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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Ballistic Missile Launch In North Korea; Leaked Email Exposes No. 10 Party; Mistaken Artificial Sun in China. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired January 11, 2022 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: You have been watching "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER". THE GLOBAL BRIEF starts right now.


NOBILO: Hello, and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.

Tonight, another missile launch in North Korea is concerning officials around the world, and now, Pyongyang is speaking out about it.

Then, two-thirds of British voters think the prime minister should resign, according to a new poll, after a leaked email invitation to Downing Street

staff in May 2020 put the spotlight on another alleged party during lockdown.

And some people in China thought they were seeing an artificial sun in the sky. Why? That's ahead.

It may be a new day in North Korea, but concerns over its latest missile test are casting a shadow over the rest of the world. In the past hour, the

North Korean state media has said that the launch was a success and was watched by Leader Kim Jong-un.

Earlier, South Korea said it believes this missile was more advanced than the one tested by North Korea just six days ago. Pyongyang Korea says both

of the missiles were hypersonic. The head of the U.N. says he's very concerned by the situation and the White House has issued a condemnation.

Oren Lieberman has the latest reaction from the Pentagon for us.

Oren, what are you hearing about this launch? Is it any different? And how are countries likely to respond?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Bianca, this launch does appear to be more advanced than the launch carried out just a week ago.

According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, the missile itself reached a height of 40 miles and traveled at mach 10, later landing in the Sea of


But it's not just this singular launch and the fact that there were two in a week. Instead, there have been a number of launches over the course of

the past five or six months, and all that builds up to a troubling direction for North Korea's -- for the direction Kim Jong-un is taking

North Korea.


LIEBERMANN (on camera): Newly released images show North Korea's latest missile launch. The ballistic missile flew more than 400 miles, according

to the Japan's ministry of defense, and crashed into the Sea of Japan. The missile went nearly 40 miles high, reached mach 10 according to South

Korea's Yonhap news agency.

This test coming one week after North Korea tested this, what it claims was a hypersonic weapon. North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, it seems, is

reminding the West of his relevance.

JOSEPH YUN, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA: North Korea has to make a decision -- do they go full provocation or do they wait

a bit more? I think I really do believe they wanted to give President Biden an opportunity to engage North Korea on North Korea terms. But Washington

has not done that.

LIEBERMANN: In early December, the U.S. and South Korea announced they would update their operational war plan, a classified strategy for how the

countries and their allies would respond if war breaks out on the Korean peninsula.

In the months before the announcement, there were four separate North Korean missile tests, including cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.

The State Department says they condemn the latest tests, two in the span of a week.

VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: The United States has said we are open to dialogue with North Korea, that we

are open the talking about COVID and humanitarian support, and instead they're firing off missiles.

LIEBERMANN: U.S. Indo Pacific Command says the launch does not pose a threat to U.S. territory, yet this from Burbank Airport in California.

ATC: Some sort of national security threat's going on, and we are not allowing aircraft to maneuver in the area at the moment.

LIEBERMANN: The White House says the FAA temporarily paused departures at some West Coast airports because of the missile test.


But it's still unclear why a launch thousand of miles away had any effect of flights in the U.S. when the military was able to quickly assess the

launch was no threat to the United States.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was a 15-minute ground stop, and they did it out of an abundance of caution, and they were going to be

assessing their approach moving forward.


LIEBERMANN (on camera): The FAA statement made no mention of North Korea or the missile launch. It simply said the FAA normally takes or rather

often takes precautionary measures. Of course, that is true. The FAA often does take precautionary measures, but this is the first time I can remember

that we've seen them ground flights on the West Coast, even for a short period, in response to a North Korean missile response.

The FAA says they're reviewing the policies and decision-making around the ground stop -- Bianca.

NOBILO: It is a little mysterious. Oren Liebermann for us at the Pentagon, thank you.

The omicron variant continues to infect, hospitalize and kill people at an alarming rate. Yet some are asking whether it's time to treat people like

the flu, an endemic disease which comes around predictably every year. The World Health Organization has an answer -- absolutely not. The COVID

manager the organization's program says COVID is a long way off from becoming endemic. That's because it's evolving quickly, posing challenges

and causing uncertainty, so it's still a pandemic. Meanwhile we're hearing a new warning from the WHO Europe director.


DR. HANS KLUGE, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE: At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts

that more than 50 percent of the population in the region will be infected with omicron in the next six to eight weeks.


NOBILO: As you can see here, Europe has already seen a massive influx of new cases, even among the vaccinated. Today, Italy and France are each

reporting their highest ever new infections by far, and the WHO says we still haven't seen omicron's full impact in Central and Eastern Europe,

where vaccine skepticism is high and vaccination rates accordingly low.

Today, Poland's death toll passed the 100,000 mark, and according to our world and data, the last week the number of deaths in COVID per 1 million

inhabitants was among the highest in the world.

Now, Boris Johnson's premiership has been embroiled in many scandals, too many to list here. I reported on most of them. But today, the calls for his

departure are the loudest they have been.

Multiple eyewitnesses and sources told British media that they saw the prime minister and his wife Carrie at a garden party in Downing Street on

the 20th of May, 2020, an acute moment in the pandemic. CNN hasn't confirmed that the Johnsons were seen there, but the prime minster, when

asked by a journalist whether he attended simply responded that it's under investigation.

The leaked email invitation to the party said, "Bring your own booze". It was sent to 100 people and it's understood that 30 attended. The very day

of the party in 2020, a government minister told a nation confined to their living rooms, quote, you can meet one person outside of your household in

an outdoor public space. Friends and families were not allowed to go to each other's homes. A party at Downing Street probably seems familiar to

you. Several allegations of parties emerge in the recent weeks, in Christmas 2020, and a leaving do in November of that year.

Johnson's defense so far has been that these were an extension of work or he was unaware and angry to hear about them happening. That's unlikely to

work in this case. For the British public, it's stretching credulity. Two- thirds of adults think Johnson should resign over the allegations he attended a Downing Street party in 2020, according to a new poll.

Humiliating, unforgivable, indefensible, are just some of the words used by the prime minster's own Conservative Party. The leader of a branch of that

party, that Scottish Conservatives said today Johnson should resign if he broke his own rules, as did the leader of the Sunderland Conservatives. The

opposition Labour Party has started to make headway against the Tories and polls recently, and are leading the political push to uncover what Johnson

did or did not do.


ANGELA RAYNER, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY DEPUTY LEADER: That day, the House heard from the prime minster himself that 181 NHS workers and 131 social

care staff had died. Many people made huge personal sacrifices.

And the minister, quite frankly, hides behind the gray investigation. There's no need for an investigation into the simple central question today

-- did the prime minster attend the event in the Downing Street garden on the 20th of May, 2020?


It won't wash, Mr. Speaker to blame this on a few junior civil servants. The prime minster sets the tone. If the prime minster was there, surely he



NOBILO: Quite apart from the damage to Johnson's popularity and the trust in politics in the United Kingdom, there is damage that can never be

undone. On the 20th of May, 2020, because of the rules Johnson set, people died alone, grieved alone, endured personal suffering because they were

doing what they were told or what they thought was right.

The juxtaposition is wrenching for them. A PM from the Democratic Unionist Party, Jim Shannon, broke down in the House of Commons today over the death

of his mother-in-law who died alone. Pain felt by families across the country.


JIM SHANNON, DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY MP: In Northern Ireland we reached the milestone of 3,000 deaths due to Covid just last week, 3,000 people who

followed the rules and we grieve today. So, will the paymaster, including my mother-in-law, who died alone. Will the general confirm there will be a

full and complete disclosure (INAUDIBLE) -- I'm sorry, Mr. Speaker.


NOBILO: British MPs, of which Johnson is one, are meant to uphold seven principles -- honesty, integrity, accountability, leadership, selflessness,

objectivity, and openness. As I said, Johnson has so far refused to say whether or not he attended a party in the midst of the pandemic in breach

of his own government's rules.

Tennis star Novak Djokovic is now under investigation as his story takes a new turn. Australian border officials are trying to figure out if his

travel entry form contained a false declaration, stating that he hasn't traveled in two week before his arrival. There's video of him in both Spain

and Serbia shortly before that trip. Serbia's prime minster said she's neither optimistic or pessimistic as to whether her countryman will be able

to defend his title at the Australian Open next week and that isolation rules for COVID-19 apply to everyone.


ANA BRNABIC, SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We love Novak. We're grateful to him for all he's doing and what he has done for the

Republic of Serbia, but there are some standards that have to be met and they're same for all. In that sense, I think there will be no need to ask

additional questions. I think we'll get the information from the investigation that's being conducted in Australia.


NOBILO: Nicaragua's long time president is mocking new sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European Union over an election widely considered

fraudulent. Daniel Ortega was sworn in for a fourth consecutive term on Monday night. International observers were not allowed to monitor the

November 7 election which was held after major opposition candidates were jailed. U.S. President Joe Biden and Western leaders called the election a

sham. But President Ortega tried to turn the tables, falsely suggesting that Mr. Biden was the real beneficiary of a stolen election.


DANIEL ORTEGA, NICARAGUAN PRESIDENT (through translator): There is always a crisis in the United States. Some thousands of North Americans pointed

out that the elections have been stolen from the previous President Donald Trump and they went to copping to protest. There are 700 North Americans in

jail because they went to protest to the Congress.


NOBILO: The protest he's referring to was the January 6th insurrection when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building in hopes of

overturning his election defeat.

Now, let's take a look at the key climate stories making international news today. Authorities in northern Chile say at least 100 homes burned down

when a fire swept through a poor neighborhood in the city of Iquique. The cause is still unknown. Officials have set up shelters for the hundreds of

people left homeless.

The world's oceans were the warmest they've ever been in 2021. It's the third year in a row that the annual study of ocean temperatures found

record warm in our seas. Warmer oceans caused stronger hurricanes and more rainfall. Ocean heat is considered one of the best measurements of climate


Ruptured pipelines, crumbling homes and cracked roads are likely to become common in the Arctic over the next 30 years. A new study says 70 percent of

Arctic infrastructure could be damaged by 2050 as the permafrost melts and destabilizes the land. Climate change is causing the Arctic to warm two to

four times faster than the rest of the climate.


NATO and Russia heading to some talks about Ukraine. Coming up, I'll speak with America's former Ukraine ambassador about how the two sides might find

a middle ground.

And a little later, archaeologists in England make an impressive discovery, a wealthy Roman town that could transform our understanding of the Roman

influence in Europe and beyond.


NOBILO: Kazakhstan's security forces have rounded up thousands more suspects as the government crack down following last week's violent

protests. A damp winter chill hung over the country's largest city while police and military guards search for those who they believe took part in

the demonstrations. The government says almost 10,000 people are now under arrest. The president is tightening his political control with the

parliament approving his handpicked prime minster.

Meanwhile, thousands of troops from a Russian led military alliance remain in the country, but the president says they'll be leaving in the coming ten

days. NATO and Russia are hours away from what could be contentious talks about Ukraine and the future of Eastern Europe. America's ambassadors to

NATO told CNN both sides hope to find a diplomatic solution to their differences, but she also said that Russia's demand NATO stop expanding

eastward is a, quote, nonstarter.

Russia has amassed some 1,000 troops on Ukraine's border. It says it has no plans to invade, but also hasn't said what the troops are going there, and

just a few hours ago, its defense ministry announced 3,000 soldiers have just started a new round of live fire drills.

I want to turn now via Skype to the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and Uzbekistan, John Herbst. He is now the director of the Eurasia Center at

the Atlantic Council.

And thank you very much for joining the program, sir. Great to have you with us.


NOBILO: What are your expectations for this meeting between Russia and NATO?

HERBST: Well, my expectations are very low. Putin, he's already running a war in Ukraine's east, a hybrid, somewhat covert war, and he's threatening

to send far more troops in because he's -- he knows he's not winning that, that covert war.

But he's also willing to accept the unilateral surrender by the United States and NATO by saying that not only will there be no expansion of NATO,

which is, of course, a contradiction of NATO principles, but also any member of NATO that was not part of NATO before 1997 cannot even have NATO

forces, NATO weapons on their territory.

These are unacceptable demands. The Kremlin knows it. I think he's trying to intimidate the United States, NATO countries, E.U. countries, and

Ukraine into making concessions to help him win his war of aggression in Ukraine.

NOBILO: And is de-escalation of these diplomatic political intentions in Putin's interest at all?


But as I just read, as we were introducing you, there have been these live fire drills today. I mean, this is a week where talks are being had to try

to calm tensions and concerns about Ukraine, Russia's possible intentions.

How do you read that?

HERBST: Well, I would say these talks are being held because Moscow insisted, Washington agreed, and Moscow's hoping to put pressure on the

United States, our NATO allies and others so that we make concessions to Russia in ways we possibly -- we simply could not do. That's what's going


So I have very low expectations for the talks this week, the ones that already took place between Wendy Sherman and Ryabkov and von Nahmen (ph) in

Geneva, tomorrow in Brussels with NATO, and then in Thursday with the OSCE and Vienna. Moscow is threatening military action in order to produce major

concessions we cannot possibly give them.

NOBILO: So, bearing that in mind, what are the possible options for de- escalation here?

HERBST: Well, Putin's the one who created this crisis. He's the one who put the forces on the border with Ukraine, and he's the one demanding these

unacceptable conditions. My view is we have great superiority over Russia in all respects, we the West -- military superiority, economic superiority,

political superiority.

And if we maintain a strong position that's been laid out by the Biden administration -- although it could be stronger -- I think Putin ultimately

will not get his -- will not send his troops into Ukraine, the additional troops, and will not get those concessions he's asking for. But this will

probably play out for weeks as Putin keeps the pressure.

NOBILO: And another element when we're observing these tensions in Eastern Europe and what Russia's up to is obviously the CSTO has -- was activated,

and Russia's been -- their troops have been involved in Kazakhstan to try and quash these protests and get the situation under control in the


What effect do you think that will have in terms of Putin's rambunctious tendencies, his sort of psychology and strategy?

HERBST: Well, on the one hand, it encourages the worst instincts of the president of Russia. He sent his troops in. They seem to have calmed the

situation. So he looks like the savior of the current government in Kazakhstan, and his position in Kazakhstan is strong.

But on the other hand, I think Putin is very worried about the threatened steps we would take if he sends those 100,000 troops or more into Ukraine.

So, he can use his victory in Kazakhstan if he chooses to step away from confrontation in Ukraine.

Now, I believe as long as he's convinced that we will hit him hard as a way we promised, that there's a good chance this crisis on Ukraine's border

will end without major military action.

NOBILO: Do you think Putin genuinely believes what we characterize in the West as paranoia about the West and Russia and its territory? Or do you

think that's purely rhetorical justification for Russia's, you know, aggressive desires to retake territory?

HERBST: I think it's partly rhetorical, but it's partly really felt, at least among the security apparatus in the government. I mean, Russia has

traditionally, for centuries, built its security on expanding its territory.

And so, people with that mindset -- that probably includes Putin himself. See what happened when the Soviet Union fell apart, and they lost control

over not just the Warsaw Pact countries, but significant parts of the former Soviet Union. They see that as a catastrophe. And Putin said that

famously, or infamously.

So, I think it's felt among the security apparatus, but I also know there are people in the Russian elite who understand that's an old way of

thinking. And in the modern world, Russia does not need to control all the countries in its border and beyond its border to insure his own security.

NOBILO: Absolutely. It's always been an irony of Russia's history given it's the largest country in the world as well.

And thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate your insights. Thanks so much, John Herbst, joining us via Skype.

HERBST: My pleasure.

NOBILO: Leaders from across Europe are paying tribute to European Parliament President David Sassoli who died today in an Italian hospital at

the age of 65.

In Brussels, there were scenes of hugs and tears when lawmakers held a minute of silence to honor Sassoli. He was praised for his good heart and

dedication to the European cause. In a post on social media several days before his death, he urged member states not to build walls that blocked

people who seek shelter. A former journalist, he was one of the most beloved news readers in his native Italy. He's been a member of the

European parliament since 2009 and was elected president in 2019. His two and a half year term would have finished at the end of this month.


Among those who paid tribute to Sassoli, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who tweeted, today is a sad day for Europe. Our union

loses a passionate European, a sincere Democrat, and a good man.

You're watching CNN. We'll be right back after this.


NOBILO: Welcome back.

Let's look at some of the top stories trending on social media today. Despite false claims being share on social media, China has not launched an

artificial sun into the atmosphere. It has however launched a rocket at the Wenchang spacecraft launch site. China's been working on nuclear fusion,

which has been likened to putting the sun in a box.

The country has broken a record for the longest sustained fusion nuclear reaction, super heating plasma to 70 million degrees Celsius for around 20

minutes. That's five times hotter than the sun, which is why the facility has been nickname an artificial sun.

And lastly, archaeologists have spent one year excavating a remote field in an English county of Northamptonshire. But they were not expecting to

uncover the remains of a wealthy roman trading down that experts say could change our understanding of the Roman Empire. The site known as black

grounds includes at least 30 buildings, a ten meter wide road, more than 300 Roman coins, fine potteries and jewelry.

The remains also show that hundreds of people lived there, archaeologists say, adding that the site will provide a broader comprehension of what life

was like in the age of the Romans.

That's all for you tonight on THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We will see you again tomorrow.