplomacy that china is the way to do it. but china's strategic concerns need to be met. china needs to be convinced that the u.s. does not seek to put troops close to the chinese border, that if the regime were to collapse the u.s. would potentially back off, china would want guarantees that the u.s. has no larger strategic aims or ambitions for the korean
peninsula. >> our chief foreign correspondent, richard engel there in london for us, hopping in the seat as we get this news coming in out of north korea. richard engel, thank you so much for that. stand by, i want to go to molly mchugh, former adviser to mckale sackaash feeley and writer. molly, these pieces of information, and we don't have a lot, we do expect to have a briefing coming out of north korea at 2:30. probably not going to get mitch more. but we have these pictures. and we also have the claims that they are making. and they are big ones. what do you make of it? >> i think it's a really interesting sort of piece of information of what's going on right now more globally as well. i think north korea is definitely cange-rattling. they believe it is to their advantage to do so. i think their assessment of the
situation of u.s. power in the world right now is that there is a weakened and chaotic u.s. presidency and that now is the time to sort of press advantage and move forward on what they believe are their strategic aims. and they have been aided in their thinking in that respect by the support of russia and china and the sort of global projection of great power conflict onto the korean pen minutes lashes which is reescalating in a very much cold war-style way. i think that broader context is really important to see as we look through statements coming from north korea today, from the chinese response, from what the russians might say. i think it is all very much wrapped together as a part of a bigger global realignment of power right now. >> global realignment of power. and we have local realignment on
the peninsula itself in south korea with a new leader there. and as has been discussed since we started this coverage, certainly pushing the realignment is a new leader of the united states. and this leader of north korea, kim jong-un, somebody who is uncannily, some might say, good at timing. here we are on a holiday weekend. and the president of the united states is going through the south of the united states in texas and louisiana, a time to take care of his own those who might be suffering, the headlines are quieter, if you will, when we talk about foreign policy. and molly, then this leader, kim jong-un, comes out with another test. [ that's exactly right. i think they're very much aware
of the environment into which they are dropping this piece of information. they've been preparing this test for some time. that i think your other guests have said as well. there's been evidence that they've been moving toward trying to do a bigger nuclear test and certainly they've been saying that they have wanted to, to sort of show they're continuing to move toward intercontinental nuclear capability and they'll keep doing that did through a variety of means. i think it's this intense awareness of testing the united states, that the trump administration has allowed itself to be put in this position of sort of seeming chaotic at home, seeming chaotic abroad, seeming not to have much of a center to the policy and u.s. policy position in the world. where a number of actors are going to test u.s. power, particularly people like kim jong-un who have very specific
views of what is going to be their means of securing positions, securing longevity, securing power in the world. this is their means of doing it. to say we have something you can't take away, and we're going to use it. and they've been put in this position by being sort of propped up and supported by the chinese and the russians in a variety of capacities for a long time. there's been this long policy, on both sides, from the chinese/russian side, from the u.s. side, of sort of maintaining a stable crisis on the korean peninsula long-term. we've just been on different sides of what that looks like. and i think at this point, you know, the russians and chinese also don't want north korea to blow something up with a nuclear weapon. but how you contain that possibility at this point is interesting. i mean, just recently, in response to some of the more recent provocations coming from the kremlin the responses have
been, you know, the first step away from danger should be taken by the stronger, smarter side. and when the russian foreign minister said that he was not referring to the united states, he was definitely referring to the north koreans dialing down the pressure. and putin himself has said that russia believes the policy of putting pressure on pyongyang to stop nuclear -- to stop its nuclear missile program is misguided and futile. and they sort of accepted that this was going to be a new nuclear actor on the board. the russians are aware of the security dynam that i can this creates. they have moved their own -- a new amount of sort of significant air defense capacity toward that border, toward that area, in order to say to their own people that they are providing greater defense from a potential north korean threat if it happens. you've been seeing the russians reassert their power and influence on the peninsula in ways you haven't seen since the '90s. there's been russian fly-overs of korean air space.
you've seen the russians forgave about $10 billion of soviet-era debt, the north koreas. they've been playing in this space in a much more active way than they have for 25 years. which the chinese are also sort of nervous about. but it's these dynamics of all of this in the context of russia projecting itself as a global power, wanting to be in all of these different global -- things that are seen as global conflicts. and in this particular instance, investing in the idea of projecting the u.s. as an aggressor, as the trump administration as an unstable actor in the system, and russia being part of the solution and a potential peacemaker to find solutions to the north korean crisis. whether or not they can deliver anything on that is a different question. but this is definitely the sort of broader landscape of pieces moving around that you can see when it relates to the north korean peninsula. >> so those are the elements you're describing there, molly,
of a nuclearized north korea and the benefits to russia specifically. >> yeah, absolutely. >> how is that dynamic changed. >> i don't know if it was the initial goal but it's there now. >> right, right, right. how is that triangle of china, russia, north korea, changed in the last decade? >> you know, it's -- i think the change has been much more recent. i think you have seen, you know, both china and russia have economic ways of propping up the north korean regime. russia in particular has long-term provided food aid, has sold oil and other fuel to the north koreans. has helped provide technology on both the nuclear and the missile technology side. there's pretty good links to some of those elements in the north korean programs coming from russian scientists, sometimes via iran, but there's good links on the technology side to both of those things. the chinese do the same but much more on the economic side.
so i think those are the patrons of the north korean regime and the only reason that the regime can continue to exist the way that it does. their interest is, you know, long-term the same. they do not want the u.s. to advance on the korean peninsula. they don't want a unified korean peninsula that would mean a long-term u.s. presence on chinese and russian borders. they would prefer we leave the peninsula altogether and that is why you hear in the north korean responses to things, we want the u.s. and south korea and japan to stop doing nuclear -- to stop doing military exercises together. we want the u.s. off the peninsula. this will continue to be the position. but i think that in the last -- it's not even the last decade, but in the last few years there has been a reassertion of russian power in many places in the world. in the middle east, toward
western europe, in the arctic, and in east asia as well. and this is another place where they've been throwing additional pieces onto the board, additional resources, in a way that they haven't been able to do for a long time, to regain influence in north korea, to be able to in some way shape the direction of the coming standoff between north korea and everybody else on their nuclear program. >> molly mccue, foreign policy expert, thank you for being with us, giving us your perspective on what's happening there. great insight in addressing the russian role in north korea and how the balance of power exists between not only those two countries but also with china involved too, no doubt. molly, thank you. if you're just joining us, of course we're watching what is happening in north korea. the reports of a potential test. we do have from the u.s. geological survey reporting of
an earthquake of at least 6.0 magnitude. and then another one at least of 4.0 magnitudmagnitude. and those potentially could be additional nuclear tests. the japanese prime minister, shinzo abe, saying that they have concluded, japan has that north korea has conducted a nuclear test. we do not have any reporting as of yet coming out of the united states government, whether it be from the pentagon or from the white house, as of yet. nbc's ron allen has been on the ground there in south korea for us covering this story. and ron, we understand there's going to be some sort of announcement from north korea on what has happened so far. what do we expect to be said from what we know? >> well, we expect it to be a pretty triumphant statement by the north koreans for propaganda value. this is what they want. they want the world's attention
on them. they want to trumpet what they've done and what they've accomplished. it's left to be seen yet what part of their claims are true or not or exaggerated. but clearly it seems that they have done something very significant. there are those reports, those confirmations by the japanese, are the only ones i've seen so far where they say that they believe this was, in fact, a nuclear test. there are the reports from the usgs of two seismic events. the first one being larger, the second one being what was possibly a result of the first. some sort of structural collapse of some structure, perhaps. but again, something massive apparently happened there in north korea this morning. and it's left to the experts to try and determine exactly what it was. we expect the north koreans to come out as they do on television and make a statement. they have done this for the past couple of weeks. remember the backdrop to this recent event is these military operations that have been going
on, these exercises that have been going on by the united states and japan and south korea during the past couple of weeks. military exercises that the north are always very irritated and very angry about because they see it as a simulation, they see it as preparations for an attack. they see it as preparations for the elimination of their reg je regime. they always push back hard when these sort of things happen. that's the backdrop to these tests that are happening that are going on. it's not just randomly happening. there's obviously the first few months of the trump administration in the sense the north koreans are perhaps testing the limits of the trump administration, how they'll respond to this. that's what we expect to see in this announcement that's going to come up. remember all media is controlled very tightly by the state. this will be perhaps, if not the supreme leader himself, there will probably an spokesperson for the government who we often see on television talking about the great accomplishments of the regime and how powerful the regime and is how successful
this all is and how monumental this all is. it may sound like -- it is all closely guarded, but it's potentially very dangerous and very significant. these are huge seismic events that have been recorded in north korea. we know they have been moving towards another round of testing. they have been signalling that for some time. the south korean government has been warning about this for some time. and so that this would happen today a few hours ago is not a big surprise. we are still trying to understand exactly what it was they set off what exactly the magnitude of it all is. that they have done this in defiance of the international community is no surprise. and we're left to see exactly what the response is going to be from the trump administration. we know the south korean government has met in emergency session. they will condemn this blast. they will warn against military action in response to it by the united states or anyone else. the south koreans are determined to try and negotiate some sort
of solution to this problem. at least that's been their position all along, that's the position the new president has taken. that's why part of the platform that he ran on and was elected on. so that's the feeling of what this government wants to do. what the trump administration will do is unclear. as we've been saying all morning they have sent conflicting signals. the president himself warning of military action, the fire and fury, if in fact the north threatened guam again. we know that the north essentially shrugged that off and then fired off more missiles over the last weekend and then really big escalation when they fired off a missile that flew over japan and into the pacific about some 1,700 miles, a huge projectile that the north claims can carry a nuclear weapon. experts doubt that claim, but again, they have been progressing, the north has, steadily on a very escalated path of sophistication. they have launched some 80 missiles during the reg jean of the current leader. many, many more than his father
and grandfather did in years past. so this is what the north korean regime has been all about and they are seizing this moment. the early days of the trump administration, the chaos and desperation that's happening in texas, the labor day weekend, all these elements conspiring together to create this moment where the north koreans are trying to say to the world that we are a powerful nation, i want to be recognized, we want to be respected. remains to be seen how united states and others will respond. >> ron, as you're there down the streets in seoul, south korea, we're getting close to the bottom of the hour here in the united states. we expect to have that briefing or that announcement that you've been describing for us and sort of, a few of the cultural elements of what it might be. that should start in two or three minutes. in the time as we are waiting for this to come up, as we hit the bottom of the hour, could you summarize what we know right now? i understand that the report so far, at least coming from u.s. confirmations, have not been
plentiful, shall we say. what do we know at this moment? >> we know from the u.s. geological survey there were two what they call seismic events that happened in north korea, in the area where they have conducted nuclear tests before. one a magnitude 6.2 or 6.3. a second that was about 4.1, which is believed to be a secondary result of the first explosion. the japanese have said that they believe and they have confirmed that this was a nuclear test conduct the by the north koreans. there's been no other confirmation. we know the south korean government has met in emergency session to try and assess what happened and to formulate a response. we have not heard confirmation from them as to what they believe this seismic event was or was not. we know that the north korean government had been warning in recent days that the north was ready and prepared to conduct a test, what would be their sixth nuclear test. we also know that the 9th of september, a few days from now,
is a major anniversary in north korea. that was a time frame many observers thought they would conduct a nuclear test. there seemed to be no doubt they were going to do something to mark that major holiday. that is also the anniversary of their last test back in 2016. so this is a major escalation, continuing escalation by the north koreans, again coming at the end of two weeks of military exercises by the united states, south korea, and japan in this part the world. exercises that always anger the north koreans. we know that they have fired off at least four missiles during this time frame during the past week or so. last tuesday launching an intermediate-range missile. long-range missile perhaps it was that flew from north korea over japan. some 7,800 miles. it was in the air some 15 minutes. air raid sirens went off in japan. there was a lot of the confusion, a lot of concern, a lot of worry about what was going to happen because that was an unprecedented move. the north koreans had fired missiles before that seemed to
enter japanese air space. they claimed they were setting offal satellites. this was clearly a different sort of launch. this was a missile that flew in a trajectory that was flatter than others. it clearly flew over japan. and it set off alarms of all sorts. and we know in the weeks before that the north koreans have been threatening to fire missiles towards guam. the u.s. territory in the south pa spa sific. that is in range of that missile that flew over japan traversed. so that was seen as another threat. the bottom line, there was another round of security council meetings last week. another strong condemnation from the u.n. security council. talk of more sanctions. the latest round of sanctions against north korea. the eighth in 11 years or so. just went into effect at the beginning of august. said then to be the toughest round of sanctions ever imposed on the regime. but we see the results. they shrugged it off. now there's talk of more
diplomacy, more pressure on the north koreans. but they seem hell-bent, if i can say that, on moving forward with this missile development program, with their nuclear program. because as we've said time and time again this morning, they see this as the key to their survival, as the key to their existence, having this deterrent as a deterrent as what they see as attack by south koreans and the united states and japan. >> great summary, ron. also if you can, while we have you, there was the picture that was released by the north koreans. and a claim with a lot of ifs also that has happened within the last seven or eight hours. >> right, they claim -- this morning there was a release of pictures of north korean leader touring a missile development site claiming that a -- a weapons development site, claiming that they have produced a hydrogen bomb. a bomb which is much more powerful than an atomic nuclear
bomb, the kind of weapon that we know was dropped on hiroshima and nagasaki ending world war ii in japan. so they claim that they have produced this massive weapon. this is the second time at least that they have made this claim, they made a similar claim a couple of years ago and those experts doubted it. they also claim today that they have miniaturized this weapon and that they can put it on a long-range missile. another claim that is doubted by most experts. but what most experts seem to believe is that they are on the path to these accomplishments in the not too distant future, meaning within the next couple of years if not sooner. and we know that the north koreans have been just determined to push this technology and that they've been very successful. they test fired a couple of long-range missiles in late july. the first time they've been able to accomplish that. and at that time the reaction was one of not surprise but perhaps, yes, surprise they were
able to move that quickly to do that. the bottom line, they have apparently figured out a way to push this technology and to master this technology in a very rapid way. that along with, of course, having one of the largest standing armies in the world poised some 50 miles from where i'm standing in the capital of seoul, south korea, along the dmz, the boreder that separates the north and the south. artillery pieces, conventional army, that could cause a tremendous amount of damage to put it mildly in this booming country of tens of millions of people in seoul which the north has -- the country of south korea which the north is still technically at war with. a couple of weeks of escalating tensions. a couple of weeks of attempts at diplomacy. a couple of weeks where the north has just continued to move forward in defiance of the international community, in direct defiance of the trump administration, apparently testing the trump administration to see how much they can push
all this. and again, we expect to hear a very triumphant, bellicose, proud, defiant statement from the north koreans when they take to the airwaves sometime this morning. richard? >> ron, thank you for that. if you can, stand by. bellicose, a good word. we're watching what i believe to be that announcement right now on the left-hand side of your screen. and we'll be looking for translations and then we will share that with you as we do get those translations. this is a very typical announcement. what you're seeing on your left-hand side side of the screen after such tests, after claims that have come down from kim jong-un, the supreme leader of north korea as he is titled in that country. we'll be listening in to the statement there on the left. again, when we get you some of the translations of what this announcement might be probably consistent with the reporting that ron allen was giving us in terms of what is evident.
okay, so what i'm hearing from my producer, that is why i paused for a second to listen to what was being said there. is the news agency is saying, yes, they did test a hydrogen bomb. that was consistent with the report coming from the usgs that there was a quake of at least 6.0 magnitude. that happened close to one of the nuclear facilities there in north korea. the news agency saying that in this announcement here that is ongoing and is live at the at the moment, one of the first bits of translation saying, yes, they did test a hydrogen bomb. this after, as rob was telling us moments ago, at around 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. eastern time, that north korea did claim they were able to take a hydrogen bomb and put it on top of a delivery device.
which means they've been able to miniaturize it. the picture of three bulbs glommed together of metal which you see, that that might represent the claim and then the explosion, they are also claiming that was the test. none of this has been confirmed although the japanese prime minister shinzo abe saying they believe this was a nuclear test. however, the question will be was it an atomic test which had been done before? was it a hydrogen bomb which north korea has claimed but has not been verified. they claimed as such at the beginning of 2016. that was not verified. lots of questions for the iaea and other governments in the area, as well as the united states. i want to go to keir simmons in china for a conference. keir, as you know, what has been
said so far is this is really up to china to fix. but before we get to that relationship, what is the details that you're getting? you're closing by than we are in new york. >> the president of china is here in this part of china at that conference that you mentioned. so he will be monitoring that announcement by north korea. half an hour before he is due to make an announcement here at this conference, an opening speech. for the chinese, this perhaps changes the position a little bit in this very difficult diplomatic jigsaw in this region. the president of russia, president putin, richard, due to fly into this city this evening. and both china and russia have in recent days made clear that
their collective view is that the only solution to this north korean crisis are talks they have urged washington to ratchet down the tough talk, if you like. there are others, of course, who suggest that the way to put pressure on north korea is to put pressure on china, perhaps on a chinese bank. the people who are gathering here, many of them business leaders with interests in china, will be very worried about that and how that might escalate economically. so it is perhaps not a coincidence that this has happened just at the moment when the leaders of russia and china, india and other countries, are gathering here. what they have to say in the hours ahead will be very interesting to monitor, richard. >> as you there are, and i know that a lot of information still is out there to be had. that relationship between china and north korea is one that has been focused on so much in the
negotiations not only at the united nations but certainly outside of the united nations as we've looked at the prolive rative activity sets coming out of north korea. and related to that, do we know at any level in terms of how does china find out about these tests? the potentially sixth test of a nuclear device. do we know how that happens? do we get, we're about to test something? >> it's unlikely. look, china does have a close relationship with north korea. but it is a relationship that has its own tensions. the two countries are allies, if you like, but they are not the same country. and certainly china has urged north korea to scale back this kind of ratcheting-up of this
these nuclear tests and missile tests. china's position is very much taking into account the fact that north korea is right its border. it worries deeply about a conflict there. it worries about, for example, a potential for a huge refugee crisis. of course it worries that a consolidate would escalate into a nuclear conflict right on its border. those are the kind of calculations that china makes. also many of your contributors have been mentioning this, it also is concerned with, if you like to some extent, holding the u.s. at bay. so it doesn't want to see a collapse of north korea and u.s. forces move into that region and that -- then those u.s. forces are on the chinese border. so there are extremely difficult calculations being made in beijing. and they have their ally now in moss bow in terms of north korean crisis. there are difficult calculations being made. and that's the kind of landscape that washington is trying to
understand and decipher as it thinks about how to respond to this latest escalation by north korea. >> keir, as you're there at the conference there south of north korea, we were talking earlier -- the reason i bring up your geography here, talking with molly mccue, she was bringing up dynamics between russia and china and north korea. as the two leaders of russia and china get together there, what is the state of that relationship between those two leaders relevant to north korea? >> it's so interesting, you get a picture of the diplomatic tectonic plates shifting. what we've seen is at the tensions between russia and the u.s. have escalated we've seen china and russia move closer together. moscow is very much seen putting itself at the center of the north korean crisis.
president putin is seen putting himself at the center of the north korean crisis as a diplomatic win for him, if you like. if he can be seen to be a power broker in that situation, it can only be good for moscow in terms of being seen to be a major player on the world stage. so we have seen china and russia make statements that have been very much aligned. both president putin and a spokesperson for the chinese defense ministry just in recent days saying that they believe that negotiation is the only option. in fact, president putin writing an op ed in which he said that attempts to try to stop north korea's nuclear program are futile. so the view from moscow is that the u.s. should not be trying to intervene in north korea, that that can only have negative implications and the only answer is negotiation. of course the question really for the u.s. and for countries in the region is another
question, is if north korea gained the kind of nuclear capability that it has clearly indicated it is trying to get to, which is to put a nuclear warhead on a long range missile capable of reaching north america, if it was able to do that, would it stop there? would negotiation be possible? would it then use that capability to threaten south korea, for example, or other countries in the region? it so is tricky. but certainly we have seen beijing and moscow seeming to work closer together in this crisis and barely disguised a different view from that taken in washington. >> it will be an interesting read-out, keir, since you'll be there with both of the leaders, both china and russia. vladimir putin and xi jinping there. keir simmons, nbc's foreign correspondent in china giving us perspective of a key partner of north korea, again, as we're getting in information about their claim of a hydrogen bomb
tested. dr. sumi teri is a former analyst with the cia. doctor, what do you make of the information, the latest piece is coming out of the announcement from the north korean government that, yes, they were able to successfully test a hydrogen bomb. they've made this claim before but it was not verified. >> well, i would not be vised if they did. but it could also be an exaggeration, it could be a normal nuclear test. either way, if it's not a hydrogen test, they will get there very soon. in terms of options, we have the same limited options. north korea is bent on completing a nuclear program, bent on perfecting nuclear arsenal. so i would not be surprised -- right before i went to bed, before i woke up, the last thing
i tweeted -- [ no audio ] >> dr. terry, if you can hear me, it sounds like your cell signal is a little raspy. i don't know if you can move to another location where you are at right now so we can get better -- we'd really like to get your perspective, being a former analyst for the cia. dr. sumi terry is on the phone right now. sounds like we have some technical issues. >> hello? >> yes, dr. terry, i can hear you. if you move to a different place, and i'll tell you if the signal is good or if it gets bad i'll ask if you can still hear. this is much better. >> this labor day weekend, i'm away from the city. >> i understand. i can hear you now, go ahead, please. yes, go ahead. >> i was just saying that six nuclear tests was absolutely expected. so this is not a surprise to anybody. whether it's hydrogen test, i mean that has to remain to be seen because they have made
these claims before. whether it is or not, north korea is getting there. so in terms of options the u.s. government has, same limited options in response to this latest provocation. north korea is bent on completing the nuclear program, bent on completing its nuclear arsenal. if it's not a hydrogen test this time, they will get there very soon. >> what's driving kim jong-un? is he at a heightened stage in interest in reaching this goal that you're describing? or is it his generals? >> it is absolutely him. i think even one of the high high ranking north korean defectors who defected to south korea last year, he said kim jong-un himself is bent on completing the program, that he has inherent herted from his father, his father and grandfather have pursued at a cost of billions of dollars and millions of lives. and kim jong-un himself is absolutely bent on completing the program this year. this is what one of the senior
defectors have told us. >> this year? >> who defected to south korea. >> dr. terry, it has been report ed that many of the pieces needed to put together the devices that they are building coming through china, but where's the know-how coming from? where is the, this is how you put one plus one plus one together? >> well, they've always -- they have started, when they started the nuclear program, they have gotten their know-how from russia and china. the chinese engineers and scientists and the russian engineers and scientists have always helped out north korea. north koreans have also learned from pakistan. have said that they're the ones, pakistan are the ones that provided uranium for them, knowledge and know-how to north korea. multiple sources. china, russia, pakistan, and themselves obviously. >> if china does not want a
hydrogen bomb-powered north korea, why would they give them little bits, if you will, or give them the know-how to build this? >> well, they've done it since the '50s and '60s and '70s. today i think north korea has really advanced its knowledge, not necessarily with china helping, but china does not have interest in nuclear north korea. it's just that china's interests is so different from ours in that their priority number one is not letting the north korean regime collapse. so it's not that they want nuclear north korea. but where our priority number one is not letting north korea go nuclear, china's priority and interest number one is stability and preventing region collapse. and that will lead to unification. south korea-led unification and unified korea that's pro-united states, obviously. >> as we look at that moving
forward with this technology, what might be the right way when it comes to diplomacy? there's been this perennial debate of soft versus hard power here. >> in terms of diplomacy, i guess there's nothing wrong with talks as long as we don't make unilateral concessions. but here's the problem, to talk about what? north korea has always said recently that they have negotiating nuclear weapons program is no longer on the table. they're not willing to denuclearize. they're not willing to give up nuclear weapons program. so the only thing they're willing to talk about is potentially a peace treaty or something else but not about nukes. so are we -- is it worth talking about? while we are still interested in it, not letting north korea go nuclear. for the older engagement, people who want engagement, that's fine. but talk about what? given north korea has said it's not interested in talking about
denuclearization any longer. >> what is the health of the government at its top? there's always questions about kim jong-un. a young leader. then you have very seasoned, older military leaders, generals, that always stand by his side. the question has been, at least in recent years, is he really in control? is he normally really in control? >> i think for right now he has consolidated power. he has absolutely purged anyone who can pose a challenge to him. so he has power. he's making the calls. he's calling all the shots. but over the long-term, i do wonder if elites are going to be really united behind kim jong-un. because he has been -- his tactics have been overly ruthless, getting rid of his uncle, assassinating his half-brother in an international
airport, so on. i'm not sure about the long-term spoor. the but for right now he has consolidated power and he is in control. >> will he be only satisfied when he has developed the hydrogen bomb and that he has weaponized it, in other words, actually doing what he has claimed, although we have no confirmation of it? is that all he wants to accomplish? what will be the step after that? >> his final goal is to have an ability to attack anywhere in the united states with a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile. because he believes that is the only way, only way for the regime to survive. it's the final deterrent pyongyang will have against united states. because he believes that no power, including united states, can attack north korea if he has ability to attack us with a nuclear weapon. >> does china have any influence anymore over kim jong-un? >> that has never been truly tested.
because china has never stopped fully supporting north korea. 90% of north korea's trade is with china. china continues to supply north korea with fuel, with food, with consumer goods. so it's a theory that has not been tested because china has never really pulled the plug on supporting north korea. >> do the sanctions from the u.n. that were passed in june, june 3rd, i believe, or right in that first week of june, did they work? or are they useless? >> well, that also has thought been truly tested. because they've been only in place since february, march last year. as we know, the problem with sanctions is china has never really implemented sanctions on the ground, despite being -- signing on to the unsc resolutions. it remains to be seen. sanctions could work only if china and everybody else implement the sanctions. of course it's not going to work if they don't implement it. and because china has never fully implemented sanctions it remains to be seen if china is going to do it this time around.
>> finally russia. what is the influence and leverage it has over north korea at this moment? >> well, if china does not have the kind of leverage, because china's not willing to use it, the same thing for russia. i don't think russia can stop kim jong-un from pursuing this course. i know russia wants to play a role in terms geopolitics and so on. but kim jong-un is his own man and i think china has more leverage right now because again, 90% of north korea's trade is still with china. >> and finally, and i know -- that was going to be my last question but i was just thinking about since you have been a cia analyst in north korea, as you look at the claims of their technological developments, if it is proven to be true by some measure, would you be surprised? >> no, i would not. because we have continually underestimated north korea at every turn. we have always underestimated north korea's capability.
so i would not be surprised at all. they've been working on this and they have really improved their capability the last few years. and particularly since 2016, they have really made some breakthrough successes. so i would not be surprised at all. >> dr. sue mi terry, former north korea cia analyst, thank you so much. and i know you were saying you were away for this holiday weekend here in the united states. but thank you for giving us your expertise on these latest developments coming out of north korea. the claim of a successful hydrogen bomb test. i want to go to nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel who's been following this story for us from london. and we just have the announcement coming out of north korea from that government's spokesperson saying, yes, they successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. that was the big headline there, richard. >> yeah, the readout that i'm seeing is the supreme dear leader signed the order to test a hydrogen bomb to be fitted to
an icbm. icbm being an intercontinental ballistic missile. that is a message. it is a message saying that they have tested a hydrogen bomb which they've claimed in the past, but that would be a significant escalation in their technology. and saying that it is a hydrogen bomb small enough to be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile, meaning a missile that could reach the continental united states. this is a message to the united states. and in all of this discussion, we've been talking a lot about how china and russia are happy to see the u.s. in retreat, how vladimir putin says that it's futile and useless to try and intimidate north korea. well, it is north korea that is making direct and explicit threats against the united states. so it is very difficult for the u.s. to ignore this kind of thing. it is very difficult for the u.s. to just accept a nuclear north korea when, from north
korea itself, they say that the weapon is aimed at the united states. and if you watch north korean state television, it is full of not just today, but in recent years, full of showing north korean missiles flying at the united states, destroying targets, destroying landmarks in the u.s. so when you have all that bellicose rhetoric which comes out constantly, and now this claim that they have tested a hydrogen bomb and they clearly tested something very large, if you just look at the seismic data, and that it is a small enough hydrogen bomb to put on an icbm, it is something that officials in washington are going to be taking extremely seriously. >> richard, the claim is h-bomb tested, small enough to fit on anivity cbm. i guess the next if would be if they do put it on icbm and then test it again, will it actually work? >> well, if they actually put a
nuclear weapon on an icbm. >> right. >> i think -- my understanding is that could trigger a war. that if they actually loaded an icbm and the u.s. is aware that they have an icbm that works and they have put a nuclear weapon on the top of it, if you listen just to the public statements that u.s. officials have been saying, they say that this is something that is unacceptable, that would be something of a red line. so having the bomb, having tested it, keeping it in separate pieces is one thing. loading it and putting it in some sort of launch-ready capacity, that would be a significant exaccumulation from even where we are now. >> and that is a major statement that you are making, richard engel. when we do look at that red line, that could be maybe in the future crossed. you heard dr. sue management i terry, formerly of the cia, a north korea analyst. i was asking her before we came to you, if this did come to pass, would she be surprised?
she was saying, no. based on her experience with the cia, no, this would not be a surprise. because of north korea's often ability to surprise. >> well, they've done six nuclear tests. mountains have been shaking in the country. so it should be no surprise to anyone. just a few days ago the south korean parliament was briefed that this test was coming. they've talked about having a hydrogen bomb capacity. they've talked about wanting to have a miniaturized hydrogen bomb that can be aimed at the united states. so no, surprise should not be in anyone's vocabulary right to you. the question is what are the options to do with it? when you talk about negotiations with russia and china, that's one option. but what are you negotiating about? are you negotiating about denuclearization? are you negotiating about regime change? are you negotiating about some
sort of long-term stability pact for the peninsula? these are all very difficult questions. china, russia and the united states don't have aligned visions of what the future of north korea should be. >> and as frightening as that potentialialty you described could be, on the flip side as you know so well, as you were saying you were just on the peninsula. this government from the north korea has often made claims that were not proven. again, that 2016 claim that, yes, we successfully tested an h-bomb. >> this is -- it was proven or it was believed, based on assessments from afar. and i about the way, these assessments are difficult to make. you have to look at what is happening deep underground in a country to which the united states has very little, if no access. so in the past, based on intelligence analysis, it was
that the north koreans claimed they had blown up a hydrogen bomb. and then looking at the result, u.s. intelligence estimated it wasn't exactly a hydrogen bomb, it wasn't exactly a fusion bomb, it was a normal atomic bomb that was escalated. so it was anatomic bomb plus but as the former cia analyst was just saying, if this time they did successfully get a hydrogen bomb working, it will be no surprise. if it wasn't this time, then it will be on their seventh test. they are on a paft. if you do six things in a row and you state your intention, logic would dictate there will be a seventh and an eighth and this will continue until they get what they want. what they want, what they say they want and what they say they have is a nuclear weapon to strike the united states. >> they appear to be on a steep learning curve and doing