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U.S. and South Korea Hold Rapid Response Military Drill; President Trump on Second Foreign Trip; Qatar Officially Responds to Arab Coalition Demands. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired July 5, 2017 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:08] MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

Missile with a message -- North Korea says it can now strike any country on the planet. U.S. and South Korea answer back.

The U.S. President preparing for Poland and then a pivotal face-to- face meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G-20.

And Qatar makes its first official move to lift the diplomatic blockade by its Arab neighbors.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for being with us.

NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

Thanks for your company -- everyone.

A provocation and a response on the Korean Peninsula -- the U.S. and South Korea say they want to send a warning to Kim Jong-Un one day after his latest missile test. They conducted a joint military drill on Wednesday to showcase their ability to strike back at Pyongyang in case of emergency.

North Korea claims it tested a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile early on Tuesday that could possibly hit the U.S. mainland. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says it is a new escalation of the threat against the U.S., its allies and the world.

Let's bring in Andrew Stevens now in Hong Kong and journalist Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo. Let's start with you, Andrew, and the fall out from this latest test continues. Bring us up to date.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's start with those missile firing by the U.S. and South Korea -- Michael. South Korea said it was to show North Korea that it could precision-target the enemy leadership. That was actually the South Korean word. So they were showing their own firepower as well to the threat posed by this latest missile launch.

Interestingly that joint exercise by the U.S. and South Korea just came a few hours after the Chinese President Xi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin called on the U.S. and South Korea to stop holding joint exercises as a first step in getting to the negotiating table, to sit around with all the key players about the North Korea nuclear buildup.

So the U.S. and South Korea ignoring that call from Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. As you say Rex Tillerson has said some very, very strong language talking about the threat now not just to this region but to the entire world, to all the U.S. allies and friends. And also talking about the fact that the U.S. would not stand for a nuclear armed Korean Peninsula.

We've heard that before. The question, of course, is now what can they do about it?

HOLMES: Well, that is the question. What options are on the table -- Andrew?

STEVENS: Well, at the moment what we've heard from the U.S. is through Donald Trump's tweet yesterday asking -- sort of basically suggesting that China bring more economic pressure to bear on North Korea. There's no doubt that China could bring more economic pressure to bear in the case of basically closing down any Chinese banks that could be doing business with North Korea providing fuel, oil for North Korea.

There are actually unconfirmed reports at the moment that the Chinese may have stopped the flow of fuel oil in because they're worried about actually getting paid for. We can't confirm that at the moment.

Rex Tillerson is saying that anyone who provides economic aide to North Korea, anyone who houses North Korean guest workers are aiding and abetting the enemy. So they want to see that economic pressure.

But as we've heard from China and Russia, though, it's all about talks. They have to get around the table. But the U.S., South Korea, and of course, China have to have a common negotiating position. At the moment there's a lot of daylight between the positions and there's no suggestion of any clear way forward at this stage.

It's been very, very difficult. Very difficult to position the move forward from.

HOLMES: Yes. And no real indication North Korea would like to negotiate either.

Kaori Enjoji --

STEVENS: Exactly.

HOLMES: -- strong statements out of Tokyo after this test as you reported here a day ago. What is the latest there and that defense does Japan have for a possible errant missile heading its way?

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Well, as you point out, Michael, Japan along with South Korea is probably the most vulnerable to these launches and provocations by North Korea. The Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe is about to leave this afternoon, first to Brussels to meet with the E.U. and then later on head towards -- head to Hamburg for the G-20 meeting.

[00:04:59] And I think diplomacy or stronger diplomacy, trying to coordinate a policy so that the international community can come up with a stronger policy response to these provocations. This will be high on the prime minister's agenda as he heads towards -- heads to Europe later on this afternoon.

In terms of responses that Japan can take, for years Japan has embarked on trade embargoes and sanctions and so forth with very little effect. This is not the first time that a missile has landed in the waters on the western coast of Japan. This is actually the fifth time one has landed in the so-called exclusive economic zone.

So it's clear that there has been a limited impact from these sanctions. And I think there's growing frustration among the Japanese -- within the Japanese government that these sanctions have not -- have failed to produce the result that I think at this point engaging not only South Korea and the U.S. as Japan has done but also China and Russia, Japan sees as crucial in trying to bring some kind of closure or at least some kind of progress to these escalating tensions.

But I think at the same time people are very aware that the long- standing issues that Japan has had with South Korea and also with China are going to be stumbling blocks or road blocks or hurdles as Japan tries to engage both of these countries and coming up with a more -- with a stronger international response -- Michael.

Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo and Andrew Stevens in Hong Kong -- our thanks to you both.

And joining me now is CNN military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona. Always good to see you -- Colonel.

South Korean and the United States conducted their joint ballistic missile drill on Wednesday. It was interesting, the South Korean defense ministry saying, as Andrew Stevens reported, it showcased precision targeting of the enemy's leadership in case of an emergency.

Is that helpful in this situation? Or one thing the North has demanded is an end to joint military exercises. It's really a joint drill.

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. The timing is very suspect. Right after the Chinese and the Russians say that they're willing to work on the North Korean -- freezing the North Korean program if we also agree to freeze the U.S. and South Korea military drills and then we do this.

The weapons that they used were very interesting. These are long- range tactical ballistic missiles. And they would be the weapon of choice if you were going to try some sort of presumed strike.

And the weapons used are very accurate so I think we're trying to send a message back to North Korea. I don't know how effective that's going to be. I think that nothing has deterred the Koreans so far. They seem just hell bent on developing this capability and there's a real rush to this. Notice the pace of the tests that we're seeing.

HOLMES: Yes. That's a good point. I mean, you know, a message certainly but is it a message that could be heeded or could be seen as a provocation.

FRANCONA: Well, I don't know that they regard as a provocation. If I was the North Koreans I would be looking t this as maybe a weak response. It seems like a desperation move. So we've got to do something.

The North Koreans have just fired their first ICBM. We need to show them that we mean business and I think this was a pretty weak -- pretty weak response.

HOLMES: Interesting analysis on that. Now, when it comes to the potential for a North Korean strike on the U.S. which is what the big fear is from the U.S. position.

What are the U.S. missile defense capabilities? I mean really there wouldn't be a whole lot of warning if they had a missile that could do this. What could the U.S. do about it?

FRANCONA: Well, that's the problem. For years now, we've been trying to develop an anti-ballistic missile defense system. And it's been off again, off again depending on priorities and the threat assessment and when we were facing, you know, the Russians or the Soviets.

We had a mutual assured destruction and I think that everybody realized that if anybody started a war, it would be the end of both countries. So everybody was deterred.

We're not sure that would work with North Korea so now there's this scramble to get an anti-ballistic system that works. And we've tried different things.

You know, the long-range missile interceptors coming out of Alaska, Hawaii, California, also using U.S. Navy Aegis Cruisers to provide some sort of defense, the THAAD -- it's just a patch work that really hasn't proved that effective.

HOLMES: It's interesting, you know, the U.S. -- if there are defenses that would work if the attack was passed against U.S. forces in Japan or Korea, or those two countries specifically.

FRANCONA: Yes. That's a different animal. Now, you know, patriot batteries can handle the shorter range ballistic missiles, the kind we would see fire from the North into the South. And the THAAD system which we're in the process of deploying but that's on hold now at the request of the Korean government. That would also get the medium range ballistic missiles that would also come. So we've got defenses there.

[00:10:01] It's these long range -- you know, the intermediate range and the intercontinental ballistic missiles that we're having problems with because they go up so high and once they enter the terminal phase -- very, very difficult to engage.

HOLMES: I wanted to ask you too, Colonel -- I mean there's always the, you know, one of the major concerns there've been, the possibility of the risk of miscalculation, one of these missiles going off course, hitting something be it the coast of Japan or a ship in the sea and what that could spark.

FRANCONA: Or just the impression that it's going to coming at Japan. If the Japanese track it coming toward their territory, are they going to respond? And how are they going to respond? Are they going to launch an attack or are they going to knock it down? Are they willing to absorb a blow and then respond?

So a whole bunch of questions we don't know the answers to. I can tell you though if a missile's launched at the United States and we believe that it's a threat, we will be forced to react. And you know, it's interesting we're talking about the flight times. We're talking 37 minutes -- that's not a whole lot of time to make a decision.

HOLMES: Yes. Exactly. And yes, you've got to be pretty accurate. That's a difficult situation.

Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona -- always good to see you, sir. Thank you so much.

FRANCONA: Good to see you.

HOLMES: Well, this missile launch comes as President Trump prepares, of course, to leave for his second foreign trip and the G-20 summit. He made no mention of the launch or the summit or the July 4 celebration at the White House. But the meeting in Hamburg in Germany, he will of course be closely watched.

Mr. Trump and the Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold their first in-person talk at an official bilateral meeting on the summit sidelines. That's meant to take place on Friday. Administration officials say President Trump will focus on Syria and Ukraine in those talks.

President Trump's first stop though is going to be Warsaw in Poland. Melissa Bell is there and joins us now.

Melissa -- I'm curious. What will Poland be looking for? One imagines they'll be hoping for an affirmation of NATO'S security guarantees that they didn't hear at the recent NATO summit.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, precisely. In a word, it is security. You really only need to have a look at the geography of Poland and its history in the 20th century to understand that that is precisely what Poles are looking to hear from Donald Trump.

And in particular, a clear reference as close as we are here to the Russian border on Polish soil of his commitment to Article 5 of the NATO treaty which, of course, calls for mutual help in case of aggression. That is what Poles want in a single word.

But of course, leaders here are already describing this as a huge success in particular the leader of the ruling Law and Justice Party speaking to his party's conference on Saturday already even before it had happened, referred to Donald Trump's visit here as a huge success.

They will see it as an affirmation of their policies that have been much criticized by their European leaders over the course of the last few months. A great deal of worry from Brussels about what's been happening here in Poland since the Law and Justice Party came to power in November, 2015 in particular its attempts to bring government control to things like the free press and Poland's judicial system.

So in many respects Donald Trump will find himself amongst friends here. And the Polish press here has been full of the fact that the Polish government has promised Donald Trump warm welcome and large crowds. In return they will be expecting a clear affirmation of clear commitment to that Article 5 and as you mentioned, of course, he failed to provide that commitment back in May when he'd been in Brussels at NATO headquarters.

He has, however, provided it in the rose garden alongside the president of Romania in June. But to say it here, to declare it clearly here will make a great difference, not only to Poles but to NATO as a whole.

HOLMES: All right. Melissa Bell -- on the spot for us here in Warsaw in Poland. Our thanks to you. We'll check in with you next hour as well.

Well Michael Genovese joins us now. He is a political analyst and president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. Thanks for being here -- first of all.

What do you think is at stake here for President Donald Trump as he goes to the G-20, this international stage?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: Well, he's on the defensive. I think very clearly he's got the Russia problem. He's got the problem of NATO and Europe, North Korea.

He wants a lot out of this meeting and yet, it doesn't seem like the Europeans are ready to give him what he wants because it's a reciprocal relationship and he hasn't been playing well with others.

HOLMES: It was interesting to hear the national security advisor McMaster saying that the subjects that the President was going to discuss with Vladimir Putin were what he wants to discuss, that there was no formal agenda. Does that surprise you? These things are normally worked out in detail well in advance.

GENOVESE: Well, there was supposed just an informal sit-down --

HOLMES: Right. [00:15:00] GENOVESE: -- it became very quickly a formal meeting. That's unusual because normally that takes weeks to prepare, you know, you do all kinds of background work. You get down what you want to achieve, what you want to talk about, what you want to say. And both sides do that.

Donald Trump doesn't like to be prepared. He doesn't like to be scripted. He thinks he's a great negotiator and can go in there and wow Putin.

Putin is smart as a whip, and Putin is going to be ready for him. And so, you know, it's almost like Donald Trump might be walking in to a trap that he set for himself.

HOLMES: You think he knows what he's dealing with?

GENOVESE: No. I think it passes prelude -- what we're going to see is that he has this strong affection for Vladimir Putin that's inexplicable.

Here's a man who attacked the United States electoral system and he keeps saying nice things about him. Putin's background in the KGB, his guileful leadership, he punches above his weight.

I think he's a lot to handle on the best of circumstances, and so I think Trump should be well prepared. I think he's walking in unprepared.

HOLMES: Vladimir Putin not a man who's prone to adlib in those sorts of situations.

GENOVESE: No.

HOLMES: I'm wondering in the broader European situation, you see a perception in Europe that diplomacy as far as the U.S. is concerned has been pushed to the backburner. That the State Department has been in some ways downgraded quite literally in terms of its staffing.

And the Trump administration, this is more the generals and diplomats. Is that a perception, you think, exists in Europe now.

GENOVESE: Well, Europe is watching us carefully and they see all these compositions in state that aren't filled. And what the G-20 summit's going to suggest is that there're three big movements taking place that they're going to have to deal with.

One is the obvious rise of China. How do the G-20 nations deal with that? China wants to exert global leadership. Will the G-20 let them?

Second thing, America's withdrawal from power internationally which we're doing by our own devices, I mean we're just pulling back.

The third thing is can Europe fill that gap. And that means can Merkel and Macron do it? And NATO is in some difficulty now because they're weaker than they were two years ago where the Brexit situation has really affected them. And so this could be the most consequential G-20 meeting in the last decade.

HOLMES: As the U.S. pull back -- and that is a conscious thing in many ways. America first, let everyone worry about their own problem. Who then does win? I mean you mentioned Angela Merkel -- is she now the leader of the free world? Or does Vladimir Putin win? Does China win in an economic (inaudible)?

GENOVESE: Well China and the Soviet Union might win. Merkel certainly is the titular leader. She is perceived as a leader of the West as Donald Trump has pulled America back. Whether she wants to be that out front and vocal is another question. She tends to be more reserved.

Macron on the other hand has left into the position of power and so what you might see is that a combination of French and German power, guides the G-20 and guides NATO in the future.

HOLMES: It's a whole new dynamic. Michael Genovese -- thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate your expertise.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

HOLMES: Qatar makes its first official move to lift the diplomatic blockade by Arab neighbors. We're going to discuss what to expect, Coming up next on NEWSROOM L.A.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.

[00:18:33] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone.

Qatar has given its official response to a list of demands made by a coalition of Arab nations for conditions for lifting a diplomatic blockade. The Saudi-led coalition cut ties with Qatar about a month ago accusing the country of financing terrorism.

Our Jomana Karadsheh reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Speaking at a joint press conference with his German counterpart here in Doha, the Qatari foreign minister would not disclose the details of the letter that he hand-delivered on Monday to the Emir of Kuwait, the mediator in this crisis.

Now, we know that letter is Qatar's official response to that list of 13 demands by the Saudi-led alliance. The foreign minister saying that letter right now is with Kuwait and it is up to them if they make it public.

He also went on to reiterate Qatar's position calling this list of demands unrealistic. Take a listen to the exchange I had with the foreign minister earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARADSHEH: You said that the list of demands is unrealistic. You've also said that you won't accept any country basically dictating what your foreign policy should be. But is there anything on that list that you're willing to compromise on?

SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN ABDULRAHMAN AT THANI, QATAR FOREIGN MINISTER: The state of Qatar has adopted a very (inaudible) attitude since the beginning of this crisis. We tried to act mature and responsible men rather than doing any irresponsible acts as the acts of the aggressors which launched an aggression against my country.

And this has been always Qatar position. We looked at this list and we introduced whatever items in a way within how -- how it can fall with in the context of the international and the context of respecting the country's sovereignty and on interference in our country's affairs which none of the (inaudible) states can accept such a thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARADSHEH: He went to repeat Qatar's position that they are open for dialogue saying that the only way to resolve a crisis like this is through negotiation and dialogue. When asked about what he expected to come out of that meeting on Wednesday of the foreign ministers of the Saudi-led alliance that is scheduled to take place in Cairo he said he did not know saying this whole situation has been unpredictable but also saying that Qatar so far has done its part and now the ball is in the court of the Saudi-led bloc.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN -- Doha.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Oman Noureldin is the vice president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

You know, there's been a lot of back and forth with these demands. I'm curious how this situation is now as you see it. Where is it headed? There doesn't seem to be a lot of compromise when you look at the demands.

OMAR NOURELDIN, VICE PRESIDENT, MUSLIM UBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL: No, there hasn't been compromise when it comes to the demands. And actually Qatar announced that it was going to increase its natural gas exports by 30 percent over the next five years and flood the market.

And you know, this is actually a direct comment to the Trump administration which has been trying to strike some deals in Asia particularly South Korea and China on natural gas. So it's kind of putting a trump card to Trump.

HOLMES: Yes. And that's also an economic hey look at us, we'll be just fine as well, in many ways.

I'm curious whether you think how much of this is about Qatari actions as the Saudis and others say its support for fundamentalist groups and how much is more about Saudi did not (inaudible) for, if you like, domination regionally speaking, certainly geopolitically.

NOURELDIN: This is really a regional dispute. And Saudi has never been happy with Qatar punching above its weight class, so to speak. As a small country compared to Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia wants to be the regional hegemon.

And Qatar has been doing some things particularly with hosting military bases -- so the al-Udeid base, the U.S. base in Qatar and Turkish air bases in Qatar in addition to al Jazeera, which is, you know, a major international network that has covered the Arab spring in a way that Saudis don't like.

HOLMES: Yes. You know, it's interesting too because there's no shortage of people that say that Saudi Arabia pointing its finger at Qatar for supporter of extremist groups of terrorist groups.

[00:25:08] You know, Saudis in the past have been accused of doing the same thing in terms of exporting certainly radical ideology.

NOURELDIN: Well, you know, there's really no innocent party in the Gulf when it comes to these issues. And Saudi placing this blame game on Qatar and Qatar's the one that has a problem with financing terrorism is really meant to deflect from itself.

And, you know, they've outsmarted President Trump when it comes to its establishing this global center to fight terrorism in Saudi Arabia. It gives them a cover to not kind of do the internal work that they need to do to address these issues.

HOLMES: A couple of things. You mentioned the Turkish air base. How much of a complication has been this support for Qatar from, not just Turkey but Iran? I mean that is not something the Saudis like to see.

NOURELDIN: No. And you know, Qatar shares the largest natural gas fields with Iran under the Persian Gulf. So any further isolation of Qatar will only push them closer to Iran which isn't in the U.S. best interests.

And you know, today everything is about Russia, now that leaves room for Russia to come in. Russia is the other big player in natural gas. It has 19 or 12 to 19 pipes that go into Europe and if there's -- the U.S. further isolates Iran and Qatar, that leaves room for Russia to come in and be a bigger player in the natural gas scene.

HOLMES: You know, you mentioned Donald Trump. When this erupted you had Donald Trump coming off that trip to Saudi Arabia and almost in his tweets -- claiming credit for what the Saudis had done. At the same time the U.S. as you also said has a major, and very important strategically, military base in Qatar.

Did that support for what the Saudis have done give them cover or enabled them to go further than they might otherwise have done? $

NOURELDIN: I think absolutely. You know, this isn't the first the Saudis have done this. In 2014, they played some similar games and the Obama administration wasn't having it and they backed off. I think now they feel emboldened especially with the support not only of Trump but of President Sisi in Egypt. And President Sisi in Egypt has a similar goal as the Saudis do in limiting Qatar's influence particularly its support of al Jazeera.

HOLMES: And just finally, too as with other issues, the Trump administration isn't always united in its approach and its positions. You have Donald Trump saying one thing, Rex Tillerson being, you know, a little bit more moderate in his views. Does that confuse the waters, diplomatically speaking.

NOURELDIN: Of course. And not just Rex Tillerson. The Pentagon issued statements saying that Qatar is a crucial ally and actually President Trump in his speech in Saudi Arabia named Qatar as a crucial strategic ally.

So you have Trump saying one thing in a speech that obviously was written for him by someone else and what he's tweeting out. That type of instability and that type of uncertainty allows others to manipulate the situation, namely Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia.

HOLMES: Omar Noureldin, vice president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council -- appreciate you coming in. Thanks so much.

NOURELDIN: Thank you.

HOLMES: All right. Well, North Korea is following up its provocative launch with a bold, new claim about nuclear missiles. We'll hear from an analyst in just a moment.

Stay with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

[00:28:33] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:00] MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Michael Holmes.

The U.S. and South Korea have carried out a joint military drill in response to North Korea's missile launch. They fired missiles into the waters of the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.

Meanwhile, North Korea claims to have developed a nuclear capable intercontinental capable missile.

On Tuesday, Pyongyang claimed that it successfully test fire a long- range missile that, quote, "can reach anywhere in the world, unquote.

U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday after a request by the U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

CNN's Barbara Starr with more now on what the U.S. knows about North Korea's missile launch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the first images of the North Korean missile launch that U.S. never wanted to see.

U.S. officials calculate this is likely a two stage intercontinental ballistic missile, an ICBM, that could someday hit parts of the United States.

U.S. spy satellite for days have picked up imagery of a potential KM- 17 missile launch like this one launched in May being ready. Now the latest assessment suggest the new launch was a more advance missile that travelled farther than any previous missile test.

The South Korean and U.S. military estimates the missile traveled more than 580 miles in 37 minutes. Based on this, experts calculate the missile could have a maximum range of roughly 4,160 miles long enough to reach all of Alaska, but not the rest of the U.S.

DAVID WRIGHT, GLOBAL SECURITY PROGRAM: You have to remember that missile technology has been around for a long time. So there's no particular secrets. A lot of it is just figuring how to do the hard engineering and basically getting everything to work at the same time, which is not always easy to do.

STARR: The new launch comes as North Korea also continues to pursue the development of a nuclear warhead.

ADMIRAL HARRY HARRIS, COMMANDER, U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND: Combining a nuclear warhead with ballistic missile technology in the hands of Kim Jong-un is a recipe for disaster. So I must take him at his word. I must assume that his claims are true. I know his aspirations certainly are.

STARR: Top officials from the State Department of Pentagon and the While House held meetings throughout the July 4th holiday. Administration officials emphasizing diplomacy, but with tensions rising everything is on the table.

WRIGHT: I think essentially everyone agrees and I believe the Trump administration agrees as well that there are no good military options. So if you take the military option off the table, you come back to sanctions. We've seen in the past it's not going to solve the problem.

STARR: The Russian and Chinese presidents offering up another solution at their meeting in Moscow, announcing they'll work together to freeze the North Korean program but demanding a stop to U.S./South Korean military exercises and an end to the THAAD missile defense deployment to South Korea, both non-starters for the U.S.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): There is of course the whole question of the Korean peninsula, the building of peace and instability. It is very important to push forward our joint initiative on settling the problem with the view of immediately freezing the ballistic missile strikes and dealing with the U.S. deployment of weapons in South Korea.

STARR (on-camera): U.S. military officials are emphasizing they are not looking for any kind of conflict on the Korean Peninsula. But you could see more diplomatic options taking shape and the possibility of an increase U.S. military through presence in the coming weeks.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And Adam Mount joins us now via Skype from Washington. He's a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress.

Good to see you again, Adam.

[00:35:00] In terms of the technology, it's not just a missile that North Korea would need to achieve its aim. It's got to be able to carry that militarize warhead; it's got to have a reliable guidance system and it's got to have the ability to protect that warhead as it re-enters the atmosphere, the heat and so on.

There's long been doubt that the North is there when it comes to those things, but this North Korean statement on this test says exactly that. That those were the issues that were tested successfully.

Do you buy it?

ADAM MOUNT, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, the primary objective of this test was to test the missile body itself and the ability of the North Korean regime to launch a missile with enough energy to reach ICBM ranges.

At the same time, these tests are also helpful in testing re-entry vehicle technology. The steep angle of re-entry into the earth's atmosphere helps them simulate longer range re-entry angles and helps them perfect their re-entry vehicles. So it's clear that they are seeking that capability.

HOLMES: You know, when you look at where they are in terms of their missile program, what we actually know and the possibility that a nuclear tipped ICBM is not far off, is to you the only option a nuclear armed North Korea?

MOUNT: That's where we're headed. And like it or not that's the world we are living in.

As you mentioned earlier, military options are essentially not under active consideration. It would be far too damaging to U.S. allies and to U.S. forces on the peninsula. It has the potential to escalate with -- up into a nuclear exchange. It has the ability to draw in Russia and China, which could lead to a wider conflict. That's not something that the United States is interested in risking.

So we are looking at a future where we have to contain and constrain and deter a nuclear North Korea. That's not what we've been accustomed to.

U.S. policy has predicated on the assumption that we could denuclearize the regime. So there's an adjustment that has to be made in Washington to start to think through how we can put in place a long-term sustainable strategy to deter and contain the regime. HOLMES: You have your policy. It's an interesting conversation to have. Despite a lot of saber rattling, the pushing of the onus for action on China, President Trump hasn't really explained any new approaches, has he, on how he would stop Pyongyang. He had that tweet back in January saying a nuclear weapon that could hit the U.S. shores in his words won't happen. But it's looking like it is happening.

What to you is the U.S. approach at the moment?

MOUNT: Michael, you're exactly right.

If this administration has a strategy on North Korea, I've seen very little evidence of it. They have said that it is not strategic patience. They said repeatedly that the era of strategic patience is over. That time is running out. But on the other hand, their policy is practically indistinguishable from the Obama policy.

Time and time again, Mr. Trump has approached China seeking an easy solution to the problem. That solution is not there. You need to abandon the search for easy answers, end this fools errand to hope that China will solve the problem for them immediately and start to coordinate with U.S. allies on the very difficult task of long-term sustainable strategy.

HOLMES: And also diplomatic talks that China would like them, South Korea would like them.

I mean, realistically, what are your thoughts about the likelihood of talks working? I mean there's been eight international agreements I think in recent years. Not one has work. And the people who most recently spoke in North Korea said they weren't interested in coming to a deal.

MOUNT: Yes. The North Korean said they are out of it on that front. They say we're a nuclear power. We're not interested in denuclearizing.

But on the other hand, I do think that it's worth engaging the regime. It's worth exploring the possibility of capping their nuclear and missile tests. It may be enough for Kim Jung-un to have the notional capability of threatening the continental United States, even if they haven't carried out the tests that would be necessary for that capability to be reliable in operational setting. So that may be something worth pursuing, but it's a slim chance.

What we're looking for in talks is for them to expand into an arms control regime on the peninsula.

So, for example, you could limit the number and location of artillery pieces in and along the demilitarize zone. That could stand as substantial chance of limiting the possibility of accidental conflict on the Peninsula that's worth exploring. It's not a slam dunk. It's not as good as full denuclearization, but it's better than nothing.

[00:40:00] HOLMES: Adam Mount with the Center for American Progress, always a pleasure to get your expertise. Thanks so much. MOUNT: Thanks, Michael.

HOLMES: Well, a London hospital is expected to take a terminally ill baby off life support this week. A move his parents are fighting to the end. And now the Pope is offering to step in. We'll be right back with that.

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HOLMES: Welcome back.

The pope's pediatric hospital in Rome is offering to admit baby Charlie Gard into its care and keep him on life support until his parents decide their next steps.

A court ruled in London that the London hospital in charge of the ten- month old care can turn his life support off, and that is expected to happen Friday.

Diana Magnay with more now from London.

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DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a very painful story of a little brain damaged boy with an incredibly rare genetic disorder. Just a handful of cases in the world. Two parents desperate to try anything that might conceive or be improve his condition and doctors who feel that any therapy would be futile.

In the U.K. when you have a situation where doctors and parents disagree in a child care, it goes to the courts.

Charlie's parents wanted to take him to the U.S. for a treatment called nucleoside bypass therapy. The courts on the advice of his medical staff and a host of other experts concluded that it would not be in Charlie's best interest to be tested on that might benefit medical science, but it wouldn't benefit Charlie.

And therefore that it would be in his best interests given his limited quality of life for treatment to be withdrawn.

Donald Trump has offered to help. The Vatican owned hospital has offered to take him in, but the decision of Britain Supreme Court is final. The life support machine was meant to be turn off on Friday. But what is likely happening is that the hospital is trying to develop an end of life plan that the parents can bear, that does not give the child any additional distress, but makes his final few hours as comfortable as possible.

The parent said last week, their last wish was for him to die at home and they said that the hospital had refused. Well, that may be because they consider Charlie too fragile to move and they can care for him best at this stage in the hospital.

Diana Magnay, CNN, London.

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HOLMES: And thank you all for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Michael Holmes. "World Sport" coming up next. Then I'll be back with another hour of news from around the world in about 15 minutes. You're watching CNN.

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