CNN LIVE AT DAYBREAK
North Korea Ready to Talk About Nukes
Aired October 21, 2002 - 06:08 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: Now to the problem of North Korea's nuclear weapons. The White House says it considers the 1994 agreement on the communist nation's weapons program effectively dead.
President Bush's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, discussed the situation on CNN's "LATE EDITION."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: This is a big deal, because North Korea has, in effect, told us that a political arrangement between the United States, North Korea and several other parties has been nullified. They are the ones who have blown a hole in this political arrangement.
It is a matter that we believe that we have some leverage to be able to achieve a diplomatic solution to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CALLAWAY: North Korea says it is ready to discuss its nuclear weapons program. There is a condition, and our senior Asia correspondent, Mike Chinoy, is joining us now from Hong Kong with details on that.
Good to see you this morning. What's the latest from there?
MIKE CHINOY, CNN SENIOR ASIA CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Catherine.
Well, the North Koreans have come out with their first really official response since this crisis broke. North Korea's No. 2, Kim Yong Nam, telling South Korea's unification minister that the north is willing to address American concerns, but there are two conditions. It has to be through dialogue, the north said, and the United States has to drop what Pyongyang calls, Washington's "hostile policy" towards North Korea.
That has been a consistent North Korean refrain for a long time now. The North Koreans feel that the Bush administration has been much more hostile towards them than the Clinton administration. The Bush administration, of course, putting North Korea in the axis of evil, and taking a much more standoffish approach than the Clinton administration.
Now, the North Koreans essentially put the Bush administration on the spot, saying, if you're concerned about our nuclear program, there's a way to negotiate a solution out of it, but it's going to involve the United States dropping its very hard-line policy towards Pyongyang. So, we'll now have to see whether the Bush administration will respond to that.
It's a problem, because the administration wants to see the north halt its nuclear program first, before there can be any progress on any other issues, and the north is trying to link the broader improvement in relations to making concessions on the nuclear program.
So, we'll have to see how the two sides move forward on this. If the American government is willing to engage in talks, there might be some movement. But right now, what Washington is doing is marshaling its allies in this part of the world, trying to get support from the Chinese to push the North Koreans to give up their nuclear program on their own -- Catherine.
CALLAWAY: You know, the U.S. is walking a fine line on this one, aren't they? You know, after some of the comments made after 9/11, what now, and how far off are we from seeing discussions, one-on-one, with the U.S. and North Korea?
CHINOY: Well, there are a lot of parallels to the 1994 crisis, which led to the earlier nuclear agreement that the North Koreans have now broken, in which the Clinton administration demanded the north halt its nuclear program, and then Washington would agree to talks. And the north said, no, talks have to be done first, and then solving the nuclear issue is part of that.
Here again, you have the same situation. The Bush administration demanding the North Koreans halt their nuclear program, and the north saying, it's all up for grabs, it's all on the table, but you have to talk to us and don't approach us as an enemy -- Catherine.
CALLAWAY: Well, obviously, that agreement didn't hold up, did it?
CHINOY: That's right, and it has a lot of skepticism now in Washington about whether any agreement with the north will be worth the paper it's written on.
On the other hand, the options are very grim. North Korean artillery is just a few miles from the South Korean capital, Seoul, where there are 10 million people. There are 37,000 American soldiers in North Korea (sic).
If this conflict were to go in an Iraq-type direction -- if this crisis were to go in an Iraq-type direction, there would be horrendous consequences to American soldiers...
CHINOY: ... and to the civilians of an American ally.
So, the U.S. has to find a more diplomatic approach here, because the dangers from a war are so great -- Catherine.
CALLAWAY: It is a dangerous situation. Thank you, Mike -- CNN's Mike Chinoy.
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