Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LARRY KING LIVE
How Dangerous is North Korea's Threat?
Aired July 5, 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's threat just how dangerous is it? The rogue nation has defied the world with seven missile tests. The president has spoken. The United Nations has weighed in. Now what?
We'll ask former secretary of state under President Clinton Madeleine Albright; Ambassador Wendy Sherman, special advisor on North Korea to President Clinton and Secretary Albright; representative Curt Weldon, he's led delegations to North Korea; Senator Sam Brownback, author of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004; and lots more.
And it's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. We'll have a panel with us throughout. They include Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state. She joins us from Aspen, Colorado. She's the first secretary of state, by the way, to visit North Korea there in October, 2000 where she met with Kim Jong-il.
Back for a second night is Ambassador Wendy Sherman, the former special advisor on North Korea at the State Department in the Clinton administration.
In Topeka, Kansas, the aforementioned Senator Sam Brownback.
In Philadelphia, Congressman Curt Weldon, who has led two bipartisan congressional delegations to North Korea.
And, here in Washington, John King, CNN's Chief National Correspondent and former White House Correspondent and Ed Henry CNN's current White House correspondent. They'll be with us all the way.
We'll also be checking in with Jamie McIntyre at The Pentagon, Richard Roth in New York for word about the happenings at the U.N.
One program reminder. Tomorrow night President Bush and Laura Bush will be our special guests for the full hour. If you'd like to ask any questions of the president and Mrs. Bush you can e-mail us at cnn.com/larryking, cnn.com/larryking.
The immediate item is out of Washington. Reuters is reporting North Korea appears to be making preparations to launch another long- range missile, the missile not yet on the launch pad, NBC News reported Wednesday night citing unnamed U.S. officials. NBC said the missile was nonetheless in its final assembly stage.
Jamie McIntyre, what are they saying about this at The Pentagon? JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I guess it depends, Larry, on what you consider getting ready for a launch. Pentagon sources tell me that there are no indications that the Taepodong-2 is being prepared for launch at this time. As I said, nothing near the launch pad.
Now, it's no secret that North Korea has more than one Taepodong. It's no secret that they're building them to launch them, not to just put them in a warehouse, so I guess it depends on whether you consider the fact that they're proceeding with their missile program as preparations for a launch. But at this point, there's nothing imminent.
KING: Secretary of State Albright, Madam Albright, what do you read into this?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think that they clearly do have a missile program and we have to be very watchful and it makes it very clear how dangerous the situation is and how important it is for us to react properly and to take the moves that are necessary at the United Nations and to try to get them re- engaged in talks.
I think that it's important actually not to make fun of them for the fact that their Taepodong, this one, failed because that just kind of eggs them on. So, I think we have to realize what a truly dangerous situation this is and how important it is to get diplomacy properly engaged at this time.
KING: Do you agree, Ambassador Sherman?
AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, FMR. NORTH KOREA ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: Absolutely. I think that the White House today has been sort of playing down the situation because they don't want to play in to what North Korea has done.
On the other hand, it is a serious situation. It was a dangerous and terrible provocation. The world community should condemn it. But ultimately even after sanctions or a condemnation we have to get back to negotiations and the Bush administration has to be ready to vigorously engage in those negotiations as it has begun to do with Iran if we're going to begin to make any difference.
KING: Senator Brownback what do you say?
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: Well I think it's an obviously very difficult situation we're in. Thank goodness we went forward with the missile defense system and that we have something in place, although not fully in place to be able to move forward but can use in this if we need to in this particular situation.
I think it also points out how desperate North Korea is and how we really need to confront them on a global basis. I'm glad the Japanese are leading the effort at the United Nations. But this needs to be a global effort including the Chinese and the Russians to confront the North Koreans to stop doing these provocative acts. KING: Congressman Weldon, how do you see it?
REP. CURT WELDON (R), PENNSYLVANIA: We're back in the 1990s. We challenged NIE-9519 back in 1995 when President Clinton used that national intelligence estimate to justify a veto of the Defense Authorization Bill.
We had put language in the bill calling for us to move forward with a limited missile defense capability and thank goodness we did that with both Democrat and Republican support because in spite of the veto three years later North Korea launched a Taepodong over Japan's sovereign territory.
We tracked that missile with our EGIS system and even though it didn't go to completion the CIA was totally fooled. They weren't aware that North Korea had a three stage missile capability.
We were aware of the Nodongs. We were aware of the Scuds but not the three stage Taepodong. Now that was eleven -- the NIE was eleven years ago but the actual test was in 1998, so this system has been continuously in development and unfortunately now Kim Jong-il is doing this to try to get the attention of the west and to try to shake us into a position of responding to him.
I don't think the system is one that we have to worry about today but thank goodness, as Sam said that we deployed a system with bipartisan votes in spite of the administration's opposition in 1999 that had 103 Democrats join the majority of Republicans with a veto- proof margin to deploy national missile defense. That's the very capability you're seeing put in place today.
KING: John King might we be overplaying this? Is this huge?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, might we be overplaying it as far as to any direct threat to the United States?
J. KING: Sure. Is it huge though? His missile may not have worked, Larry, the first test of this long-range missile but indications are and CIA analysts will tell you this, administration officials at the White House believe this that he will test again, a) to prove the system, to try to prove the system and, b) to get past this humiliation, the defeat of having a failed missile launch. Are we overplaying it?
He can't deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States just yet but he has six, eight or more nuclear weapons. He has them. He has them just a few feet, if you will, from one of our key allies, South Korea. He's in the neighborhood of Japan. He has a deteriorating relationship by most accounts with China and he is very unpredictable to be kind and he has six, eight, perhaps more nuclear weapons and he's trying to build more.
KING: Is the White House, would you call it, Ed, playing this sort of laid back? ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A little bit. They are. Obviously it's in their interest to downplay it but also I think they were burned by what happened in the months leading up to the war in Iraq and they faced these accusations that they didn't -- they were thumbing their nose at the United Nations that they didn't give diplomacy enough of a chance.
As you just heard Senator Brownback say, you know, diplomacy really has to work here and that's why you keep hearing from the president on down "Go back to these six party talks." They're really trying to make sure it's multilateral.
It's not just the U.S. and North Korea sitting down and really trying to give diplomacy a chance because they were burned by the fact the accusations that they didn't give it enough of a chance and that they seemed hell bent on going to war in Iraq.
KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, we'll talk more about this man Kim Jong-il, talk about him with Madeleine Albright, who met with him for some time.
Richard Roth will check in with doings at the U.N.
Lots more to go too, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yesterday as you know they fired off a series of rockets. The world, particularly those of us in the six-party talks had asked for that not to happen as a matter of good faith. The government made a different decision and so it's their choice to make. What these firing of the rockets have done is they've isolated themselves further and that's sad for the people of North Korea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's check in, in New York, with Richard Roth, CNN's Senior United Nations Correspondent who knows the turf. What's the latest on today's session?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, in baseball 13-2 would mean game over but no squad has a veto and at the Security Council that's lining up 13-2 but Russia and China with veto power are standing in the way of a potential bid on a resolution that would threaten North Korea with sanctions, telling countries not to ship and supply North Korea with material and goods that could be used to make or manufacture and launch these missiles.
Russia is saying "Let's not give into a rush of emotions right now. It was deplorable what North Korea did." China is preaching caution. Right now the U.S., France, South Korea, Japan, everyone else is lining up whether you're on the council or not behind this resolution but we may be stuck in what we saw in the Iran nuclear games going on, a deadlock in that Security Council.
The U.S. is going to push for that resolution which says what North Korea did is a threat to international peace and security.
KING: Secretary Albright, you met with Kim Jong-il for some time back in 2000. You were the first secretary of state to visit North Korea. And, I'm told by many people that he is American in many ways, likes all our movies, watches CNN. Would he do an interview on this program because we'd have him?
ALBRIGHT: You never know. He might, you know. He wanted me to e-mail with him. I think the thing that's interesting, Larry, is I do not believe that he's crazy. I know a lot of people have said that. I don't think so. I think he is isolated and he operates within a relatively closed information system of people around him who tell him what he wants to hear.
I also think he's not a really very clever negotiator in terms of timing. Their timing seems to be off all the time. But I don't think he's crazy and I think that he is hearing that we want to dismantle his regime, which is not exactly an incentive to get him to stop doing what he's doing.
But, I believe -- you said I was the first secretary of state. It also turns out I'm the last. I still have the rather dubious honor of being the highest level American official to meet with him and I do, I personally believe that we need to have bilateral talks with the North Koreans.
I have said that now for a long time. I don't think we can do it now under this kind of a threat but we need to deal with them directly because I do think that North Korea is a dangerous place.
KING: Senator Brownback, how does a direct dialog hurt?
BROWNBACK: Well, at this point in time I think it would hurt a great deal in that it would be rewarding him for testing these missiles and doing it on the Fourth of July and as we were launching the shuttle. I suppose maybe there is some tie-in. I don't know that there is at all.
But, it would be rewarding him for this terrible behavior for us to do direct talks. And, plus I think you've got to look at this situation and be very realistic about it.
This is a failed state. North Korea is a failed state. He's killed or caused the death of nearly ten percent of his own country's population through starvation and a gulag.
He's not going to be listening to a lot that we would say and the only people that can really bring direct pressure on him is China and they're having a more estranged relationship. I think our push needs to be on China to estrange that relationship further to put more pressure on him to stop these sort of actions.
KING: John King, today you did a lot of work today and you heard a lot about China. Are they the key player here?
J. KING: They are the key player by all accounts and that is the interesting dynamic though. The administration publicly says China has been helpful all along. Privately at the White House, at the State Department, they say China has not been doing enough. China has been reluctant to step up. China is looking for something from the United States, some say on the Taiwan issue or some other issue.
And, Richard Roth just hit it right on the head, Larry. He said 13-2, Russia and China holding out on the Security Council. Well, Russia and China are partners in those six party talks that the president says is the path to a solution here.
Others would say "You've been at this three years. Next month will be three years of the six party talks. You've got nothing, nothing out of it." And now you have a retreat, North Korea launching these missiles, sounding more belligerent.
So, even those who would say, and I think Wendy Sherman and Madeleine Albright would say, it's a good -- it seems like a good plan and it was a good plan at the beginning. Even people who support this framework of six party talks say it's not working even if it was the right idea. You need to do something different. That's the pressure on the president.
KING: So, what do they do Congressman Weldon? What do they do at the White House?
WELDON: You can have bilateral talks in the six party context which is what we've been advocating. I spent 15 hours over two visits with (INAUDIBLE) their lead negotiator and I'm firmly convinced that there is a way to diplomatically resolve this issue and there's a way to bring Russia in.
The day that I left Pyongyang on my last trip (INAUDIBLE) was going into Pyongyang. The Russians have an interest in running gas supply lines from the Russia far east at Socoline (ph) down to the North Korean rail corridor into South Korea. The South Koreans, and I've met with the Chong (ph) family of the Hyundai Corporation in South Korea and gas. They're willing to finance such pipelines.
There's a natural interest on the part of Russia both of (INAUDIBLE) and (INAUDIBLE) on the oil side to have those pipelines supply their land-locked energy which would give North Korea a non- nuclear source of energy and a source of income.
But you can't make those kinds of discussions occur in what appears to be a context of bowing down to the pressure they brought forward. That's why I thought the administration should continue to have kind of an unofficial or second tier dialog, not to give them the status of direct bilateral talks because as we saw with the '94 framework, as Colin Powell said on March the 26th of '03 before the House Appropriations Committee and our Congress, before the ink was even dry they were cheating with their enriched uranium program, which they finally admitted to in the middle of 2002. That enriched uranium program was specifically designed to build nuclear weapons. You need to be candid and transparent with them. I think the six party framework is the right one but I think there need to be secondary talks at the second tier, third tier level which is why I took two bipartisan delegations in, not to try to preempt the administration but to support the president's overall intentions and to try to find a way to convince the North Koreans that it was in their best interest.
And I can tell you, Larry, they are ready to do that and I still believe that today. I think what you're seeing now is the result of the pressure we've applied by the tightening up on (INAUDIBLE) Asia which has basically shut down much of their economy.
That was an action this administration took in recent months and it's had a devastating impact on their economic capability and I think you're seeing Kim Jong-il lash out because of that.
KING: I got to get a break.
And when we come back we'll have Wendy Sherman and Ed Henry chime in.
As we go to break, here's part of the conversation that President Bush had today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I am deeply concerned about the plight of the people of North Korea. I would hope that the government would agree to verifiably abandon its weapons programs. I would hope that there would be a better opportunity for that government and its people to move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's check in, in Tokyo, with Atika Shubert, our CNN correspondent there. What was reaction in Tokyo today to what went on at the U.N. -- Atika?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well here in Japan on the streets many people are bewildered and angered by these missile launches from North Korea but insisting that Japan has to push ahead with trying to consolidate international support.
As you know, Japan together with South Korea is a prime target for these missile launches from North Korea. And yet Japan has almost no leverage over Pyongyang, no bargaining power at all and that's why it's really trying to push through this resolution that not only condemns North Korea but also imposes economic sanctions.
The problem, of course, is China. China, North Korea's biggest economic partner, is not yet convinced and Japan will have to use all of its diplomatic skill to convince China to go along with this resolution -- Larry.
KING: Thank you so much, Atika.
Let's go to Seoul, South Korea, and Sohn Jie-Ae, our CNN correspondent there and what's their reaction?
SOHN JIE-AE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, South Koreans are concerned because South Korea borders North Korea. The South Koreans have seen tensions here go up and down many times before and they're very concerned that because of the North Korean missile launches tensions now seem to be racked up again.
So, South Korea is looking to see what the other nations will -- how they will react to North Korea and to see if North Korea continues to act the way it is and if North Korea launches more missiles. So, South Koreans today are watching, very concerned -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, Sohn.
And Jaime Florcruz is CNN's Beijing Bureau Chief and Beijing is being called possibly the key to all of this. How are they reacting there?
JAIME FLORCRUZ, CNN BEIJINK BUREAU CHIEF: Well, the Chinese officials issued a carefully worded statement calling -- well expressing serious concern but also calling for calm and restraint.
Now the Chinese actually share a lot of the frustrations of the U.S. and Japan. They don't want North Korea to have nuclear weapons. They also don't want North Korea to be lobbing missiles in their neighborhood.
But still they are under severe pressure from the U.S. and Japan to lean on North Korea because they are, after all, the only country with a lot of leverage on North Korea.
But at the end of the day, the Chinese stopped short of condemning North Korea. Instead they are preaching dialog and talks and they want all sides to return to the six party talks -- Larry.
KING: Thanks Jaime.
Let's go back to The Pentagon, Jamie McIntyre. I understand you have more to report -- Jamie.
MCINTYRE: Well, Larry, we were just talking about the -- there's a report in a South Korean newspaper today that says three or four short-range missiles, short or medium-range missiles are on the launch pad in North Korea that could be fired at any time.
While I don't have any independent confirmation of that I can certainly tell you that North Korea has hundreds of missiles that either are Scud missiles or variants of Scuds. These are old Soviet technology they've had for a long time. They've had the capability to fire them for quite some time. The shorter range ones could hit South Korea. The longer range of those, the medium range ones could hit Japan. So it's not surprising at all that they have those missiles ready to go but they're not the same thing as the intercontinental Taepodong missile which had the potential if it worked to hit the United States.
KING: Thanks, Jamie as always. I don't think there's anybody better reporting on military things than Jamie McIntyre. He's doing it a long time.
And the U.N. couldn't have a better journalist than Richard Roth. So where does the U.N. go from here Richard?
ROTH: I think there will be delicate negotiations ahead and the U.S. may have to compromise once again because of obstacles presented by Russia and China. The resolution that is now in its initial stages would condemn North Korea for what it's done, urge them and call on them to return to those six party talks.
But, you know, North Korea may be emboldened by what happened before. In 1998 they surprised the world with one missile launch and the Security Council only issued a statement due to opposition from China at that time.
Also, they've seen an economic package of incentives offered to Tehran and more involvement by the U.S. so they feel they may have some maneuvering room here. While 13 countries were in favor perhaps of this resolution, China and Russia will be hold outs.
KING: Thanks, Richard Roth.
Ambassador Sherman, worse before it gets better?
SHERMAN: I think it probably will stay unstable for a while. There are a lot of geo politics going on here that are very complicated, although Japan doesn't have immediate leverage with these missiles flying over the Sea of Japan.
If there is ever a package agreed to by North Korea, one of the biggest pieces of that package is probably going to be about $10 billion from Japan because of past actions during the war, so the real pot of gold belongs to Japan.
On the other hand, South Korea has strong economic relations with China. They're their main trading partner now, not the U.S. Japan is the main supplier to China, so there are a lot of undercurrents going on here.
And one of the biggest undercurrents is whether there's going to be an arms race on the Korean Peninsula, whether China will really get engaged in this in a more robust way because they don't want Japan to militarize further.
KING: Ed Henry, I'll ask the president tomorrow, I'll ask you now, in Iraq we certainly took the lead. The nations followed us. Why not take the lead here? HENRY: Well that's going to be a question the president is going to be facing all next week. I'm traveling to Russia with him for the G8 Summit. He's going to have a chance right there to deal with Russia and China directly and figure out really where they are.
At the beginning of his presidency, the president famously, maybe infamously now said he could see into President Putin's soul and a lot of people are raising questions about whether President Putin is really trying to do the right thing in Russia. And the president has also been trying to forge an alliance, a new alliance with China.
The president of China was just here as you remember a few weeks ago and so I think the president -- originally the G8 Summit next week was going to be all about Iran and their thirst for nuclear weapons.
Well all of a sudden that agenda has changed dramatically. It's twin thirst for nuclear weapons. It's not just about Iran anymore. It's about North Korea and there are going to be a lot of people raising questions about the fact with Iran the U.S. has been trying to put some carrots and sticks out there and wondering why they're not doing the same with North Korea.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with our panel the rest of the way. We'll also include your phone calls, also a couple of e- mails to our website as well.
Don't forget President Bush and Laura Bush are on tomorrow night and if you'd like to ask a question of them just e-mail us at cnn.com/larryking, cnn.com/larryking.
And we'll be right back.
KING: Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas is in Topeka, and he authored the North Korean Human Rights Act that passed the Senate in 2004. You want the United States to allow North Koreans to come here as refugees. Would that be easy?
BROWNBACK: Yes, I do. It's very difficult. But it would be quite a lot -- it would be much easier if the Chinese would cooperate in this. Right now the North Korean refugees, many of them can pretty easily get out of North Korea into China. And estimates are there may be as many as 100,000 North Koreans just basically living off the land in China.
But to get out of China to a third country and from that third country to either South Korea or the United States or another destination is quite difficult, and the Chinese could make this much easier, and I think that as well would bring a lot of pressure on the North Korean regime if the Chinese would do that.
KING: Madam Albright, what do you think?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think the problem here is that our interests and the Chinese are not congruent totally. They are very concerned about the overall collapse of North Korea and refugees just pouring into north -- into China. I personally believe that it would be very good to have North Korean refugees here, but I think that there really is a problem, and it comes up in this discussion.
Why are we having such a hard time with the Chinese? They do not want to see the collapse of the North Korean regime. They are worried about a nuclear North Korea. But their interests are different, and as Congressman Weldon described, the Russian interests are different.
And one of the things that I've said so many times is, you know, people think of diplomacy as a game of chess. I don't think that works. It's really more like a game of pool, billiards, and we're having a perfect example of that now, where all these balls are on the table. They're hitting each other. And we are getting all kinds of unintended consequences from frankly, I think the war in Iraq, which has sent the wrong message both to Iran and to North Korea, that if you don't have nuclear weapons you get invaded and if you do have nuclear weapons you don't get invaded.
And so all these geopolitical issues are playing together. It's very hard diplomatically. I don't envy the president as he goes into the G8. He has a lot of issues that he has to deal with. And I do think that North Korea's dangerous. And I have to say I'm not for direct talks now. I agree that we can't bend to that kind of pressure. But we have to engage in much more active diplomacy to get both the Chinese, the Russians, and mostly the North Koreans on board.
KING: Ambassador Sherman, the idea of sending Christopher Hill as top negotiator in all this, should it be Condoleezza Rice?
SHERMAN: Well, I think that it's fine for Chris Hill to go to the region for consultations. He's a very able and skilled professional. But he hasn't had anything in his pocket, and the North Koreans see Condi Rice involved with Iran, they see the president engaged in Iran, and all kinds of multilateral discussions.
And they wonder where the guys with the nuclear weapons and the missiles, Iran doesn't have them, Saddam Hussein didn't have them, how come we get Chris Hill, who's a nice guy, fun -- fine envoy, but not the top of the heap?
KING: Congressman Weldon, would you ask Condoleezza to go. I know you were going to go again. They told you -- they asked you not to.
WELDON: Well, I was invited for my third trip there, had a delegation lined up, including two senators, to go from August 1st to 5th. But in consultations with Josh Bolten at the White House and with the -- with J.D. Crouch, who works for Steve Hadley, they asked me not to take the delegation because of the impending launch, and I did that.
KING: How about -- is Condoleezza going?
WELDON: Well, I don't know that it should be Condi Rice. I think Ambassador Hill has excellent credentials. What I've said is what I said when I got back from my last visit. He can't go over there with his hands tied behind his back. He's got to be over there -- he's a trained professional. Let him cut a deal. He knows what we want. He knows what the president wants. Don't have him go over there and have to call back to D.C. all the time. Let him understand what the bottom line is and let him cut that deal, which I think he's capable of doing.
The Chinese have also got to be -- there's got to be more pressure placed upon them. Every time you talk to China whether it's Hu Jintao or Shang Zooe-Min (ph) or Li Pyong (ph), when he was in, it always comes back to Taiwan. They think they have more leverage with us as long as North Korea's hanging out there.
The one thing that will change that dynamic, and it was mentioned earlier, is if they become convinced that Japan and South Korea are considering going nuclear, which would be bad news for the region, but it certainly would send the right signal to China.
And we really need Russia in all this, and that gets back to a point that I've made over and over again. For a number of reasons, we've lost Russia. We need to bring them back. They're the key. And the leverage of Putin in both Iran and with North Korea are critical to allowing us to solve both of these security issues.
And one final point, Larry, that we keep overlooking. Part of our problem with these nations is from 1990, when President Bush, Sr. was in office, up until the beginning of this century, we had over 40 sanctional violations of arms control regimes, from the missile technology control regime to the chemical weapons convention. Of those 40 times that were documented by the congressional research service, where technology flowed to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and North Korea, we applied the appropriate sanctions less than 10 times.
And we wonder why we have a problem. If you're going to have an arms control agreement, you've got to enforce it. And when you don't enforce it, you only pay the price. That's why Iran has a Shahab-3 system. We were ready to stop it in 1997 when Democrats and Republicans joined together and gave a veto proof margin. President Clinton vetoed the Iran missile sanctions act in 1997. We didn't have time to override the veto. Today North Korea -- or Iran has the Shabab-3 missile system deployed.
KING: Ed Henry, is it possible that the administration focusing so much on Iraq and Iran took their eyes off this?
HENRY: I don't think so in the short term. They knew that these missiles were likely to be launched. They didn't know it was going to be seven. But I think -- I couldn't help but think, as Secretary Albright was talking about those billiard balls on the pool table, that you have the opportunity to talk to the president tomorrow.
I was trying to think back in history the last time there have been, to continue the metaphor, this many billiard balls on the table, so many global hot spots erupting at the same time, from Iraq to North Korea. And putting aside the serious diplomatic stuff for a moment and talk about some of the stuff John and I talk about with the politics, you know, all of these billiard balls could be something that the Republicans will like in the upcoming midterm elections we have in a few months.
If you look back to the 2002 and 2004 elections, they were ultimately decided on who do you trust, which party do you think in an uncertain world can really do the best job? And in 2002-2004 Karl Rove put that to the American people and the Republicans won. What's going to happen in '06, we don't know.
KING: John King, Franklin Roosevelt, of course, faced two enormous concepts -- Hitler and Tojo and he had to go to war on two fronts. So it's hard to compare that. But in your memory has any president ever will a year like this?
J. KING: No, it's a very tough year for the president. I think because you have these hot spots: Iran, Iraq, North Korea, the president will call them the axis of evil.
But you also have a lot of warm spots. We're still dealing with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The president of Georgia was here at the White House today. This man, Mr. Putin, as Ed said, that Mr. Bush put so much trust in as President Clinton put so much trust in President Yeltsin before him, we're not sure what's happening in that part of the world still.
And remember, Russia may not be the military power, the economic power that we once viewed the Soviet Union as, but it has nuclear issues too. It has contentious relations with its neighbors. And then there is the question of China.
Bill Clinton ran against the butchers of Beijing, then had friendly relations with China. This president wanted to have friendly relations with China as his father had. I think if you ask Senator Brownback who might be out running for president next time, you're going to see a different dynamic next time if this president cannot come to the table in the next few months and certainly the last two years of his term and says yes, I did have close relationships with China and Russia and this is what I got from them.
If he gets nothing from them and we're at loggerheads right now over this issue, over Iran, we were over Iraq, this president I think has to show at least within his own party that he's getting something for his investment.
KING: We'll ask Senator Brownback that and we'll get to an e- mail question or two. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The wisdom of a six-party framework is that this is now not a matter of the United States and North Korea, it is really a matter of the region saying to North Korea that it has to change its behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Senator Brownback, you want to comment on what John King had to say?
BROWNBACK: Well, I would comment on it by saying that we do need to get something out of China. We've got to put more leverage on China to really work on North Korea. And we need to use Japan to lead that charge on China, because the Chinese just push back against us on Taiwan and say, well, that's good enough. But also I want to build on what Secretary Albright said. She said the Chinese fear a collapsed North Korea. And I agree with that. And I visited with Chinese officials, and they do fear that.
But I think they've got to realize as everybody does that North Korea is now a failed state. It's failed economically. Its people are walking. A number of its people have died. And the Chinese needs to push North and South Korea for that matter to start talking about what a united Korean peninsula would look like and not saying that this is something we're going to force to take place, not something we're going to set any time frame to take place, but North Korea has failed, its people have been killed and died and suffering in great ways, and now you have this threatening North Korea taking place. I think it's time for China to really step up and start pushing into really the natural order of things of one united Korean government.
KING: Madam Albright, we have an e-mail from Angela in Port Orange, Florida. She went on our website and asked, did you ever think, do you ever think that Kim Jong-Il would blow off the missiles in hopes of getting the United States to make the first move with North Korea and could China be involved in this?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that clearly Kim Jong-Il wants to have our attention. I don't think that the Chinese are behind it. Larry, could I say something? I very much respect some of the points that Congressman Weldon has been making, but I would like to remind people that we've been out of office five years and the situation in North Korea has deteriorated markedly since then.
We had a missile moratorium, and we were involved in a dialogue, and I think that as a result of lack of attention to this particular part of the world I think that the situation has deteriorated and we are, I think, in a very dangerous world at this point in many ways in foreign policy involved in a perfect storm, and I am very worried about all the items that are out there that the president has to deal with at this stage.
KING: Congressman Weldon, you want to respond?
WELDON: I agree with that. I think there's been a, I've been very critical of this administration that tried to block our attempts all three times to go into North Korea, when we were going in totally supportive of the president's policies. We need to have that semi- official or second-tier level of discussion to talk to the North Koreans as human beings. You know, diplomats have a way of talking. They have to watch every word. They have to watch every phrase. They have to watch how they sit and how they drink their drinks. When you're a member of Congress or other official, you don't have to do that. You can talk to these people as human beings. We did that with all the discussions we had. And it was amazing what we could get them to reveal. In fact, Kim Guygwong (ph) after ten hours said Congressman, we're prepared to give up our nuclear program, we're prepared to join the family of nations, if we can work out a structured agreement where simultaneous actions occur at the same time, then we can solve this problem. And Larry, I agree with that. That's where we should be moving forward.
I'm not trying to blame anyone. I'm trying to say that the policies need to be consistent and when you're dealing with a tyrant like Kim Jong-Il, it's not appropriate to call him names in public, that's unacceptable. You can't ever get a response or an ultimate solution if that's going to be your approach. You need to have a dialogue. I agree it should be through the six-party framework. But you also need to have an unofficial dialogue also taking place.
KING: Got to take a break. By the way, don't forget, the Bushes, President Bush and his wife, Laura, will be on this program tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, and if you have any questions log on to CNN.com/LarryKing. Anderson cooper will be with us at the top of the hour, and he is back in New Orleans tonight. What's up, Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, tonight we're going to stay with developments in North Korea. All the angles including an exclusive interview with Dan Rather, who visited North Korea just last year. Also Governor Bill Richardson. We'll also devote a lot of time tonight to our special coverage from New Orleans, "Rebuilding the Gulf."
I spent time today with country music superstars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. They're both from the Gulf coast. They're both trying to raise money and awareness for the rebuilding of this damaged area. We'll join them live in concert in New Orleans tonight. It is an exclusive you can't see anywhere else, Larry. That's at the top of the hour.
KING: Thank you, Anderson. That's at the top of the hour. 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. We'll be right back with more of our panel. Don't go away.
KING: Let's get a call or two in. Escondido, California, hello.
CALLER: How are you?
KING: Fine. Go ahead.
CALLER: Well, this is to the whole panel. And I wanted to ask, what they would do if they were in his position, since we look at the United States and what they've done to these other groups, the Iraqis and now Iran, I'd be a little scared too, and I'd -- I don't know. I think I'd be like a little bit of a kid wanting to get back at them in some way.
KING: Ambassador Sherman?
SHERMAN: Well I think the caller makes an important point, which is that North Korea thinks that the United States is out to change the regime, to squeeze them to death, to end their power, to end the country as they know it.
They don't want that to happen. They see the U.S. as the superpower. They see us as the big country and them as the little country, and they don't understand why we don't help them out of the box that they're in.
That said, it doesn't excuse North Korea's very bad and dangerous behavior, and it doesn't excuse the Bush administration from having to engage not just with the other parties of the six-party talks but to engage directly with North Korea in that context because as Secretary Albright very importantly pointed out, over the nearly six years of the Bush administration, they have at least quadrupled the number of nuclear weapons they have.
KING: John King, can you put your feet in Kim Jong's shoes?
J. KING: I hope not. It is an interesting perspective. I do think we can make the calculation that, as Richard Roth was pointing out, he sees what's going on with Iran, the United States after waiting and waiting and waiting decided to get involved directly with those negotiations, put a package of incentives on the table that I believe includes a light water reactor for Iran, some nuclear power for Iran after years of saying Iran doesn't need any nuclear power.
So from his perspective, if you're watching what's going on in the world, you think, I can get a better deal here. Now, is the way to get a better deal to light up the sky with missiles on America's birthday? Most would think logically no, but I think Secretary Albright says he's not crazy. I also think much of his behavior is not very logical.
KING: Do you agree, Madeleine Albright?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that their -- his behavior may not be logical, but as I say, he is trying to get everybody's attention. I don't think that we should reward it immediately, believe me. And I hold no brief for Kim Jong-il. It's a desperate country. He is a horrible dictator.
But it is a very dangerous situation and I think that we have to work every diplomatic angle, and it's very important that President Bush spends a lot of time on this at the G8 and also that perhaps he gets on the phone with the Chinese leadership to make clear how important it is that we act in concert. And ultimately, as I think we're all saying at this point, it is important to engage in some kind of direct talks where we make clear that we understand how dangerous this is and to understand what package will make the deal with the North Koreans. This is a dangerous situation.
KING: Ed Henry, how many days does the G8 last?
HENRY: We're going to be in Germany and Russia for about a week. The G8 itself, though, is in Russia and is probably going to be two, three days tops. I think that...
KING: ... Can they extend it?
HENRY: Can they extend it? I think these leaders can try. They can do probably what they want. But it's unlikely -- there's probably a good chance that after a few days of hashing over some of these tough issues they might want to move on and go back to their home countries and try to think about it a little bit more.
I think a little earlier I was talking about how Republicans may be happy trying to take this case to the American people, that they would be better to stay in power in the midterm elections. One difference from '02 and '04, though, is that the president's credibility on foreign policy has taken a big hit between then and now.
And as John King was pointing out, when you look at the axis of evil, Iran getting closer in its search for nuclear weapons, North Korea stock-piling more nuclear weapons now, firing off these missiles, and Democrats saying, look, basically they feel the president has made a hash out of Iraq, the president would fire back, I'm sure he will tomorrow, that progress is being made, the tide is turning after al-Zarqawi being killed. But the bottom line is the president doesn't have the same credibility on foreign policy he had in '02 and '04. So that's a big question mark hanging over this election.
KING: Back with some more moments right after this.
KING: We have only about three minutes left. Congressman Weldon, what happens now?
WELDON: Well, I think we've got to see what the G8 brings about, and I hope the president can have a frank discussion with Putin and bring Russia into a more bold position with both Iran and North Korea. We've got to reinvigorate our discussions with China. They clearly are the key. If they want to shut North Korea's economy down, they could do it tomorrow. And with our trade imbalance being what it is with China, we need to apply more pressure with the Chinese.
KING: Congressman Curt Weldon, Republican of Pennsylvania. Senator Brownback, what next? BROWNBACK: I think what next is really the intensity of what Curt Weldon was saying. But also I think probably the bigger question, Larry, is how long? We've really got to sustain the pressure on North Korea now.
It can't just be, OK, he did this and we'll pay attention for a few days and then we kind of slide onto other things. I think the key right now is sustaining the pressure on North Korea and applying it in all the countries in the region, particularly Japan, South Korea, China.
KING: Madam Albright, what next?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think there's a lot of diplomacy to be done. Obviously, the military option can never be taken off the table. But the president has a lot of work to do, and you have a very interesting program tomorrow night.
KING: I bet. What do you think's next, Ambassador Sherman?
SHERMAN: I think everybody really has said it here. With everything going on in the world, the Bush administration has to walk and chew gum, walk and chew gum, and walk and chew gum and walk and chew gum and walk and chew gum. There's a lot going on. They have to be up to the task. So far it looks like in all of these areas we have more failure than they have success. They're going to have to turn that around. It's a tough job.
KING: Ed, what's it like to go to Europe with the president?
HENRY: This will be my first time. John King will know more. I'll be back on the show if you'll have me.
KING: John, what would you tell him? What advice would you give him?
J. KING: I would say to him bring his own coffee and don't think he's going to sleep and stay on Eastern time the whole time, because if you get on those countries' time, you're going to lose it. St. Petersburg is beautiful, get to the Hermitage and enjoy yourself.
Larry, I think the interesting question you have for the president tomorrow is he has made his trademark, these personal relationships in foreign policy, as most presidents do.
But this president says he has a very close personal bond with Vladimir Putin, so that they can have candid conversations about their differences. He had Jiang Zemin to the ranch in Crawford, Texas, the leader of China. Now it's President Hu in his place.
I think the question for the president is you have staked your legacy on these personal relationships with these leaders. Well now he has to cash something in. He has ti get something for his friendship with President Putin and President Hu, or else he's not going to resolve this problem. KING: And as we mentioned earlier, if Kim Jong-il wishes to come on, we are an equal-time network and we are worldwide. Have a very successful trip, by the way, Ed.
HENRY: Thank you, sir.
KING: And thank you very much, all of you, for joining us, Madeleine Albright, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Senator Sam Brownback, Congressman Curt Weldon, John King and Ed Henry. And earlier Jamie McIntyre and Richard Roth as well as our three correspondents from China and South Korea and Tokyo.
Tomorrow night, if you don't know it by now, our guest will be President George Bush and Laura Bush. It will come from the Blue Room at the White House. And that's tomorrow evening. And Friday night we're back in New York with a special program which we'll tell you about tomorrow. Right now let's go to New Orleans. Anderson Cooper is standing by to host "ANDERSON COOPER 360" from Bayou Country, a place he's very familiar with. Anderson, big show tonight.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com