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North Korea Claims Successful ICBM Test; Trump Prepares for Europe Trip, Meeting with Putin; Xi and Putin Meet Ahead of G20 Summit; Syrian Forces Breach Key Wall in Raqqa; CNN Meets Pilots Fighting ISIS from Syria; Chris Christie Signs States Budget, Ends Shutdown. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired July 4, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:02] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Max Foster in London.

We begin with breaking news here out of North Korea. North Korea says it tested -- successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. And as the United States prepares to celebrate its Independence Day, this rocket in theory could reach the U.S. state of Alaska.

Pyongyang released these pictures a short while ago of what it says was the launch. State-run television says those orders came directly from Kim Jong-un.

Here's what else we know about it. North Korea says the missile reached an altitude of more than 2,800 kilometers. That's in line with what Japan's military had earlier estimated.

South Korea's military says it flew a distance of more than 930 kilometers, landing in the waters east of the Korean peninsula. According to the Japanese defense official, to one of them, that may have put it within Japan's exclusive economic zone.

U.S. President Trump reacted on Twitter: North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have another better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with it much longer.

Let's get more from correspondents in the region. Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, South Korea. Andrew Stevens is in Hong Kong. And Kaori Enjoji is in Tokyo.

First, though, to Paula.

So, this is what North Korea was looking for and what South Korea and the U.S. are afraid of.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly what, Max. This is what North Korea is claiming at this point, looking at the figures. Their experts are trying to figure out exactly how far that range is and how far it could hit we've had on air. Experts saying in theory, it could hit potentially Alaska.

But what we are hearing from the North Koreans is triumphant acknowledgment, triumphant announcement that they have launched an ICBM. They say it is successful. They even said that they could now target the whole of the world. Now, clearly, with the figures that they have given us, that's not accurate. But it shows that they have made a significant leap in technology if, in fact, this is all accurate.

We are being shown images on KCTV, on North Korean television, also on state-run media. KCNA, they have the full article declaring that Kim Jong-un was there, he ordered this. We saw a photo of him actually signing something, and then a piece of paper which looked like it was the test order that he had signed himself.

So, putting Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, center to this ICBM test as we've seen with all the missile tests in recent months. Certainly, this will be of great concern to those in Washington, in Japan, and also here in South Korea. That tweet from the U.S. president was before North Korea had claimed that it was an ICBM.

So, it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction we have from him. The South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, just before saying that the military here was looking at the possibility it could have been an ICBM and saying that if it was, then he would make sure there was an appropriate response. We don't know what that appropriate response is, whether he will ask for more sanctions, whether -- we simply don't know what it would be.

But we have heard just in past couple of days, President Moon while standing to the U.S. president in Washington saying he wanted North Korea to come back to the negotiating table. Clearly, now, that is going to be a bit more tricky -- Max.

FOSTER: Yes, that's one of the issues, isn't it? It was a clear provocation, wasn't it, to the U.S. because it came on Independence Day. And Kim Jong-un would be well aware of that.

HANCOCKS: It came on Independence Day in North Korea. It wasn't quite Independence Day in the United States due to the time change. But these missile launches always come fairly early in the morning or within the morning hours in North Korea.

So, much has been made of the timing. It's anyone's guess whether or not this was specifically targeted for July 4th. We know a couple of times in the past, North Korea has favored this date for making a statement to the United States.

But let's bear in mind they also need to test their capability. North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, has made it abundantly clear he will try and perfect an ICBM. He wants to have an intercontinental ballistic missile that can hit the mainland United States, and he wants to be able to put a nuclear warhead on top.

He says for self-defense. He says it's necessary because of a hostile U.S. policy. But North Korea has been abundantly clear that is what it wants to do.

But when you look at the timing, you have to point out President Moon just came back from a summit with the U.S. president. President Moon actually mentioned that, saying this was disappointing, this came just a few days after his summit and it comes just ahead of the G-20 meeting in Germany where you will have all the leaders, the heads of state who would have been potentially talking about other issues. They're now likely going to be talking specifically about North Korea.

[04:05:03] So, yes, something can be said of the timing. But quite frankly, we don't know exactly why North Korea does things when it does -- Max.

FOSTER: No. Well, certainly, conversations, as well, between Tokyo and Washington.

Let's go to Kaori, because when we talk about responses, one of the ones that the world is afraid of is a military response. Do you think Japan would support a U.S. military response to North Korea?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, the U.S./Japan security alliance is the bedrock of Japanese national security agenda. And the U.S., of course, is critical in that sense.

But I think for now the Japanese side is saying that it wants to try and bring more nations to the table to try and cooperate internationally, particularly using a venue like the upcoming G-20 to put more pressure on North Korea, to try and contain the situation. But a lot of strong language, I think stronger than usual, from the prime minister today regarding this latest missile launch, saying that it is a clear sign that the threat from North Korea is increasing, and the Japanese government issuing a protest to what it called a clear violation of U.N. resolutions.

And these protests and comments from the prime minister are coming within minutes of the launch this morning, very quickly this time, because the missile launches are becoming much more frequent. It wouldn't be the first time that one would land within the exclusive economic zone. But clearly the Japanese authorities are growing increasingly frustrated at their inability to contain the frequency of these launches.

And I think the point that Prime Minister Abe mentioned, the fact that he not only wants to cooperate and discuss with the U.S. and China and South Korea with the trilateral meeting scheduled this week on the sidelines of the G-20, but stressing the importance to engage other countries, particularly China and Russia, to take what he called a constructive action regarding the North Korea issue.

So, I think clearly Japanese prime minister frustrated, but keen to play sort of a mediator role in trying to contain this crisis.

FOSTER: Would that involve mediating with the North Koreans themselves? That's not certainly the sort of message we're hearing from Seoul and Washington, increasingly hearing at least. ENJOJI: I think it would be difficult to assume that at this point.

I think it would be more through a concerted effort with its partners in South Korea and the United States at this point.

But remember that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself is in a very difficult position locally within Japan. His support rating is falling. He's coming off a very, very big blow in local elections over the weekend. So, I think he's very keen to raise his profile here among local voters. And I think that might play a part in what steps he might take from here on.

FOSTER: OK. And Andrew Stevens in Hong Kong, we'll expect to hear from Donald Trump this morning, no doubt he'll tweet something. It's likely to be targeted at China, isn't it, and expecting China to step up and resolve this.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely. We've heard from Donald Trump saying that he perhaps, in his words, that China would make a heavy move. Again, his words, on North Korea over this latest missile test, because really, the Chinese have been all about engaging North Korea in dialogue. They have continued to stick with this line, despite the U.S. administration wanting more economic action coming from China.

There's no doubt that China does hold a lot of leverage over North Korea in terms of economic -- basically an economic survival for North Korea. Something like 90 percent of North Korean trade is with China. So, it does give you an idea of how powerful China could be.

China will tell you and quite rightly that it is implementing all of the U.N. sanctions on North Korea and is a signatory to the U.N. sanctions against the country. But it says that's the way forward is pushing for dialogue. We've just heard from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs just in the last half hour or so, that they say that they're still gathering -- they note the reports, they're still gathering information.

Certainly this stage, you can't detect a change of tone from China, from the foreign affairs. We've stated our position many times. China opposes the launch of this missile. It urges North Korea to stop action that's breached the United Nations Security Council resolutions, et cetera, et cetera. We've heard all that before.

Now, interestingly, given the fact that we've got the G-20 coming up next week with all the key players, virtually all the key players involved, that may be the time for China to start pushing for more dialogue, a concerted attempt to bring North Korea to the table.

[04:10:04] But it's almost as if the U.S. may be the odd one out and certainly listening to Donald Trump in pushing for economic action, that hard-line action from China against North Korea.

FOSTER: Some suggestion that Donald Trump might call for a meeting with Kim Jong-un in response, to do a deal and resolve it that way. Is that something that China would support then? STEVENS: Yes, China would support that, very much so. It believes

that the U.S. should be speaking to North Korea about this. China says that is the most positive way forward. And that the Chinese backed up by Russia on this point.

So, it's very much a question of dialogue rather than economic action, certainly not military action against North Korea. So, how Donald Trump goes forward now obviously remains to be seen. He has spoken to President Xi.

What you have to take into account as far as the mood music to this in a way, Max, is that China and the U.S. are having their own tensions. Strains are rising. After that meeting or telephone call between Xi and Donald Trump, the Chinese made it pretty clear that there's negative impact on the relationship because two of or three incidents recently by the U.S. which affects China, which the Chinese are not happy about. So, there is that background, as well.

FOSTER: All right. Andrew in Hong Kong, thank you.

Martin Navias is a research associates at the Center for Defense Studies at King's College here in London. He joins me now.

How do you think Donald Trump is going to respond later today, if you can try to predict it?

MARTIN NAVIAS, CENTRE FOR DEFENCE STUDIES, KING'S COLLEGE LONDON: Very difficult to predict his behavior, but he will take this as a personal slight, as a provocation. He's already tweeted earlier derogatory things about Kim Jong-un. I expect in the first stage he will try and bring additional pressure to China to cut off links to North Korea.

China provides the ultimate lifeline to North Korea. Still does. It's within China's strategic interest at the moment, ton create a major crisis with North Korea. It's because of this different viewpoint between the United States that is trying to curtail the nuclear and missile program in China, and doesn't want to push the North Koreans too far that we have the basis of a real emerging crisis between Beijing and Washington.

FOSTER: Well, exactly. Where's the compromise there?

NAVIAS: Well, I think a compromise is possible. First thing to recognize is that Kim Jong-un will never, ever, ever give up his nuclear weapons or his ballistic missiles. I mean, we have moved past that stage.

What the United States does not want and what would be a red line for the Americans is for the North Koreans to actually deploy an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States. So, if they can reach an agreement whereby Kim Jong-un retains his lost line of defense -- his last line of defense, his nuclear capability, and America is protected from extended range missiles on the nuclear warheads, then a compromise is possible. We have to still get to that stage. We seem quite far from there.

FOSTER: Yes, apart from anything else, China's got so many other issues it's concerned about around the world, as well. And when it comes to the G-20 they're not going to just want to focus on North Korea.

NAVIAS: Well, they may not want to focus on it. The question is how far is the United States prepared to escalate the problem. I believe that ultimately the United States will escalate the problem and make it the number-one issue in American/Chinese relations.

I cannot believe that the American President Donald Trump or anybody else can tolerate a situation where a leader like Kim Jong-un is able to target New York and Los Angeles with nuclear armed missiles. It changes the strategic equation that we have grown used to over the past few decades qualitatively. I mean, everything will be different if the North Koreans are able to do that. And every effort will be made by the Americans to stop them doing that.

Now, whether that will lead to actual military conflict, that's hard to say because the military options are not great. I cannot believe that we can carry on at this stage with the North Koreans constantly testing more missiles, moving on as we suspect to another nuclear test in the not too distant future and perfecting delivery capability. Because once the continental United States becomes vulnerable to a North Korean nuclear strike, the American strategic position has deteriorated in a manner that we've not seen since the Russians first acquired nuclear weapons.

[04:15:16] FOSTER: OK. Martin Navias at King's College, thank you.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

A big test for Donald Trump, another one, as he heads to Europe for the G-20 Summit. How world leaders are repairing for the man who says America first.

Stay with us.


FOSTER: Returning to our breaking news this hour. North Korea has announced it successfully fired an intercontinental ballistic missile. In a televised announced, Pyongyang said Kim Jong-un ordered the test. The missile may have landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone. South Korea's military says it landed in the waters east of the Korean peninsula after traveling some 930 kilometers.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is concerned about Pyongyang's ability to target the U.S. with one of its missiles. One analyst told CNN this one would have been capable of hitting Alaska. North Korea is sure to be on the agenda for the G-20 Summit which kicks off in Germany later this week.

[04:20:05] There's a lot at stake for the U.S. president. And all eyes will be on his first face-to-face meeting as well with Vladimir Putin.

International diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is with us from Abu Dhabi with more on what's at stake in the week ahead.

And we can assume now, Nic, that North Korea will up the agenda. I know it was already there. But perhaps it will be more important now.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's certainly going to focus minds a lot. There's a lot on the agenda at the G-20. But President Trump was already planning a trilateral meeting in the margins with Japan, with South Korea, over concerns about North Korea. President Trump goes into this with many tensions, not just with the Russians, for example. Ukraine, Syria, those are expected topics to come up in the conversation with Vladimir Putin.

There isn't a specified agenda for that sideline meeting there at the G-20.

We're told from the White House likely not to expect President Trump to confront Vladimir Putin on allegations of Russian hacking during the U.S. presidential campaign. So, you know, those tensions, if we listen to what the Kremlin is saying, the spokesman for president Putin, just yesterday said patience is running out with the United States over those diplomatic facilities that were closed late last year by the United States.

President Obama expelled several Russian diplomats to the United States. Russia did nothing at the time. But now, the indication from the Kremlin is that patience is running out on that. President Trump has tensions with China, as we've been talking about, over trade, over weapons sales to Taiwan, over sanctions on a bank in China for not complying enough with sanctions on North Korea.

Then you go into sort of bigger picture, President Trump at odds with the world on climate change. You have President Macron just recently saying, you know, that you know, we should put -- to paraphrase what President Trump said about put America first, make America great again, he said make the world great again. Then there are tensions with our hosts, President Trump has tensions with Angela Merkel over trade, over the way he's criticized her policy toward refugees.

So, from a President Trump perspective going into this, he has a lot of tensions ahead of him. Yet, many of these leaders will look to him, and he will also feel the pressure to try to gather consensus on what to do about North Korea. As we can see, he's not shown so far the temperament to gather that kind of compromise.

FOSTER: OK, Nic, thank you.

Trump's unpopularity may be shaping how some world leaders deal with him. We're going to see a few tested at the G-20.

To discuss it is Leslie Vinjamuri. She's a senior lecturer of international relations at SOAS at the University of London, associate fellow at Chatham House, as well.

I mean, he's a disrupter, isn't he? Does he want people to like him, this meeting, or is it all about his constituency at home?

LESLIE VINJAMURI, SR. LECTURER IN INTL. RELATIONS, SOAS UNIV. OF LONDON: Well, I think Donald Trump wants to be liked. There's a question of who he wants to be liked by. He's always speaking in multiple languages or he's targeting multiple audiences. He's got his concern forever about his base, that sort of 70/20 percent who are very loyal still. But even the 38 percent that continue to support him.

Remember, he's going to the G-20 at a time when he's under a lot of pressure at home. Not only on the ongoing investigations about Russia and the allegations that there might be a connection between his campaign team and members of the White House and that. But also, even just yesterday, there was a court ruling that restricted his ability to undo the regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to undertake with respect to methane. And now, we have, you know, climate change is a key issue at the G-20.

So, he's facing a lot of pushback in the courts and more broadly at home. Very negative reactions over the weekend to his tweets. So, he does want positive feedback. But this is also taking place at a time where he's had very difficult relationships with European partners and he's taken in the past several days a harder line with China, with South Korea, and then, he, of course, wakes up to an ICBM, we're told, being launched by North Korea on July 4th -- as we approach the July 4th holiday.

So, this is a difficult time for the president. He will, given what we've seen from his personality, approach this a bit on the back foot, could send them in to a very aggressive mode, as he was about to have this first meeting with Putin, which, of course, will be what many Americans and certainly those in Washington are watching very intently.

FOSTER: But some people suggesting you shouldn't underestimate the two of them, because they might try and find a way, both coming out of this stronger, realizing, they're going to going head to head against each other. It isn't going to work for either of them.

VINJAMURI: No, and, of course, Donald Trump has wanted a strong relationship with Putin and Russia. He's wanted to change the nature of that relationship.

[04:25:00] And his attempt to do that has probably been the one thing most disappointing to him. Now, having -- forging a strong partnership with Putin won't necessarily put him in a better place with respect to Washing to and the United States, given the intensity of this focus on the investigations. And Putin will approach that bilateral meeting with a very clear agenda, with a lot of flexibility. He's popular at home. Donald Trump is not.

And so, Trump doesn't, we're told, according to H.R. McMaster, doesn't have a very clear agenda, is willing to talk about anything. But that also means that, you know, it's unpredictable what he'll say and how that will go. Could go anyway as we know. FOSTER: And meeting, also his dealings with Angela Merkel will be

interesting, as well, won't it? Because it does feel as if after the meeting amongst European leaders, that they're going to unite behind her, try to give some sort of united message to give a bit of pushback on issues over trade, for example, and climate change in particular.

VINJAMURI: That's right. I mean, remember the G-20 really emerged after the 2008 financial crisis as being the key forum for bringing together the major economies, major economic powers to cooperate, to ensure the success of globalism. And now, we have Macron and Merkel emerging at the forefront. And Donald Trump's on the back foot with his American-first agenda, with his very combative approach.

And Merkel's got the upper hand. She's also facing elections, as we know, in September. So, it's playing very well in a German context to take a harder line on Donald Trump. I think we'll be watching this very carefully.

The last meeting between President Trump and the European leaders, his first foreign visit, didn't go terribly well. So, this will very be interesting, to see whether he really does try to change the contours of the relationships, or whether he goes home with a much -- in a much more difficult position.

FOSTER: It's going to be interesting. Leslie --

VINJAMURI: It will be interesting, of course.

FOSTER: Thank you very much indeed.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Still to come, the Chinese and Russian presidents will be holding their own talks in the coming hour. We'll have a live report on that.

And fighting ISIS from the sky. CNN exclusively meets the pilots working to turn the tide against the terror group.


[04:30:28] FOSTER: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Max Foster.

We'll update you on our top stories. North Korea has announced a successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. South Korea says it landed in the waters east of the Korean peninsula, possibly within Japan's exclusive economic zone. It flew a distance of more than 900 kilometers, putting it in theory in the range of hitting Alaska. The U.S. is currently celebrating Independence Day.

U.S. President Donald Trump will meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the G-20 Summit in Germany this week. Syria and Ukraine are likely to top the agenda. It's unclear, though, whether Mr. Trump will bring the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election last year up.

Ahead of that, Mr. Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold talks in the coming hour.

Our Matthew Chance is in the Russian capital. Let's join him with more.

North Korea's already on the agenda there. It's going to be even higher today.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They've already had a working dinner. Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin had a working dinner at yesterday local time to discuss the escalating crisis on the Korean Peninsula. They share a common position on that crisis saying that they basically, to summer rise what their views are, saying they believe there's a sort of cycle of escalation underway. They're very much opposed, both Russia and China, to the deployment by the United States of an anti-missile defense system, the THAAD missile system, which is being assembled in South Korea because they feel it undermines their own strategic defenses, as well and because it encourages North Korea, they say, to escalate its own military tactics.

What they're calling for negotiation, talks, in other words, to try and bring an end top this crisis. These words were spoken before the apparent testing of the intercontinental ballistic missile by the North Korean regime. That happened overnight local time here in Russia. And so, the two leaders have yet to meet and yet to discuss what their views are on that issue.

In the past, I can tell you that Russia and China have criticized and expressed concern about the launch of missiles from North Korea, and the expectation is that they will do the same again, but perhaps stopping short of the kind of acute criticism that's been leveled at the North Koreans by others in the West, particularly the United States.

FOSTER: Meanwhile, they're trying to strengthen ties, aren't they, in this delicate relationship. And that's partly in response to tensions with the U.S.

CHANCE: I think that from a Russian point of view, there is certainly and perhaps from the Chinese point of view, as well, really since 2014. Russia has been accelerating its pivot towards Asia, signing millions of dollars, billions of dollars in trade deals with China. Particularly a major gas pipeline deal which was signed a couple of years ago which is worth something like $400 billion and is a major departure from the way that Russia normally sells gas to countries.

That's one aspect, this commercial relationship. There are $10 billion worth of deals expected to be signed later today. But again, there's also growing diplomatic and military partnership between Russia and China as well, and it's drawing a kind of counterbalance to the political and military strength of the United States.

FOSTER: OK. Matthew, thank you very much, indeed. We've been watching that meeting, of course.

Meanwhile, ISIS has taken a major blow. The very city it considers its capital, Raqqa in Syria. U.S. Central Command says American- backed Syrian forces breached a wall surrounding Raqqa's old city. ISIS militants have been using it as a strategic fighting position. The group is suffering heavy losses in Raqqa as coalition forces drive their way in.

Syria is likely to be top of the agenda when the U.S. president meets with Russia's Vladimir Putin in just a few days.

And as Barbara Starr now reports, the battle for Raqqa is just one of the many challenges both sides are actually facing.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. Marines firing artillery at ISIS positions. Unprecedented video, much of it shot from a drone overhead, underscoring the growing danger from more than an estimated 700 U.S. combat forces on the ground.

The U.S. war against ISIS in Syria is at a critical stage.

[04:35:00] U.S.-backed forces, including snipers are now inside Raqqa trying to end the Islamic State that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi declared three years ago this month.

But tens of thousands of civilians are still at risk from ISIS and Syrian President Bashar al Assad. President Trump is about to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time. And the White House says the war in Syria is likely to be discussed.

The U.S. goals --

H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The need to deescalate the Syrian civil war, to defeat ISIS there and to end that humanitarian catastrophe.

STARR: But it's all about to get a lot tougher.

LT. COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Putin believes that he is in the cat bird seat at this point.

STARR: With the U.S. no longer regularly calling for Assad's removal, there is little pressure on Putin's backing of Assad. And this recent firing of Russian cruise missiles also an indication that Moscow support for Assad fits Vladimir Putin's only goals.

LEIGHTON: He is going to seek to enhance that Russian influence because he believes Syria is the jumping off point for further Russian activity in the Middle East. I don't think President Trump necessarily understands that.

STARR: President Trump's special envoy, Brett McGuirk, has just been to the outskirts of Raqqa to figure out what happens next. Raqqa will need money, organization, and manpower. But it's not likely the Trump administration would supply that full effort.

HEATHER NAUERT, SPOKESWOMAN, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Once Raqqa's liberated, we believe it's critical for local officials to take over responsibility and take over responsibility for post-liberation security. But most importantly, governance down the road.

STARR: But the fundamental question remains to what extent will the Trump administration expand the U.S. effort to help rebuild these war- torn areas.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


FOSTER: Well, Iraqi forces are expecting to regain full control of Mosul by the end of the week. That's according to the "Reuters News Agency". The military is making critical new gains as it pushes into Mosul's old city. Compare that to a year ago when all the territory in green there was under ISIS control.

It's believed there are just a few hundred ISIS militants left in the city. As the battle plays out on the streets of Mosul, up in the skies above the Persian Gulf, a different mission to bring down the terror group is underway. It's being led from the USS George H.W. Bush, which is a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier.

CNN was given exclusive access. Here's our Muhammad Lila.


MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're the unseen faces in the war on ISIS. America's fighter pilots 30,000 feet in the sky, providing critical condition air support to troops down below.

We were given exclusive access to the USS George H.W. Bush, home to a strike force of more than 40 F-18 fighter jets and the pilots who fly them.

(on camera): We're walking on the air deck right now. Take a look around. You can see the massive firepower that's all around us. This is the most advanced ship in the entire U.S. fleet. In fact, just from this runway to my side, they launch anywhere from 12 to 20 air strikes against ISIS targets every single day.

SCOTT WELLS, U.S. NAVY: It's a pretty unique experience for sure.

LILA (voice-over): Scott Wells spoke to us down below in the ship's hangar bay, with engineers working around the clock. For him, the hardest part of the job isn't actually the job, it's being away from his wife and two young daughters for seven months straight.

(on camera): How do you stay in touch?

WELLS: Via e-mail, pictures, occasional phone calls. But while we're underway, there's no Skype, chat, Facetime, anything like that. So, it's very challenging.

LILA (voice-over): The ship runs like a small town powered by twin nuclear reactors. With a crew of 5,000 on board, there's always activity, with launches during the day and with infrared lighting at night. By the time the deployment is over, the military says the pilots on boards will have dropped more than a million pounds of bombs in Iraq and Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the end of the day we need to make sure we're putting bombs in correct positions to take out ISIS.

LILA: But that hasn't always happened. The Pentagon has been dogged by accusations that its air strikes have killed hundreds of innocent civilian since the campaign began three years ago. One monitoring group says that number is well over a thousand. The U.S. military maintains that it takes, quote, extra ordinary measures to mitigate the loss of civilian life.


LILA: Kenneth Whitesell is a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. He spoke to us while F-18s were taking off below.

REAR ADM. KENNETH WHITESELL, U.S. NAVY: The war is very -- not a clean business. Some of the times, you know, a motorcycle or a car can come into an area where the weapons fall.

[04:40:06] LILA: Most air strikes are planned days, even weeks in advance. But right up until the last second, a pilot can abort the mission if they see unusual activity on the ground.

MCCALL: When something comes up and they see someone who they haven't identified on the ground, they know we're not going to drop that bomb. That bomb can wait maybe an hour, maybe another day, maybe another week.

LILA: For the pilots on board, it's a responsibility weighing heavily on their shoulders. Knowing their decisions can mean life and death.

Muhammad Lila, CNN, on board the USS George H.W. Bush.


FOSTER: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still to come, a heartbreaking fight between doctors and parents for the right to decide a sick child's fate. Why Charlie Gard's story is sparking so much controversy around the world, next.


FOSTER: Messages of hope and support are pouring in for the parents of Charlie Gard, a baby with a rare genetic disease. They're fighting European courts who say doctors are allowed to pull the plug on Charlie's life support. The family's plight has got the attention of some of the world's most powerful men.

Our Diana Magnay has more on his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Max, such a painful story. This is pitching the U.K.'s top pediatrician against two desperate parents, all of whom have Charlie's best interests at heart, but who want to go about protecting them in fundamentally different ways.

(voice-over): The tubes that keep him alive will be turned off soon. His parents' last hope, to take him to the States for highly experimental medical treatment, blocked by the British and European courts. Their last wish refused -- to take him home to die.

CHRIS GARD, CHARLIE GARD'S FATHER: He's a true fighter, he's a soldier. He will fight. He will fight to the very end. He's still fighting.

[04:45:00] But we're not allowed to fight for him anymore. Our parental rights have been stripped away. We can't even take our own son home to die. We've been denied that, do you not think we've been through enough.

MAGNAY: Little Charlie Gard was born healthy but diagnosed the following month with a rare genetic disorder, a form of mitochondrial disease which has left him, doctors say, with irreversible brain damage.

PROTESTERS: We're still fighting! We're still fighting! Save Charlie Gard! Save Charlie Gard!

MAGNAY: At the weekend, protests in London against the decision to turn off life support. And after the pope sent a message to the parents from the Vatican saying he was praying for them in the hope that their desire to accompany and care for their own child until the end will be respected, now Donald Trump has weighed in, too.

If we can help little Charlie Gard as per our friends in the U.K. and the pope, we would be delighted to do so.

(on camera): Charlie's case is extremely complicated. The treatment that the U.S. is offering is called nuclear side bypass therapy. It's never been tested on a strain of the disease as rare as Charlie's is. And even the U.S. specialist is offering it says he thinks it's unlikely to reverse Charlie's brain damage.

And that's why the British courts ruled the way they did. They said they didn't want Charlie to be the subject of medical experimentation if there was no chance of him getting better, that his rights to die with dignity must come first.

(voice-over): But that's not the way his parents see it. Sadly for them, the pleas of a pope and a president already too late.

(on camera): Of course, from the parents' point of view, any chance of improvement in Charlie's condition they will jump at, however small that might be. But in this country, if doctors and parents conflict over the care of a child, it goes to the courts. So, however, comforting these words from Donald Trump may be, he doesn't have authority over the British courts. This has gone all the way up through the high court system, to the court of appeal, to the supreme court and European Court of Justice, all of whom have sided with the doctors that it is in Charlie's best interests to turn the life support off -- Max.


FOSTER: The story of Charlie Gard.

I'll be back in a moment with more CNN NEWSROOM.


[04:51:16] FOSTER: Let's get you up to speed on our top story this hour.

North Korea says it successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. The launch happened a few hours ago on July 4th, American Independence Day. It flew a distance of more than 900 kilometers and landed in the waters east of the Korean Peninsula. In theory, it could reach Alaska, experts say. The U.S. president is likely to bring additional pressure on China to cut off ties with North Korea. Mr. Trump will join Chinese President Xi and other world leaders for the G-20 Summit this week.

Now, New Jersey's beaches and parks will be open for the July 4th holiday following three days of closure because of a crippling budget deadlock. The state legislature finally passed its budget on Monday, having missed their July 1st deadline. State Governor Chris Christie has signed off on it, ending a three-day government shutdown which saw between 30,000 and 35,000 state workers furloughed.

And whilst the beaches were closed to the public over the weekend, Christie and his family were pictured relaxing on the empty sands. There's been strong criticism from local media. Christie says he doesn't care what people thought of those pictures.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The way I took the question was, hey, were you like out laying out, getting a tan today? That wasn't what I was doing, and that's not what the pictures show. I'm sitting with a baseball hat, shorts, and a t-shirt talking to my wife and talking to our guests.

I don't apologize for it. I don't back away from it. And I think my poll numbers show that I don't care about political optics.


FOSTER: While Christie may not have cared about his beach pictures, but the Internet did.

Here's Jeanne Moos with more on that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRRESPONDENT (voice-over): For a governor lounging on a sunny beach, Chris Christie sure is getting a lot of shade. All because a photographer in a plane spotted the governor relaxing on a New Jersey state beach that was closed to everyone else because of a budget standoff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would think you would at least want to leave office with not everyone hating your guts.

MOOS: A plane with the banner tell Governor Chris Christie to get the hell off the Islands Beach State Park was cheered. It was a mocking reference to the time the Governor said --

CHRISTIE: Get the hell off the beach.

MOOS: -- to make beachgoers take shelter from a storm.

Waves of mocking tweets rolled in. Island Beach State Park is all mine.

It didn't help when asked, the governor said he didn't get any sun.

CHRISTIE: I didn't get any sun today.

MOOS: Which his spokesman explained away by saying he did not get any sun, he had a baseball hat on.

True, the governor has a residence there.

CHRISTIE: This is where we live. One of the places we live.

MOOS: But what will live on are the photoshopped memes. Governor Christie transported to from here to eternity, to the George Washington Bridge, scene of bridgegate. From Forrest Gump's bench to "The Planet of the Apes", another time Chris Christie thought he had the whole beach to himself.

(on camera): Not so sunny, the governor's poll numbers in his own state. His approval rating is at low tide, 15 percent.

(voice-over): Photojournalist Andrew Mills shot the photos. I've been on enough stakeouts to know when I've been made and Governor Chris Christie looked right at me as I pointed the long range lens at him. The governor tweeted that New Jersey beaches are opened in 119 miles of our 132 miles of our coastline, but use sunscreen and hydrate.

Instead of hydrating, people are venting that the governor sunbathing is like saying, let them eat sand.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

CHRISTIE: Get the hell off the beach.

MOOS: -- New York.


FOSTE: I'm Max Foster in London.

[04:55:00] Thanks for joining us.

For our viewers in the U.S., "EARLY START" is next. For everyone else, stay tuned for more NEWSROOM with Anna Coren, with much more coverage of the latest missile tests in North Korea.