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North Korea Fires Two More Missiles; Israel Bans Two U.S. Democrats From Entering Country; City's Police Defend Tactics During Demonstrations; North Korea Has Fired Off Two More Short Range Ballistic Missiles; Israel Says it is Blocking Two US Congresswoman From Entering the Country After Donald Trump Encouraged That Decision; Hong Kong Police Are Defending the Way They Handle the City's Massive Protests; Gibraltar's Supreme Court Has Ruled That a Seized Iranian Oil Tanker is Free to Leave. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 16, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Everyone, thank you for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, new defiance from North Korea, their regime fires two war missiles shortly after claiming they were no longer on speaking terms with the South.

Also this hour, critics call it a shameful unprecedented move. Israel blocks two U.S. lawmakers from entering the country at the urging of Donald Trump.

And how bad is the world's plastic problem? Scientists warn it's literally raining down on us.

Thank you again for joining us. We have a lot to get to this hour. Our top story, more missiles from North Korea. The Pentagon says that North fired off two short-range ballistic missiles early Friday. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff tell CNN they were launched off the North's eastern coast and landed in the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

This comes as North Korea rejects any more face-to-face talks with the south. A government spokesman saying Seoul is deluding itself to think otherwise. On Thursday, South Korea's president said the momentum for dialogue with the north remains unshaken despite the recent missile launches.

CNN's David Culver is following the developments for us from Seoul. Let's begin with the latest launch here. What more do you know about it, David?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A very busy morning here in Seoul, Natalie. Well, we know that this most recent round of launches started about 8:00 local time here. According to U.S. military officials, these were missiles that were launched and they went as you pointed out between Japan and Korea in the sea there.

Now the monitoring has gone on from both the U.S. and the South Korean military side. South Korea labeling this as projectiles for now. They, however, have some concerns here and they're continuing to maintain that readiness stance when it comes to any potential threat that they may need to react to.

However, the reality is this is the sixth such launch in just about three weeks' time. It seems the North is continuing to move forward with this they say because they are upset with the joint U.S. military drills that are happening between the U.S. and South Korea. They're underway right now. They say those pose a threat to the sovereignty of North Korea. So that's why they're going forward with the several rounds of launches that have been going on.

However, military defense experts who we've spoken with, and we've been in touch with several over the past few days say that this is far more than that. This is an indication of an enhancement of technology for North Korean military. And they point specifically to the altitude abilities and the trajectory of some of these missiles that we've seen launched.

It seems that North Korea has touted that one of the most recent launches allowed a missile to navigate properly the terrain of North Korea, and it looks like the altitude suggests that they could potentially evade South Korean and U.S. military defense systems.

Now, this all comes after President Trump last week downplayed some of these short-range missile launches. He says these aren't ICBMs, these aren't nuclear, these aren't really that great of a threat and essentially gave North Korea a reason to justify why they're going forward with these launches.

Now, National Security Advisor John Bolton, he spoke with Voice of America yesterday, and he acknowledged that this is a concern. He pointed out this is a concern not only to South Korea, not only to Japan, both U.S. allies mind you, but I'll see U.S. service members and their families here on the peninsula.

He goes on to say though that these launches, while they violate U.N. Security Council resolutions, they don't violate the agreement that Kim Jong-un made with President Trump. So it seems like they're still given the north some wiggle room here, Natalie.

ALLEN: Right. But let's talk about the rejection that North Korea has made to South Korea. Its overtures to the North to stop launching and to return to talks is being ignored. What's the feeling there in South Korea over that?

CULVER: As I've been speaking with officials and some lawmakers, you get -- you get some kind of a split reaction here. The president here in South Korea, President Moon has suggested that diplomacy and dialogue, that's the way forward here. Confrontation will do no good. While at the same time, even his speech yesterday for what was a national holiday here, Liberation Day, stressed that South Korea is prepared, even mentioning they're stronger when it comes to defense against North Korea.

But ultimately that side is pushing diplomacy and they think dialogue can move forward. Military defense experts counter that and they say that they fear that South Korea is not coming across strong enough when it comes to countering some of what the North is putting out there and certainly challenging them on these recent missile launches.

But it's interesting to point out that North Korea even this morning has said they want nothing to do with South Korea when it comes to talks and negotiations and creating a peaceful economy here on the Korean Peninsula. Instead, they want to deal directly with the U.S., Natalie.

[01:05:23] ALLEN: All right, we'll wait and see what the next move is with this unfortunate setback one after another. Thanks, David Culver for this.

Well, President Trump launched a new attack against two Democratic Congresswomen encouraging Israel to ban Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country during a planned trip later this month. And Israel followed through with the unprecedented move. CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta reports.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is reigniting his culture war with the Democratic Congresswomen of color known as The Squad.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think would be a terrible thing frankly for Israel to let these two people who speak so badly about Israel come in. And they have become amazingly the face of the Democrats.

ACOSTA: The President is now supporting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to block Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering Israel tweeting, they hate Israel and all Jewish people and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. They are a disgrace.

But that's not true. The Congresswoman have never said they hate Israel and all Jewish people. The President's tweet came just before a statement from Netanyahu laying out his reason to bar the congresswoman saying their plan is only to damage Israel and to foment against Israel.

TRUMP: I think my social media statement pretty well speaks for itself. I feel that they are so anti-Israel, so anti-Jewish. Again, if other people made that statement, there would have been hell to pay. So -- but I did speak to people over them.

ACOSTA: Before the president's tweet, the White House denied Mr. Trump was urging Netanyahu to ban the congresswoman saying that was inaccurate. Democrats are railing against the move.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): It's an insult to the American people. Representative Tlaib and Representative Omar are equal members of the United States Congress. ACOSTA: Mr. Trump's latest attack on Omar after some of his

supporters chanted she should be sent back to her native country of Somalia at a rally last month.

TRUMP: Obviously and importantly Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic speech.

AMERICAN CROWD: Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!

TRUMP: When she talked about the evil Israel and it's all about the Benjamins, not a good thing to say.

ACOSTA: In response to Israel's decision, Omar fired back saying in a statement, "The irony of the only democracy in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation."

Both Omar and Tlaib who is Palestinian and American have drawn criticism for supporting a movement to boycott Israel over some of its policies.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): I can tell you they're all around college campuses. There are Jews, Muslims, Hindus all different kinds of backgrounds who are pushing back against racist policies in Israel because they see that the human rights violations, of children being detained. The fact that my grandmother who lives in the West Bank right now does not have equality, she doesn't have freedom of travel.

ACOSTA: But even the powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC opposes Netanyahu's decision saying "We believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally, Israel, firsthand."

Democrats say the President's push for Israel to ban the Congresswoman is nothing more than a distraction from a wobbly week on Wall Street that raised concerns a recession could be on the horizon.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We saw him go off the rails yesterday. Now today it's this. It'll be something tomorrow. And the more the heat gets cranked up and the more this economy softens, the less he's going to be able to keep his stuff together.

ACOSTA: One thing to keep in mind about the president's attacks on the squad is that they are tactical. Republicans sources close to the White House said if Democrats are going to link to Republicans to Congressman Steve King, they will link the Democrats to The Squad. Jim Acosta, CNN Manchester, New Hampshire.


ALLEN: Joining us now from New York is Samantha Vinograd. She is a CNN National Security Analyst and served on U.S. President Obama's National Security Council. Sam, thanks for coming in to talk about this.


ALLEN: Sure thing. First up, do you think this move by President Trump is in part a deflection away from talks of a possible recession due to his trade war with China and the stock market tumbling on Wednesday?

VINOGRAD: President Trump uses everything as a kind of P.R. gambit to distract attention away from what he doesn't want to talk about, but this has been a long-standing theme with President Trump. And by this, I mean his willingness to use foreign policy as a personal political tool.

He has now I think for the first time in U.S. history intervened in another country's policies, in this case, Israel's to advance his personal politics which have to do with labeling Democratic members of Congress as anti-Semitic.

He obviously confuses that quite frequently with being against the State of Israel and getting Netanyahu to do his political bidding. So while this is a distraction tactic most likely, it is part of his long-standing strategy to I think get members of the American Jewish community to view him as a friend of Israel and to view Democrats, potentially any Democratic candidates as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

ALLEN: Do you think it will have that effect for the president? I certainly hope not. I mean, we have to look at this in two ways though. I mean, President Trump and Bibi are serving as each other's top campaign surrogates at this point.

We have President Trump trying to use his support for Israel and kind of the carte blanche that he's given to Bibi Netanyahu to really pursue a one-state solution when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is trumps trunk card with respect to getting the American Jewish community on board with voting for him in 2020.

At the same time President Trump who is deeply unpopular in other allied countries like in Europe, and in South America, and Central America, he is deeply popular in Israel. He has directly intervened in favor of Netanyahu during the last election cycle. And now with Netanyahu facing a relatively uncertain political legal future, Netanyahu seems to be putting all of his eggs in the Trump basket so to speak.

And the question is you know how will this short turn quid pro quo in which Trump lets Netanyahu do what Netanyahu pleases in return for giving Trump these kinds of so-called victories with respect to borrowing Democrats from entering Israel and supporting Trump, what long-lasting impact will that have on the relationship between the United States and Israel,

ALLEN: Right. And could it threaten the Netanyahu government? There's been a lot of different reaction from people over this situation. I want to point out that the pro-Israel group AIPAC tweeted this.

"We disagree with representatives Omar and Tlaib's support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement along with a Representative Tlaib's calls for a one-state solution. We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally, Israel, firsthand." So how could this decision make both Trump and Mr. Netanyahu look on the global stage?

VINOGRAD: Well, the law that the Israeli government is using to bar entry to these two Muslim members of Congress got a similar reaction to what we're seeing right now which is the law was really promulgated to ban anyone who supports the boycott of Israel from entering the country.

When the law was passed about two years ago, the criticism was you call yourselves a democracy and you are not letting people that use their free speech to criticize Israeli policies to enter the country. That's not being democratic. And that's where we are today.

These two members of Congress, I personally disagree with most of their positions just like in the AIPAC statement, but they are exercising their right to free speech. And Israel is now choosing what free speech is allowed and which legislators are allowed to come to Israel.

And there's an argument that by letting critics come to Israel, would there be an opportunity to engage with them, to deepen understanding and to forge more knowledge on these two members of Congress' part.

And I do want to note you know, Vladimir Putin is a leader that has banned Democrats. He has not given them visas to enter his country because they've been critical of Russia for example. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a prominent Democrat was denied a visa, and her Republican counterpart suspended their travel plans because they did not want a foreign leader to get involved in our country's politics.

And now Netanyahu is seemingly taking a page from Putin and following suit and allowing U.S. politics to play themselves out on the ground in Israel. That is very, very worrisome precedent and it really you know begs the question as to whether Netanyahu knows what he's doing here.

He again is banking on President Trump just like he banked on -- I was at the White House during this time. He was pretty sure President Obama was not going to win re-election in 2012 and that could backfire for Netanyahu. But what is certain we don't know if Netanyahu will win or not, is that Netanyahu is really painting himself as doing President Trump's bidding and that will have lasting consequences with Democrats in Congress as well as potentially Democratic president in 2020.

ALLEN: Right. Well, it even involves something that Vladimir Putin did. You know, couldn't get any worse than the fact that --


ALLEN: OK. So I want to ask you this. You know, President Trump's feud with these Congresswomen play directly to his base a few weeks ago. Let's play again that infamous chant. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[01:15:05] AMERICAN CROWD: Send her back! Send her back!

ALLEN: And even though he has said initially that he tried to knock it down, you can see him waiting while this continues. So the question is, is this less about international politics and more about Mr. Trump doing what he likes to do most which is fire up his base?

VINOGRAD: This is all about President Trump trying to fire up his base. And one way that he has fired up his base consistently since hitting the campaign trail here in the United States is to Hillary refugees and/or to pillory really anybody of color that is in this country whether born in this country or someone who came through a legal kind of entry or otherwise as having to go back or having -- being a rapist or criminal.

This whole notion of the other has been quite prevalent in President Trump's rhetoric since he hit the campaign trail. What changed when he got elected president is that his actions now match his words. He has done everything possible to curtail the ability of people to come to this country legally as immigrants. He's closed our borders to Muslims. There have been court cases to fight against that.

And he has struck a chord with his base when it comes to painting anybody of color again whether it be Muslim or African-American or Hispanic as dangerous in some way, and not as American as Donald Trump considers himself and other white Christian Americans to be.

And what's really dismaying as an American who is a child of an immigrant it's seeing how much this resonates with his base. He is doing nothing to stop it. He is purposefully encouraging it. And what that means is it will continue to metastasize. And the problem is from a security perspective it is playing out in very dangerous ways.

We had an active domestic terror in El Paso targeted against Hispanics, one group that President Trump likes rail against inaccurately label rapists, criminals, and gang members.

ALLEN: Right, exactly.

VINOGRAD: So he knows that his words have consequences yet he still uses them.

ALLEN: Right. Well, we appreciate your insights. This is a story that I guess we will continue to be talking about for some time. Sam Vinograd, thank you, Sam.

VINOGRAD: Thank you.

ALLEN: Our other top story we're continuing to follow here is Hong Kong and police there defending the way they handle the mass demonstrations that continue to rock the city. That includes the use of tear gas and rubber bullets. One senior officer says if the protesters don't use violence, we don't use force. But that is not how pro-democracy demonstrators see things. Kristie

Lu Stout joins me now from Hong Kong with more. You've been covering these protests for weeks now, Kristie. First of all, what will it take to end them?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, before we get into that aspect of this ongoing situation, let's talk about how you set up this segment, just what Hong Kong police are saying because something very significant happened in the last day or so.

For the first time, ten weeks into this long protest movement, senior Hong Kong officials have offered a media briefing to reporters and CNN was there. To sum it up in one sentence, they said in regards to the protesters, if you use force -- if you use violence, we will use force.

Now, the Hong Kong police force and the senior commanders, they defended their use of force. They also rejected the notion of an independent inquiry looking into allegations of police brutality, one of the key to demands of the protest movement. And they also -- and this is interesting -- disputed top leader Carrie Lam's description of what's happening in Hong Kong.

The Chief Executive has said that the situation here is spinning out of control. The Hong Kong police force 30,000 uniformed officers dispute that. They say it is under control. Yes, they are demoralized, they are emotionally drained, and physically drained as well, but they have the situation under control and they have yet to fully mobilize themselves.

Now, Natalie, there have been some serious allegation of police brutality and excessive use of force filed against the Hong Kong police. Events for example that happened last weekend on Sunday when in an enclosed place in an MTR station, a subway station in Hong Kong, tear gas was deployed, rubber bullets as well.

One female protester was seriously injured, her eye was ruptured as a result of that very aggressive clearance operation. On top of that, there has been video evidence of Hong Kong police disguised as undercover looking like protesters. This is something that the protesters have condemned. It enrages them in their movement. This is something that human rights groups have also condemned as well.

But the Hong Kong police force, they are defending their actions. They are also accusing protesters especially the more hardcore elements of engaging in provocative actions like the storing of bricks, projectiles, bottles with frozen fluids inside. They even said in this press briefing, they added that if you come free equipped with bricks, you'll be considered as a rioter.

We know that dozens of people have been charged for rioting here in the city, and if convicted, that carries a very serious sentence of ten in jail. As for the number of arrests since his protests broke out more than two months ago, Hong Kong police telling CNN that there have been over 700 people arrested including a child, a 13-year-old youth. Natalie, back to you. [01:20:20] ALLEN: Right. And Kristie, so that that highlights the situation and how dangerous it's become. So we don't know when these protests would end and we also don't know whether China will intervene, and that, of course, could add a whole another dimension to this.

STOUT: That's right. There has been rising concern and frankly alarm about whether the mainland Chinese government, the People's Liberation Army would somehow intervene. We had CNN's Matt Rivers reporting and providing and documenting evidence of Chinese paramilitary troops amassing in a sports stadium just across the Hong Kong border in Shenzhen.

We've heard a strengthening in tone and language from Chinese officials and Chinese state media characterizing events here as acts of terror or terrorism. And also there was a propaganda video that was released a couple weeks ago from the PLA, the Hong Kong garrison showing what looked like riot tactics being exercised in the Hong Kong like environment.

All of this adding to a sense of an ease at a big question mark whether China will intervene. Now, it is highly unlikely experts say, an analyst that we've been talking to that China will intervene at the moment. China has too much to lose.

Also according to the basic law, the mini Constitution here at Hong Kong, matters of law and order fall under Hong Kong courts and Hong Kong police. Also according to the basic law, the PLA in Hong Kong can only intervene if requested by the chief executive, the top leader of Hong Kong. Natalie?

ALLEN: All right, it's such a complex story and it goes on and on. Kristie Lu Stout for us, thanks so much, Kristie. Well, in another part of Hong Kong, the French urban climber Alain Robert known as Spider-man scaled a skyscraper to unveil this banner. It shows the flags of China and Hong Kong above a handshake. A symbolic gesture calling for a reconciliation.

The trade war between the U.S. and China has financial markets on edge, and they don't like it. We'll have a live report from Hong Kong just ahead on that. Also, a seized Iranian tanker if allowed to leave Gibraltar but the U.S. says not so fast. We'll tell you where things stand in the weeks-long dispute.


[01:25:00] ALLEN: Asia's financial markets seem to be in a holding pattern right now following Wall Street's huge sell-off on Wednesday. Let's take a look right now. We see the Nikkei is barely down 0.7 percent, Hang Seng up 0.84, Shanghai Composite up 0.62.

This comes after Wall Street regained a little ground on Thursday after its biggest one-day loss of the year. Investors are skittish over troubling economic signs around the world and the back and forth between Washington and Beijing as their trade dispute deepens. China has against that it would retaliate if new U.S. tariffs take

effect. But then added it was hopeful a deal could be reached. Let's bring in CNN's Andrew Stevens from Hong Kong to break it down for us. It seems like both China and the U.S. will need more than hope to get through this one, Andrew.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They would both like to get through this one, Natalie but neither are prepared to compromise to the degree that's needed to actually reach some sort of agreement on this. So we have a standoff. As you just said, China once again threatening to match the tariffs, the latest tariffs the Donald Trump will impose come September 1.

So this is not over by a long shot, and the dialogue seems to be sort of going nowhere, and there doesn't seem to be a real interest in making a deal at the moment. So the world is actually suffering collateral damage from that. We are seeing so many economies now being hit particularly here in Asia.

The U.S. economy itself as being hit. There's no doubt that the trade war even though Donald Trump says that the U.S. is collecting billions, tens of billions of dollars in tariffs, a lot of those tariffs are being paid indirectly by American consumers because those higher prices are being passed down to shop prices.

Many economists in the -- in the U.S. are now say calling the tariffs a stealth tax on U.S. consumers. And consider this, Natalie, that the U.S. consumer, the consumer sector, if you like, consumption in the U.S. accounts to some two-thirds of the U.S. economy, so that's really what drives the economy.

It's holding up very well at the moment. There was a good number coming out in July. But the fear is in which was being reflected in the stock market wobbles is that that can't last and the U.S. economy will start to spiral down. Whether it reaches outright a recession or not, we wait to find out.

But there -- it's facing up the headwinds that Donald Trump-inspired tax cuts. They're starting to fade away. The effect of -- the lagging effect of interest rates, the higher interest rates in the U.S. are still feeding through the system. So there's a lot of headwinds facing the U.S. economy. As we know, China is slowing down pretty sharply by China standards.

So it does look as if these markets, they are having priced in sort of an optimistic outlook. They're now starting to price in a pessimistic outlook on trade. And trade is creating this uncertainty all around the world which is all adding into this sort of spiral for the global economy.

ALLEN: Right. That words spiral, I tell you, not a good one. China you say is slowing down. The United States could face a recession. I'm going to ask you, who has the most to lose here, Xi Jinping or Donald Trump?

STEVENS: That's a great question. Both sides think they hold the upper hand in the trade wars. Donald Trump thinks that the U.S. -- the Chinese economy is going to suffer more, and Xi Jinping or the Chinese think that Donald Trump is facing an election. And if the economy starts to weak, he's going to be in trouble. So that is also sort of helping to understand why they are being as in transient as they are at the moment.

So who's -- I think overall, the Chinese economy will feel more impact of these -- of these tariffs simply because it exports a lot more to the U.S. than the other -- than the other way around. So there is more Chinese goods being targeted than U.S. goods being targeted the other way, so that has a bigger effect.

The question is which of the two economies is best placed to deal with that sort of hit on the economy. Now, China is much more of a command economy and the Beijing government has a lot of levers it can use. It's already used levers this year to help ease the pain of these tariffs, Natalie. And it's be increasingly expected that it will start ramping up other measures to help the consumers in China to help the economy.

Whereas the U.S., after the global crisis back in 2009, when it brought interest rates down to virtually zero, they've have wretched them somewhat but not to a great degree there. So basically the U.S. doesn't have the same sort of room to pull the levers, the economic levers to sugarcoat and get things moving for the U.S. economy that probably China does.


So that's -- it's a long-winded way of saying that who is in best position to weather the storm, if you like, and probably most economists will tell you, it's China.

NATALIE ALLEN, ANCHOR, CNN: All right, we appreciate your insight as always Andrew Stevens for us there in Hong Kong. Thank you.

Next here, on CNN Newsroom, the US asked Gibraltar to keep an Iranian oil tanker in custody, but Gibraltar says it's not interested in holding the ship any longer.


ALLEN: You are watching CNN Newsroom, we appreciate it, I'm Natalie Allen, and here are our top stories this hour.

North Korea has fired off two more short range ballistic missiles. The Pentagon said they landed on the sea west of Japan. This is the latest in a series of missile launches over the past few weeks. South Korea's National Security Council convened an emergency session, following the launch.

Israel says it is blocking two US Congresswoman from entering the country after Donald Trump encouraged that decision. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are critics of both Donald Trump and Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the women wanted to damage Israel. Hong Kong police are defending the way they handle the city's massive

protests. They say they only used tear gas on pro-democracy protesters when the crowds get violent. The protestors accuse police of unprovoked excessive force, and are calling for an independent investigation.

Gibraltar's Supreme Court has ruled that a seized Iranian oil tanker is free to leave. The court made the decision after receiving an assurance that the ship's cargo would not be delivered to Syria. But as CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports, the United States is objecting to that ruling.


NICK PATON WALSH, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: This really was supposed to be a day of de-escalation, until suddenly just when people thought it was a matter of hours until the Gibraltar court released the Grace 1, because the detention order had expired, the American Department of Justice lodged further papers at the court to try, it seems, to have that detention extended or a new period of detention begun.

That does - it appears still to be being assessed. Now what we did hear today, clearly, was the in terms of the EU sanctions violations for which the Grace 1 was originally detained, they have been cleared up, and the tanker on that score is free to go, according to Gibraltar judges.

What is not resolved are these new allegations. Now there's basically a clock ticking as to whether or not the Gibraltar court believes there is enough in this Department of Justice submission to perhaps potentially detain the tanker again.

[01:35:00] It is, as far as we understand, free to leave at this point. Whether or not it has a crew to sail it is unclear. The crew which was originally onboard were released today as part of the judicial proceedings and the EU sanctions issue being resolved.

But this has been a, frankly, messy day because, as far as we understand, the Gibraltar government has been given assurances by the Iranian government that the tanker would no longer be headed towards the Banyas Syrian oil refinery, where many believe it was originally bound, tens of millions of dollars of oil potentially headed to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, which is currently under EU sanctions.

But this last-minute intervention by the US Department of Justice as yet still it seems unresolved. That may well be part of the broad wave of pressure from Washington often against its own allies to be tougher on Iran, to place maximum pressure from sanctions, military buildup in the Gulf, anything it can really including pulling out of the nuclear deal to put Tehran under greater pressure.

Exactly where this comes in the next day or two unclear, it is obvious that the UK court system has embarked on a path that will likely lead to the escalation and it may even mean the reciprocal detention of the Stena Impero British owned tanker by Iran is in fact resolved as well. But we don't quite know how Washington intervention here is going to yet be resolved.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


ALLEN: Well, Russia is still offering little information about a blast that left five nuclear scientists dead. Now one week after the mysterious explosion, Norway says it has detected traces of radiation at an air-filter station.

As CNN's Brian Todd reports, this is raising more questions about Russia's nuclear program, specifically a new nuclear powered missile.


BRIAN TODD, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Nuclear experts worry Vladimir Putin's government is trying to cover up a deadly nuclear explosion in Russia, risking lives in order to avoid revealing military secrets.

It began last Thursday after a mysterious explosion off Russia's northern coast. The US believes the blast came during the testing of a nuclear powered cruise missile. The Kremlin will only say some kind of liquid fuel ignited.

DARYL KIMBALL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION: I think the Russian State is going to try to maintain a brave face, they are trying to assure their public that there's absolutely no risk. I would not trust that.

TODD: Scientists warn a failed nuclear reactor inside that missile designed to help it fly thousands of miles through the sky could now be at the bottom of the sea. If, as Russian State media reported, the explosion occurred on a platform above the water. Scientists say the missile could have fallen in with tides, wind and rain factored in, they say, if this missile is leaking radioactive material in the water.

MICHAEL ELLEMAN, SENIOR FELLOW FOR MISSILE DEFENCE, THE INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: Those that are down-current for long distances could be exposed to radioactivity. It would be very troubling and worrying if that were the case.

TODD: Russia's meteorological agency initially said radiation level spiked at 4 to 16 times above the norm before going down. But Russian military officials later told state media that no dangerous substances got into the air. Among the crucial questions being asked now, how far could any radiation have spread?

KIMBALL: In the air, it could spread hundreds of kilometers.

TODD: On Wednesday, the Russian military ordered a nearby village to be evacuated due to military drills; then quickly scrapped the order. American analysts say they are concerned that if some areas are not evacuated now, the people who live there could become very sick, even though they may not show the symptoms of radiation sickness immediately.

KIMBALL: How long people are exposed to that is a key factor and there may be health effects down the road, higher incidence of cancer.

TODD: Now, experts say western intelligence agencies are likely scrambling to see what kind of recovery teams the Russians are sending to that area off their northern coast and studying satellite images and communication intercepts to see how seriously they are treating the explosion.

One think-tank says that it has already seen a Russian nuclear transport ship on public satellite photos.

ELLEMAN: I would look for sniffer planes to obtain samples off the air to determine if there is any radioactive elements. I would also look for mother ships, recovery ships, submersibles, deep dive robotic equipment. That will tell you what they're trying to recover and at what depth.

TODD: Another critical signal that experts say we should be watching out for is whether Vladimir Putin continues to try to develop this nuclear powered cruise missile. Experts are concerned that since he's tried to build at least one, that he might try to manufacture hundreds, maybe even thousands more, which they contend is a bad idea.

[01:40:00] Multiple nuclear weapons experts have told us Putin should scrap this missile, that it's simply too dangerous. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Next here, tiny bits of plastic are causing major environmental problems and scientists say they have found microplastics in one of the most remote areas in the world. So, what is the solution to the world's addiction to plastic? We will talk about it with our guest, coming up.


ALLEN: Zimbabwe police are preparing for anti-government demonstrations to take place in the coming hours. The opposition leader has called for a day of strikes and marches as the country copes with an economic crisis that is spiraling out of control. For more about it, here's CNN's Robyn Curnow.


ROBYN CURNOW, SOUTH AFRICAN JOURNALIST AND NEWS ANCHOR, CNN: Signs of the times in Zimbabwe, rolling blackouts in the capital Harare are forcing lifestyle changes for businesses and ordinary Zimbabweans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a very tough time indeed, because we are having to operate during the nights where there is available little power.

CURNOW: Employees at Moses Tipararo's (ph) plastic centers now work at night to cope with the frequent power outages in the capital. The state owned power company is struggling to stay afloat.

A severe drought has reduced output at its largest hydro plant and its aging coal fired generators are no longer reliable. The result, rolling blackouts lasting up to 18 hours a day, crippling businesses and making life difficult for residents. Companies like this one now begin work at about 10 pm when power is stored.

Cynthia Chabwenow (ph) is making similar adjustments.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Translated): I'm supposed to be sleeping and resting, but I have to wake up and do household chores like fetching water and ironing, it is unbearable.

CURNOW: People like Cynthia (ph) also have to contend with the shortage of water due to severe restrictions from the authorities, limiting access to clean tap water to once a week.

Zimbabwe is reeling from a worsening economic crisis. In July, inflation doubled to 175%, the highest since the country's devastating economic collapse a decade ago.

When he took over in an apparent military coup in 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to fix the economy.

[01:45:00] His government has imposed austerity measures, but that's done little to help. Prices of food and fuel have soared and long lines at petrol stations are common.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Things are getting tougher every day. The fuel is going up, the prices are going up, because the fuel is going up.

CURNOW: The country is crippled by massive debts incurred during the rule of Robert Mugabe and his multi-billion dollar bailout. But despite some efforts to tackle the problem, President Mnangagwa's government is yet to win the confidence of the international community that could provide that bailout. Robyn Curnow, CNN.


ALLEN: We turn now to the environment, and for a long time, plastic has posed a major threat, choking the world's oceans and killing marine animals, and that's no surprise. But now, scientists say deadly microplastics have made their way to the farthest ends of the Earth. Michael Holmes has our story.


MICHAEL HOLMES, AUSTRALIAN NEWS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Scientists are calling it a punch in the gut. New research shows that the threat plastic pollution poses to marine life has reached some of the most remote waters on the planet.

BRICE LOOSE, CHIEF SCIENTIST, NORTHWEST PASSAGE PROJECT: When we were to sample it, we thought we were going to need quite a bit, so we started off basically taking that entire core and concentrating it down to a concentrated solution in order to be able to see how much plastic was in there.

It turned out there was so much plastic that you could look at it with your naked eye and just see all of the beads and the fibers and the filaments sitting there in the bottom of the containers.

HOLMES: The 18-day US led expedition used a helicopter to land on ice floes and drill for samples. Scientists have found plastic in parts of the Arctic before but they were hoping that this area of the Northwest Passage was so isolated that it had been spared from pollution. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have been able to sample ice floes from multi- year ice and from first-year ice here in the Arctic archipelago and I think this is the first time that we can show people the presence of microplastics in this area.

HOLMES: The United Nations estimates 100 million tons of plastic have been dumped in the oceans to-date. The team plans further research to understand the specific damage plastic is doing to animals that can ingest it, like fish, seabirds and large social mammals like whales. Michael Holmes, CNN, Atlanta.


ALLEN: Let's talk about it with Jess Phoenix, a geologist and Executive Director and Co-Founder of Blueprint Earth, she joins me from Los Angeles. Jess, thank you for coming in and talk about this.


ALLEN: Sure thing. Well, clearly the plastic problem as indicated in that report is getting worse and worse. The US Geological Survey put it this way, it is raining plastic. Microplastics in the Arctic, what does that signal to you?

PHOENIX: It just shows us that there really truly are no environments that are free from what people do. Everything we do has global impacts. And unless we clean up our act, we are only going to see more and more of this contamination in the coming years.

ALLEN: And that's happening very, very slowly on a minute scale across the world, despite what we see in our - on our beaches. The plastic trash, the world is slowly caught on, some cities, regions, countries, businesses are pulling back on plastic use, and we just had this announcement from India, but listen.


NARENDRA MODI, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA (Translated): My fellow Indians. Today may I put forth a small request. This October the 2nd, let's make India free of single use plastic.

If you see single use plastic at home or on the road, help the municipal authorities in your towns and villages to clean it up.


ALLEN: Well, there you have the Prime Minister of India making a speech about this. That is wonderful, but it's a bold move that you got to ask, is it achievable?

PHOENIX: I'm actually really encouraged by that. I've travelled to India, I've seen firsthand they use just as much if not more disposable single-use plastics as we do. But I think really what it takes is a collective effort by people there on the ground, and this could very well be something that it starts - the change starts with individuals. Because it's not plastics like we think of with drinking straws and things like that. It's also the way that we make tires, the way that we put coatings on materials. It's going to take a societal wide shift in every society, but I think we can do it, particularly when leaders are onboard.

ALLEN: And we need that. Now speaking of leaders, let's look at Pakistan. It just announced major fines for plastic bags, and take a look at the fines; $31 for using a single plastic bag, $63 for selling a plastic bag, and $31,000 for manufacturing plastic bags.

[01:50:00] That's ambitious, but isn't it time for drastic action and to say, enough of people trying to not use it individually, what about the production of plastic and those that do?

PHOENIX: That is completely on the right track. I mean, we as a society have to make the shift and we have done big shifts away from certain products that were damaging or hazardous to our health before.

And just because you don't see trash piles like what's on the screen right now, every single day in front of your house, doesn't mean you're not potentially breathing in these microplastics particles. The very future of our health and our children's health depends on us taking action.

ALLEN: And why isn't plastic production being seriously scaled back, Jess? We still get water by the millions of plastic bottles. Soda companies continue to sell soda in plastic bottles. There just doesn't seem to be an alternative?

PHOENIX: Well, I think we are starting to see some companies yield to social pressures. They are trying to actually give consumers what they want. And either the pressure from the consumers will become great enough and companies will switch their behaviors, or it's got to be legislated.

And I think, with the US' current government administration, we are more likely to see government inaction on this. So, we need to look to everyday citizens to ask companies to make more responsible choices. And until we break the grip of the oil and fossil fuel industry on every sector of our manufacturing process, we won't see any change that's not government or citizen driven.

ALLEN: Yes, and that's a high calling, isn't it, right there. I want to point out a quote I saw in a report about plastic in The Guardian newspaper and recycling. And the quote was, if you have a leak in your kitchen, would you continue to try and mop it up or would you find the source of the leak? And that sadly is the notion that recycling alone can get us out of this mess and we see that that's just not happening, and even recycling programs are being scaled back. Developing countries that used to take recycled products from other countries, they are not taking it now.

PHOENIX: Yes. I mean, it's a changing world that we have and we need to adapt. I mean, it goes back to the old adage, adapt or die. And in reality, that is what we are facing.

ALLEN: All right, we appreciate your insights. There's so much to do, and with this report, maybe more and more folks and countries and companies will wake up. Thank you so much, Jess Phoenix, we appreciate it.

PHOENIX: Thank you.

ALLEN: Coming next, any idea what this is? Whatever you think, strapped to the back of that person, it's not science fiction, it's the latest invention from Japan, we will tell you what it is and what they wanted to do. Coming next.


ALLEN: A woman in Canada is lucky to be alive after falling more than 1500 meters from an airplane.

[01:55:00] People on the ground watched in horror as the skydiver's main and backup parachutes failed to open.

CNN partner CBC reports she plunged into a wooded area, and is now recovering in the hospital with several fractures, including broken vertebra. Authorities are investigating whether there was negligence. She is fortunate.

Well, Japanese researchers are looking at something that was lost to all of us millions of years ago. Can you guess it? A tail. And they're looking at bringing it back, courtesy of robotics. CNN's Lynda Kinkade tells us why.


LYNDA KINKADE, AUSTRALIAN JOURNALIST AND ANCHOR, CNN: Millions of years after our ancestors evolved to lost their tails, a Japanese research team is designing a robotic version. The scientists say their device could help unsteady elderly people keep their balance. Dubbed Arque, the grey one-meter device mimics tails that animals like cheetah's use to keep their balance, while running and climbing.

JUNICHI NABESHIMA, GRADUATE STUDENT, KEIO UNIVERSITY (Translated): This is a tale that aids in balance. For example, when a human tilts like this, the tail moves in the opposite direction than that of the tilted direction. The tail keeps a balance like a pendulum. This is our robotic tail.

KINKADE: As its population gets older, Japan has been at the forefront in seeking ways to keep its greying population mobile and productive. The researchers believe their tail could help the elderly, but they also see applications for industrial workers.

NABESHIMA (Translated): We have real life people in mind, such as those doing work involving heights, unstable ground (ph) and of course the old people who lose their sense of balance.

KINKADE: But what looks like science fiction could become in place in just a few years. Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


ALLEN: Don't know what to think about that one. You're watching CNN Newsroom, I'm Natalie Allen. I'll have another hour for you right after this, don't go anywhere.


ALLEN: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen, this is CNN Newsroom. And coming up this hour, North Korea fires two more missiles hours after its state media--