U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power on slow aid to Syria, N. Korea nuke threats

U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power

Last Updated Sep 16, 2016 12:46 PM EDT

The fighting has stopped in Aleppo, but Syrian troops are still holding up on humanitarian aid that the city desperately needs, said United Nations officials.

Samantha Power, United States ambassador to the United Nations, blamed the Syrian regime.

“Well, the regime has been very explicit about its tactics in this war… starve, get bombed or surrender,” Power told “CBS This Morning” Friday. “Death by a thousand paper cuts --they are requiring new paperwork, new documentation, new requirements.”

Blocked road preventing aid from reaching Aleppo

But she also added that Russians had a “significant” influence and that it was “incumbent” on Moscow to deliver on Syria. The war-torn country is now in its fourth day of the U.S.-Russian cease-fire​, which Secretary of State John Kerry​ called “a last chance to be able to hold Syria together.” Power emphasized the significance and potential impact of the deal -- one she said was the first of its kind -- with “this level of granularity and specificity.”

“It can be a very important deal because it can prevent the regime from flying over opposition areas, it can prevent barrel bombing, chemical attacks, the kinds of things we’ve seen the regime do for so long. It can also turn the Russians to doing what they were supposed to do all along, which was actually fight terrorists instead of civilians​,” Power said.

But in order for the deal to move forward, Power said a cessation of hostilities for seven days and humanitarian aid must be sustained.

Addressing the slow humanitarian aid efforts, “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell quoted a line from Power’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Problem From Hell,” in which the ambassador asked why the United States stands “idly by” in the face of mass atrocities. 

“Don’t you believe that’s what’s happening again today in Syria?” O’Donnell asked. 

“Well, Syria is a very complex picture,” Power answered. “There are thousands of armed groups. The question again of what military intervention would achieve, where you would do it, how you would do it in a way where the terrorists wouldn’t be the ones to take advantage of it -- this has been extremely challenging. But the idea that we have not been doing quote anything in Syria seems absurd. We’ve done everything short of waging war against the Assad regime and we are – I should note – having significant success against ISIL on the ground.”

Power was also asked about a divide between the State and Defense Department. The cease-fire agreement had upset Defense Secretary Ash Carter​ and other national security officials, who are skeptical​ of cooperating with Russia, especially with regard to sharing intelligence on ISIS targets. But Power said they were all on the same page, “trying to make this work.”

North Korea nuclear launch worries global superpowers

“Russia is not excited about a quagmire in Syria either. There is a terrorist problem that can unite people if we really focus on it and we just gotta take this opportunity and drive it home. And if all we do is cease hostilities and get food to people, that’s a better week than last week. And so we’ve got to again focus on making incremental progress to ultimately bring about the political transition,” Power said.

Power also addressed the nuclear threats from North Korea​, which recently carried out its fifth nucleartest​. This week, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said the situation in the Korean peninsula requires “urgent actions.” In addition to the tough sanctions​ placed on North Korea in March, Power said “we’re going to put in place new sanctions in the wake of what they’ve just done.”

But Power said China, having “the most leverage over North Korea,” must “really turn up the heat.”

“But we need China,” she said, “to use its influence to get North Korea back to the negotiating table, because like with anything, sanctions change your calculus over time, impedes your ability to get the technology you need to do bad things, but fundamentally, it’s going to be political talks that get them to give up their nuclear program.“