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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
North Korea Launches Long-Range Missile. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired February 6, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:03] CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SEOUL: I really think it is. It's a military testing program. They've been testing nuclear weapons, and they're testing the delivery system. So, I think we need to understand this in that context.
I don't think it's an effort to somehow humiliate China, or somehow behave in some different way. I think it is an internal testing program, and it speaks to the fact that North Korea simply doesn't care what we think.
MANN: How dangerous is North Korea's rocket technology right now?
HILL: There is no question that they have made progress on their nuclear explosions on these nuclear devices, you know? At first they had a missile, it just fizzled out. It didn't work. They've continued to work on it, they've had four tests. It's not a hydrogen program, but you don't have to be a hydrogen program to be extremely threatening.
The issue, of course, is whether you can take a nuclear device, miniaturize it, turn it into a weapon that can fit on the nose cone of a missile, and clearly, that is the second part of what they're trying to do.
So, an answer to your question, I think it's a very serious problem, and I think what the U.S. needs to do is rethink so-called strategic patience. And, I think the Chinese need to rethink their own soft policy.
More importantly than that, I think the U.S. and the Chinese need to stop pointing fingers at each other, and start sitting down, and figure out what are we going to do about this.
MANN: Now, obviously there are a lot of countries that look nervously at North Korea having this kind of technology, but there are suggestions that another reason for concern is that the technology isn't going to stay in North Korea. It is going to be sold. That North Korea is a center for proliferation of very dangerous technology. How great is that concern?
HILL: You know, we have seen the capacity of North Koreans to sell just about anything, so I think proliferation is a real concern. I cannot say that we have seen connections between North Korea, and international terrorism, but why not if the price is right? So, we have a country that has no interest in working with other countries, that has no interest in standing in the world except to become a nuclear state, and I think we need to get serious about this, and by serious I mean we need to look at traditional diplomatic channels, not communicating with the Chinese through press conferences. But, rather sitting down with the Chinese and figuring out what we can do to retard this program, and what we can do to make North East Asia a safer place.
MANN: Christopher Hill, former U.S. Ambassador to Seoul, thanks so much for talking with us.
North Korea's long range rocket is called the, "Unha-3", the Galaxy-3. It's also called the Taepodong-3. Experts say it has an estimated range of 10,000 kilometers which could put the U.S. and many other nations within striking distance if the rocket is used to carry a weapon.
You may recall North Korea successfully launched a rocket late in 2012 claiming it was putting a working satellite into orbit. And, once again, that is what North Korea is saying it, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry, has launched, a long range missile or a rocket, perhaps with a satellite on board. We just don't know.
Global Affairs correspondent, Elise Labott is with is. You heard what Christopher Hill had to say. he said it's time for some very, very serious and direct diplomacy.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, John. Chris, no one knows better than Chris. He was the ambassador to South Korea, really involved with this at a critical time when the U.S. was trying to engage in diplomacy with the North Koreans, and they've have various successes over the years.
North Korea, at one point, was blowing up its cooling tower, blowing up some other of its nuclear facilities, and there was real hope that North Korea was going to be on a trajectory to curb its nuclear ambitions.
When President Obama came to office, he abandoned a lot of that nuclear diplomacy. Said that he wanted to try what has been known as strategic patience, wasn't going to really answer North Korea's nuclear tantrums, as they've been called. Just deal with Korea through sanctions, and was saying that they would only bring North Korea back to the talks if they unconditionally agreed to give up its nuclear program.
That's not going to work with this North Korean regime, and I think that there's a recognition that some kind of new diplomacy needs to be tried. The Chinese have been very insistent that if North Korea wants to talk to the United States, that's really what they want this time. So called six party talks between North Korea, the U.S., South Korea, Japan, and China is great, but at the same time it's really the United States that they're looking for assurances for.
There are discussions about what they can do, but right now North Korea isn't showing any visible signs that it wants to get back to the table, John.
MANN: Elise Labott, thanks so much. Don't go away.
We want to go back though, to Paula Hancocks, and if you're just joining us, let us tell you that South Korean authorities are telling us that North Korea has launched a rocket, it has said, to put a satellite into orbit.
We don't know if there's a satellite aboard. Even if there is, our Paula Hancocks tells us that the same technology that would put a satellite into space will also allow North Korea to refine its ballistic missile technology. Technology aimed at delivering weapons.
And, this particular missile, estimated at a range of 10,000 kilometers, is a source of great concern to North Korea's neighbors, and countries as far off as the United States.
Elise Labott, Global Affairs correspondent in Washington is with us. And, Elise, there has been an elaborate effort to stop this technology, to stop this progress, to stop this effort through international sanctions.
North Korea has one of the most isolated economies in the world. It doesn't seem to be working.
LABOTT: It doesn't seem to be working, and that's the big problem. This is on the heels of the North Korean nuclear test that was earlier last month, and the international community was discussing what kind of sanctions it was going to impose on North Korea for that, you know?
The Chinese have been dragging their feet, obviously, as their neighbor and largest benefactor. And, very concerned about sanctions imposing -- destabilizing North Korea. I was just in Beijing last week with Secretary of State John Kerry, and he got an earful from the Chinese who were saying, listen, it cannot be sanctions for sanctions sake. The goal needs to be to get North Korea back to the table.
Look, certainly there's going to be some kind of international reaction. There is work on (oh) really (oh) right now, the United Nations in terms of what kind of sanctions they could get out of the United Nations, get through the Security Council with it.
But, that doesn't really -- I think there's a recognition that that's not what it takes to squeeze North Korea. The question is are they going to have to put the squeeze even harder on the regime, even harder on the economy, and see if it works that way, a little bit like it did with Iran because Iran wanted to be brought back into the international fold, cared about its international reputation.
There's no evidence that Kim Jong Un really cares about any of that, and sanctions really seem to be only hurting the North Korean people, and I think that anybody that follows North Korea agrees with Ambassador Chris Hill as he was just saying, that there needs to be some kind of new international diplomatic initiative to see what it would take to get North Korea back to the table. MANN: Elise Labott on the line with us. And, once again if you're just joining us, North Korea has launched long range missile it says to put a satellite into orbit, but many nations fear it's technology that could be used to deliver a weapon.
Paula Hancocks is in Seoul and has new information for us. What have you been learning?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we've heard from the South Korean Defense Ministry that this took place at 9:30 this morning, so that's 9:30 AM, so about 40 minutes ago. And, they also say that it headed towards the Sanct (ph). They are currently convening a national security council meeting here in South Korea.
Then, across the water in Japan, we've heard from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He has said on his Twitter page that the satellite has been launched. Interesting terminology between different countries here in South Korea they're calling it a missile. In Japan they're calling it a "satellite", but in quotation marks.
He also says in that Twitter feed that it has launched toward the Okinawa area. This is an island in the Southern part of Japan. So it is flying South, and that is the area it was expected to fly. It would suggest that it is on route, the planned route, at this point. Remember, South Korea and Japan are monitoring this very closely because both militaries were ready to shoot this rocket down if it looked like it was going to stray from the planned route, and if it looked like it was going to put anyone in danger within their own territories.
And, of course, airlines as well have been rerouting their flight paths to make sure that they weren't going to be affected by any possibly falling rocket parts.
So, that's the latest information we have here. John?
MANN: I want to ask you about North Korea's account of its activities because it says its space program, its rocket program, is entirely peaceful. And, as you mentioned, it has already put up one satellite it says.
How much do we know about that satellite, or this satellite? I mean, what do the North Koreans use a satellite for? They're not big international broadcasters, they don't have an extensive phone network around the world. What would the satellite before?
HANCOCKS: Well, for the first part first. Back in December 2012, they did according to much of the world, launch something into space. There was an object that did manage to make it into orbit, and they said from north Koreans point of view, that it was a satellite. That it was working.
We have no way of proving whether or not it was working, and there have been reports that it wasn't, but we simply don't know. Pyongyang had said that it was a functioning satellite. Now, there are many different things that they could use a satellite for. As you say, broadcasting, but they do have limited broadcasting. It's really limited to the state run media, KCTV. There's also mapping that they could do, there's weather forecasting.
There is, of course, intelligence gathering. They can gather intelligence from a satellite which is exactly what many countries around the world do over North Korea. That's how we find out often what exactly is happening in that country. That's how we got the first indications that they were close to this rocket launch, because of satellite images.
So, certainly that could be something that North Korea could be interested in. John?
MANN: Now, marry this technology with an emerging nuclear program, and it makes for a terrifying combination. The big question is whether they can put any of their nuclear devices on a rocket like this. Can they?
HANCOCKS: We don't know. We simply don't know at this point if that technology has been nailed, basically. They say that their nuclear program is progressing well. They say their space program is progressing well. What we can see from the outside world, what we can see from satellite images, is that they are potentially very close.
There have been some reports that certain people, and experts, think that they have the capability. Others say they could be a couple of years away from this capability. I mean, miniaturizing a nuclear weapon so it can fit on a warhead, creating that nuclear warhead, is a very difficult undertaking. It's a difficult job. It's not something you would master very quickly. So, it is very difficult to say whether or not they have this capability.
But, it almost doesn't matter. The fact that the rest of the world thinks that they might have this technology, this capability of launching an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead on top means that Pyongyang feels more secure in itself. It means that the regime feels it will not be attacked, it will not be invaded. There will not be an attempt for regime change because the rest of the world believes they have this capability.
So, we don't know exactly how far they are along that road. We know that is where they want to go, and certainly with this nuclear test back on January 6th, when they said it was a hydrogen bomb, which no one else believed it was. But, that made it clear what road they were on when it comes to their nuclear technology as well.
So, it is very clear that they're heading towards that. We don't know if they're there yet.
MANN: Paula Hancocks in Seoul. Once again, if you're just joining us, North Korea's bid for international credibility, and international regard takes one more step with the launch of a long range missile just weeks after the North tested a nuclear device.
Asia's watching nervously, Washington is nervous as well. Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is on the line. What have you been learning.
LABOTT: Well, U.S. officials are telling us, and defense officials are telling us the same as them. As policy from the South Korean's, that they do believe North Korea has launched what some are calling a satellite, or a long range missile, and they're tracking it with now.
Based on the trajectory, they don't believe it is any harm to the U.S. or its allies, but clearly as Paula was saying. It almost doesn't matter because the concern is when North Korea launches a missile of this range, and they're continuing to perfect that capability, any advance that the Koreans make with a launch like this is very concerning because they're getting that much close to what everybody fears which is that one day, North Korea would have a long range missile, that they could pair with a nuclear warhead, john.
MANN: Now, I'm going to ask you a very basic question, which is theres are extremely dangerous developments, potentially. A lot could be gained from dialogue. How much dialogue is there between Japan, South Korea, the United States, Australia. Other Asian nations, and the leaders of North Korea at a time like this?
LABOTT: Virtually none. I mean, the only ones that really have any dialogue of any nature with the North Koreans are the Chinese, and they're very concerned. Obviously, they're concerned about the nuclear program, but they're even more concerned that any action by the international community, any action within North Korea that could destabilize the regime, would see thousands if not millions of North Koreans over their border, into China.
That could destabilize the region. That could possible have the Untied States acting in concert with their allies, South Korea in their neighborhood.
So, the Chinese are very reluctant to take any further action, you know? Even with this nuclear test that they took a couple of weeks ago. The Chinese have been very reluctant to sign on to any tough sanctions. We'll have to see what comes out of the U.N. Security Council.
There's a lot of coordination between the allies, but there's virtually no communication with the North Koreans. That's what's so scary. All they know is that Kim Jong Un is a very erratic, and unpredictable leader. Some might see him has unstable, they don't know how rational he is. AFFAIRS And, the fact that there's not a lot of dialogue going on with this regime, they don't know what North Korea Wants. They don't know what North Korea's plans are. They can only really go at face value at what the North Koreans say they're going to doi. Most of the time the U.S. officials take the North Koreans at their word. When they say they're going to launch a nuclear test, they launch a nuclear tests.
They gave you a window of when we're' going to launch that missile, the satellite, and they did it tonight.
So, the North Koreans are true to their word, but they don't have any insight into the regime right now and, that's the scariest part, John.
MANN: Elise Labott on the line with us. And, so as you're looking at these pictures, keep in mind that the technology of a rocket, of a missile, allows the same device to be used for space exploration, and as a weapon. So, what is North Korea's missile capability?
The reimage is known to have a number of short range missiles able to travel up to a thousand kilometers, putting South Korea and Japan well within range. North Korea has also test fired a longer range missile with a potential range of six to 7,000 kilometers. That's within striking distance of Australia, and possible Alaska, or Hawaii.
Analysts suspect North Korea has also been working on a more powerful missile that could travel 10,000 kilometers, which would could put the U.S. mainland within striking distance. So far, the regime has yet to successfully launch a missile with this kind of range. That's one of the reasons this launch is being so closely watched.
Once again, U.S. authorities tracking the missile do not believe it poses a threat to the U.S., or to U.S. allies, but they are watching to see exactly where it goes, and what it represents about North Korean technology.
Paula Hancocks is in Seoul where they are also watching this closely. Paula, what are you hearing?
HANCOCKS: Well, John, we have confirmation it was 9:30 AM this morning that North Korea launched this satellite. It's about 45 minutes ago now.
The South Korean Defense Ministry saying that it's headed South. We're hearing from the Japanese side on Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister's Twitter feed that it headed over the Okinawa region, which is a Japanese island just South of here.
That was where it was expected to go. We know that the militaries in South Korea, and Japan were on high alert. In fact, still will be on high alert, ready to shoot down the rocket if it looked like it was going to go astray from that planned route.
There is at this point right now a national security council meeting here in South Korea. This has all been top minds of South Korea, and the presidential office, the defense ministry, foreign ministry, and they are trying to decide what to do next. What kind of a statement will they come out with? What kind of new thing can they say that will make any difference to what North Korea has done?
But, certainly there will be a lot of meeting around the world now deciding what has to be this -- the repercussions to Pyongyang for carrying out this satellite launch.
MANN: Once again, is there read there then that this particular launch poses no threat? HANCOCKS: There's certainly not a thought that it poses no threat because it is, of course, North Korea carrying out a rocket launch which could help it in its technology to try and develop this long range ballistic missile. Effectively the same technology that you will use to launch a satellite as it is to launch a warhead.
There are a great many similarities that the scientists of Kim Jong Un can learn a lot from a satellite launch that can be applied to a more military sense. And, of course, even if it's not a successful launch, they will still be learning from this technology.
But, certainly here in South Korea there isn't a sense of fear on the streets. There is a sense of almost resignation, almost. South Koreans have been through this many times before. This is the third launch in just four years that Kim Jong Un himself has carried out. And, of course, he inherited this space program from his father, the late Kim Jong Il.
So, there is a sense of -- there has been decades of this tension between the two Koreas. So, certainly there's not palpable fear on the street, but there will be a lot of concern in the halls of power that North Korea once again has ignored international condemnation, has ignored international pleas to tow the line, to follow U.N. Security Council resolutions, and has refused to deviate from its chosen path.
MANN: They've ignored the international community, but oddly enough, they did inform maritime authorities that this launch was coming. So, there was some expectation, not a complete surprise, I gather. Just the timing may have changed?
HANCOCKS: That's right. It's interesting. They always do warn of these satellite launches. They always do inform the international maritime organization of the window that they will be launching. Originally it was the 8th to the 25th of February, and just last night they changed it to the 7th to the 14th. Of course, they've launched on the very first day of that window. But, they always do warn and give the flight path of exactly what will happen.
And, of course, Pyongyang is saying that this is a satellite launch. Maybe they think that that allows more validation, that they are showing it is peaceful, they are being transparent. But, clearly they're not transparent in everything they do. The nuclear test we had just earlier last month, January 6th, they didn't warn anybody about that. They didn't even warn Bejing, their close allie about that, which they have done in the past.
But, this -- for these satellite launches, they are always very transparent. They do give the exact coordinates, they do explain exactly what is going to happen because you have to bare in mind there are plains in the air. There are boats in the sea. People need to be warned of what exactly is going to happen.
Japanese and South Korean airlines have deviated from certain flight paths. They've altered flight paths to some of their airlines so that they won't be in the way of any possible falling rocket parts.
So, It's really is something that does need to be alerted, and clearly Pyongyang appreciates that.
MANN: Paula Hancocks in Seoul. And, once again, if you're just joining us, Western authorities, the South Korean Defense Ministry, and other sources are confirming that North Korea has launched a rocket. The North says it's carrying a satellite into space. And, apparently, it's path is not considered hostile by the authorities who are watching the rocket at it moves.
But, a satellite? North Korea is said to have one orbiting the Earth. It's not clear what, in fact, it's doing up there. It's not clear what this satellite will be doing up there.
Will Ripley has a look at exactly what North Korea is capable of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're North Korea's brand new satellite control center. This is a facility that the government tells us no foreign media has ever been allowed to visit before.
While sitting in a residential neighborhood, there's little visible security for a facility said by some to be at the heart of North Korea's ballistic missile program.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN KOREAN)
RIPLEY: The satellite control enters director says his team of 300 is working non stop to meet an ambitious goal set by Kim Jong Un who visited the facility to make North Korea a space superpower.
A team of mostly young researchers handpicked from top universities.
RIPLEY: How much pressure are you under to succeed here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN KOREAN)
RIPLEY: We young scientists are working full steam, he says. Day and night with no rest, especially these days.
North Korea claims to be on the verge of what they call a national triumph. Launching rockets and multiple satellites into space. The first, since this launch in 2012.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN KOREAN)
RIPLEY: They say their launch, and satellite technology is improving all the time, but it insists their purpose is peaceful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN KOREAN)
RIPLEY: Our launch is no threat to the U.S., says this 21 year old researched. A claim disputed by some international observers who say a rocket large enough to carry a satellite could also carry a nuclear warhead.
What can you say to the world to prove that this not a ballistic missile program in disguise?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN KOREAN)
RIPLEY: "Why on Earth would we have any intention of trying to drop nuclear bombs on the people of the world, including the United States," says the Director of Scientific Research and Development.
But, just this month, North Korea's own state media said it's full read to use nuclear weapons at anytime, triggering a harsh warning from Washington.
North Korea is already under severe sanctions for its nuclear program, but the cash-strapped country continues investing heavily in it space agency, even as the nation face food and electricity shortages.
Could you take us inside?
While no question is off limit, the control center itself is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN KOREAN)
RIPLEY: I'd love to take you inside, the director says, but if that happens, and we hear the same old stereotypes, foolish western Media propaganda, our young scientists will be angry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN KOREAN)
RIPLEY: Our peaceful launch was not a threat to you yesterday, he says. It's not a threat today, and it won't be a threat tomorrow.
Behind these closed doors, the work continues at a fever pitch, and the scientists here say they'd love to take the world inside, but only when the world stops considering them a threat.
Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: North Korea launches a rocket into space, and the latest word from the U.S. Defense Department is that the launch occurred less than an hour ago, at 33 minutes after the hour. Based on the rocket's trajectory it was determined that it did not pose a threat to the U.S. or our allies.
Most important, perhaps, North Koreans say they are launching a satellite. The launch vehicle, Washington says, appears to have reached space.
We'll be back with more news with after this.
MANN: Welcome back. The United States is calling it destabilizing, and provocative. North Korea's launch of a missile, a rocket, it says, designed to take a satellite into space, but many nations watching are concerned that it's one more step towards North Korea's being able to deliver a weapon thousands of mile -- thousands of kilometers away.
Elise Labott, our global editor affairs correspondent is watching all this unfold. What are you hearing Elise?
LABOTT: Well, John, as we've been reporting, this launch, they've corrected the time. The U.S. believes it started at 7:29 Eastern Time, that would be 9:29 AM in North Korea, and they believe that it has reached -- the U.S. has been saying that it didn't reach the trajectory of this missile was a threat to the U.S and it's allies.
We just heard from national security advisor to President Obama, to Susan Rice, that is calling the launch a serious threat to our interest, including putting some of our closest allies undermining peace and security in the broader region.
Clearly the U.S., and it's allies, asking for an emergency UN. Security Council meeting to discuss this. The Security Council's already been, as you know, discussing a possible response to North Korea's nuclear test just a few worked ago.
But now this law should add to the concern about North Korea's loaner (ph) weapons program, John.
MANN: What more could the United States do to North Korea?
LABOTT: Well, it really is about sanctions, and they could tighten a lot of existing loopholes on the sanctions. Not every country, certainly not the Chinese are enforcing it to the letters. So, they want to see if they can tighten up the loophole. They can add additional individuals and companies that are on the sanctions. And, then they ask to make the decision whether they want to go broader. Do they want to sanction sectors of the North Korean economy?
Whether it's the banking sector, do they want to cut off North Korea's access to foreign currency, along the lines of some of the things that the U.S. and Europe did against Iran, which really was credited with bringing Iran to the table. The difference with Iran is that Iran wanted to be part of the international community. It did do business in international sectors, and so those sanctions really were able to put the noose around Iran's neck and bring it to the table because it was very concerned about delivering on the economy for its people. You know, we know that Kim Jong-un rules North Korea with an iron fist. The economy is in such dire straits, and there's not a lot of signals that he really cares about what the North Korean people think. There clearly aren't elections in Iran (sic), and so the question is how much would these sanctions really work. And that's why there's a lot of talk about whether there needs to be some kind of new, diplomatic initiative to bring North Korea to the table. Because what the Chinese are saying, and was with John Kerry and (sic) Secretary of State in Beijing last week. The Chinese are saying, listen, sanctions can't be imposed for the sake of sanctions. They need to be designed to bring North Korea back to the table. Because they say what North Korea really wants is to talk to the United States.
MANN: Elise Labott on the line for us.
It's just past 10:00 am in Pyongyang where authorities a short time ago launched a rocket into space, they say carrying a satellite. No doubt they're watching closely to see whether the launch was successful or not. We are seeing indications that are at this moment preliminary and a little bit confusing. The Reuters news agency is quoting South Korea's Yonhap news agency as saying that the rocket launch may have failed. We don't know that yet. There are other indications that in Washington they believe that the vehicle did make it into space.
While we wait to figure out exactly what they've put up and whether it succeeded, Phillip Yun of a Ploughshares Fund joins us. They're an organization that focuses on nuclear arms and proliferation. And if proliferation is a problem, if it's a concern, this is not going to be good news, is it?
PHILLIP YUN, PLOUGHSAHRES FUND: Absolutely not. Hi, Jonathan. Yes, it's really bad news. You know, we had the nuclear test earlier this year, and then we have the missile test. These are more indications and a step towards North Korea doing what I think is ultimately its goal, is to have a relatively sophisticated nuclear arsenal of some number. And, given what North Korea is doing, there's always a chance that it's going to cause more pressure on South Korea to get more nuclear, to decide that it wants to go nuclear. Then you have Japan. You know, in this part of the world where there's a lot of tension going on right now, you've got, you know, territorial disputes between various countries, you want to have less nuclear weapons than more. And this is a really bad step.
MANN: North Korea says its intentions are peaceful, and that it was launching a satellite. Is anyone taking them at their word on this?
YUN: Well, I - well, for this particular thing, it was very clear that it was probably a satellite. But the problem is that the technology necessary to put up a satellite for the most part is very similar to what is going to be required to put up a nuclear weapon device. I mean you have to put something, you have to get it off the ground, you have to let it sort of do an orbit, and then come back down again. You know, the missile - the satellite is actually getting it up into orbit and making sure that it can go where you want to. So the technology is basically the same and, you know, so this is just one more step for them to figure out how to have the delivery device. And what we think the nuclear test occurred, occurred earlier this year was perhaps a way for them to miniaturize, which is essentially a way for them to make it small enough to actually mount onto a missile. So these two actions over the last two months are, in terms of potential threat to the United States and our allies, is really bad news.
MANN: How quickly are they making progress? How quickly is thing going to turn into a very, very pressing problem?
YUN: Right now I think that we still have time. I mean, it - this is actually rocket science, so it's going to take a while. I mean the United States, in order to perfect an ICBM, there's something - I think the last number that I read was something like about 20-some launches. North Korea has not done close to those.
[20:05:00] They've done five or six. And so they've still got a ways to go. Bu we know North Korea has been willing to take shortcuts, and so they may be actually - feel more confident that they can do something in a much shorter period of time. The, the good news is that we do have time to work on this. But the bad news is that the current policy, as it exists right now, we're not making any headway at all. And so what North Korea has been able to do was have more missile tests, perfect the technology, as well as its nuclear tests. So both of these ae progressing. And the bottom line is, if we continue with what we're doing, it is just going to be a matter of time. And before we know it in the next 10 years they will have a very sophisticated nuclear weapon and a delivery device, possibly to hit the United States West Coast.
MANN: Phillip Yun of the Ploughshares Fund. Thanks very much.
The United Nations Security Council is being convened, or at least we could say the United States, Japan, and South Korea have requested an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council because of this news that North Korea has launched a rocket it says carrying a satellite into space, a very worrying step for North Korea's neighbors, for the United States, for other Asian nations because North Korea moves with this rocket one step closer to being able to launch a weapon. Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, watching these moments along with us. What are you learning, Paula?
HANCOCKS: Well, Jon, we have some new information from the South Korean Defense Ministry, saying that obviously they have been tracking this rocket. At 9:32 am, so just over an hour ago, they said the first stage of this rocket successfully separated. And then they say four minutes later, 9:36, that the second stage it then disappeared from radar. This was just south of Jeju Island, which is just on the southern coast of South Korea. So they said that they lost it from radar. We don't know what that means at this point. We're trying to get more information from the defense ministry, but clearly they will be looking at this very closely. On the other hand, though, we do have information from Japan as well, from Shinzo Abe. The Prime Minister, on his Twitter feed, saying that they believe the missile, as they called it, fell into four locations. The first, about 150 kilometers west of the Korea in the Yellow Sea; the second and third parts fell in the East China Sea, just the southwest of Korea; then they say the fourth part of this missile fell about 2,000 kilometers south. Now we're trying to get more information on whether or not this means it was a successful launch, whether or not, as we hear, there are reports that it may not have been successful. Bu we also head from the U.S., a senior U.S. Defense official, say that they believe a launch vehicle appears to have reached space. So we're getting some conflicting information at this point. We're trying to pin down whether or not this was a successful satellite launch. Although it's worth bearing in mind that, even if it's not a successful satellite launch, Kim Jong-un scientists will still be learning a lot from this event they've carried out today. Jon.
MANN: How quickly, how much would we expect to learn from North Korea itself? HANCOCKS: To be honest, it's very difficult to say. If it had been
successful, and if it is successful, you would assume that you would have an announcement today. You would assume that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, would want to boast about this, would want to tell his people, and of course, tell the rest of the world what he had done, the fact that he has managed to, to send a second successful satellite into space. Of course back in 2012, they say that one was successful. The U.S. and much of the world believe something was launched into space. It's not clear whether or not it is a working satellite, as Pyongyang claims. But this time, if it is successful, we can expect an announcement fairly soon. It is interesting, in the past whether it was successful or not, the late Kim Jong-il would have said it's successful. His people don't know any different, and there was this bravado and this very carefully choreographed propaganda that, even if the failed, they wouldn't admit to it. Kim Jong-un is slightly different. In April 2012, he admitted that that satellite launch was not successful. Of course, he did have the international media in Pyongyang, who he invited at that point, so it was very difficult to say it was a failure. But I think, if it is a failure, we will hear that from the North Korean leader. There's certainly a precedent in the past that he has said it is not successful. But I would assume we will see something from North Korea, television or the state-run media, KCNA, fairly soon. They actually started broadcasting this morning at about 9:30 am, sort just over an hour ago, a lot earlier than they usually start broadcasting, which may suggest that we'll hear something soon. Jon.
MANN: South Korea is one of three nations at least that are asking for urgent consultations by the U.N. Security Council.
[20:10:03] Beyond that, is there anything the South can do or would do in response to this?
HANCOCKS: Well, they're convening their National Security Council meeting at the moment, so they have, they have the top minds of the, the country. The Presidential Office, the Foreign Ministry, the Unification Ministry, Defense Ministry, they are all meeting, and they will be asking that exact question. At this point, what can they do to show their displeasure, to, to make sure that North Korea faces repercussions. But there is a limit to what they can actually do. Bear in mind, North Korea carried out a nuclear test back on January 6th. It didn't warn anybody, and it is, as everybody has said, against U.N. Security Council resolutions against previous agreements that North Korea has made with the international community. And, yet, they still have not had any U.N. sanctions brought about against it for that, for that event. There is no consensus in the world at this point as to how strong and how strict and how painful those sanctions should be. Washington and Seoul certainly want then to be very comprehensive and very strict. Beijing, one of North Korea's very few allies, doesn't want these strong sanctions. They say it's more important to have further dialogue, and they don't want this - these strangling sanctions to be carried out against North Korea. So there's not even consensus on that particular nuclear event at this point. So I think there's a school of thought here in South Korea that many experts say Pyongyang knew that there was no consensus, they knew that they were in trouble and would face these repercussions for the nuclear test. Why not go ahead and do this rocket test as well, this satellite launch that they have been wanting to do for some time.
MANN: Paula Hancocks in Seoul.
And once again, if you're just joining us, from Seoul to Washington, authorities are trying to take that North Korea has launched a rocket, it is said, to ferry a satellite into space. There are contradictory indications of how successful this launch has been, whether the vehicle actually made it into space or, according to indications from South Korea, that it may have broken apart and landed in the sea.
Chief U.S. Security Correspondent, Jim Scuitto, joins us now from Washington. What are you hearing there?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT CNN: They're still assessing the success of the launch, but the White House with a strong condemnation of this thing a short time ago, calling it destabilizing, provocative, and a flagrant violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. The fact is they saw that this was coming. U.S. satellite imagery had shown in recent days that the final stages of fueling had taken place. So they knew that preparations were underway. And, and this is, Jonathan, this is a disturbing result to watch. And when you couple this with the nuclear test earlier in January where they seem to have made at least some progress, or some step, in terms of not quite a full hydrogen bomb, but increasing the yield of an atomic bomb, which is alarming enough, and now you have a test that, if it is confirmed of gotten into space, would then show that they've made progress in terms of developing an ICBM. The remaining question is have they successfully miniaturized a nuclear device so that you can put it on top of a missile like that? We don't know that yet, but they are steps forward in a very short time span. And really, no matter how you slice that, those are, at a minimum, disturbing developments.
MANN: Now this has already become grist for the U.S. presidential campaign, the Republican U.S. candidate Ted Cruz is being quoted as calling for an expanded missile defense system. For the moment, let's leave Ted Cruz aside, are the nations around South Korea or, if the United States is now within South Korean - or rather, the nations around North Korea, and if the United States is within North Korean range able to defend themselves from missiles like this?
SCIUTTO: This has been, this has been in issue even between U.S. and its ally, South Korea. The U.S. has a system called the THAAD, which is a missile defense system currently placed in Guam, to defend the U.S., but also Japan. South Korea has wanted that technology on its soil, and it's something that's under discussion, hasn't been decided. Something like this might push that discussion forward. It's possible. You know, the thing is these things have been - they've had successful tests. Do you know how they would operate in a surprise scenario? You don't know for sure. The progress in terms of missile defense, it's been, it's been deliberate, it's moved forward. But, again, you don't know until the real world scenario happens. So there is some coverage, the question is how much. And then it becomes a question of how closely you deploy these assets in North (sic) Korea.
[20:15:00] One of the principal hesitations at this point has been you put it there, does it provoke North Korea? But also, China would not be happy because it becomes an issue with China's nuclear deterrent. And, you know, these are all parts of the calculation. But a test like this, it's possible that it moves that decision forward.
MANN: Well, short of military measures, there might be diplomatic measures that are possible. And a short time ago we spoke with the former U.S. Ambassador to Seoul, Christopher Hill, who didn't hide his impatience. He suggested that the Obama administration really is not doing nearly enough to try and put an end to this kind of program, and he suggested that the policy of - I think he - the phrase is strategic patience is not paying off. It's wasting valuable time.
SCIUTTO: Well, that's the things. Sanctions, you know, people back home listen to this [and] say, well, sanctions, what are sanctions going to do? The thing is in the past particular kinds of sanctions have had enormous success against North Korea, one in particular. This is several years ago where they went after their banking operations. They had used Macau, which really squeezed the senior leadership of North Korea, because they weren't able to access international financial markets, not only for weapon technology, but even for (luxuries). Things like that really hit him where it counts, so to speak. So you have options like that that you can move forward on, independent of China. But, really, China has the most economic leverage over North Korea, not just in terms of sanctions, but in terms of subsidies - food, fuel, oil, et cetera. But Chinas has been reluctant to use those levers, as it were, to the fullest because, one, China's worried about stability there and, when it comes to strategic interests, yes, China does not like a nuclearized North Korea, but it chooses a nuclear North Korea over a unified North Korea - a unified Korean peninsula, rather, which would put a U.S. ally right on its border. And that's something that is judged to be, you know, it's the lesser of two evils, in effect, is the nuclearized North Korea.
MANN: Jim Sciutto, on the line with us. Thanks very much.
And a moment ago I said - excuse me - I mentioned that this had become grist for the American presidential campaign. In fact, another candidate, Republican Marco Rubio says North Korea should be returned to the list of terrorist nations. (Siang Yang), of course, insists it is not a terrorist nation. It says its space program is entirely peaceful, and that it is launching a satellite for peaceful purposes. This isn't the first time, though, that North Korea has announced it was sending a rocket into space. Paula Hancocks now reporting on the history of North Korea's program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANCOCKS: This is 1998, mission failed. April 2009, a provocative act says the U.S. April 2012, the rocket broke up one minute into flight. And December 2012. Four attempts by North Korea to launch a satellite into space. Only this one considered a success outside the country. North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un clearly delighted, claiming the satellite did reach orbit and is working. A space program North Korea has pumped billions of dollars into over the years, but why? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For weather forecasting, telecommunications,
broadcasting, science, agriculture, mapping, all of those things. So there is a legitimate interest. However, there's also - there're also military applications.
HANCOCKS: The rocket technology used is pretty much the same, whether you put a satellite on top or a nuclear warhead, which is why most of the world is convinced this is simply a cover-up for a long-range ballistic missile test. These launches put militaries on alert. Japan stations Patriot missiles outside its Defense Ministry. Navies rush to retrieve debris from the rocket, to assess the North's capabilities. Governments line up to condemn Pyongyang, passing new sanctions and reminding them of previous U.N. Security Council resolutions that bar them from developing ballistic missile technologies. Showing CNN its new satellite-controlled center last year, scientists say that claims of missile tests are wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATED): My young scientists are really working hard, (inaudible) says, so they can develop a satellite. The U.S. and some Western forces are stabbing in the heart with these claims.
HANCOCKS: But a satellite launch coming just weeks after a fourth nuclear test raises already heightened concerns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need two pieces to their nuclear deterrent. They need the sort of weapon itself, and then they need the delivery system. They need a way to make people feel like we can hit you with this.
HANCOCKS: With each satellite launch North Korea is improving its capabilities, and that's clearly more important to Kim Jong-un than paying attention to international pressure. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: And once again, if you're just joining us, in the United States leaders and political candidates are responding to the news that North Korea has launched a long-range missile, a rocket, with it say a satellite onboard. As we mentioned, Ted Cruz is calling for a missile defense system to be expanded. Marco Rubio is calling for North Korea to be placed on the list of terrorist nations. Now Donald Trump weighs in on the North Korean rocket launch. He says quote, let China solve that problem. We'll be back with more after this.
MANN: Welcome back. It may be in space or parts of it may be in the Yellow Sea. What we know now is only that North Korea has launched a rocket ferrying, it says, a satellite into space. What happened after that is still being studied in Seoul and Washington, among other capitals. The United Nations Security Council is being summoned into session on Sunday, an unusual meeting, to consider this launch and what further steps the United Nations member states may take against North Korea, an isolated regime already subject to very, very pressing international sanctions. The rocket, it seems, was no immediate threat to any of North Korea's neighbors. Both the Pentagon and South Korea officials say it headed essentially where they expected. What's still unclear though is whether it ultimately made it into space, or simply into the waters near North Korea.
While we wait to learn that, let's go to our Global Affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. What are you learning?
LABOTT: Well, we're just hearing from Secretary of State, John Kerry, joining National Security Adviser Susan Rice in condemning the launch, and also saying that the U.S. has this iron-clad commitment to the defense of its allies, South Korea and Japan. But also, you know, pushing for accountability for North Korea, really calling on the U.N. Security Council to pass a significant resolution condemning, not just the launch, but the nuclear test that North Korea held just a few weeks ago. A second time in just over a month North Korea has chosen, Secretary of State Kerry said, to conduct a major provocation, not only threatening the security of the Korean Peninsula, but that of the region and the United States. Jon, I was just in Beijing last week with Secretary Kerry, very tough meetings with the Chinese. For the U.S. part, it seems that the Chinese have not done enough, even signing on quick enough to a tough resolution imposing new sanctions against North Korea, holding it accountable for the nuclear test. But not, but also not putting its own pressure as North Korea's neighbor, closest ally, largest benefactor, putting the pressure on the North Korean regime to stop this nuclear activity that's threatening - it says it's threatening to China as well. For the Chinese part, it's saying, listen, sanctions can't be imposed for sanctions sake.
[20:25:00] The goal should be to bring North Korea back to the table, and that's what China wants to do. It says North Korea really just wants to talk to the United States, and it's not China that has the influence. They say that the U.S. has the influence by bringing North Korea back to the table. Some very tense meetings between the U.S. and China last week, Jon.
MANN: Elise Labott on the line. Let's turn now to Han Park, author of "North Korea Demystified," and a Professor of International Relations at the University of Georgia. Professor, thanks so much for being with us. What do you make of this news?
HAN S. PARK, AUTHOR, "NORTH KOREA DEMYSTIFIED," PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: Everything that you expected. North Korea has never failed not to implement what it has said it would do. So after the fourth test now, this chillingly satellite, but same technology as the long-range missile. So the world is concerned. But we can't do anything, anything more by way of giving sanctions. But I think it's like a broken record. The same thing. North Korea is doing the same thing. The international community cannot do anything more than rhetoric. So I think they'll do the same thing. I don't think the world will change. (inaudible)
MANN: Well, let me stop you there, Professor. You say you don't think the world will change. What seems to be changing is North Korea incrementally is getting more and more proficient at building nuclear devices and at building rockets.
MANN: How soon is this threat going to turn into something the world really has to face in an immediate way?
PARK: Yeah, I think the world it's not unaware of that. North Korea has meant to develop weapons of this nature, especially with long- range missiles and, and target far away, maybe ICBM. So I think that unless we do something drastically different, the same kind of rhetor - rhetorical sanctions under the pretext of strategic patience will not work. So, so North Korea will eventually, in the short term, acquire missiles technology and maybe warheads that can fly far away. So in the process, the military-industrial complex will make a lot of money and that South Korea too.
MANN: Han Park, forgive me, we're going to cut you off. Just let our viewers know once again what we're talking about. North Korea has launched a rocket into space. It may be carrying a satellite, but with it as well hopes for North Korea to become a nuclearized nation. We'll be back with more news after this.