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EARLY START

North Korea Launches Missile Over Japan; Trump Blames Both Sides Again; Police Investigating Incident on London Tube Train. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 15, 2017 - 04:30   ET

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


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[04:31:15] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea with another missile launch over Japan hours after threatening to sink Japan and turn the U.S. into ash. New reaction from Tokyo and Washington, straight ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look at, you know, really what's happened since Charlottesville, I said, you got some very bad people on the other side also, which is true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The president reigniting the furor over Charlottesville, once again blaming both sides for the white supremacist violence. The big question this morning, of course. Why, Mr. President? Why are you liking the press coverage for a moment?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs. Christine Romans is sick this morning.

We begin, though, with Kim Jong-un thumbing his nose at the world once again, North Korea launching a ballistic missile over Northern Japan for the second time in less than a month, and for the first time since conducting its sixth nuclear test two weeks ago, a provocation that's triggered a new round of U.N. sanctions.

North's latest launch fired from the capital Pyongyang. Initial estimates indicate it was intermediate range ballistic missile that flew over the Northern Japan island of Hokkaido.

The Japanese on high alert. This missile test coming after North Korea threatened to, quote, sink Japan and reduced the U.S. mainland to ash and darkness.

Let's go live to Tokyo and bring in CNN's Phil Black for the latest.

Phil, good afternoon to you there. What is different about this one and past missile launches?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Japanese authorities here make the point that this type of missile, the track that it followed, very similar to the intermediate range missile, same type of missile really, as North Korea fired off back at the end of August. But with one key difference, this one traveled even further, more than 2,200 miles.

And, Japanese authorities make the point that if this hadn't been fired east and had perhaps instead been fired south across Japan, that would put it capable of hitting the sort of range necessary to reach the American territory of Guam. Now, remember North Korea has threatened to fire missiles towards this American territory before, where there's a key American Air Force bomber base there.

The U.S. president, Trump, has threatened to respond should that happen. No one wants that to happen. As provocative as today's launch was, that would be even more so. It would raise tensions to an even greater degree.

And it is broadly considered within the region to make military conflict more likely and no one wants that, especially Japan because Japan knows that if the U.S. would conduct a military operation against North Korea, it is very likely that North Korea would carry out a counter strike against Japan, probably South Korea as well.

So, the Japanese government is saying that while it's condemning this latest missile launch, not surprisingly, it wants North Korea to stop these tests. And it wants the international community to come together and place even greater pressure on North Korea, because the frustration for Japan and its allies, including the United States, well, this latest test means that the most recent package of sanctions agreed by the United Nations Security Council, well, they simply haven't made a difference in stopping North Korea from developing and showing off this missile capability -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Quickly. Are people afraid there?

BLACK: Certainly in the north of the country. It's been the second time in around two weeks they've been woken up by these sirens, by text messages to tell them to take shelter because a North Korean missile is in the air. That's a very startling way to start your day, as you can imagine.

[04:35:02] And so, yes, we have.' heard reports of people being pretty nervous about that, not really knowing what to do under the circumstances as well, even though the Japanese government has been holding drills, evacuation drills, that sort of thing, in various parts of the country.

Across the country more broadly, though, this country is continuing as it was, people know this particular missile launch wasn't a direct attack but there's no doubt there's great nervousness about the sort of language the North Korean regime is using, especially as its capabilities are advancing and begins to match what the intention and threats that we're hearing from Pyongyang, Dave.

BRIGGS: And those are the sirens heard there in Japan. Frightening situation.

Phil Black, live for us in Tokyo, thank you, sir.

South Korea responding to go North Korea's missile test with a show of force of its own, launching two missiles capable of striking North Korea's Sunan airport. One of the missiles failed and fell into the sea.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson releasing a statement saying, quote, and these continued provocations only deepen North Korea's diplomatic and economic isolation. The United Nations Security Council's resolutions including the most recent represent the floor, not the ceiling of the actions we should take.

Tillerson also calling on Russia and China to voice their outrage and take direct action.

Let's go live to Washington and bring in CNN military analyst, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton.

Good morning to you, Colonel.

So, it's not just the missile launch over Japan for the second time, but the rhetoric earlier in the day from Pyongyang. Quote, Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.

Why Japan, why now? H.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Dave, good morning.

There are lots of reasons in the North Korea's warped view of the world. But the main reason they believe the Japan is the big pillar of the U.S. security apparatus in the Western Pacific and they see Japan as being the one country that really makes a difference. It's in essence a projection of American power and thy also have a colonial legacy that they're dealing with. So, they look at Japan as an old colonial master and with their ideology, their ideology of communism, as well as self reliance, they believe that they need to, in essence, eliminate Japan to purge themselves of the past.

BRIGGS: David Sanger reports the Trump administration chose not to take out this missile on the launch pad, even though they saw it being fuelled up a day ago. At some point, do you expect the United States to shoot down one of these North Korean missiles?

LEIGHTON: Well, there are two differences here. Either you can take out a missile on the launch pad which is in essence what David is referring to in that report, or you can take them while they're in the middle of their trajectory on their way to a target.

The second one is very hard to do. It can be done, but it is far more difficult to do than to actually take something out on a launch pad, assuming that you have air supremacy to do that kind of thing.

So, in that particular case, what you're looking at is two options. Either one of them could be construed as an act of war, in particular, though, the one where you take out a missile on a launch pad. If you do that, have you to expect some other kind of reaction, and I think the Trump administration is very reluctant to go that far at this particular point in time. What they're waiting for is for the North Koreans to actually hit something either a U.S. base, or a population center in either South Korea or Japan. If either of those things were to happen, that would then be a triggering mechanism for something far more dangerous, a far greater escalation of what we're seeing right now.

BRIGGS: Rex Tillerson called on Russia and China to do more. All the sanctions in the world, would they have any impact, in your opinion, on the development of their nuclear weapons. And if so, what are the sanctions that might matter.

LEIGHTON: Well, there are some ways in which they could be very effective but it takes a large number of players to play their roles and to abide by the sanctions. That would mean that Russia and China would have to do things like limit fuel supplies that come primarily from China or in the case of Russia, limit the remittances that the -- at least eliminate the remittances that North Korean workers can send back to Pyongyang.

If they do that, if Russia and China do things like that, then sanctions have a far greater chance of actually working, I think one of the reasons the North Koreans are reacting the way they are is that they fear the sanctions are going to work over time.

So, sanctions require a great deal of patience and the idea they will be a quick fix or have some immediate effect on the ability of the North Koreans to project power and to launch missile I think is misguided because it will take a long time before those sanctions can really have the bite that they need to have in order to show how effective or ineffective they may be.

[04:40:06] BRIGGS: Sure. Pivotal speech for President Trump next week ahead of the U.N. General Assembly.

Colonel Cedric Leighton, thanks so much.

LEIGHTON: You bet. Absolutely, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. So, breaking news from London now. Hazardous response crews rushing to an underground train station for some type of incident, possibly an explosion. Officials telling CNN they are sending multiple resources to the Parson's Green Tube station, including ambulances. Commuters are being told to avoid the area. Eyewitnesses tell "Reuters" people ran for the same door tramping others in a rush to get out. We are monitoring the situation and keep you updated throughout the morning.

Turning now to politics and just when we thought the controversy had subsided, president Trump renewing his explosive stance on the deadly violence in Charlottesville last month. That's once again blaming both sides for the incident. His words coming a day after meeting with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, the only African-American Senate Republican who publicly condemned the president for his response.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny at the White House with the latest.

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JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, President Trump signed a resolution on Thursday evening here at the White House condemning the violence in Charlottesville, of course, from the deadly attack last month of that white supremacist rally.

But he also on Thursday reopened the old wounds, those comments that he made last month at Trump Tower, attempting to draw some type of a moral equivalence between the protesters and white supremacists.

He was flying on Air Force One when he said this:

TRUMP: I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what's going on there, you know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that's what I said. You look at, you know, really what's happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying, in fact, a lot of people have actually written, gee, Trump might have a point. I said you've got some very bad people on the other side also, which is true.

ZELENY: Now, the president was responding to a question about how his meeting went earlier in the week with Senator Tim Scott. He's the Republican from South Carolina, the only Republican African-American member of the Senate who came here to the White House on Wednesday to meet with the president to urge him to sort of change his view about Charlottesville.

As for Senator Scott, he told reporters on Capitol Hill he had a good conversation. He did not expect an immediate epiphany from this president. So, despite the fact the president signed this resolution on Thursday evening, those wounds the White House hoped had healed were reopened once again by the president's own words.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

Chelsea Manning won't be visiting fellow at Harvard after all. The university rescinding its controversial invitation to the former military analyst convicted of leaking government secrets, calling it a mistake. School's offer was under increasing condemnation most notably from CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Pompeo cancelled an appearance at the university, branding Manning a traitor and shaming university for placing a stamp of approval on her actions. Manning is still invited to spend a day at Harvard to speak at a forum.

All right. Coming up, the forgotten victims of Hurricane Irma. U.S. Virgin Islands devastated by the forms, aid and hope in very short supply. We'll take you there, next.

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[04:47:44] BRIGGS: All right. The latest now on the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The governor of the Virgin Islands getting a firsthand look at the devastation, insisting it felt like he was stepping on to another planet. Eight days after the storm, help slow to arrive in this former paradise, and hope is even harder to come by.

Here's Sara Sidner in St. John.

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SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is or was a famous historic lookout point. It's the Chateau Bordeaux restaurant where tourists and residents alike spent time taking a look at the beautiful views here in St. John.

Well, those views are gone.

LEAH RANDALL (ph), SURVIVOR: We're supposed to be America's paradise. And look at what it looks like.

SIDNER (voice-over): Leah Randall (ph) rode out Hurricane Irma in a hurricane bunker with her fiance. When she emerged from safety, she was awestruck at the view of their beloved island of St. John.

RANDALL (ph): I don't think people really understand the level of devastation we have. We feel like we are living in a war zone and a nuclear bomb went off.

SIDNER: Now the shock of it all is subsiding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. I really am.

SIDNER: And the tears are beginning to flow, as neighbor greets neighbor to commiserate. For Leah and her fiance, the storm snatched away their charter business and their dream home, a wooden boat Buxom 2 (ph).

RANDALL (ph): It's unreal. Sorry. I mean -- they're all the stuff we had on there is gone. We only have like three suitcases.

SIDNER (on camera): From the ground, it's clear things are bad here, but once you get higher on the island the true scope of the devastation comes into focus. There is damage just about everywhere. And it's not just homes that are damage, but take a look at the infrastructure. Nearly every light pole is pushed over in some way, not a single one standing up straight.

(voice-over): Kind residents offered to drive us from Coral Bay to Cruz Bay on the other side the island. For a time, the scene just kept getting worse and worse at every turn.

Johnny B (ph) has lived on St. John for 20 years. Life, he says, was easy here and laid back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got to make a choice. You know? I mean this is a hard -- it's going to be a hard way of life compared to what it was for 20 years.

[04:50:01] SIDNER: Then the storm hit. The next day, chaos ensued. (on camera): What happened in the first day or days after the storm that surprised you or disturbed you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looting. A lot of people I didn't expect to do it were doing it, and it wasn't time for desperation yet. It was the day after. There was no reason for it. I think it was grossly -- just gross.

SIDNER (voice-over): Police have now moved in to quell the security issue. But the most needed supplies are still just trickling in a week after Hurricane Irma.

In Coral Bay, most of the supplies are shipped in by private individuals from St. Croix, just about everyone needs something here, including the famous wild donkeys of St. John. They too are survivors of the storm left to forage what little vegetation left.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just disbelief. You know, it's hard to believe. We all lost something in the storm, you know? But a lot of people lost everything.

SIDNER (on camera): Life used to be easy on this island, very laid back, and now people realize just how hard their lives have gotten. People who are asking, what is it that we can do to help St. John and some of these other islands dealing with the devastation?

Well, they need things like generators, because power is completely gone here. It's dark. They also need a communication tower so they can actually try and get supplies in and out and the things that they need. Those things are hard to come by on this little tiny island.

(voice-over): Sara Sidner, CNN, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Heartbreaking. Thank you, Sara.

Some breaking news now from London. Hazardous response crews rushing to an underground train station. There's been some type of incident, possibly an explosion. CNN told they are sending multiple resources to the Parson's Green Tube Station. That's including ambulances, commuters being told to avoid this area.

The London ambulance service statement on the tube incident says, quote: we recall at 8:20, two reports of an incident at Parson's Green underground station. That's from the assistant director of operations at the London ambulance service.

Now, an eyewitness tells "Reuters" people ran for the same door tramping others in a rush to get out.

We are monitoring the situation and keep you updated throughout the morning.

Ahead, another accusation of bias against women at Google. This time, it's over pay and promotions. That's on CNN money stream, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:57:02] BRIGGS: All right. Some breaking news from London this morning. Hazardous response crews rushing to an underground train station. Now, there's been some type of incident, possibly an explosion. Officials telling CNN they are sending multiple resources to the Parson's Green Tube Station, including ambulances. Commuters being told to avoid the area.

Nina Dos Santos is live on the phone with us from London this morning, just about 2:00 a.m. there.

Nina, this happened right in the middle of rush hour, so it's certainly looks on the surface suspicious, but what do we know?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, so far, the metropolitan police said they're not sure exactly what the nature of the incident is. They are aware of social media reports of what looks like a bucket which may have included some kind of chemical substance inside. A grocery carrier bag, which seems to have ignited or exploded, at least according to some of these pictures available on the Twitter, which have yet, don't seem to have been confirmed by the police.

We also have various eyewitness reports of people who have incurred facial injuries, burning to their head from this explosion. As you were saying before, it happened on a busy commuter line in a rather affluent suburb of West London, just give you an idea what type of area this is. This is a part of London that people will be commuting in on a busy train that time of the morning.

I take this particular line myself on a daily basis and was taking it when this happened, although I didn't witness anything suspicious in particular myself. It is the type of area that people move to when they have children, there's a lot of people taking their children to and fro on the underground, on the streets around this area at this time in the morning.

I can give you an idea of the police response is pretty significant, I must say. Right throughout the course of the last hour and a half on the seen, I've seen multiple ambulances, police cars, vans, unmarked police vehicles arriving on the scene. We've got two helicopters circling overhead. A number of fire engine vehicles as well.

It seems as though the police are widening the security course as we speak. They've already pushed it back at least 100 meters, although I should point out people who live in the immediate vicinity are being allowed to come in and out of their houses. The rest of the traffic is being diverted and people are being told to avoid the area for now -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Nina, London certainly on high alert based on the four attacks recently blamed on terrorists. What type of security do you see on the tubes, in recent months, recent weeks?

DOS SANTOS: Well, the underground system, obviously, because it has been attacked before, back in the day of 7/7, which by the way was the last time we saw the same significant type of attacks that we've seen so far this year.