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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
North Korea Missile Launches
Aired July 4, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, North Korea, part of what the president calls the Axis of Evil, test fires several missiles. They were warned not to launch them but Kim Jong-il did it anyway. How will the world respond? And, what will the United States do?
We're live with experts, diplomats, and correspondents from D.C. and around the world. It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening from Washington where our special guest on Thursday night, by the way, will be the President and Mrs. Bush from the White House. That's this Thursday night.
But tonight, big news, let's get right to it. Our panel assembled everywhere; in Los Angeles Mike Chinoy, the former senior Asia correspondent for CNN; here in Washington, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, the former North Korea adviser at State during the Clinton administration; also in Washington, John Pike, one of the world's leading experts on defense, space and intelligence policy.
Sandy Berger is here, the former national security adviser in the Clinton administration. In San Diego is Congressman Duncan Hunter, Republican of California, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; and, in Washington, John Roberts, CNN's Senior National Correspondent and David Ensor, CNN's National Security Correspondent.
Let's begin on the phone with Ed Henry who has had a tough day at the White House. He has left his post at the White House. He's with us by phone -- Ed, what's the latest?
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (by telephone): Well, good evening, Larry. I'm actually on the South Lawn of the White House. The president just came out. He's going to be watching fireworks on the National Mall, which is what he always planned to do, sort of a surreal scene when you think about it because this is obviously such a major day, such urgent news out of North Korea.
But I think the White House is trying to walk a fine line here where while they're saying this is an urgent situation, while it's a very serious situation, they also don't want to alarm Americans too much.
White House spokesman Tony Snow tonight insisting that the White House does not believe there's any immediate or imminent threat to the American people. They are taking it seriously, of course. The president has been consulting with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Rice, as well as his National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. But the president does not want to be drawn in to a tit-for-tat with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il. Instead, he wants to let lower level officials handle this diplomatically.
This is a White House that has been accused of not giving diplomacy enough of a chance before the war in Iraq, so they really want to go the extra diplomatic mile here. They feel like obviously North Korea was provocative here and they're trying to focus this as not the U.S. v. North Korea but North Korea against the rest of the world.
And that's why tomorrow the president is sending a senior State Department official to the region to deal with it. But the president does not obviously want to be drawn into a tit-for-tat with Kim Jong- il. That's exactly what the dictator wants. Instead the White House wants him to be boxed into a corner -- Larry.
KING: Thank you very much, Ed.
Barbara Starr, our CNN Pentagon Correspondent, is also with us by phone, what are you hearing?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (by telephone): Larry, the way it stacks up right now it was six missiles that the North Koreans launched. One was the type Taepodong. That's a long range missile that was of great concern. Five others were basically Scud variants. All six fell into the Sea of Japan.
But at this hour, Larry, military command centers from NORAD in Colorado all the way out to the Pacific Command in Honolulu are continuing to monitor the situation, seeing if North Korea undertakes any more launches.
What we have learned is that U.S. satellites, U.S. intelligence saw each of the six missile launches as they unfolded. U.S. spy satellites watch North Korea constantly. They are able to pick up indicators of missile launches basically through exhaust plumes in the initial seconds of a launch.
They saw all of them. They were able to determine very quickly they were not a threat to the United States or to U.S. territories. That Taepodong that everyone was so worried about, that long range missile that North Korea fired, well it turns out that it basically failed within 30 to 40 seconds of its lift off, fell into the Sea of Japan, didn't have much of a success there.
But make no mistake the U.S. military was prepared, Larry, if President Bush had ordered it to use U.S. interceptor missiles to try and shoot down the North Korean missile.
NORAD, Northern Command, confirming late tonight that all of its systems were operational, it was ready to go, it was ready to attempt to shoot down if that had been ordered but at the end of it all so far that has not been necessary because North Korea didn't have much success with its launches -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, Barbara Starr, our CNN Pentagon Correspondent.
Ambassador Sherman, what do you make of this?
AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, FMR. NORTH KOREA ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I think that Kim Jong-il really wants to get the attention of the United States and the world. He's watched as we put a package on the table for Iran that includes a light water reactor, the very reactor that the Bush administration killed as an option for North Korea.
I think it's very concerning. America is not at risk tonight, immediately, but there's no question that not only long range missiles but having nuclear weapons and they now have probably six to eight nuclear weapons on a head of a long range missile is about as lethal as it gets, so the Bush administration is going to have to pay attention.
KING: Are you surprised Sandy?
SANDY BERGER, FMR. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Not surprised at the test. I think it's clearly a provocative act on the part of North Korea. It deserves stern measures on the part of us and the Japanese and others. But ultimately here I think, as Wendy has indicated, the real concern is their nuclear weapons program and I think it's -- this really calls for a reassessment of our negotiating strategy with the north.
KING: Congressman Hunter, do you think they did it deliberately to time with July 4th or a space shot?
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: I think the North Koreans, Larry, understand that having tantrums now and again is I think instinctively they feel that that's a way to get things and to get the attention of the world.
The real message here for us is that we have to have missile defense and to those ends this president has been building with Congress a missile defense and we now have what I would call a limited capability at our testing ranges in Alaska and California.
But we have to move ahead with missile defense because at some point if diplomacy doesn't work it's all physics. If you have a missile in the air and it's coming toward one of your cities, the only way to stop it at that point is not with words but with interceptors.
We're spending about $9.2 billion a year to develop that system and that's one place where the president has been leading very strongly. Congress has been following.
KING: John Pike, are you worried?
JOHN PIKE, DIRECTOR, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: Well, I'm concerned that we're entering a new phase of our relationship, strategic relationship with North Korea.
They've been able to strike South Korea with ballistic missiles. They've been able to hit Japan with ballistic missiles. Now they're taking some concrete steps to be able to go to the next threshold and be able to attack the United States with missiles.
The challenge on missile defense, of course, is that we have to simply not defend North America. We would also have to be able to defend Japan and also have to be able to defend South Korea.
The Japanese are starting to do stuff on missile defense. But the North Koreans have so many missiles that could hit Japan. I think the bottom line is that for the last decade we've been running an arms race with North Korea and we're still losing.
KING: We'll check with what John Roberts and David Ensor think.
But on the phone with us is the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Madam Secretary, what's your read on what happened?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE (by telephone): Well, I think it is very serious and I certainly agree with the comments made by the others. The North Koreans have managed to get the world's attention and although the Taepodongs failed it certainly has given the North Koreans an opportunity to learn a lot more about what they have in terms of their missile technology.
And frankly, Larry, I think the problem here is that we are watching the failure of five years worth of American diplomacy. I'm very worried about it and I hope very much that we do have a review of our North Korean policy.
KING: You'll stay with us Madam Albright. And we'll come right back, check with David Ensor, John Roberts, their thoughts, lots of others coming aboard as well as we look at the situation that happened late this afternoon. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with our panel. We'll check in a moment with Governor Bill Richardson, the former ambassador to the U.N., who has frequented North Korea.
But let's check in with our correspondents here as to their thoughts. John Roberts what do you make of it?
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You have to make of it what the -- how the officials are reacting to this and the White House is saying tonight that there's a danger is over hyping what's gone on here. I guess there's a difference between intent and result.
The fact that the missile fell into the Sea of Japan fairly unceremoniously is a lot different than if it actually had flown over someone's sovereign territory. They're saying this is not World War III here so let's treat it that way.
The United States is also saying that it's going to take -- it's not going to take the lead in terms of any type of response to this at the United Nations, at the United Nations Security Council.
They said it's really up to North Korea's neighbors to get involved in the game here and they expect if anybody is going to raise the idea of sanctions it's probably going to be Japan.
Now this again, critics will say, is the United States ducking its responsibilities, which is to have face-to-face talks with North Korea but that's the course that they have chosen over this last five years and that's the course that they plan on continuing on in the future.
KING: And, David Ensor?
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: You know, Larry, everybody is talking about the word "test" but you don't test a whole bunch of different kinds of missiles all at once, short range, medium, and long.
ENSOR: This wasn't a test. This was a show of force. This was an attempt to get people's attention globally. We can hit you Japan with short range missiles. We can hit somebody else with medium. And America we might even hit you one day.
KING: In an attempt to?
ENSOR: In an attempt to get attention and in the thinking of Kim Jong-il, according to the analysts I'm talking to, try to extract some concessions. It's a different way of thinking than perhaps we would but he thinks that if he scares enough people they'll think they have to give him things.
KING: Governor Bill Richardson, former ambassador, you've been there. What's your read on this?
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, (D), NEW MEXICO (by telephone): Well, my read is this is a deliberate in-your-face provocation on the Fourth of July, the day of the space shuttle. They had been threatening this. I think once they set the launch they were going to do it.
And, the North Koreans are like little kids. When they don't get their way, when they don't get any attention, especially when we've been dealing with Iran and we've offered a set of incentives to Iran, Iraq, they're out of the headlines that bothers them, so they try to get attention.
But this is a very strong provocation. Now, what do we do about it? I think a key element that has not been discussed is the North Koreans really have felt squeezed by our efforts to freeze their assets. I think some of those funds go to the North Korean leadership.
The fact that they've been counterfeiting hundred dollar bills all around the world, we have effectively frozen a lot of their exchange and I think that's obviously a factor too. What do we do about it? I believe you have to have face-to-face talks. There's no harm in doing that. You don't have to make any concessions. Yes, get the U.N. Security Council involved. I think that's important to look at a set of possible additional sanctions.
China is the key. China has refused to really put the heat on North Korea. China has a lot of leverage over them. A lot of the food comes from China to North Korea. I think the other countries, Japan, can put some effective sanctions.
But it's not going to substitute for the Bush administration saying "We're going to deal with you directly." Remember, this provocation was aimed at us, nobody else, Fourth of July, and I think face-to-face talks we have some very capable people that can negotiate a deal that will look something like this.
They eliminate their nuclear weapons. In exchange we give them assistance. We don't attack them. A broad range of a deal has always been there but it needs continuous diplomacy, continuous discussion. You can't leave them alone for six months, not engage them. You got to engage them directly.
KING: Mike Chinoy joins us from Los Angeles. He knows the area so well, the whole South Pacific area. In fact, Mike Chinoy has visited North Korea 14 times. What's your read Mike?
MIKE CHINOY, PACIFIC COUNCIL ON INTERNATIONAL POLICY: Well, Larry, I think there's a certain amount of history here over the last few years. The North Koreans have sat and they've watched the Bush administration come into office, reverse the Clinton administration's policy of engagement with North Korea.
They saw President Bush label Pyongyang as part of the Axis of Evil. They saw what happened to Saddam Hussein. They saw the whole strategic approach of the Bush administration saying that it was proper for the United States under certain circumstances to take preemptive action against rogue states that might have weapons of mass destruction.
And so they -- when you go to North Korea they're scared. They're worried that the United States and the Bush administration in particular wants to do them in and wants to see them go the way of all the other communist governments around the world in the last 15 years.
And so, I think their game has consistently been regime survival and the key to that in Pyongyang's view, my sense is, is to have a direct deal, direct negotiations with the United States and they've tried consistently to get that. Most recently in May they invited Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill to come to Pyongyang, an offer the Bush administration rejected.
So, my sense is that this test, six missiles on July 4th, coinciding with the shuttle is kind of political theater, political fireworks, coercive diplomacy designed to say "If you don't deal with us diplomatically, we can cause trouble for you."
KING: John Pike does this, therefore, offer an opportunity for the west?
PIKE: Well, I think there's an opportunity. We also have to see what else Kim Jong-il has in mind. I think that there are other things that he could do to get our attention to continue to force the pace of it.
I mean one of the essential elements of their operational code is that they like to negotiate in a crisis and I think there are other things they could do, bring another missile out to the launch pad, more construction activity at some of their nuclear facilities to deepen the sense of crisis to see if they can't squeeze something out of the United States either in terms of resuming the direct bilateral missile discussions or some sort of concessions because they've seen that Iran has succeeded in doing that. And they're saying "If Iran can do it, certainly North Korea can do at least as well.
KING: Ambassador Sherman, what are they -- we keep talking about they, them, and we probably know less about them than anyplace in the world, what are they like?
SHERMAN: Well, when Secretary Albright and I went to North Korea, we spent about 12 hours with Kim Jong-il and he's not crazy in the way that we think of crazy. He's more like the leader of a national cult where the people think that everything good comes from the leader, from the dear leader as he is known.
KING: Like a religion?
SHERMAN: Like a religion in some ways. It's very strong and it's more Stalin than Stalin ever was in many ways. And he really is like a director on the world stage in his mind.
He owns every Academy Award movie. He's watched all of Michael Jordan's plays on the basketball court. He has all those films. And we were watching a performance one night and I said to him, "Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that at some time in another life you were a director." He said, "Oh, yes" and then told me about all the Academy Awards.
So he really sees himself sitting there with long range missiles, nuclear weapons. That's the only leverage he has because he has a failed economy. It's a terrible country. None of us would want to live there and certainly would not want to live under him. And this is the leverage he has and he's playing it out on the world stage.
KING: This is act two?
SHERMAN: This is act two, maybe three or four.
KING: We'll take a break, get more thoughts from our outstanding panel right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have made clear to our partners on this issue, that would be Japan and South Korea and China and Russia that we need to send a focused message to the North Koreans and that this launch is, you know, is provocative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back.
Let's check with some folks on the international scene. In Seoul, South Korea, is Sohn Jie-Ae. She is a CNN correspondent; in Tokyo, CNN Correspondent Atika Shubert; and in Beijing is CNN's Beijing Bureau Chief Jaime Florcruz.
Let's start with Sohn Jie-Ae in South Korea. What are they saying there Sohn?
SOHN JIE-AE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, South Korea's foreign minister is still huddled and they've just come out of a meeting, although we don't know the official position yet but it is suspected that South Korean officials are expected to express their grave concern about North Korea's missile launch, although they would fall short of outlining any types of sanctions or actions they would take.
South Korean officials overall are very concerned about the effect of North Korea's missile launch what that would have on the overall tensions. They are afraid that it would increase tensions here on the Korean Peninsula and therefore adversely affect South Korea -- Larry.
KING: Thank you, Sohn.
Atika Schubert in Tokyo, I understand you have some news -- Atika.
ATIKA SCHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Japan's defense minister just briefly spoke with reporters saying that they've raised the alert for the self defense forces here.
They've also dispatched ships to try and find out where exactly the missile object landed in the Sea of Japan. Of course, Japan was right in the trajectory of these missiles and all of them landed in the Sea of Japan, the closest about 500 kilometers or 300 miles off the west coast of Hokkaido Island in northern Japan.
So, you can imagine a lot of anxiety here in Japan saying they're going to issue a strong protest considering economic sanctions and they want to take this to the U.N. Security Council.
KING: Thank you, Atika.
And Jaime Florcruz in Beijing, what are they saying there?
Larry, no official reaction yet from the Chinese although they are believed to be closely watching the developments. They are a key player in this crisis. China is North Korea's closest ally, close neighbor, also a big provider of food and oil and other economic aid. So, the Chinese can play a very important role in influencing North Korea's action. However, the North Koreans and the Chinese, even though they're officially communist countries they're also not very, you know, they're not the close allies anymore.
The Chinese are very pragmatic about this. They hope that this crisis can be resolved through diplomatic negotiations. They hope that the U.S. and North Korea will talk directly -- Larry.
KING: Thank you all very much.
Sandy Berger, who of these countries should be the most worried?
BERGER: Japan I think should be the most worried because obviously they are in the range of these missiles. The South Koreans have adopted a policy of embracing North Korea or at least seeking to deal with them diplomatically. The key here is China in terms of pressure. They're the one country that can actually exert pressure on North Korea and I would hope that they would do so.
KING: Ambassador Albright, let's ask the un-askable (ph) in a sense. What do we do if they throw a missile into Tokyo?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think clearly that will be a cause for major retaliation but I was thinking, Larry, and listening...
KING: That would be World War III?
ALBRIGHT: Well I hope not. I think we have to do everything to avoid that because that would be a disastrous war. But in listening to all this what I have a sense about, Larry, is how much the Bush administration has on the table.
You have been talking about this issue. We have to keep our allies all together if we're going to go to the United Nations. There's also the issue of Iran and a deadline that we've set for a response on our offer there. And then also there's the G8 meeting coming up.
And, in many ways, all these issues are linked together because we are asking a lot of the various people, various countries in terms of support and from listening to your various correspondents you can see that the reaction in Japan and South Korea and China is quite different.
And so, there's a huge amount of diplomacy to be done from an administration that has not really been that successful in diplomacy in this particular part of the world.
KING: Congressman Hunter, should the administration reevaluate how it approaches diplomacy? Should they talk to North Korea?
HUNTER: Well, certainly I think that's up to the president, Larry, but I think...
KING: Tell me what do you think? HUNTER: I think that that's fine. I think talking to North Korea is good but I think that the secretary is wrong in this respect. What we owe to the American people is an insurance policy and that insurance policy has to presume that perhaps words won't work and perhaps the six party talks won't work and perhaps continued diplomacy won't work.
And at some point we're going to have a missile, perhaps launched at the United States that doesn't fall short, that isn't defective. And the way you handle that is by having a missile defense, that is having the physical capability of intercepting a missile that is coming into an American city.
And that's where this president has been strong and that's where this Congress has solidly been behind him. We're spending enough money a year to get this system up. We need to have a limited capability against incoming missiles. We live in an age of missiles.
And with respect to diplomacy it's very tough to negotiate a stable agreement with an unstable leadership. And right now I think most people would describe the North Korean leadership as being unstable.
KING: Richard Roth is CNN's Senior United Nations Correspondent. He's been doing that for a long time. What's going to happen tomorrow?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we just got word that there will not be a meeting tonight. It was seen as possibly Japan driving for a session tonight.
Tomorrow morning in New York, the 15 members of the Security Council will be behind closed doors and, as many of your guests well know, they've been the ambassador for the U.S., they're going to start talking and it will be interesting to see what China says.
We talked to a Chinese official earlier tonight in New York who said "We want a cautious approach." There were fireworks tonight, Larry, outside the U.N. but they were the East River fireworks for July 4th, many diplomats in attendance. We'll see what goes on tomorrow at the United Nations.
Ambassador Bolton said a few days ago "How can you engage in dialog with countries that are launching intercontinental ballistic missiles?" But this is where the U.N. will be used. It is the home for diplomacy and the U.S. will certainly be ready to use the Security Council.
KING: Stay with us, Richard.
We're going to take a break and come back, lots more to go. And there's a lot of noise we're hearing here in the studio and I have finally figured out that that's the fireworks. The show started just as we went on the air and that's taking place above our heads.
With some fear and trepidation we'll be right back. Don't go away.
KING: Mike Chinoy in Los Angeles, how concerned are you about all of this?
CHINOY: Well, I think it's very worrying that it's come to this point, but I think it's really important to see the North Korean moves as part of an attempt to refocus American attention on some kind of diplomatic deal.
In all the trips that I have done in North Korea in the last -- more than a decade, their consistent theme has been: We want to have a rapprochement with the United States, but we don't want to be treated as some weak, failed state that can be easily pushed aside. We want to be treated equally. We want respect.
And I think a lot of what -- the North Koreans are experts at political theater, these kinds of mass demonstrations that we always got to take pictures of in Pyongyang, like this one you're seeing now with Kim Jong Il and all the soldiers parading.
In the diplomatic world, they do the same kind of thing. They're trying to signal that they want respect. They don't want to be a target. And, if they're given respect, they have hinted consistently they might be willing to put their nuclear program, their missile program, on the table for a price. And it would be a high price. But they haven't really been tested in recent years.
We don't know whether in fact that's true or not. But they're signaling with this, if you don't deal with us, if you don't talk to us directly, then we have lots of ways of making life very uncomfortable. And they have seen what's going on in Iraq. They know the U.S. is preoccupied with Iran. They have seen the latest developments in Afghanistan. They know that a major military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula is something the Bush administration would not want to get involved in.
So, I think they feel, actually, quite confident they have got a pretty strong hand to play. They also know the Chinese don't want -- are not going to support a very tough sanctions approach, and the South Korean government is so heavily invested in this policy of engagement with North Korea that it is unlikely to throw that policy out as well.
So -- so, my sense, in talking to people who follow North Korea, is that they feel they're actually in a relatively good position to pressure the U.S. to either talk to them or face these very potentially worrying consequences.
KING: David Ensor, to your knowledge, do we have spies in North Korea?
ENSOR: My sense, Larry, is...
KING: Do we get any information out of there? ENSOR: My sense is that I don't know.
ENSOR: But -- but I do not think that there are American spies on the ground in North Korea.
That said, there are probably some agents. I would -- I would be amazed if South Korean intelligence didn't have some agents in the North. But, you know, you have got to be practically inside the mind of Kim Jong Il to know what you need to know. It's all in that man's mind and a few other leaders around him who are jockeying for position.
KING: So, reportable. What makes this reportable, John, if there's such a word? What's reportable about this country?
ROBERTS: What's reportable about this country? Only -- only what you see when you have go in for fleeting moments.
I have -- I have never personally been, but I know people who have been. And it's whatever you can set your eyes on for the two or three days that -- that you're there. And, typically, it's a dog-and- pony show. You have minders. You can't go where they don't allow you to go. There's -- there's no possibility of going out and looking around.
And China is an open society compared to North Korea. So, it's whatever you can get eyes on while you're there, with the minders looking over your shoulders, making sure that every step you take is very carefully orchestrated.
KING: So, Governor Richardson, that being the case, what can an ambassador learn or an expert? What can any diplomat learn there?
RICHARDSON: Well, they're almost in a surreal world.
They don't negotiate like we do. Culturally, they're so different. They're totally isolated. What you have to do is just, in my judgment, engage them. That doesn't mean you cave in to them. It means you have a continuous bargaining. You use your full levers. And -- and here's the deal, Larry.
I think that they have already tentatively agreed to dismantle all of their nuclear weapons. In exchange, there has to be an armistice agreement, where I believe you don't attack them, along with the six-party countries. You give them a package of electricity, of economic assistance, of food. They're starving. You don't treat them any differently, in terms of prestige, but -- but you engage them.
And what we have failed to do is talk to them directly, is continue the momentum of the six-party talks, which, six months ago, had some momentum. And what you also need to do is, don't expect them to react like anybody else. They're a bunch of kids, that they feel that they have the upper hand, because they have the ultimate card, nuclear weapons, missiles. They have very little to lose. When I was there eight months ago, they talked about prolonged, prolonged tension with the United States. It's not as if you can squeeze them. They have nothing to squeeze. And so you have to get in their mind-set. Give them some respect. Now, that's very hard to do, especially when we call them an axis of evil.
Give them some status. That doesn't mean you give them any concessions. But our objective should be very clear, to eliminate the nuclear weapons that they have. And they have anywhere between three and six.
KING: Richard Roth, what -- what -- what does the U.N. do?
ROTH: Well, the United Nations certainly has been worrying, mostly about the North Korean people, starving thousands.
And the North Koreans have occasionally blocked access and permission for World Food Program and people like that. So, right now, the Security Council, you have got 15 countries. Six missiles fired, they got the attention of the Security Council. It helps the U.S. that Japan is a member of the council and might be able to drive this, so that the U.S. is not seen as once again playing a superpower role.
But, again, they may -- they will look for a quick statement of condemnation, but then comes the hard part. On sanctions, China will not be in favor of it. Kofi Annan, the secretary-general, will stress diplomacy, though he warned the North Koreans not to launch.
Very hard to get 15 countries together in that room when you're dealing with North Korea. The six-party talks haven't gone anywhere. But North Korea may have overplayed its hand, but it may have succeeded in getting attention. Certainly, it angered a lot of diplomats, who no doubt were watching the World Cup when these missiles were launched.
KING: Ambassador Sherman, anything to be optimistic about?
SHERMAN: Well, it's hard to be optimistic on a night like this.
But, at the same time, this is an opportunity for reassessment. In 1998, North Korea launched a rocket over the Sea of Japan. The Clinton administration was then in government. And the Republican Congress pushed very hard to do what President Clinton had begun to think about doing, which was to name a senior envoy -- and, at the time, it was Secretary -- former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry -- to really take a look at our policy and engage and negotiate in the tough kind of way that's been discussed here, where you get more than you give, but you make sure that the United States is secure and the world is secure.
And the Bush administration ought to begin some real diplomacy, putting a package together, and engaging with North Korea. Within the context of the six-party talks is fine, but they have got to get to work.
ENSOR: Can I just say something to be optimistic about? The Taepodong was a complete flop.
ENSOR: That's a good thing. That's a good thing that -- that gives great relief to U.S. intelligence and military officials.
And it -- it raises a question, at least in my mind, will there be a political problem for Kim? He looks foolish, in a way, that his big missile didn't work.
BERGER: I would not want to be the head of the Taepodong program in North Korea tonight.
ENSOR: Yes, exactly.
BERGER: He's looking for work.
KING: Let me get a break. And we will come back.
The president and Laura Bush will be on this program on Thursday night.
And now, as we go to break, here's a look inside North Korea, as done on "CNN PRESENTS."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK SESNO, CNN CONTRIBUTING CORRESPONDENT: North Korea is the last Stalinist regime, a closed one-party state founded on a personality cult, a rogue regime known for repression of its people and a menacing nuclear arms program, a nearly bankrupt nation where in the 1990s the U.S. government says more than 2 million men, women, and children starved to death during a famine. Kim Jong Il denied the famine even existed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Former Ambassador Albright has left. Former Ambassador Richardson has left us.
We will have one more question for Madeleine Albright, and then let her get some rest.
With all you have heard, what -- what's going to happen? What do you think will happen tomorrow? ALBRIGHT: At the United Nations, I think that they will have a discussion which will show some of the divisions that your journalists and commentators have talked about.
I do think that there will probably be a lot of action in the capitals in Seoul and in Tokyo, and we also need to know what's going to be happening in Pyongyang, because I can assure you, Kim Jong Il is watching the reaction to this.
The thing that I found was that he was not isolated. He actually watches CNN and has e-mail. And I think he is watching to see the reaction to this. I do think that we do have to see this as a provocation, but not overreact, because the message out of Iraq is one that those who do not have nuclear weapons get invaded and those who do don't get invaded.
And, so, he is reading the messages from that, and I think we need to stay calm. I do think that I personally believe there need to be face-to-face talks, but it's hard to do them immediately after this kind of a launch. But I do think that diplomacy -- and I must say we do need to have an ABM. Nobody is opposed to that.
I think, though, that diplomacy is an essential aspect of this. And we should use the United Nations, six-party talks, and then move to face-to-face.
KING: Thanks. Thanks so much for joining us, Madam Ambassador. We will be calling on you again.
Since, as she pointed out, they watch this program and others on CNN in North Korea, what, Congressman Hunter, would you say to the leadership now?
HUNTER: (AUDIO GAP) underestimate the United States.
And I think it's important for us to presume, Larry, that -- that they may have decided to move ahead with their missile program and their nuclear weapons program regardless of who they talk with, whether they talk directly with the U.S. or continue in a multilateral mode.
And, so, I think it's important for them to know that we have watched this test, this handful of short-range missiles that they threw out, and the one big one that failed, and we have learned a lot. And the United States has learned a lot. And the United States is -- is building a -- an effective missile defense. And we are going to be a very strong nation and be able to handle any type of problem that North Korea sends to us.
And so this, really, I think was a mistake on their part, a real mistake, because I think they felt they would be in some way rewarded. And that's why I would disagree with any of your panelists, who suggest that, somehow, this should change our behavior. Somehow, we have done the wrong thing. And, somehow, we should now adjust our behavior and reward North Korea for this launch. I don't think we should reward them. I think the president is pursuing a good course. And he, incidentally, is being cool on this. As you said, he hasn't changed his schedule. He hasn't accepted North Korea's emergency. They like to create emergencies. He hasn't accepted that. But he has moved ahead robustly with our missile defense. We're keeping our powder dry as a nation. I think they need to know that.
KING: John Pike, you agree?
PIKE: Well, I think that keeping cool in this situation is exactly the right attitude for the president to take.
This is not Sputnik. We're not on the verge of war with North Korea. I think the big challenge at this point, though, is to try to figure out what our available options are, try to understand exactly what is it that worries us about North Korea and what sort of deal could we possibly get that is going to improve our security. I think we need to reevaluate some of our objectives.
KING: We will take a break and be back with more, including the comments Congressman Chris Shays, who's frequently on this program, the Republican congressman from Connecticut.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back, and we want to get the thoughts of Congressman Chris Shays, Republican of Connecticut, who's with us by phone.
What's your assessment of what you have heard?
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: Well, Larry, you have got a great panel, and it's been fascinating.
But I will tell you, this is a very provocative act by North Korea. I mean, six launches in one day is not something you ignore, obviously. I just react to this, though. We talk about our failed policy, as if it was failing now and not in the past.
And, frankly, my view was that this administration outed the fact that North Korea was not abiding by the agreement with the -- with the former administration. You had enriched uranium, and you had plutonium. We were stopping one, but not the other.
And -- and, finally, I would just say to you, as -- I -- I'm -- I find myself reacting to the accusation that we need to be bilateral, when this administration is constantly criticized for not being multilateral. The reason we want to be multilateral is, we want China in there. We want Japan in there. We want South Korea in there. And the message to North Korea is, we want to deal with you, but collectively.
KING: You want to comment on that, Ambassador Sherman? SHERMAN: Well, I quite agree that it's fine to have a multilateral framework, and we should be working with everyone who has an interest in this problem.
But, at the end of the day, as many of the panelists have said, what Kim Jong Il wants is regime security. And he believes that the last remaining superpower is the only country that can ensure his security. And, so, we have to deal with the regime we have got, not the one we would like to have, and we're going to have to negotiate not with our friends.
You make peace with people you don't like and with your enemies, and we're going to have to do that here, too. But it's fine to do it multilaterally.
BERGER: I agree with what -- what Ambassador Sherman has said. Negotiation is not capitulation. Negotiation is face-to-face discussions to determine whether or not there is something that we can reach that is satisfactory to us.
And it's important not only because we may be able to reach an agreement, but we will never have the support of China and South Korea for more coercive measures unless they are convinced that we have exhausted the negotiating option.
KING: Isn't it better to talk, Congressman Hunter, than not to talk?
HUNTER: (AUDIO GAP) Larry, but I think -- I think a big error has been stated here. We don't know what Kim Il Jong thinks.
We are -- we're not sure what he thinks, and we are not sure what his game plan is. And the idea that -- that we should view this launch of this handful of missiles as being somehow a failure on our part, somehow, we're doing the wrong thing, somehow, we need to adjust, he's proven that to us, and, if we adjust, somehow, things are going to get better, I think that -- that Chris is absolutely right, and that the -- the administration gets nailed for not bringing everybody together, and not going forward with all the neighbors, so to speak.
And, then, when they go forward with the neighbors, no, it needed to be one-to-one. In my own mind, I think it's very questionable whether the North Koreans are going to stop either their missile program or their nuclear weapons program for anybody.
KING: What do you think, Congressman Shays? Do you think they will ever stop?
SHAYS: Oh, I think they could.
But what I find curious is, if our partners in this are not going to be as strong as we are, why wouldn't it be in North Korea's best interests to include them? And it's puzzling to me that that would be the issue.
KING: Do you agree, John Pike?
PIKE: Well, I think that the challenge in all of this is to try to understand exactly what our goals are, what is it that we're worried about? Are we trying to achieve disarmament, completely taking out all of their nuclear weapons, all of their ballistic missiles, or is it maybe time to start thinking about arms control, to think that, well, we're not going to be able to completely denuclearize them, but we're a lot more worried about North Korea with 100 nuclear weapons than we are North Korea with 10?
KING: What's going to happen tomorrow, John Roberts?
ROBERTS: Well, it's...
KING: We know the U.N.'s going to meet. What else is going on?
ROBERTS: It seems that the United Nations is going to meet. This -- this will be, you know, topics A through Z at the White House tomorrow.
And even though the president celebrated his 60th birthday a little early tonight and is on the South Lawn of the White House watching the fireworks, tomorrow will be all about North Korea, what the U.S. response should be, really also trying to figure out what North Korea is up to.
ROBERTS: And the -- sorry, Larry?
KING: I guess I ought to ask him about it...
ROBERTS: You're talking to him on Thursday. Definitely, you have got the opportunity there.
But, you know, the White House approach to North Korea has almost been based around that child's book, "Give a Mouse a Cookie." You know, give a mouse a cookie, and he will probably want some milk. And then he will ask you for some more cookies. And then he will ask you to go to the store to get some more cookie dough.
ROBERTS: And -- and they just believe that, if they give North Korea incentives, they will keep wanting more, more, more, more, more, which is why the White House has drawn the line, to say, first, you dismantle the nuclear program. Then you get the incentives.
KING: Let me get a break.
Thanks, Congressman Shays.
We will be back with our remaining moments, including some comments from Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.
Don't go away.
KING: Just a few moments remaining.
Let's get the thoughts on the phone from Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona.
What do you make of all this?
SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: Well, Larry, first of all, I think that both Chris Shays and Duncan Hunter have made an important point.
The fact that Kim Jong Il throws a temper tantrum should not suggest that the United States is doing something wrong, and that we have to adjust our thinking and modify it to suit what he's done. Understand that the missiles that he launched today are, except for the Taepodong-2, old missiles. Scuds and Nodong are old technology.
They are exported by North Korea around the world to countries like Iran and Iraq and -- and so on. But they are nothing new, and they are not a threat to the U.S. or even to Japan, for that matter.
And, then, the Taepodong-2 apparently malfunctioned. So, his temper tantrum, designed to get our attention to sit down and talk to him, I don't think should cause us to, all of a sudden, change the philosophy that we have toward the six-party talks and the requirement that they have got to give up their nuclear program, before we begin giving them any kind of assurances.
KING: Running close on time. What -- what should we do then? Nothing?
KYL: No, no.
I think that it's given us an opportunity to sit down with the other five parties -- the other four parties to the -- to the talks that we have tried to get restarted and say, look, this demonstrates that we have got to work together to get them down to the table and start getting some -- some real action here.
And China is the key, as others on the panel have -- have pointed out. China has got to step up to the plate and get the North Koreans to begin to talk to us.
KING: Thanks, Senator Kyl.
Let's get a final comment, as we go around the table here.
What's going to happen, do you think, John?
PIKE: Well, I think that we're going to see more action by North Korea, and I think the United States is going to adjust its negotiating position to respond to that.
What the end game is, you have to worry about. Maybe Kim Jong Il overplays his hands, and possibly the situation goes beyond what he had intended.
ENSOR: I heard from a White House official today, who said he expects more missiles.
KING: More missiles?
ROBERTS: I think what you're going to see is a concerted effort by the White House to put pressure on the other four members of the negotiating team that it's involved with to try to put the squeeze on North Korea.
But because these were old missiles, as Senator Kyl pointed out, and the fact the Taepodong-2 malfunctioned, that, really, other than a strongly worded statement expressing extreme displeasure, there's perhaps not much they can go beyond that, particularly if China doesn't support them on the idea of sanctions.
BERGER: In the short term, I think that further punitive measures against the North would be justified, including additional sanctions from the Japanese, the Chinese, and us.
In the mid -- midterm, however, I do think that we have to engage the North Koreans. Again, negotiation is not capitulation. We should not be afraid of our own ability to negotiate tough.
KING: And Ambassador Sherman.
SHERMAN: We're the big country. They're the little country. We need to keep our eye on the ball. And that ball are nuclear weapons.
We have learned in Iran how important it is, even though there are many other issues in Iran, including state sponsorship of terrorism. Our first objective is their nuclear weapons. It should be the same way in North Korea.
KING: Thank you all very much.
Tomorrow night: a major panel discussion, looking at politics and a follow-up to what happened today; and, of course, Thursday night, the president and first lady on the occasion of his 60th birthday. That will be from the White House.
Right now, an hour special hosted by our old friend Frank Sesno, a "CNN PRESENTS" special inside North Korea.
Thanks for joining us, and good night.
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