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CNN'S AMANPOUR

North Korea Missile Test; Pope Francis in Myanmar. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 28, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET

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


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNNI: Breaking news tonight. North Korea has tested a ballistic missile. At least that is according to the South Korean

military. And we're still awaiting analysis of precisely what type of missile it might have been.

North Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff -- rather South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that it was fired to the East but the test itself would be

significant because Pyongyang had paused those test for more than two months.

Its last was in September when it fired a missile that passed over Japan's Hokieda (ph) island. Before that they had tested two or three missiles for

months since April. Joining me now from Monterey, California is Jeffery Lewis.

He's the director of the East Asia non proliferation program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies there. Mr. Lewis, you have

just heard this news, we've all just heard it in the last few minutes. We have no official response yet from the United States, but without knowing

the details, what does the fact of South Koreas report say to you?

JEFFERY LEWIS, DIRECTOR OF THE EAST ASIA NON PROLIFERATION PROGRAM, MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well I certainly believe

that a missile has been launched. Normally these things take a few minutes to filter out and typically, it's the South Korea military that's first.

So I don't doubt that a missiles been launched. You know, there haven't been a lot of launches in recent weeks and I think a lot of people have

been talking about that as though there was some kind of reduction in tension. But I would say that we've seen a historical pattern in the past

which is that the North Koreans usually only do a handful of missile tests in the fall. But a handful is still a few and I think this is one.

AMANPOUR: So if you had to guess and that's really a really, you know, a sort of a loaded questioned to ask you, do you think this would be

intercontinental? Is it short range, is it medium range? And depending on which one it is, what would the effect on the international community and -

- and the neighboring region be?

LEWIS: Yes, it is very early and we're just guessing. You know, the information we have right now is location of the launch and the direction.

And it was launched from the western half of the country, sort of over North Korea. And that's going to suggest that it will be a slightly longer

range missile.

What it turns out to be, I don't know, but I think the big take away from this is that the lull we have seen in the recent weeks is just the typical

fall lull in North Korean testing. There is no reduction in tension, things are as bad as they were in Summer. It's just the weather has been

poor, has been harvest time.

AMANPOUR: OK. Well you put it that way. Should we draw any conclusion that this happens shortly after President Trump signs that, you know,

decree putting North Korea back on the list of states sponsors of terrorism.

LEWIS: Well I certainly think that in the North Korean mind, those kinds of things are going to be connected. You know, I think the -- the

continuity that I speak of is really a continuity of tension. The North Koreans are pretty unhappy with their relationship with the United States

and this is how to express that.

So yes, I do think that North Korean missile tests are something that are likely to continue even if over the winter months, less. But they will

keep happening because I think we still are in those prolonged period of tension. And -- and when the weather lets up in the spring, it'll be back

to old tricks.

AMANPOUR: So where are we inexorably going then? I mean, you speak about this as -- as, you know, it has a momentum of its own. And they are moving

ahead, it doesn't seem to have had any effect that China sent an envoy or that, you know, the Trump visit which tried to garner support from that,

you know, from -- from the allies in that part of the world. Where do you think diplomatically, politically, militarily we stand right now?

LEWIS: Well look, the North Koreans are doing something very unusual. And that's something that hasn't happened for a long time which is their

transitioning into a deterrent relationship with the United States. They are entering a period which I think will last for a long time in which they

have nuclear weapons that can strike the United States.

I think North Koreans are committed to doing that. They want to get there. And they're going to keep pushing in that direction. So you know, I don't

see there being any realistic prospect of convincing North Koreans to do anything else. They'll keep testing and we'll keep screaming about it.

AMANPOUR: Jeffery, you can't see but I hope our viewers' can that in the last few second, the United States has confirmed that launch. But again,

you speak about deterrence, these sort of old fashion Soviet U.S. era of deterrence and mutually assure destruction regarding nuclear weapons.

But the President, President Trump and others say a denuclearized Korean peninsula is a must and we have to stop them from any further testing and

frankly from having any weapons and usable intercontinental ballistic missile. Is that a fantasy at this moment? Is deterrence the best the

west can expect?

LEWIS: Yes, I want a pony; it doesn't mean it's going to happen. I think that the North Koreans have looked at what happened to Saddam in Iraq and

they look at what happened to Gaddafi in Libya and they have decided that having nuclear weapons that can strike the United States is a priority goal

for them. It's the most important thing they can do to safeguard Kim Jong- un's regime.

And that's what they're committed to doing. And so, we can say that that's our goal but I don't see there being any realistic prospect convincing

North Korea to abandon its weapons. Instead, I think we have to focus on deterrence and finding ways to reduce tension.

AMANPOUR: All right, Jeffery please stand by a moment while we go to Washington. CNN's senior diplomatic correspondent, Michelle Kosinski,

she's joining us from the state department. And as we know, Michelle, the U.S. has in fact now confirmed it. I don't know whether you heard Jeffery

Lewis just in it he's got a whole political scenario that does not match President Trump's and Secretary Tillerson's. Who do you think the response

is going to be?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Right now we have not heard from the state department on this and that's usually the way this

works, it takes a little time for them to craft something. They want to be strategic in this. They might say something initially confirming that

we've determined that this is a legitimate launch.

One we get a little more detail, we might have something more. There's also a state department briefing coming up soon, Christiane. So it's

possible that they've prepared something that they want to be out there as a strong statement perhaps on this. But what we've been hearing from them

on the long course of rhetoric versus attempts at diplomacy is that there's been a bit of a pause.

When we saw this most recent trip by the President and the Secretary of State to Asia, the tone was a little more measure. Especially on the part

of the secretary of states, he was focused on diplomacy and then openly talking about talking with North Korea, emphasizing that there are back

channels, that there are several of them.

That the U.S. used those channels and continues to talk with North Korea. We know that they've been please not only that sanctions and there have

been many of them at this point seem to be working. That North Korea is feeling the pain, there's some optimism that that may get them to the point

of at the very least, a discussion or most of a pause.

But we know that there are always these preparations of another launch and then when we get to that point, the rhetoric starts again. So we'll see,

now remember that it wasn't that long ago that the state department was saying that they were pleased that we had several weeks of no such activity

on the part of North Korea and maybe that's a good sign that we're moving towards some real dialogue and then of course it was not to be.

Now we're back in that same situation. I think the challenge now is going to be - to try to find a place that doesn't rank up that rhetoric that

doesn't necessarily do any good again and try to find some point at which diplomacy can hinge on the next step. That there's really not much more

that sanctions can accomplish at east on the part of the United States where they really hit North Korea.

But what the state department continues to do is to pressure other countries to make them feel that pain.

AMANPOUR: In the last couple of seconds, we've heard from the U.S. territory of Guam which said they have detected nothing so that might

retched down the tension wit the United Sates because of course the President used a red line and so did Secretary Mattis that is anything

threatened U.S. territories of U.S. allies, there would be a response.

We also know that as you were mentioning, the U.S. put back sanctions including putting North Korea back on the state - list of state sponsors of

terrorism. So the question is you talk about the back channels but the state department seems to be lights out when it talks about assistant

secretaries for East Asia, when it comes to an ambassador for South Korea. Who is doing the day to day diplomacy that needs to be done to keep

tensions manageable?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI: Yes, I mean that's true. We do know that those who've been involved in the back channels are very experienced; they're extremely

well respected and capable; they know what they're doing and they've had some success with things especially like Americans held in North Korea. I

mean the Otto Warmbier case just a few months ago was incredibly tragic, but those talks were going on they had that contact, they were able to get

him out of there, they were able to establish contact with other Americans in North Korea so we're not talking about major breakthroughs of course at

this point, but the diplomatic community analysts feel pretty good about at least the people who are conducting those back channels and the seriousness

with which the U.S. State Department continues to take this problem.

AMANPOUR: Well hopefully there is some light at the end of this tunnel. We had the top, highest level defector on a few weeks ago who predicted

that this might happen, that yet another North Korean provocation as he called it, would happen and that diplomacy was necessary backed by very

serious and credible threats of military intervention as well. Michelle thank you very much in deed, we will continue to monitor this and when we

come back from a break we're going to move on to other news, very importantly in that region, the Pope is in Myanmar amidst the ongoing

Rohingya crisis, we'll bring that to you after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: And now we turn to Myanmar in what's probably his trickiest and most sensitive trip yet, Pope Francis, leader of the world's Catholics,

champion of the poor and the persecuted is in Myanmar. It's a country that the United States has accused of being guilty of ethnic cleansing as the

Rohingya Muslim minority is being tortured, raped and murdered by the military. The Pope spoke out against persecuting minorities and called for

religious tolerance while the nation's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi sat beside him.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

POPE FRANCIS (through translator): The religious difference; they don't have to be different, they don't have to create divisions, but they have to

be a strength (ph) for the tolerance, forgiveness and the wisdom to build the country.

(END VIDEO)

AMANPOUR: So the Pope was talking about the Rohingya but never actually uttered the word, a deliberate decision on advice not to inflame tensions

that could backfire against Catholics and other Christians there. Joining me now from Washington is Priscilla Clapp who served as America's top

diplomat in Myanmar at the turn of this century and from Geneva, Tirana Hassan, the crisis response director for Amnesty International who recently

visited the sprawling refugee camps in Bangladesh. Ladies, let me ask you both, first of all you Miss Clapp, was it a mistake or was it good advice

not to actually mention the name Rohingya as he nonetheless called attention to their plight.

PRISCILLA A. CLAPP, FORMER CHIEF OF MISSION AT U.S. EMBASSY BURMA: There are many ethnic minorities in the country that have been persecuted by the

military for many, many years and I think that he threaded that needle very carefully and made the right decision.

AMANPOUR: What do you think his presence there -- what he said to Aung San Suu Kyi, what he said to the military who he's also met. What can we

expect from the Pope?

CLAPP: I think the message that he brought to the people is very important, it's one they need to hear. The message of tolerance. This is a

country that is probably one of the most diverse ethnically and religiously in the whole world. And the people have been kept apart for more than 50

years by a very repressive military regime. They have not been allowed to interact with each other, and the Pope brought a very special message to

them about the importance in the 20th century world of tolerance and interaction among diverse ethnic and religious groups. And that's

something they need to hear.

AMANPOUR: So precisely that - Tirana Hassan, to you on that issue. Do you agree that the Pope's message was that, and that it didn't sort of matter

in the bigger scheme of things whether or not he mentioned the Rohingya by name.

TIRANA HASSAN, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Well I think that the Pope not mentioning Rohingya was highly disappointing. I think mentioning - not

mentioning the Rohingya was somewhat disappointing. However, the real scandal out of the Pope' visit was actually the statement made by the

Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing who denied that there were any issues with ethnic groups in the country which is a blatant falsehood.

We know that there have been issues in the North of the country with the Kachin in the Northern Chan. And of course with the Rohingya, I mean we

have seen systematic violations against the Rohingya population which has driven 620 thousand people into Myanmar into Bangladesh.

AMANPOUR: You've seen them on the ground, you have been there, you've visited, you've documented. And the Pope will be going to Bangladesh

whether or not he goes to the camp or he meets them in the capital. We're not quite sure, but do you think he might up his condemnation when he's out

of Myanmar, do you expect that?

HASSAN: I think it's very difficult for anyone to go to Bangladesh and see the sea of human miseries that is the camps being coaxed as bizarre. And

it's even more difficult when you actually speak to the Rohingya there and you hear the stories that they're telling you, and that you see the bullet

wounds. You know we we're on the ground and we have seen and heard systematic stories that individuals have been shot at by the Myanmar

Security Forces.

Women and girls have been rapes, and there has been systematic burning of villages, and this isn't just hear say. These people are carrying the

wounds of these violations. There are people that spoke to us who's skin was still red raw because the houses had been set on fire while they were

still in them.

I saw a 15 year old boy who was just getting off a boat and you could see the bullet entry wound and exit wound. And the entry wound was from the

back which is consistent with what many of the Rohingya were telling us. They were shot at as the military walked in and just indiscriminately fired

upon their villagers.

AMANPOUR: All right, so we have to ask what can Aung San Suu Kyi do to - to rain the military in? So Priscilla Clapp, she has had all of this

allegation around the world, and people are disappointed. We know that she doesn't control the military, but surely she has enough moral authority and

enough millions of people who led her to victory. That she could use her moral authority to speak out against this persecution. Do you expect her

to do that? Should she have done?

CLAPP: I believe she is actually doing that in her own way. The way that they communicate with each other is a little bit different than ours, and

she has to be very careful to approach this in an even handed way. She recognizes that the military are at the heart of the problem. I met with

her very recently in Naypidaw and we discussed this.

But she has to be very careful in how she deals with them in public, because she must live with the military. This is a divided government.

The civilian leadership in this government does not have a lot of control. The military still controls everything on the ground. And she is trying to

create the conditions in the Rakhine state to bring these people back safely. It is going to require the military to step back and allow it to

happen.

AMANPOUR: So much to keep an eye on out there. Thank you both very much indeed. And when we come back a massive conspiracy, in fact the Olympic

Games and an extraordinary whistle blower brings the scandal to light. Blowing the lid off Russian doping, that is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: Welcome back, and imagine for a moment a world where a major natural catastrophe could happen at any moment and the most we could do is

stand and watch An eruption on Mount Agung, a 10,000 foot volcano on the Indonesia holiday island of Bali, seems to be imminent. Numerous small

eruptions are spewing plumes of steam and smoke and ash which are reaching more than 9,000 meters into the atmosphere.

Awaiting the big blast, the Indonesian government says that 100,000 locals must evacuate as soon as possible. Flights, thought, out of Bali are

grounded, stranding tens of thousands of travelers.

Now the last time Mount Agung erupted in 1963, devastating mud flows killed more than 1,000 nearby residents. And here's a sobering thought - the

largest volcanic eruption ever recorded happened in Indonesia 200 years ago. The blast spread famine and disease and death all around the world.

It is simply impossible to forecast, and it's a humbling reminder of nature's power and humanity's limitations.

We're going to back to our main story on the North Korean apparent test of a ballistic missile, and CNN's Will Ripley was in Pyongyang just weeks ago.

He's joining me now from Seoul. Any more details you can share? Are you hearing anything else from Seoul in the hour or so since they announced

that there had been this ballistic missile test - Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well it does seem, Christiane, that this trajectory is a familiar one for North Korean missile launches which fired

in an eastern direction. The Japanese government indicating that this missile may have come down within their exclusive economic zone. Those, of

course, at the water within 200 nautical miles or so of mainland Japan (ph).

So this is not the trajectory - the highly provocative trajectory that North Korea has been threatening since over the summer when they talked

about firing a salvo of missiles towards the key U.S. territory of Guam, and it doesn't seem that this launch was as provocative as the two previous

launches. The Ba Shang Quell (ph) (inaudible) missile that was fired over Hokkaido, the northern island in Japan.

Seems that this is a pretty typical trajectory. We don't know what kind of missile yet, but certainly doesn't rise to a level of a new type of highly

provocative launch if, indeed, it did travel in this eastern direction and come down in the waters near Japan. That's something we have seen many

times - really dozens of times over the last few years.

AMANPOUR: And just to continue that thought, the territory of Guam - the U.S. territory there apparently confirming in the last half hour that it

didn't detect anything. So it didn't look like it was heading to there. But President Trump has just been in the region, there was a lot to be said

and a lot of show made of trying to rally the allies to a stiffer response to North Korea.

And Japan now seeing potentially have fallen in it's territorial waters, as you called it the economic zone there. What would Japan's response be

after this kind of test?

RIPLEY: Well certainly, publicly, Japanese government officials are going to be in lock step with the Trump Administration. I mean, Prime Minister

Shinzo Abe publicly projected bromance with President Trump was in full display when Trump made his Asia visit.

But privately, government officials are deeply concerned about the situation escalading in Japan potentially being in the firing line and

that's a concern echoed here in South Korea. If unspoken officially, certainly many, many people here are concerned about what direct President

Trump's rhetoric could take the region.

Now his tone, when he was here in Asia, was obviously much less dramatic and exclamatory than the marks made at the United Nations General Assembly

back in September when he threatened to totally destroy North Korea and came up with a derogatory nickname for supreme leader, calling Kim Jong Un

"rocket man" which is certainly, in North Korean culture, about one of the biggest offenses that one can commit.

North Korean officials told me after that remark, they don't feel, and this is from a number of different officials in Pyonyang, they don't feel it

would even be possible to have discussions with the current U.S. Administration as a result of that.

In fact, it was shortly after President Trump's speech in New York that North Korea completely cut off all diplomacy with the United States. And I

confirmed that with the New York side -- the New York channel, where these back channel discussions, most recent discussions that brought about the

release of the U.S. prisoner Otto Warmbier.

But, there have been almost no discussions happening, that channels been completely cut off as a result of President Trump's speech and at the same

time North Korea, at that time, threatened to detonate a nuclear device over the Pacific Ocean.

That threat has not come to fruition, but when I interviewed a senior diplomat in Pyongyang at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he told me that

the world should take that threat literally. Is it posturing? We just don't know, but certainly, we have to watch very closely and don't expect

this to be the last test coming out of North Korea.

AMANPOUR: It's a really important story. Thanks for your perspective Will, from Seoul there.

Now, we go to Harvard and John Park, who is Director of the Korea working group there.

So, John Parks, you've been listening to this breaking news and it's being termed as sort of, kind of what one might have expected of North Korea

given their pattern over the last several years, particularly around the fall time. How do you assess and analyze the little that we know about

what happens tonight?

JOHN PARKS, DIR. OF KOREA WORKING GROUP AT HARVARD: So first and foremost, this is part of a program. There's an ongoing program that has been many

years in the making. So while there has been patterns, in terms of a lull in testing during a fall-winter type of timeframe, right now North Korea's

on the cusp of demonstrating what is illusive for many countries which is a nuclear ICBM capability working towards that.

I think was a piece, another step towards that ultimate goal. Which I think we have to stay focused on the fact that this is a program and the

North Koreans are very focused on making sure that they reach full creation.

AMANPOUR: Well, that is the last word and clearly they are showing that they are very, very, very focused on achieving that possibility, whether

there'll be meaningful diplomacy after that, we will wait to see. John Parks, thank you very much, from Harvard. And that is it for our program

tonight. Good night from London.

END