As you know, North Korea tested
another nuclear bombover the weekend.
This time it was a hydrogen bomballegedly capable of fitting
on an intercontinental ballisticmissile.
Their largest test to date.
Uh, the explosion registeredas a magnitude 6.3 earthquake
and is estimated to have beensix to ten times stronger
than the bombthat destroyed Hiroshima.
For perspectiveon this alarming development,
we're joined tonightby a true expert,
Ambassador Christopher Hill,everybody.
(cheering and applause)
So, just to give yousome perspective,
uh, Christopher Hillserved as, uh,
U.S. ambassador to South Korea
and led negotiationsfor the U.S.
during the six-party talks onNorth Korea's nuclear program.
He's now a deanat the University of Denver,
which is much crazierthan North Korea.
-Uh, welcome to the show.-Thank you very much.
-Thank you so muchfor being here. -Pleasure.
Let's get straight into it.
You have had to negotiatewith North Korea.
Everyone is asking the samequestion right now and that is,
what does Kim Jong-un want,other than a better barber?
-What does he want?-Yeah.
I think it's pretty seriouswhat he wants.
I mean, this is not a caseof some little country
that thinks they'll feel betterif they have a couple of nukes.
I mean, this is a countrythat has a long-term program.
They have been working on thisfor some 40, 50 years.
And I think, ultimately,what they hope to do
is decouple the U.S.from the Korean Peninsula
to create a circumstancewhere the U.S. isn't prepared
to defend South Koreaand risk its own population.
Right, but that... but thatseems like an illogical want.
-Like, South Korea is an allyof the U.S., right? -Right.
North Korea knows this.China knows this.
The question everyone seemsto be struggling with is,
why would he continue to createthese nuclear weapons?
What is the end goalof doing this?
Because the U.S. is notstepping down, it looks like.
If anything,the U.S. is-is escalating,
you know, its readiness.There's military...
you know, uh, joint exercisesat the... at the border.
It doesn't seem like it's goingaway. Why would Kim Jong-un go,
"No, I still wantmy nuclear weapon"?
Well, first of all,one of the things people say
is he wants nuclear weaponsto keep us from attacking,
-uh, North Korea, but, in fact,-Right,
we've never planned to attackNorth Korea, and our allies,
the South Koreans,would say, "No, thank you."
So there's no interest therein attacking North Korea.
So why does he do this?And the answer is,
he believesthat if he can get the U.S.
off the Korean Peninsula,
stop being the allyof South Korea,
he could actually unifythe Korean Peninsula.
-So he wants to createa unified Korea, right? -Yeah.
And if the U.S. is no longer inSouth Korea, it makes it easier.
But then if he invades SouthKorea, the U.S. would retaliate.
Or does he believethe nuclear weapon
would stop the U.S.from retaliating?
As things stand now,if he invades South Korea,
the U.S., we're in.We're in big-time.
-Right.-And, uh, by the way,
that would probably be the endof the North Korean regime.
But if he has a nuclear weaponpointed at the U.S.,
then it'sa different calculation.
We're in, but do we want toexpose our civilian population
to being attackedby the North Koreans?
Look, this soundsa little farfetched,
-but, I mean, you asked me whathe's doing this for. -Right.
And that is a lot more logicalthan the idea that,
"Gee, I needthese nuclear weapons
'cause the U.S. is planningto invade me."
The U.S. won't do it,because we cannot invade them
without South Korea'sbeing a part of it,
and the South Koreans have nointerest in that kind of thing,
-and he knows it. -Okay,you worked as an ambassador.
Your job was to speak to people
and communicateand try and work things out.
How does the U.S.work things out now?
It seems like there...it's lose-lose situation,
Kim Jong-un is the only personwho is winning.
Well, first of all,we got to keep the door open
to negotiationwith the North Koreans.
If we're perceivedas not wanting to negotiate--
and that happened earlyin the Bush administration--
there are a lot of South Koreanswho say, "What's the matter?
"It's easyfor you not to negotiate,
-but you don't live nextto these guys." -Right.
"You live thousandsof miles away."
So, one, we got to keep the dooropen negotiation.
Secondly, we have to workwith the South Koreans
and the Japanese to insure themthat we are there.
We're not gonna abandon them
if Kim Jong-un starts sendingmissiles their way.
Or in South Korea's case,
-you know, his army is right upthere on the DMZ. -Right.
Right up there. It's nota territorial defense force.
So they need to believethat we're there,
and I think we're doinga very good job of showing that.
And thirdly--and this is very important
and very misunderstood--
we've got to sit downwith the Chinese.
And I don't mean sending thema tweet in the dead of night.
-(laughter)-And I don't mean, you know,
having some kind of, you know,public phone call or something.
-Right. -We need to sit downwith them and say,
"China, what do you want to seeout of this situation?
Because this is whatwe want to see."
We need to kind of havethis serious deep dive
with the Chinese,and we haven't done that.
Do you really believethat the U.S. hasn't done that?
I mean, you were involvedas an ambassador,
communicating with North Korea.
Now it's no secret that theNorth Koreans once had a deal,
and they reneged on that deal.
They liedabout what they were doing.
They lied about their enrichmentof plutonium.
They were secretly workingtowards getting nuclear weapons.
Can you trustthis kind of country?
And then, on the flipside,someone will say,
"If you cannot trust them,what can you realistically do?"
Oh, look,to paraphrase Tina Turner,
"What's trust got to dowith this?" It's-it's...
-(laughter)-It's all about... It's...
-(applause and cheering)-It's... it's...
-It's all about, can you verifywhat you're doing? -Right.
We had a deal with them,
but they wouldn't give usverification.
They'd only give us verificationof things we already knew.
-Right.-So we need to be able to verify
that there is something overthere we want to have a look at.
-Uh-huh.-And we need the right
to lookat these undeclared sites.
And that's whenthe North Koreans said no.
And this was in the fallof 2008.
There were a coupleof possibilities.
Maybe they wanted to dealwith an ex-administration.
Maybe they were de...
sick of dealwith George W. Bush, etcetera.
The problem was, we never gotback to a negotiation.
And as you suggest, I mean,
they have a plutonium facilitywe know about.
In fact, we got it shut down,we got it disabled.
But they also had some purchaseson the international market
consistent with havingthat other means
to a nuclear weapon-- so-calledhighly-enriched uranium.
-Right. -And that's wherethey wouldn't tell us anything,
so we had to, uh, pull out ofthat without any verification.
We couldn't go further.
Let's pivotto Donald Trump's approach.
He, as you said, tweets,
um, I don't knowif Kim Jong-un follows him,
but I think he knows,
and he has come out saying,
"Fire and furylike never seen before."
There has been a lotof posturing from Donald Trump.
As an ambassador, as someonewho's been in these situations
working for, you know,under the Bush administration,
do you think that he'staking the right approach,
do you think that there issomething that he can still do
to sal... salvage both his...
his image and reputation and therelationship with North Korea?
First of all, I give himsome credit for one thing--
he's understood the importanceof China in this.
Because if we solve thisand we look back and we say,
"How did we solve this?" we willsee that we worked with China.
We're not gonna solve itand look back and say,
"Gee, we solved it despitehaving no agreement with China."
We're gonna seethat we worked with China,
and I think he understands that.
The problem is,he's basically thought,
"Well, I'll outsource itto China.
"Hey, China, you take careof that thing in North Korea,
and I'll help youwith some trade issues."
So he's sending jobs to China...
-(laughter) -insteadof getting Americans to...
Oh, that's interesting.
Mm. Let me ask you this, though.
Do you feel like the Chineseare willing?
You often hear people saying
China acts likethey want to do something,
but it doesn't seem like they actually want to do something.
They're not there yet.They're not there yet.
If you're a business personin Shanghai, you're there.
If you're a member of theirdeep national security state--
and if Steve Bannonthinks we have
a deep national security state,
he ought to get a loadof 20 million Chinese policemen.
And in that crowd, they worrythat if North Korea goes down,
it would be perceived by theirpublic as a victory for America,
-defeat for China.-Right.
And so they're not there.They're simply not here.
But it doesn't meanwe can't work on it.
I mean, Henry Kissingerspent weeks, uh, you know,
stuffing that rabbit downthe hat the Nixon pulled out
when he came and saidwe've got relations.
You have to spend a lotof diplomatic time and energy
doing that,and they haven't done that,
mainly 'cause we don't have,really, any diplomats right now.
-It's, uh... -Well, for peoplewho are afraid on the U.S. side,
scale of one to ten, howafraid should an American be,
and scale of one to ten, howafraid should a South Korean be?
You know, I th...we can protect ourselves,
and we can protect our allies,so I put it way down on the...
on the scale right now.
But in the longer run,we have a problem,
because when theydo perfect an arsenal
that is aimed at us,this is a new thing--
we haven't had this,had a new country show up
with a nuclear weapon pointedat us in a half a century.
So this is a big problem,and we shouldn't think
that this is just goingto be solved by itself.
We need to address it.
So in the short run, I thinkwe can all sleep well tonight.
Tomorrow-- well, I thinkwe'll be okay tomorrow, too.
But I think, uh, I thinkwe really have to address this.
-Right. -And we haveto address it in a serious way.
And we're supposed to bethe adult here,
and that's what we got to do.
We'll just keep checking inevery single day with you.
-Thank you so much for comingto the show. -Good to see you.
You can learn moreabout his fascinating career
in his book, Outpost: A Diplomat at Work.
Ambassador Christopher Hill,everybody.