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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  April 15, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT

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thanks for joining us and good luck tomorrow. that is "all in" for this evening. you can catch me tomorrow on "a.m. joy" at 10:00 a.m. eastern time. the "rachel maddow show" starts now. i used to look forward to you on friday making cocktail. now it's nuclear war. >> now it's like nuclear war and me trying to persuade people, don't drink. take care of yourself, take vitamins, exercise, your country needs you. >> i love you, but i'm going to get a cocktail. i have to watch it with a cocktail. >> thank you, my dear. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. even though the weekend is coming up, joy's is starting right now. it is still likely to be a very busy few days in the news coming up, even through the weekend and into the beginning of next week. sort of an unusually forward looking friday night.
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usually we'd be looking back at what happened over the past week. right now we sort of on the precipice of a whole bunch of news that's about to happen. tomorrow in washington, d.c., as joy and other people have been reporting tonight, in d.c. and in dozens of cities around the country, there are going to be tax marches tomorrow. tax day protests. april 15th protests. basically against the new president, donald trump. the tax marches will be demanding that he release his tax returns. he remains the only president in the modern era who has refused to do that. in terms of expectations, they don't expect those marches to be as big as the marches that took place right after the inauguration, the women's marches. i don't know that any other american march will ever be that big again. we shall see. keep an eye out for that
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tomorrow in d.c. and in cities across the country. also expect an increasing pace of legal pressure and media attention and political pressure, maybe protests as well focusing on the state of arkansas. because on monday night, arkansas is due to start this remarkable series of double-header executions. we talked about this last night. you probably heard about this in the news. arkansas has scheduled eight executions. they plan to kill eight prisoners over the course of ten days. their plan is to kill two men a night on four different nights over a ten-day period starting on monday. so far the courts have blocked two of the eight planned killings, including one of the executions that was planned to be on monday night. this is a very unusual plan from arkansas. no state has done a mass execution like this since capital punishment was
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reinstated in the 1970s. arkansas has never executed anybody ever with one of the drugs that they are trying to rush to kill all these guys with. the idea of a double-header execution, even just one double-header execution, let alone four of them in a week and a half, that is something other states with more experience with capital punishment, they've warned guess doing that. they said trying to do two in one night makes it much, much harder on the execution staff and on the medical teams, particularly if they are inexperienced. but again, that execution spree in arkansas is supposed to start on monday night. you will likely see a bunch of headlines on it late tonight, tomorrow, and through the weekend. just tonight as i was coming down to the makeup room and into the studio within the last few minutes, a court put in place a temporary restraining order that blocks the use of one of the three drugs the state was going to used. the court has just blocked this drug that is not even the most
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controversial of the three drugs they were planning on using. so that ruling was just tonight within the last hour. the state says they are going to appeal that ruling. so we'll see. right now it's a temporary restraining order. it says the state can't use for any of those executions, one of the drugs it was planning on using. expect the legal wrangling and the appeals and the political pressure and the media attention to stay heavy and to increase over the course of the weekend. arkansas wanted to start killing those guys on monday. right now it's not clear they'll be allowed to kill any of them. on top of all that, there's going to be a lot of electoral politics news. there's an election in georgia where democrats are trying to take a congressional seat that's been red for decades. this is health secretary tom price's old seat. democrats have coalesced around
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jon ossoff, trying to turn the sixth district in georgia into a blue seat. democrats think they've got a shot at winning this seat. republicans say the democrats have no chance. we will find out soon. early voting in that race ended today, and election day itself will be on tuesday. you should expect a lot of attention over the weekend. this has already been a busy week in the news. early next week is stacked up with a bunch of really big things in the news. but before we even get to that stuff, we have to make it through tonight and this weekend. part of the new uncertainty around that, the reason lots of people in the news business canceled plans this weekend and everybody's on call at least is because this weekend is the birthday of kim il-sung who's the founding president of north korea. it's a birthday. that happens every year. but this year it's happening while we, too, in our country
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have a new president. and our new president has just had a particularly "bomby" week, "bomby" as in bombs away, not balmy as in nice weather in mar-a-lago this weekend. last week, thursday night, the new president abandoned his public emphatic stance that the united states should not launch attacks on syria even if syria used chemical weapons. last week he threw out that long-standing public position, what we believed to be the policy of the united states of america since he had campaigned on it. he through that policy out the window and a week ago last night launched 59 tomahawk missiles at a syrian air base. now, this did not represent some sort of deliberate change in u.s. policy towards syria. it now seems clear that that missile strike was, if anything, an abandonment of what had been stated u.s. policy in syria.
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part of the way you can tell that is that that missile strike has been followed by a week of confused, contradictory, all over the map statements from the administration about what that missile strike was for, why the united states did it, what it means about what we're trying to get done in syria in the larger sense that we now have started shooting missiles at their air bases. i will say from a white house perspective, it seems they are less concerned about the criticism of their incoherence on this matter and more excited about how that missile strike got the first good round ever press he's had. there do remain the questions of what was that for? what is the united states trying to do in syria? what are a thousand u.s. service members risking their lives for tonight in syria? what is the u.s. mission in syria? and does that missile strike help or hurt that mission? those questions remain. there also remains an
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interesting question about how the decision was made to launch that strike. the administration released, of course, this makeshift situation room photo from the night the strike was launched for a big change in course military decision. there are some unexpected staffers in the situation room who are apparently participating in that decision. there's the chief economic adviser, treasury secretary steven mnuchin, commerce secretary wilbur ross, the president's 36-year-old son-in-law was there. also spicy is there in the corner. why is he there? the guy from breitbart is there. we do not see the director of national intelligence or the cia director or any other military personnel, other than the one uniformed gentleman standing at the door. tonight a former cia official tells us the reason the director
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of central intelligence mike pompeo was not there in that room, or in on the decision to launch that missile strike in syria, is because he was giving a speech that night to a private equity group. so he didn't participate in the decision. the central intelligence agency director wasn't in on this and didn't participate in it. meanwhile, don't worry, steve mnuchin was there helping make the decision to bomb syria. so the banking world got to have its cake and eat it, too? that was the start of this literally explosive week for this young presidency. then yesterday it was bombs away again. the new president has yet to talk about afghanistan since he has been president. he has yet to articulate any policy or general inclination toward that 15-year-old war. the basic idea at least in terms of what most americans think we're doing there is that thousands of troops are still in afghanistan because the military
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is trying to create a security environment in which the afghan government can stand up, the u.s. troops are there in support of the afghan government and security forces so the country doesn't fall again to the taliban like they did before 9/11. i think that's the basic idea we all have as americans as to what we are doing in afghanistan. but into the middle of that fight yesterday, the new administration decided to roll out a gigantic super bomb that had never been used before in combat. the united states has had these megabomb gbu-43b, mother of all bombs, for 14 years. they cost about $16 million each. no other commander in chief has ever seen the need to use one before now. but yesterday, they decided to roll one out in afghanistan. why not? for context here, the united states does not have an ambassador in afghanistan. the president has not spoken on
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afghanistan, has not said what he wants to do in that country. but militarily, he's just done something that's never been done before there or anywhere. for some reason he just used the most unimaginably giant bomb the united states military has got short of a nuclear weapon, and he used it to kill, reportedly, 36 isis-affiliated fighters. about $500,000 per guy. here's a strange development on that story that's just broken tonight. last night on that story, the hill newspaper published a story about that bomb, the use of that bomb, the decision to use that bomb. and in their story, the hill published a number of quotes from somebody who they described as a centcom spokesman. and the quotes were attributed to an unnamed but apparently
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official centcom spokesman. centcom is the central community. part of the u.s. military for which their area of responsibility is the middle east. so they're quoting this centcom military spokesman. but the quotes are a little weird for a military spokesman. i'll show you what i mean. asked by the hill about what else was in the area that was hit by that giant bomb other than these isis fighters, the spokesman said, quote, i can guarantee there's nothing in the area. it's pure enemy. it's pure enemy? military spokesmen in the united states don't talk like this. asked about why they used this bomb, the spokesman said this. quote, we mean business. president trump said prior that once he gets in, he's going to kick the beep out of the enemy. that was his promise, and that's
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exactly what we're doing. this is a u.s. military spokesman? seriously? actually, no. turns out not. centcom just put out a follow-up press releases. this is actually from centcom, and it's got a named person on it. for immediate release, u.s. central command media advisory. statements attributed to unauthorized centcom spokesman. statements published april 13th attributed to u.s. centcom were made by an individual -- i'm richard lui. we have some breaking news to report for you. this out of north korea. we are hearing from the u.s. military that it is aware of a launch. this coming from our reporter there at the pentagon, courtney kuby of a missile launch coming from north korea. this is breaking news we're just getting in to us here at msnbc.
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right now it is the very early hour in the morning there in north korea. the missile from what we are hearing came from sinpo, an area in north korea. they are still assessing specifics. this according to, again, what we're hearing from our sources there. the u.s. has initiated their missile launch conference call to assess some of the options to that. you can see on the map here, north korea in red, south korea to the very south. just south there of north korea. on this conference call, they are assessing options. we should expect a paper statement from the region. nothing at the moment that we are learning more at the time. but the breaking news at this 7:15 hour eastern time is that the u.s. military is aware of a launch coming from north korea from sinpo, still assessing some of the specifics. the united states has initiated their missile launch conference
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call to assess some of the options. that is what we know right now. i'd like to now bring in gordon chang. daily beast contributor and writer. so we're getting initial indications here. it is early morning right now in north korea on a sunday. we have normally seen such missile tests in the past in the dark of night or very early. what do you know about this right now? gordon -- stand by. we just got courtney kuby from the pentagon, our producer there for nbc news. courtney, what do we know? i was just reporting that the u.s. military is aware of this launch. anything else you can report on? >> that's right, richard. they are aware of it. so they have a pretty standard playbook for when something like this happens. they get on a conference call and discuss what they know so far. we don't yet know what kind of
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missile was launched, whether it was a short range, an intermediate or long range, commonly called the icbm. at this point the military officials i've spoken with, just the reaction that i've been getting early on, there doesn't seem to be a ton of concern. it seems as if there doesn't seem this was a longer range or an icbm test, but we don't yet know that. it came as you said earlier from the sinpo region which is the same place the north koreans launched one a couple of weeks ago when lester holt was there in the area. a launched a scud that evening. so we don't know a lot yet. there are reports out of south korea it failed. the u.s. military cannot confirm that yet. we don't know at what stage it may have failed, whether it failed on the launch pad if it went off into the sea of japan and then failed.
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what we can confirm is there was a launch from the sinpo area in north korea and we're waiting to find out exactly what it was and where it went. >> as part of this, as you were just mention, the united states has initiated their missile launch conference call to look at options. is this conference call typical standard procedure here? >> it is. so they have a very standard playbook when this happens. a bunch of u.s. military leaders, as you would think, who are in the region of a launch. and this happens beyond just when there's a launch from korea, they go through what they know early on. they figure out whether it was anything that could have been in any way threatening. threatening the united states homeland, threatening an ally or something, and then they discuss any kind of option. it seems in this case that this
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was a -- not something that made it anywhere near the u.s. homeland, let alone, but we don't quite know that yet. but it's a very standard thing. u.s. military leaders who get on a call and discuss options. if this was -- there is a launch that ends up being something that is threatening to the homeland, that's something that would ultimately, the conference call would ultimately get up to as far as the president where they'd discuss the options with him. >> as you have watched the activity out of the pentagon right now, you're saying for the most part, it's common, it's business as usual here? >> yeah, you know, i know there's been a lot of rhetoric around north korea recently in the past several weeks and months. but don't forget that -- i've been covering the pentagon for 12 years. last year alone we had -- more than eight or ten launches like this. a nuclear test. so north korea flexing its military muscle, that's not new.
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but every single time, it does raise the eyebrows of the u.s. military because every single time they fire something off, the military has to immediately look at it as a potential threat, as what could they possibly be doing this time. as we know, it's a very insolar nation. a leader that very unpredictable. we have been looking for something this weekend, at some time around this anniversary yesterday in south korea, today here in the united states. so we've been expecting some kind of activity. there was a lot of speculation there may be a sixth nuclear test that we may still see that. we don't know. and there was a lot of speculation there may be another ballistic missile test. this is relatively common, frankly, for them to test off their missiles. and the one thing that's important to point out is there is some reporting out of south korea it may have been a failure. every single time they test and they fail, they are learning.
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so a failure is not necessarily a bad thing when talking about ballistic missile technology. >> we've just put up a map here. and sinpo up in the northeastern section of north korea, close to the musudan and the -- that's roughly where sinpo is, if the information that we're hearing is early, early on. any indication that you've heard right now, courtney, where this potential missile test was headed towards? >> well, we know that north korea in the past 24 hours or so filed a notice to all mariners. there might be some activity east of north korea in the sea of japan. so, you know, we had been expecting something like in that area that they'd fire something off into the sea.
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that's relatively common. in february and then again in march when they've launched off, they've fired them toward the sea of japan or into the sea of japan. so that is somewhat to be expected. sinpo is also, there's a port there where the north koreans are believed to keep some of their submarines. and we saw at the big parade that they have yesterday in pyongyang, they showed one of their ballistic -- sublaunch ballistic missiles. they have fired it off from a submarine before. sinpo is the area where we believe they keep these subs. and we don't know much about their military but so much of it is analysis. u.s. military and intelligence analysis that's there that we believe. >> it's analysis that comes from the pictures we were just showing. whether they are real, functional is always a question, isn't it when we do see these parades on key anniversaries. this the 105th anniversary of
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the birth of kim il-sung who is seen to be god-like there in north korea. at least by the leadership in terms of the way they talk about the kim family here and the leadership there. so we don't know necessarily where it may be headed. you are noting this is also close to an area where submarine activity is at. and that's one of two different potentially new pieces of missile technology that we saw in the parade today. right? there's an slbm which is what we believe to be associated with submarine launched capability and this new icbm, right? >> correct. that's right. we have seen north korea test a ballistic missile fired from a sub before. they did in summer of 2016. as you said, they have this parade and show off this military hardware, and what we never know is whether what they are showing is a mock-up or
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whether it's real. in the past, there were times where they debuted some -- what looked to be an icbm, and then later on when we talk to u.s. military and intelligence officials they cast doubt on it being anything more than a shell and nothing that was actually operational. but what's interesting about this parade is it was an opportunity for the u.s. military and u.s. intelligence. and what they are working on. it's not just an opportunity for pyongyang to show off but an opportunity for the u.s. and the world, the international community to see what it is that this leader might be working towards because we just have so little insight into him and his motivations, into what he might be doing. it's difficult when you're trying to cover this as a reporter because the analysis that we get is often so low
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confidence. it's hard to ever really speak about anything in north korea with any real confidence as a reporter. >> you have been a very busy person as a reporter there at the pentagon because of potential and actual u.s. action in response to various international affairs headlines. if this is a missile test, if this is a missile test that failed, according to what the associated press is saying, do we know what are the set protocols and reaction that the united states might be covering right now? obviously you were mensing there's the missile launch conference call that is ongoing right now. but any indication in the lead-up over the last 24 to 48 hours about which way the united states, which way the pentagon was leaning in terms of a response to something like this? >> so it depends on what exactly it is. if this is another sort of standard like the scud that we saw several weeks ago foreit, o it's a shorter range missile.
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we can expect to get some sort of statement out of the region. some sort of a statement. it's not uncommon when they launch something off the u.s. military does what they call a show of force or a show of presence. that's common they'll fly a bomb over north korea, south korea. the u.s. military's own way of flexing its muscles after north korea has. as far as any kind of a kinetic, i don't get the sense. i've been talking to people about this for weeks now and more specifically this week as we've led up to this anniversary this weekend. i don't get the sense there's any kinnetic action over response that would be planned for this. especially if this ends up being a shorter or medium-range missile test. there was a lot of talk about a potential nuclear test. a lot of concern that this may be their opportunity with this big anniversary for them to fire off some tests and intercontinental ballistic
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missile. also concern they may have mastered some more technology. they may be able to miniaturize a nuclear warhead and put it on a missile. so the military is always prepared to respond to any kind of provocation like this. with this specific one, what we believe we've seen, it's sunday morning in pyongyang, i believe we'll see more rhetoric out of the military and out of the united states than anything specific or kinetic. courtney kube, you have a very busy bunch of minutes in front of you. we'll let you go to get more information and reporting. we'll stop by with you in a little bit to get the latest on what's being reported. courtney kube, thank you so much. national security producer for nbc there at the pentagon giving us the latest in terms of what we know. i'll just repeat for you if you're just joining us now what we know about north korea and a missile launch that we are just
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getting information in to msnbc within the last 15 minutes. the u.s. military is aware of a launch. it came from sinpo in the northeastern part of north korea. they are still assessing some of the specifics, type of missile. potentially which way it was directed. the u.s. has also initiated their missile launch conference call to look at the options. to respond to this missile launch and we are waiting potentially for a statement from the region about what has happened. the associated press is reporting, not confirmed by nbc news, that there was a failed unidentified missile test. so we do not know whether it is any one of the three major types that we're aware of in terms of the distance, the size and the payload that they can carry, how they are weaponized.
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and you're looking at a map near. sinpo is up by those three radioactive icons you see in the upper right-hand corner of this map. i want to now bring in gordon chang who is often someone we'll go to on topics like this. he's also a daily beast contributor and writer. you were probably listening to courtney kube, our producer on the ground there. she was telling us over the 12 years, an unfortunate but common incident that she is watching and reporting on. what your hearing in terms of your sources? >> the korean defense ministry did report it did fail. and that's probably true. the important things here that vice president pence is headed to seoul. he's in the air right now. we also know that the north koreans are very keenly aware
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that the "carl vinson" strike group is heading to the sea of japan. because this was a launch from sinpo, the missile was probably going to fall into the sea of japan and that's indeed a warning to the strike group to stay out of waters close to the korean peninsula. we also know that president trump is in mar-a-lago. he doesn't have very much of his national security staff with him. so the north koreans probably were saying to the president, look, we can do whatever we want, regardless of what you think. but here, richard, the most important thing out of all the considerations is that this probably shows a failure of the chinese to control their north korean ally. i think beijing has put a lot of effort to prevent the north koreans from doing something provocative. that's why we didn't see the nuclear detonation which would have been their sixth test but the north koreans decided they were going to just thumb their nose at beijing. and this is an indication that
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the united states may not be able to rely on the chinese to settle a problem that's directed toward the u.s. >> one thing we're thinking of, vice president mike pence is imminently landing there in seoul about 30 miles south of north korea and the dmz. we expect him to have wheels down about 2:55 a.m., about 3:00 a.m. in term of what we understand about his schedule. this in advance of him landing there and perhaps there might be questions that are being discussed right now that we're unaware of. but you did mention that this was a missile launch and that it is not a nuclear test when we think of the technologies and the way that they do test the efficacy of certain size bombs that are related to be -- that are nuclear based. but is that still possible? just last year, we saw a long-range rocket being tested.
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also two nuclear tests last year as well. so is this still possible before the weekend ends? >> it's definitely possible, richard. the north koreans have completed all the preparations for that test. they've buried a device. they've sealed the tunnel. they've completed their initial checks from the -- from what we have been able to tell. the table at 38 north, the website that tracks north korea's detonations thinks that essentially the only thing that's missing right now is the order from kim jong-un to set it off. everyone believes, and i think that it's absolutely true, that he will do that at a time of maximum political effect for north korea. and so we could see any number of additional provocations. so it could be another nuclear test. it could be the launch of more ballistic missiles. just about a month ago, the north koreans launched four missiles at the same time. and those did actually go into
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the sea of japan like this one probably was destined to. there's a wide menu for the north koreans and, indeed, we can expect something pretty soon, i would suspect. >> as you know so well here, that kim jong-un, the leader of north korea, is not absent of the fact that there is this thing called media and that we do cover what he does with great interest for many reasons. but he is also sort of that modern day media mogul thinking leader because he does look for this coverage that you and i are now part of at the moment. and to say that the test of this missile may be followed by something eshllse, he's aware t will be covered, too. could have a multiplicative effect because he's a very media-aware leader. >> yes, and the other thing that we often forget is that not only
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are there expernal political considerations that kim jong-un goes through. he probably also is thinking about the effect of this launch on his internal political standing. since the end of january, a number of instances indicating instability at the top of his regime. and probably what he wants to do is to consolidate his base with the generals and admirals. and what better way than to do something like the missile launch or detonation of an atomic device. >> exercising his authority is what you're saying amongst the generals, amongst those in the middle management, quote/unquote, to show he's in charge is what you're saying? >> absolutely. so this is something that we don't see all of the considerations. it's sometimes very difficult for us to guess, but there are all sorts of things that must be going through his mind. his calculus as to when he's going to do something that will
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surely upset the united states and surely upset the chinese as well. >> gordon, i want to add somebody to our conversation. we bring in jonathan pollack from the brookings institution, interim south korean studies chairman. thanks for joining gordon and myself. what are you hearing in terms of what has just happened in terms of this missile launch that we're hearing from the associated press that has not been completed successfully? let me add another piece of information that we're getting in from our producer courtney kube. she is saying that u.s. pacific command did detect a north korean missile launch and that it was tracked and that they assess it to be a north korean missile that was launched at 11:21 a.m. hawaii time and it occurred near sinpo. the missile blowing up almost immediately. the type of missile still being
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assessed. the new piece of information that we're getting from the u.s. pacific command as courtney kub said we would be getting is they are now saying the test, whatever type of missile it was, did blow up. but almost immediately. jonathan, what are you hearing? >> sinpo is the location from which north korea has attempted other submarine ballistic missile launch efforts. they've had one reasonable success by their standards last august of this particular missile. they've also done a land-based version of it and both were on display at yesterday's parade. the record here is very mixed. the missile in question, if we have correctly identified it, probably has a range of about 1,000 kilometers. so, therefore, it is not a long-range missile. but, you know, practice makes perfect on this kind of -- these kinds of endeavors. there have been a lot of missile
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failures, as well as some significant successes. i would say a success launch from the sea is particularly consequential and that may be what north korea was attempting at this point. but we shouldn't be surprised that a lot of these things don't go very far at all and that may be what we're dealing based on the limited information we have so far. i would say, though, that our ability to monitor these launches, the american ability in particular, is very, very refined. we can detect them once they surface. and so the -- if the general estimate is that it didn't go very far, that's presumably because it didn't show any kind of a discernible trajectory. but among other things as gordon just pointed out, the fact the "carl vinson" is to be deployed to the sea of japan may even be
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there very, very soon. to me represents an interesting signal that's kind of an act of defiance, as well as an act of -- their continuing efforts to develop and demonstrate that they have got something reliable as a missile delivery system. the one thing, though, i would emphasize, no country in the world has put a nuclear warhead -- a missile and detonated a nuclear missile in 37 years. this is an international norm that even north korea has not violated. their dilemma, frankly is they want to be able to convince the world that they have a lot of these cape annualities, but the only way in an ultimate sense to prove it is to do it. and given the liabilities and the down side risks, i, for one, would be extremely surprised if this had, in fact, been
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undertaken with a warhead atop a missile. it just sounds to me very implausible. far too risky even for north korea. >> stand by if you can, jonathan. we have andrea mitchell. nbc news' chief foreign affairs correspondent. thank you for being here with us. you're very aware of the news at the moment. a failed missile test coming out of north korea. what are you hearing? >> well, this is all the reporting that we are getting from pacific command, that it was a failed test. a missile, short or medium range. this is not the first failed test for the north koreans. they've had a series of problems over the years with their missile launches. more recently, they've been successful, but there has been some speculation that the u.s. does have some cyber -- cyber opportunities to try to sabotage launches such as this as they did in the iranian nuclear program successfully and covertly for many years before
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it was disclosed. so it's way too soon to presume that this was failed because of any interference by u.s. military, cyber military. but the north koreans have had difficulties in the past, and there has been a lot of reporting principally by "the new york times" and a team working for "the new york times" about a month or so ago that there had been attempts in the past that
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he had returned from his trump international golf club a few hours ago. he was at home when this occurred. we're told that the white house will present a statement following the north korea attempted launch. we don't know the exact timing yet. those things often take awhile because there is separately a conference call going on with u.s. military leaders who are looking at different options trying to assess what do they know about the type of munitions, its trajectory. the course. all of this important details which are essential to
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understand what north korea may have been attempting. as you've been report, we've all been talking about the fact the vice president is in the air. air force two, unlike commercial aircraft, has direct communication with the white house as well. so very likely the vice president has already been read in on this as well as he is heading to seoul where he will land in the south korean capital in the middle of the night tomorrow easter sunday. so again, the president has been briefed about this attempted launch. we expect a formal response. my presumption is it will be a paper statement, but it is also possible that the president could choose to speak on camera. he did that back in february when japanese prime minister shinzo abe was a guest at mar-a-lago and there was another attempt by north korea to show its military might. and it took awhile but they made the decision that they wanted to speak both to the citizens of japan, which was during the
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daytime and that case. very late in the evening on a weekend here u.s. time but shinzo abe and president trump at that time did appear before cameras. so some of that will unfold tonight, but the headline, the president is aware, some kind of comment will be forthcoming. >> back to you. >> any sense here as you were getting the information in terms of how the president was briefed and what he did learn. and i know it's very initial and very early of tone from them. any concern that you may have picked up from that? courtney kube was saying that it was business as usual if you can say that baseod previous missile launches. >> it's so early right now to know how this will all be assessed. i think we just have to take a breath here. this was expected. some advisers said this is cyclical. the north koreans had certainly foreshadowed they may do something with respect to the anniversary. the founder's day. the current leader's grandfather's birth.
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so that is not as much of a surprise. we've also seen president trump losing his new relationship with china's president xi to try to leverage the china relationship over north korea to slow kim jong-un down and not have any sabre rattling. it appeared that had been a successful part because through the ceremonial part of the founder's day celebration, which is the biggest holiday in north korea, there was no launch. there was a display of what appeared to be new types of missiles, prototypes perhaps. but the white house had expected something was possible. so this doesn't catch them off guard at all. it will, of course, remain to be seen how the president and the white house will want to move forward. the president has been pretty clear of late that north korea is a problem in his words and it must be dealt with. he wants to work with president xi of china to use its influence and if china does not wish to
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cooperate, the president says other allies will join together with the u.s. to try to prevent kim jong-un from expanding its nuclear capability, especially the u.s. concern is predictions that over a horizon of two to four years he might have the ability to deliver a payload that could be nuclear to the west coast of the united states. y in nor grave threat is for the neighbors in the region and the forces who have long been stationed there. that's where president pence is scheduled to go. face-to-face on the ground. a previously planned trip but one that seems all the more urgent right now. >> kelly o'donnell with the president there in florida with the very latest. kelly just telling us that the president has been -- if you're just joining us on msnbc, and what we can say at this moment in terms of a north korea missile launch, what we are hearing from u.s. pacific
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command is that it did detect a north korean missile launch. they are telling us, according to the information they've provided so far it was detected and tracked by u.s. pacific command. and at the moment, in their assessment, that the north korean missile launch happened at 11:21 a.m. hawaii time. that's about 5:21 eastern time. and 5:51 a.m. local time there in north korea. so we are talking about 2 1/2 hours ago this has happened. the launch of the ballistic missile occurring near sinpo. the missile, according to the u.s. pacific command blowing up almost immediately. and the type of missile is still being assessed at this moment. also what we understand at the moment is that there is a missile launch conference call being undertaken by the united states to assess options in terms of what is next. that is what we know at this hour. still with us, andrea mitchell,
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nbc news' chief foreign affairs correspondent. and as kelly was telling us, vice president pence in the air on his way. we expect him to have wheels down about 3:00 a.m. more or less here. put that all together if you can for us, andrea. along with the discussion of president xi and his inability, it appears, to keep north korea from doing this missile launch test. >> this is going to be very offensive to china. because china had just appeared to both the u.s. and north korea to dial down the rhetoric and stop being so provocative. the foreign minister in china just 24 hours ago made that appeal. china has been trying to get north korea to back down. they seem to be responding a bit to, frankly, president trump's diplomacy. and to the xi summit. most recently we've seen some
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signs that north korean ships carrying coal exports were turned back from china in line with u.n. sanctions. this would be a move that china was tightening its economic grip as the u.s. has been pressing them to do. and until now, they have let coal and oil back and forth. they've been the economic lifeline to north korea. they can shut that down. and that has been something that decades of u.s. presidents have been trying to get china to do to stop this north korean nuclear program which was developed really in the '90s and finally came to full force under george w. bush. but became operational, we understand now, toward the latter years under president clinton. that said, china still has been reluctant to do anything that would push north korea economically over the brink. the last thing they want is a collapsed state there. what they don't want is increased u.s. dominance militarily in the korean peninsula. so they've been very reluctant
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to see an area where north korea would collapse, where there would be korean -- potentially korean uniufication. refugees kro s across the borde flooding in. and the u.s. would be dominant with south korean partners. of course, the other piece of this is that there's no government in south korea right now. the president was impeached a couple of weeks ago. there's an acting caretaker government. there's an election in may. and right now, the trend in politics in south korea has become affected by all of this military response, and the threats of military action as well as the north korean provocation. and so a more cent rrist candide has begun to take the floor. the fact this was a failed test, what the indications are from pacific command is that it blew up on launch. this is not the first time that has happened but it's in marked contrast to the show of force that was on display in the last
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24 hours during the founder's day parade and what we saw was on those mobile launchers, we saw some of those massive missi policy makers have feared. there's estimates that they are a year or more away from being able to launch such a missile and bring it back from space and bring it down and reach the west coast of the united states and speculation about how far along they are in being able to miniaturize their nuclear warheads to put them on a missile, but the size of the missiles was alarming because you would not need to miniaturize the technology for the warhead as dramatically if you have such a large launch vehicle to carry the missiles. there's no indication that the north koreans are really prepared to put a warhead on a missile and launch it, to do
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something that would be unprecedented. that said, this north korean leader is far less than his father and grandfather. i was in north korea several times and actually at a diplomatic meeting in october of 2002 and met this leader's father, but his death then led to a great deal of concern that this young man was completely untested. we have certainly seen how violent he can be in murdering his own uncle, the caretaker and real leader we thought of north korea and in launching terror attacks, sarin gas attacks, including his stepbrother in malit. >> in your reporting over the years going back to the meeting of kim jong-un's father, can you put into context the
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possibility, the reporting you might be hearing or what your sources are telling you regarding a potential nuclear test because that was the question whether or not we were going to see a missile launch and or a nuclear test and there are some reporting he is ready to hit the button, if you will. >> reporter: the nuclear test it would be his sixth nuclear test if he were to do that. there were signs over the last couple of weeks that they saw in that site where tests take place underground, there were signs of preparations for such a test. that said, that began to diminish in the last couple of days and our military observers were briefing that they thought it was less likely there would be a nuclear test and although there was going to be some kind of significant act one thought in connection with this founder's day celebration, the celebration of what would have been the birth of the
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grandfather, the founder of the nation. the missile launch was actually more concerning than a nuclear test because he had done five before, but the fact there was so much concern that perhaps they were farther along on their missile development, the vehicle is more alarming than the nuclear warheads. the latest estimate in the last 24 hours that came from david albright and his organization, experts who study all this very intensity say he had between 13 and 30 nuclear weapons, but if he doesn't have a way to deliver those weapons it's less threatening. they have the range to reach south korea and japan and u.s. forces in the millions and millions of people within range, but obviously the threat for america, the mainland, is that
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this he wou they would have the range to reach the mainland of the united states. that is not believed to be the case as of now. despite what we saw in the parade and the prototypes we saw in the parade in the last 24 hours, they don't seem to have test in had thed that, but they managed to get into space with a multi stage vehicle. that has been concerning. the trick is to get such a missile back down again to perfect the reentry. fortunately, all estimates that i've read are that they have not reached that capability yet. for this missile test, though, to have failed on launch, it's going to be a humiliation for a leader who has just shown off this amazing array of military might to all of his millions of people. they may never know this was a failure because of the lack of communication in north korea. they do not have the internet.
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most of the totalan regimes where there's some countries we've been to, even the former soviet union, the pre-internet days and there was communication and travel back and forth. this is the most isolated place in the world in terms of any kind of communication. when i was there and talking to people, aside from people in the foreign ministry who had tours of duty in beijing, there were few people who knew anything about the outside world. they had something called intra net, but they are disconnected from the world. >> great to have the chief correspondent to give us perspective on this evening.
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andrea, thank you so much for that. we'll get back to you later with more information. just getting in one piece of new information here. coming from two u.s. military officials that are saying the early assessment this was not an intercontinental ballistic missile. they cannot say yet, but that is the early read on this missile launch that came from north korea about 2 1/2 hours ago and just into us. we'll continue to watch the latest. we're going to take a short break to understand what are the responses that the united states may be considering right now as well as what type of technology exactly did north korea may have tested here within the last several hours and whether or not a nuclear test may or may not be happening in just the coming hours of this sunday locally.
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we'll be right back here on msnbc. i noticed it as soon as we moved into the new house.
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breaking news to tell you at this hour. 8:00 p.m. eastern, 8:30 a.m. in north korea and the news this hour is that we are hearing north korea with a missile test. it was expected that something may happen on this weekend. this weekend of the 105th anniversary of the founder of north korea kim il-sun. the assessment is that the failed launch was not an icbm. this was not an intercontinental ballistic missile. this was not a missile at least what we're hearing at the moment that was capable of reaching the united states. this question of whether it can hit the


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