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North Korea with a failed missile launch just hours before U.S. vice president Mike Pence arrives in South Korea; Aired 7:00-8:00p ET
Aired April 15, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:08] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
First breaking news. South Korea's news agency now reporting an attempted missile launch by North Korea failed. This news comes after North Korea put the world on notice by flaunting what could be brand- new missiles to the streets of Pyongyang.
CNN was there on the ground during this massive milt parade that included two canisters big enough to hold intercontinental ballistic missile, the type of missile capable of reaching the United States. Now, this is the first time Pyongyang has ever shown off canisters of this size or we could just be looking at empty shells. We just don't know. But the threat could not come at a more critical time. North Korea vowing a merciless response if provoked by the U.S.
Now, as we await the arrival of vice president Mike Pence on the Korean peninsula, he lands in Seoul just hours from now. President Trump also getting updates on North Korea's action as he spends the Easter weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
We have live team coverage including reporting in Pyongyang and Seoul as well as a team of analysts standing by.
I want to begin with CNN's Paula Hancocks in Seoul.
Paula, fill us in on this breaking news.
PAUL HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Ana, what we have at this point is from a defense ministry official here in South Korean saying a projectile was fired this morning, Sunday morning local time, and it appears to have failed. Now, there aren't many more details beyond that, obviously. Intelligence agencies and the military trying to track exactly what kind of projectile this was.
But we do note that it was fired from the area of Shinpo. This is a port city on the east coast of Korea. And this is where we saw that missile launch back on April 6th as well, just before the Chinese leader Xi Jinping was going to meet President Trump.
We also know that this is an area where they have been trying to perfect their submarine launched missiles in the past recent months. So certainly a very busy area for North Korea. But according to the South Korean defense ministry official, it did fail. So we are waiting to hear more information about what kind of missile it was. But obviously, a very interesting timing, just one day after a day after -- that very important date in North Korea, where we saw the massive military parade. So, of course, analysts will be wanting to know which of those missiles they just tried to fire - Ana.
CABRERA: Again, this is breaking news. We are learning about this just in the last few minutes. I want to turn to Will Ripley who is live in North Korea for us.
Will, are you learning anymore about this apparent missile test that we are -- have been told failed?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No confirmation on the ground here in Pyongyang, Ana, at this point. And frankly, we may not hear anything about it. North Korea often announces successful missile tests in their state media a very celebratory tone. If the missile test is a failure, North Koreans will likely never hear about it.
North Korea doesn't routinely report their military operations unless there's a propaganda benefit for it. And in this case, given the fact that this launch was reportedly a failure just one day after North Korea's most important holiday, it is not something that they would want to draw attention to.
A lot of people were expecting a nuclear test on Saturday because the satellite imagery has shown that the fungi (ph) reading here in test site is primed and ready. This is according to the think tank 30- north. Intelligence officials for the U.S. and South Korea and people possibly thought that in the lead-up to this major holiday, Kim-Jong- Un might pushed the button on that nuclear tests. He did do that. But wash he did was show force by parading more missiles in a North Korean military parade than ever seen before.
These, according to the analyst are most likely mockups. But that doesn't mean that North Korea doesn't possess actual versions on these missiles. Analysts say mockups are often used in military parades in countries around the world. And purely for safety reasons. You won't want to have an actual, you know, nuclear warhead sitting in close proximity to your nation's leader and hundreds of thousands of (INAUDIBLE).
But people who might, you know, dismiss these as, you know, cardboard or you know, fake missiles would not be giving them the North Koreans credit for the progress, the really rapid frantic progress that they have made in developing their missile systems and nuclear program over the last few years. Even if this launch this morning, if it is confirmed to be a failure and we may not know what kind of missile they were intending to launch, even these failures, Ana, give the North Koreas valuable intelligence that they use. And they have shown under Kim-Jong-Un that they will keep trying.
He has launched more missiles over the last few years of his ruling. He has been in power for five years. Launched more missiles than his father and his grandfather combines. He has order three nuclear tests out of the country's five that they have conducted over the last decade and indications are really the next nuclear test could come at any moment. So they are all in, pushing forward. And I can tell you that a failure like this would not deter them from continuing this provocative acts.
And to show that they launched the missile, in spite of the fact the U.S. has called in strike group is off the grin peninsula, it clearly shows that these attempt by the U.S. to show force and deter Kim-Jong- Un from doing this may not be working. In fact, North Korean officials told me that there was a Special Forces operations just last week. Commandos is jumping out of airplanes. And for the first time, we were told that was in direct response to tweets from President Trump about North Korea -- Ana.
[19:05:47] CABRERA: Right. Will Ripley, Paula Hancocks, standby. I want to bring in my panel right now. CNN military analyst and retired army lieutenant general Mark Hertling, CNN intelligence and security analyst and former CIA operative Bob Baer and Jonathan Cristol, a fellow at the World Policy Institute.
First to you, Jonathan. I am curious to get your reaction to what we are hearing now on this breaking news. Of course, it has not been confirmed in North Korea. South Korea has confirmed this test that they are calling a failure, but Will Ripley just reporting that North Koreans may never hear about this test if it was indeed a failure.
JONATHAN CRISTOL, WORLD POLICY INSTITUTE FELLOW: Well, it seems that a tradition of birthday weekend that we have there in the U.S. They also have I North Korea. I mean, well, right now, we are in - tomorrow morning there. And I think there may have been what we thought is a moment but maybe the parade was it. Maybe the large canisters was what the show was that they had called the international media to. But it turns out, that as expected, they conducted a missile test.
We don't know yet what type of missile it was. We do know that it failed. And I think that is a good sign and it could be part of the ongoing U.S. campaign to disrupt their missile launches using cyberattacks and other covert methods. And so I see it certainly this never a positive when North Korea does a missile test, but it was expected and it failed. And so to me, that's good news.
CABRERA: And so I think the next question, Bob, is, what is the reaction, if anything, by the U.S.? What would you expect?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: At this point I think the United States is waiting for another nuclear test to really make a decision what they are going to do. The problem is for Washington, North Korea remains a cypher. We have no idea what the leadership is thinking about. We can follow their nuclear test preparations with overhead telemetry for their rockets. But as for the decision making and the leadership, it's a tough one. What we see in the public is what we know. And that's what the Trump administration is waiting for, to see if they go this nuclear test. And at that point, I don't see North Korea backing down. I mean, they have looked at the world completely different from the way we do.
CABRERA: There has been such a ramp-up in recent days. I'm curious, General Hertling, how you see this latest development, if this was a test that failed, if it was some kind of ballistic missile. Again, we are waiting to get word on that. But if they fail, does that deescalate some of the tensions that might have seemed like they were at a boil point?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. Not at all, Ana. I would suggest that it actually does part the opposite. Think about this for a second. We have been in a little bit of a razor's edge. North Korea has been warned not to do this. They have seen the bluster by Mr. Trump, by President Trump. They have been warned not to do this in many Chinese newspapers. There were couple of editorials yesterday. And several of the Chinese, they have sponsored newspapers suggesting that North Korea better be very careful about provocative actions. They have held this big parade today which frankly was quite impressive. It's the best one they have had on, the day of the sun as they called Kim Il-sun's birthday anniversary.
And with all of that, they could have just said, OK, we have had a great parade. We know we are getting pressure from both the U.S. and from China. We will call it a day, but they didn't. The very next day, they attempt -- if reports are true, they attempt to launch a missile. That is really an in-your-face action. There have been reported analysis of the sites that (INAUDIBLE) saying they are preparing as Will Ripley said, for a nuclear testing again.
They are not backing down. They have not been concerned about what's being said about China or the United States. This gives an indication, a good indication of what KJU is attempting to do. He wants to maintain the dynasty, he Kim Dynasty, and continue to threaten others and has a lot of support from his population to do that.
CABRERA: Will, you were there during these parade shows we've been watching on the video. Talk to us about what you witnessed firsthand. What exactly did they roll out and how concerning should it be?
[19:10:15] RIPLEY: Well, it certainly is an ominous sight -- they actually appear larger in person, everything from scud missiles to the submarine launch ballistic missiles that we saw tested last year and perfected to the land-based, you know, missiles that can be launched from a mobile launcher. And then at the end of the missile display were the very large missiles that I have never seen before, they weren't in any of our research materials that we were looking over trying to identify missiles prior to this. These were brand-new kinds of ICBMs. We are not sure how long North Korea is in developing these. Most people believe North Korea doesn't have a workable, ICBM capable of reaching the mainland U.S. But clearly, they have some a design that they are moving very quickly, as quickly as they can to develop.
And they have some very smart rocket scientists in this country. Don't underestimate the talent of the people who are being educated near North Korea. Scientific minds get the best housing. They get free vacations at luxury resorts in this country. They are lots of perks for people to succeed in areas of scientific missile development. And when there is a success -- when there's a failure, I don't think they are punished but they are encouraged to work around the clock until there is success. And when you ask people on the ground about this the about the
isolation and about the economic hardship their country endures, the fact that North Korea spends nearly 16 percent of its limited budget on the military, people say it's justified. You try to wrap your head around that. Why do people continue to just rally behind a leader who is developing weapons of mass destruction that are causing their country economic hardship and isolation?
I think back to 9/11 when the United States rallied around the president after the attack. You know, the country was under siege and almost universally, people were behind the president during that moment. Well, now imagine for the last, you know, 70 years or 60 years people have felt like they're under attack. Their government has told them that they are under the imminent threats of a nuclear attack. They believe that the U.S. could drop a nuclear bomb here like they did in Japan in 1945. That's what their propaganda has told them from the moment they are born throughout their whole lives.
And so, people rally around the leader because they think the only reason they haven't been the victims of a nuclear attack or an invasion, an occupation like Japan occupied the Korean peninsula for so many years before World War II. They credit the Kim family for doing that. That's the image and the bland that these three leaders have built up in this country ever since the end of the Korean War. And that is how they have such a tight grip on power. That's what is all of the circumstances surrounding them and just this image and constant propaganda and isolation from outside media and outside influence.
CRISTOL: And if you think that -- nuclear weapons is the only thing keeping you in power. And that is keeping your country together, then why on earth would you ever negotiate them away? Would you ever negotiate them away? And that's what one of the things that makes this problem so difficult. The North Koreans have a history of bad faith negotiation about their nuclear program, but how could the western countries or South Korea and the west trust North Korea and why would they give them up? What possible incentive could there be? That's I think part of what makes the situation so tense and so dangerous.
CABRERA: Well, we have seen over the last couple of decades when North Korea has agreed to give it up, they really haven't done anything.
CABRERA: I mean, they have gotten some kind of benefits in return for an agreement that they have never kept.
I want to ask you, Bob Bear, about the timing of this latest missile test. Apparently, you know, it didn't happen on the day of the sun, as it is now the next day in North Korea. But it does come as the vice president of the U.S. is in route to South Korea, expected to land there some time in the next five or six hours. What do you make of that? BAER: Well, first of all, I agree that they look at the world as it's
a question of survival for them. They can't give up their nuclear weapons. They look at Saddam Hussein who didn't have them when he died accordingly. And I think what their real message is when they are firing these missiles nuclear tests, it is an invitation, you know, not a very subtle one, come talk to us. Don't talk to the Chinese, don't talk to South Koreans. We want to reopen negotiations. We are a nuclear power. We are not going away and you have to accept this as we are. If not, we are going to continue at this. So the North Koreans are just going to continue, as everybody said on the panel said the way they are and they are going to get better at making missiles and nuclear war heads. That's the only certainty in this whole situation.
[19:15:13] CABRERA: What was the -- go ahead, Mark.
HERTLING: If I can add, too, you know, we are talking about Mr. Pens, vice president Pence showing up in South Korea. That's one thing. But the other thing that the North Koreans are thumbing their nose at is they have (INAUDIBLE) as a movement of what estimated to be three Chinese divisions to their northern boundaries as well. There are open source reports of that. So they are not only suggesting this is something they are going to threaten the vice president of the United States with this as he lands in Seoul, but they are countering the individuals that we think can reign them in and that's the Chinese. The Chinese are threatening them as well. So you can tell how very extreme and dedicated this regime is to making sure they defend themselves.
CABRERA: Well, that is really interesting when you point that out. Because we do know that China has been turning away the coal imports that were coming from North Korea. That's been happening since about February.
We also know that China canceled some flights to North Korea in the last couple of days. They say they just didn't sell enough tickets to make those flights worthy. And they have threatened North Korea to report - excuse me, they have threaten North Korea to basically stop the oil import/exports. And that exchange there which is crucial for the North Korean economy. So as you point out, they are launching ballistic missiles kind of thumbing their -- putting their nose in the air, not just the U.S. but China.
What are the expectations, Paula, of the vice president Pence's visit there in South Korea?
HANCOCKS: Well, Ana, what South Koreans want to hear is that the United States is firmly behind the alliance, is firmly prepared to fight alongside South Korea. That's all officials here want to hear. It's what they heard from the U.S. secretary of state, from James Mattis as well, the defense secretary. And that's what they want to hear from the vice president.
I mean, it's worth mentioning, it's also a tricky time here in South Korea. There's no official president here. There's an acting president. The former president was impeached and has been detained for a corruption scandal. And so actually, the officials that the vice president Pence will be meeting won't even be in power in the next few weeks because there's going to be a presidential election. So it is a tricky time to be able to sort of coordinate a concerted effort against North Korea or a concerted reaction to North Korea. But what people here want is to know that the U.S. is behind them.
And also worth mentioning, for most people on the streets, if you walk out on the streets of Seoul, you would have no idea this is happening. People here have dealt we will this threat for decades. The threat of war, of conflict is constant here in South Korea. But it's also quite distant. No one here truly believes there that will be a potential preemptive strike from the United States or that there could be a second Korean war. So certainly from unofficial is going to be on the streets, it is business as usual - Ana.
CABRERA: Everybody, stand by. We have got much more to discuss. But we have got to squeeze in a quick break.
Much more on this breaking news as we are in North Korea, we are in South Korea and we have our experts here to talk about more about the latest development now from the Korean peninsula, the regime of North Korea, apparently doing an attempt of a test of a missile of some kind that all reports tell us have failed. We will continue to get more details on that and discuss what this means moving forward.
Stay with us. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:22:53] CABRERA: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Returning now to our breaking news, North Korea with a failed missile launch just hours before U.S. vice president Mike Pence arrives in South Korea. A stunning development this week. And I want to go CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She is in West Palm Beach near the president's private resort where he is travelling with others this weekend.
What are you hearing? Any response yet to this latest development, Suzanne?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we are told that we are expecting a paper response from the White House very shortly, an official response from the White House. We are not expecting, our guide says not expecting to see President Trump address this on camera or in person this evening. So we are told that we are going to get some sort of written statement momentarily. So we are just simply waiting for that to come through on our cell phones, our emails to get the official word here.
But of course this is something they have been anticipating. They have been waiting for. They are fully equipped to respond to this. This is not what they were expecting. They were actually expecting the potential launch of a nuclear missile, a nuclear test. We still don't really have full details about exactly what was launched. So we will hear more about that I'm sure in the statement that they are going to releasing shortly.
But the president has been at his resort for the last 48 hours. And he has with him his deputy national security advisory K.T. McFarland who has been giving him updates on what is going on regarding North Korea, about the parade that had occurred, the national holiday that had passed without any type of test. And certainly the president now aware that some sort of test has been conducted by the North Koreans.
Ana, you know as well as others that they have been preparing in the region for some sort after aggressive move by North Korea. The USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier and the strike growth in the region prepared for any type of aggressive move.
And then also we have heard from the president recently, over the last week or so, he has met with the Japanese leader as well as president of China, what he has said -- and some of them are conflicting statements, honestly -- but what he has said is gentlemen he has confidence in the Chinese leader that he will get tough on North Korea. He has also revealed in various interviews that he is willing to dangle some carrots as well, saying that he will make a trade deal that is favorable to China to push harder on North Korea. And then he has also tweeted saying that look, if China's not going to do the job in pushing North Korea to cooperate, to make sure they don't have nuclear weapons, that the U.S. will go along and do it by itself.
So there are many different kind of signals that the White House has already discussed over the course of the last couple of weeks. What is important also as you know, is that the president vice president is on his way to South Korea. He left from Hawaii just a couple of hours ago. We are told he is going to be arriving, this is 2: 55 p.m. eastern standard time tomorrow. So he will be on the ground in Seoul tomorrow. And he has a message for the South Korean leadership, the acting president in who he will be meeting on the ground there talking about the very important U.S. alliance with South Korea that they will be consulted on a regular basis. He will also talk about the potential of additional sanctions against North Korea, whether or not that would be something that's effective, and the cooperation that the U.S. has committed to with its allies, with Japan, with Indonesia, with China as well - Ana.
[19:26:27] CABRERA: Suzanne, what do you know about the timing of the vice president's trip to the region? This wasn't something that just popped up this week, right?
MALVEUAX: No, it was not. It was something that was previously scheduled. It was something that they felt was very important. The vice president does not have any personal relationships with the leaders of that region. They thought it was important for him to look eye to eye with those folks and to deliver this message very directly and also to back up what the president hack has been saying. There have been a lot of conflicting messages from the administration, quite frankly, and it was important for him to make it known that we have economic interests, those economic interests are very important, despite the fact that the trade deal - the joint trade deal was ripped up, that these are kinds of relationships that they still want economic as well as national security interest addressed. CABRERA: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, reporting from West Palm Beach
traveling with the president in Florida this weekend. Thank you.
Stay with us. We are watching some breaking news tonight. North Korea with a failed missile launch just hours before vice president Mike Pence arrives in South Korea. We will have much more on this ahead here on the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:31:53] CABRERA: We are following breaking news right now. North Korea apparently attempting to do another ballistic missile test of some sort. We have very few details at the moment. But what we have confirmed from South Korea is that this test failed.
I want to bring in right now Barbara Starr joining us on the phone with some new information.
Barbara, what can you tell us?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Good evening, Ana. The U.S. pacific command in Hawaii has now issued a statement saying that it detected and tracked what they say is a failed, failed North Korean missile launch at about 5:21 eastern time here in the United States.
The missile launch came out of an area along North Korea's eastern coast line, along the (INAUDIBLE), a place called Shinpo. That's significant because that's the place where they last several days ago also attempted a missile launch and it failed as well. Shinpo is a military area for the North Koreans.
What the U.S. pacific command is saying is that they are not yet sure. They are assessing what kind of missile it might have been. The exact kind, they know it failed almost immediately, not clear if it even made it off the launcher before exploding. So now, North Korea has had two in a row failed launches out of this area called Shinpo, which is also the location of their submarine base. So it's a signal center, but obviously, they are having a little trouble because they have had two failed ones now.
We are expecting further information from the U.S. military as they look at the satellite data that they collect as they try and determine exactly what kind of missile the North Koreans tried and failed to fire - Ana.
CABRERA: So Barbara, just to make sure I'm understanding and our viewers are understanding this correctly, was this expected to have been a test launch or something more serious?
STARR: Well, at the moment, you know, I think it is fair to say that this is -- it's technically a test program by the North Koreans to test their missiles by firing them. They don't necessarily have warheads on them that we know of. They are not meant to attack per se. But what several of their last launches into the east sea have fallen a lot closer to the Japanese coastline than anybody wants to be comfortable with. So you know, a terrorist can very, very quickly become a real world threat. And that is why the U.S. military, the Japanese self-defense forces are keeping instability the Korean's attempt forces all keeping an anti-missile capability ready in that region.
There's patriot missile in South Korea that could shoot down an incoming missile if it came their way as or not. The Japanese generally have a ship at sea that could shoot down a missile. The U.S. Navy out of the pacific command have a lot of ships at sea in the western pacific for just that consistency. And it's because the North Koreans are so unpredictable at this point.
[19:35:34] CABRERA: Right.
STARR: We just, you know, we just all saw that footage of their parade. And they are showing canisters for intercontinental ballistic missiles that if that is real and they really have those missiles and they really were could theoretically hit the United States.
So everyone in the region and the U.S. is taking this test program very, very seriously. Every test is very much monitors in real time by U.S. military intelligence and they look at it almost instantaneously with the radars, the ships and the anti-missile defense they have in the region to determine, is it a threat and do we have to shoot it down. So far that hasn't happened.
The North Koreans still a very spotty record on successful versus failed launches, but pardon me, there have been launches that have come within miles of the Japanese coastline. That's a big problem.
CABRERA: Absolutely. It's a serious situation, obviously, in light of the recent heightened rhetoric.
Thank you so much, Barbara Starr, for that latest information.
Again, now, the U.S. confirming North Korea has attempted to do a missile. That has failed. We will have much more on this breaking news straight ahead. Stay with us.
[19:41:01] CABRERA: We are following breaking news out of the North Korea area.
Right now, U.S. pacific command confirming it has detected and tracked a failed North Korean missile launch. This happening just within the last couple of hours. And as we have just seen, their big parade where they had a show of some of the different missile technology that they have been developing.
I want to go straight to Will Ripley who is live in Pyongyang for us this evening, is of course, morning the next day there in North Korea.
Will, do you get a sense that there is any fear in North Korea, any kind of retaliation for the continued development of their nuclear weapon program? RIPLEY: Certainly, when we ask people on the streets here on
Pyongyang, they say they are not afraid of retaliation by the United States as a result of nuclear testing, missile testing on the part of their country and its leader Kim-Jong-Un. But of course, the answers that we get to our questions are shaped by the fact that this is an authoritarian country. Political decent is not tolerated. In fact, it can be severely punish for it.
And so - and at the same time, you have this propaganda really hammering in this message that North Korea could any moment be the victim of an attack from United States. If the U.S. could drop a nuclear bomb of rain bombs down in people's homes here in Pyongyang or other cities in North Korea. And people really believe this, or they say they do, because that's what you say publicly when you live here.
And so no. People say they are not afraid. And in fact, you have a civilian population where most of the men were conscripts who served up to ten years in the North Korean military. And so, you talk to guys who might be an office worker on the street and they say they would gladly, you know, tomorrow leave their jobs, put on their uniforms again and called on to fight. They say that is what the U.S. really underestimates, they say. And the people here in North Korea, you have a civilian population and a lot of military training. They have a very large standing army as it is. And don't forget also, if North Korea feels cornered, even if they don't have a viable nuclear weapon or an ICBM at this point, they have a lot of artillery pointed right at city Seoul, South Korea, with millions, tens of millions of people just 30 miles south of the DMZ.
CABRERA: And so, let's head to South Korea. And our Paul Hancocks who is live there standing by.
Paula, you were first to break this news about this failed missile launch. We have learned that this happened in the port city of Shinpo and that this is the location of previous missile tests or missile launches that they have done that have also been unsuccessful, right?
HANCOCKS: Well, that's right. We had one, Ana, just at the beginning of this month, in fact, just before the Chinese president Xi Jinping was meeting with President Trump and that was seen as a message from North Korea.
We also know that this is an area where many of the submarine launched ballistic missile tests have taken place. There is a submarine base in this area just on the east coast. And certainly from that point of view, we have seen a flurry of activity from this area as North Korea has been trying to nail down its submarine launch ballistic missile technology. I mean, if you just look at what has happened since the beginning of last year, for example, we have around three dozen missile launches. We have two nuclear tests in just one year. I mean, I have been covering North Korea for many years and never have I seen this kind of intensity of testing of both nuclear and missile - Ana.
CABRERA: And when I look back, too, just since February, we have seen this will be the fifth launch of some kind of ballistic missile. We have some new information that we are just getting in. And a senior administration official telling us President Trump has been briefed in this failed North Korean missile launch. And statement is expected soon from the White House.
We have, of course, have our Suzann Malveaux standing by in Florida near Mar-a-Lago resort. So we are going to be ready for that as soon as the President has some kind of statement to release. And we will bring that to all of you at home.
Will and Paula, our thanks to both of you.
We need to squeeze in another quick break. Our continued coverage of the breaking news from North Korean, a failed missile launch just happening in North Korea
We are back in just a moment.
[19:49:33] CABRERA: We are following breaking news, South Korea's news agency and U.S. officials now confirming that an attempted missile launch by North Korea failed. And another new development, a senior U.S. official said the status of the North Korean underground nuclear test program as of tonight still remains unchanged and they say the regime still could conduct a test at any time, talking about a nuclear test. Now again, a failed missile launch that we now know has just taken place in North Korea.
Meantime, we were there less than 24 hours ago during this massive military parade that included two canisters that you are watching on your screen. These canisters are big enough to hold intercontinental ballistic missiles. That's the type of missile capable of reaching the United States.
Now this is the first time Pyongyang has ever shown off canisters this size. And we could just be looking at empty shelves, we just don't know.
Let's talk more about this with CNN political commentator "New York Times" opinion columnist Charles Blow and the former lieutenant governor of North Carolina, Andre Bauer, a Republican.
Charles, to you first. I know you wrote a column just this week in which you say Trump is full of pride, obsessed with strong man persona, an absent of historical and geopolitical perspective. This is the worst possible situation. The man who could bring us into military engagement is woefully deficient in intellectual engagement.
So, Charles, when you hear about this latest development, are you worried about how the administration might respond?
[19:51:04] CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what concerns me more is that we don't seem to have an articulated strategy for dealing with any of the hot spots, geopolitical hot spots, whether they be Korea, whether they be Syria. I mean, the idea of just flexing muscle is not necessarily a political strategy. And what, you know, this administration is running into is the same thing the last administration ran into which is the fact these are very, very difficult things, situations, to contain or to control. And we keep kind of, you know, the war hawks keep beating the drums as if capacity is the same as proclivity.
The idea that any nuclear statement -- what history teaches us is when states, even when they become nuclear, not that we want any more nuclear proliferation, but even when states become nuclear, they are not necessarily inclined to exercise that nuclear threat. But we keep saying this would make them be capable of doing something. That's not what history suggests that people -- the states that become nuclear do because they are also interested in longevity and survival. And any state knows that were they ever to use a nuclear weapon against someone else, they would be wiped off the face of the planet.
North Korea knows this as well as we do, but we keep allowing people to beat the drums of war and pretend that this capacity means proclivity and that is not what we know at this point.
CABRERA: Andre, do you share Charles' concerns?
ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oddly enough, a lot of what Charles said I agree with. I will respectfully disagree with one thing he said is an articulated strategy.
Look. President Trump said he wasn't going to continue to give his strategy out to everybody else throughout the world. And I think you saw a very good strategy, didn't tell anybody. We heard President Obama put a line in the sand but when the president thought action needed to be taken, by the way, he just happened to do it when he was having dinner with the president of China and let the message be known. He took care of two problems. Have another piece of cake and, by the way, we are dropping 59 missiles right now and you need to do something about North Korea. And what did they do? They immediately did something about it. They sent troops there, and they handled part of what could be our problem. You now see China reacting which is very progressive. He had a very good night that night.
CABRERA: Charles, is there any benefit to having a president who is unpredictable and may be flexible, as he likes to put it?
BLOW: Well, this is a problem just as an American citizen. Every time we use military action, every time we drop a bomb, every American taxpayer's name is etched on that weapon because our money goes into paying for this incredibly, this enormous military apparatus, right. The idea that you want to keep the American people in the dark is I find outrageous. The idea that the president of China would know about the military strike in Syria before some members of Congress I find to be outrageous. The idea that the concept of flexibility and enigma means the American people and American representatives of those people in Congress don't even know what your plans are or what your actions in that case are, I find to be outrageous.
CABRERA: Let me get Andre in to respond to that. Do you, again, agree and how important is it to you, Andre, to have a better, clearer vision of what the Trump doctrine is? BAUER: Again, I agree with Mr. Blow on several points. He is a very
First thing is, as the taxpayer, I don't want to be a globalist. I like that Donald Trump did push America first, but as Americans we want to make sure we're safe. And so there are times when the president is going to have more information than I have and quite frankly most of the American public. And there are times we have to trust our president, whomever, whatever party it should be, to make America and the world safe so that those folks aren't coming back to our country. And so he decided this was a strike that needed to be done. He had the meeting with the president of China. And, again, around the world now, people are respecting us and fearing us and he is doing a good job. And people are excited about America first again. But America first means making sure that Americans are protected. And I do again appreciate those missiles were over a million dollars apiece. You are talking about $59 million just in missiles. So I'm always concern about taxpayers continuing to be the world peacekeepers. But now, you see the U.N. getting more engaged in the process and, again, we are seeing results from that.
[19:55:47] CABRERA: All right, Andre Bauer and Charles Blow, thanks to both of you.
We are staying on top of breaking news right now out of North Korea where there was a missile launch that failed this evening. We will have much more straight ahead here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.