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What to expect from US-North Korea talks; Norwegian prime minister on relationship with the US and tariffs. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired June 6, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, as President Trump unravels the nuclear deal with Iran, he tries to make history by stitching
together a nuclear deal with North Korea. But what will happen if those talks fail. From Washington, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman
Admiral Mike Mullen on the risk versus rewards.
Plus, Trump adversaries aren't the only ones trying to figure him out. Some of his closest allies hit by trade tariffs are trying to do that too,
and I speak to one of them. The Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg joins me here in London.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
And we're beginning to see some of the blowback from President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Iran's supreme
ayatollah has just ordered the country to prepare more uranium enrichment just in case the deal collapses.
France's foreign minister is saying that Iran is sailing dangerously close to a red line, while Trump's key ally, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu is touring major European capitals to lobby against the deal.
While this hard-won arms control deal looks to be on its deathbed, the self-proclaimed dealmaker, Donald Trump, is trying to secure a new one.
With North Korea.
Less than a week before the meeting with Kim Jong-un, the former chairman of the joint chiefs says that if the Singapore Summit fails, the potential
for war could be even greater than it was before.
The retired Admiral Mike Mullen joins me now from Washington. Admiral Mullen, that's a very dire conclusion. What do you mean that after a sort
of a peacemaking summit, if that doesn't go well, the risk and the dangers could be even worse?
ADMIRAL MIKE MULLEN (RET.), FORMER CHAIRMAN, US JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Well, Christiane, most of us - in fact, I think all of us sort of hope for
a diplomatic path to solve the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, in particular with respect to nuclear weapons and nuclear ability.
And if that door that gets shut, albeit it could be temporary, but if that door gets shut, then the other paths that are open are certainly some
possibility of preventing the use or deterrence, if you will, maybe increased economic sanctions which would continue to shut down North Korea.
That would depend on China.
Or another possibility is that the use - the likelihood of the use of military capability goes up significantly.
So, I think the stakes have been very high from the beginning and they even get higher from that standpoint if the summit fails.
AMANPOUR: So, we're going to talk about what - well, let me ask you right now. What does failure mean? I mean, already, we're seeing the Trump
administration sort of back away from some of the pretty accurate demands they made of North Korea to show verifiable dismantling before even the
president should travel halfway around the world to agree that they would conduct complete denuclearization as the Trump administration demanded,
which was total dismantling and destruction of their nuclear capability. That's not what the Trump administration is talking about right now.
What do you think the best option or the best result from Singapore could be?
MULLEN: Well, it's really hard to know. Basically, Christiane, I've come to believe, with this administration, you're really not going to see what
happens or know what's going to happen until it happens. And I think that will be the case for this summit.
I would hope that we could reach a point where both sides are committed to the complete denuclearization.
I think if you listened to the Korean experts who've worked on this over decades that the agreement on the definition of denuclearization and the
timeline is probably the hardest thing to achieve.
So, I think going into this summit, if we could come away with a commitment to get on that road and some give on both sides that lead in that direction
that that could be a success, and that we should set our goals in a way that are meaningful in that regard and not too high at this particular
[14:05:15] Clearly, President Trump has had an impact on Kim Jong-un. He's coming to the table assuming the summit goes off as currently scheduled.
There will be discussions. He's had Korean leaders here in the US. So, it looks like it's going to happen.
It's just very difficult to know what comes out of it.
AMANPOUR: I'm so sorry to interrupt you. I just want to ask you. Do you think it's enough? I mean, you're a man of war, so to speak. You've been
in the navy all your career. You've been the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military official in the United States, through very
So, one thing that's been mooted is that the president and the chairman could agree to - or the president could offer an agreement to have a peace
treaty. In other words, a formal peace treaty rather than the armistice that ended the Korean War.
Is that enough? And is it a risk that he comes away with just that with all the other stuff left on the table for the moment?
MULLEN: I think that in isolation - my own view is that wouldn't be enough because what I think we really need to be after the nuclear capability of
Kim Jong-un and that needs to be on the table in a very clear way.
Many people have spoken about how difficult any kind of agreement would be to verify because of the way the North Koreans have handled their weapons
historically and the way they've hidden them.
But the complete verifiable denuclearization aspect of this has to be on the table and there needs to be a road to get there and get there in some
reasonable period of time. Not in what has typically happened when dealing with Kim's father and his grandfather, which is putting the whole
definition of denuclearization out there to achieve it years, even decades later. I think that would be unacceptable.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, already, even from the US perspective, we're seeing report that Kim thinks it could take years and years and the United
States may be having to face the fact that it might take years and years.
So, I ask you that with the view to the fact that they already have nuclear weapons and they have intercontinental ballistic missiles that they've been
testing. US is very worried about that.
Iran doesn't have either of those things. And this deal looks like it might be unraveling. Do you believe the Iran Nuclear Deal is on its
deathbed and what would that mean for American and regional security?
MULLEN: Well, certainly, the trend is not in the right direction when the Supreme Leader says warm-up your nuclear manufacturing capability. My
expectations are certainly a whole lot closer to them starting it back up than we were.
We also shouldn't forget that the Iranians are very bright, capable people. And that, in this area in particular, when there were setbacks, they
regenerated that capability pretty quickly.
They were on the cusp, depending on how you look at it, several months from being able to develop this capability when the deal was struck. So, my
expectation is Iran could come back along those lines very rapidly.
And then, to have nuclear weapons developed in that part of the world, I think, would be a disaster. It would cause, from my perspective, other
countries to develop or buy the same capability, be it the Saudis, the Turks, the Egyptians, et cetera.
And having a nuclear arms race in the Middle East is exactly what we don't need at this particular point in time, just like we don't need one in the
Western Pacific if Kim Jong-un is able to keep his capability.
AMANPOUR: I want to go back to what you've said, in fact, about the risk of war. You've said about the president that casually threatening a
nuclear holocaust over Twitter suggested trouble if the meeting fails.
"I don't know if I can fully convey to you how shocking it is to hear the commander-in-chief talk about nuclear weapons with such nonchalance."
Well, that talk has receded for the moment, but are you saying that you're concerned that we may get back to that fire and fury code if this summit
doesn't go right?
MULLEN: I don't know - as I was alluding to earlier, I'm not sure what else is left at that particular point in time. And I don't think we've had
much of a discussion in our country about the potential use of nuclear weapons and how devastating they are, the most devastating horrific weapons
ever put on earth, and the numbers of people that these weapons will annihilate rapidly, the long-term effects that nuclear radiation creates.
[14:10:13] And we actually, in a way, almost have forgotten what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and that we need to have that discussion in terms
of whether it's possible to get to a point where these weapons in any form could be used again, particularly with a leader like Kim Jong-un.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you whether you believe, like many of the very, very experienced North Korean hands, the US officials who've had very
intense discussions with North Korean officials over many years, people like Siegfried Hecker, people like Joel S. Wit, those who are writing
about what the next moments could bring.
And the question is really, does Kim Jong-un really believe he's making a strategic historic shift? Does he want to do that? Is it in his interest?
So, let me just play this little snippet of that question put to Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe Kim is committed to denuclearization?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I do think so. He'd like to see it happen. He wants to be careful. He wants to be - he's not
going to run and do things. But I told him to be honest with you.
Look, we have sanctions on. They're very powerful sanctions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, he's hedging his bets. He says, yes, I think Kim wants to, but we still have sanctions on. But, of course, the White House is no
longer using this maximum pressure language.
And the president seems to be indicating that he is stepping back from the robust demands he made for denuclearization at the start of this process.
How do you read what he just said?
MULLEN: Well, there could be something in this letter that he got that gives him an indication that they are much more serious about actually
denuclearizing than just anybody else expects.
I think, with Kim Jong-un, I wouldn't trust him. I don't trust him. And I would want to see his action, not his words, with respect to this. And
until that point, my expectation is he will keep the nuclear weapons card in his hands and on his side for absolutely as long as possible.
So, I think it's the most difficult part of the discussion. And it's what actually got him to the table. And for him to give that up would be very
surprising to me. And I think he'd have to give that up for something that he valued, obviously, as much, if not more, and I'm not sure what that
AMANPOUR: Well, he is going to get a really big prize and that is a major meeting with the leading leader in the world, the only superpower's
president will be meeting with this country who now will be de facto taken seriously as a nuclear power. So, that's one thing. I wonder how you
would respond to that at the beginning of a process rather than the end of a process.
And then, your military knowledge, what do you think happened when they blew up the tunnels at Punggye-ri, their nuclear site? Do you believe
there is evidence that they've destroyed that site or they've just collapsed the entrances?
MULLEN: Well, I'm actually - I haven't seen the intelligence. I don't see those briefs anymore. So, I'm not really sure.
There was fairly widespread speculation that that particular site wasn't functional anymore. So, I don't know if it's actually something he
actually gave up or if it's just symbolic at this particular point in time.
AMANPOUR: Well, again, you yourself have given credit to President Trump for taking this initiative and many people are very, very pleased that
there is this attempt at diplomacy over one of the most existential threats that we face in the world today.
But I just want to ask you because I think you were chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the time. You remember when the North Koreans exported their
technology to Syria and they built a replica of their Yongbyon plant in Syria and the US was shown the intelligence.
The US decided not to bomb it. The Israelis did, as we now know. That was back in 2007.
And now, Assad is being invited back to North Korea. Are you worried a little bit about that connection?
MULLEN: Well, I guess, I'm not surprised at the connection. The North Koreans were building a plant for Assad several years ago. So, there's,
In a way, Assad going there has me scratching my head. I don't think it's really substantive. It's more symbolic. He, obviously, hasn't traveled
many places, but I don't think, at this particular point in time, that it's anything more than that.
[14:15:05] And with all the players that are involved in this, from us to the North Koreans to the Chinese to the Russians to the Japanese, et
cetera, and the South Koreans, I think Assad is just a bit player.
AMANPOUR: Admiral Mike Mullen, thank you so much for your perspective. Thanks for joining us tonight.
Now, on the face of it, it does look like the Trump administration is more solicitous of this adversary as it prepares for this summit than of
America's closest allies. Take a listen to some of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are friends and we are allies and we feel deeply offended by this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, they are all angry at being slapped upside the head with Trump tariffs on their metals.
And now, Mexico is retaliating by taxing American pork, cheese and Bourbon whiskey among other products. Canada and Europe are drawing up their list
of targets, desperately hoping that they can sting the administration without causing the crisis to spiral into an all-out trade war, as I heard
today from Norway's prime minister Erna Solberg.
Prime Minister Solberg, welcome to the program.
ERNA SOLBERG, NORWEGIAN PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, here you are in Europe at a time when things couldn't be more rocky between Europe and the United States.
SOLBERG: Yes, difficult times.
AMANPOUR: Well, how do you assess these trade tariffs that have been imposed on steel and aluminum?
SOLBERG: Well, using security measures from a country like Norway who is one of US closest allies, who we work very closely with, it's strange to us
to feel that we are now meeting higher tariffs based on -
AMANPOUR: National security.
SOLBERG: National security.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I think everybody, all the allies were stunned by that. And all have said the same as you that, hang on a second, we have been
allies, we fought alongside you for decades and decades.
But, I guess, I want to understand from you, you're one of the European leaders who has met with President Trump. You were at the White House a
few months ago. And if I'm not mistaken, he called Norway a great customer, a great ally and a great friend.
Were you surprised then first by the threats of the tariffs shortly after your visit and now by the actual imposition of them?
SOLBERG: We weren't surprised that something would happen because this is what he said in the election campaign. But, of course, we are surprised
that we have been met with that and that the European allies have been met with that.
Norway doesn't have a very big export to the US, so we don't - we are not hurt much by it. We know that higher tariffs, it's fewer jobs, less
welfare for all countries in the world.
AMANPOUR: Including the United States?
SOLBERG: Including the United States.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of analysts and people concerned, observers who are saying that, from the very beginning, European leaders kind of bent
over backwards to accommodate President Trump, to engage with President Trump and that that actually hasn't worked. He has actually rolled over
and carried out the threats that you didn't think he was going to do.
SOLBERG: Well, we are believers, I think in all European countries, of dialogue, critical discussion, finding compromise. Maybe we were a bit
hoping that not everything said, the way it was said, would be transformed into policies.
AMANPOUR: But in the 18 months that President Trump has been in office, he has actually broken a lot of deals that you all thought were good deals,
whether it is the Iran Nuclear Deal, now with these tariffs on trade, whether it's moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and many
other such things.
And some are beginning to say, well, is President Trump a partner with his allies or is he a competitor? And thus, do you have to figure out how to
respond in kind?
SOLBERG: Well, I will always believe that the US is a partner. It's an ally. It has a long tradition of doing that.
Then I think it seems like the President Trump's sort of operational mood is stir things up and then try to find good solutions. I'm not sure if
that leads to the results, but the benefit of the doubt is the fact that you can - you have to watch also, will we get better deals or more
conflict, but there are some dangerous things to that.
Predictability in international policies are extremely important. Unpredictability might lead to things happening and escalating -
accelerating much faster than we thought of.
That's why predictability, I think, is value added on in international policies. And, of course, some of the policies makes it more
Take the Iran deal. We are very concerned of the non-proliferation agreement. That means that other countries will start to look for more
support or bring their nuclear weapons.
[14:20:13] AMANPOUR: So, an arms race in the region.
SOLBERG: And that's what we are anxious about. Is the Iran deal perfect? No. There is a lot of things that is not perfect, but it was reached. And
the view has been that Iran has fulfilled their promises they made.
Should there have been something else in the agreement? Maybe. But it's still what we have and we should work on that because it could increase
instability in the Middle East and we don't need more instability and we don't need more countries with nuclear arms.
AMANPOUR: Well, your view, obviously, collides with President Trump's view and it collides with his most important ally, and that is the prime
minister of Israel, who is at the same time as you're in London, he's also in London.
It's part three of his European trip to try to persuade leaders such as yourself to also ditch the Iran deal. How do you counter what both
President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu are advising?
SOLBERG: Well, I think what I just said is the most important part. It might be that the Iran deal isn't perfect. The question is, will you get a
better one afterwards? And if you don't get that, what will happen?
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you this then. There has been a charm offensive by yourself, by President Macron, by Prime Minister Trudeau and none of
it's worked. You've got steel and aluminum tariffs. You have the president pulling out of the Iran deal. You have the president pulling out
of the climate deal.
All you leaders who thought that you could charm your way into some common sense policies in the United States have actually been shown to being
So, at what point do you say we also have been elected, we also have our sovereignty, how do you compete on this new terrain is what I'm trying to
SOLBERG: We try to do it cleverly because if you just do the automatic reaction the same way, you might end up in a very difficult place for the
whole world. That's why we have to do it in a way that might think, but not increase into a big trade war.
And that's why I think most countries are now viewing this, they're looking at how to react to it and also trying to see what will be the endgame of
In politics, you should not just look at the first move you make. You have to have some idea where do you end with all of this because, if you don't
know where the end is, you shouldn't start something.
And that's what you might say is the challenging part. If everybody asks us the way the US have started, then we are spiraling the wrong way for the
AMANPOUR: Do you think the United States - do you think the Trump administration knows where this is going to end up, their own end game?
SOLBERG: I'm not sure of that, but I think - well, my analysis is that they're stirring things up and they are hoping for getting a result. We
just hope that the stirring up is not going to give us a result that is totally wrong for the development of the world, make it more chaotic and
more crisis like (ph).
AMANPOUR: And, finally, again, about the climate, you - Norway and you yourself are particularly concerned about the oceans and the plastic
filling up the oceans.
You have - I think 70 percent of your export economy is based on your massive sea and open borders. How are you going to try - what is - what
can you do to sensitize the world to, let's say, green up our oceans and get the plastic out of it?
SOLBERG: Well, first of all, I think there is a people's movements now on plastic especially in the oceans. We see more than 100,000 people cleaning
up along our coastline. We see it in Britain. We see I think all over the world. See Indonesia where tourism is hit by the fact that there are
plastic at the beaches where you come for your dream vacation. And so, there is momentum for that.
My view is that the oceans are so important for livelihoods for so many people around the world. It's a big area for nutrition in the future for
clean, healthy and, of course, the whole ocean is part of what grasps CO2 and is part of the climate change.
I'm invited to G7 to - on the outreach program to talk about oceans and I think this is part of my message.
AMANPOUR: Gosh, that is going to be an interesting G7. What do you think the atmosphere is going to be? As I mentioned, all these things that
President Trump has done against all his allies and you're all going to be in the same area in Canada of all places.
SOLBERG: Well, I think it's going to be maybe a bit tense, but, hopefully, there are also - there's room for making this discussion that you can start
to see where all of this is happening, making the world a little bit more unstable and unpredictable, where is it leading us and which steps should
we together take.
AMANPOUR: And you're going to ask and demand answers?
SOLBERG: Well, I'm going to be on the part of the ocean part of the G7. Norway is still a smaller economy that the richest one in the world.
AMANPOUR: And, obviously, oceans and climate affect migration. That's another thing that President Trump is very hot under the collar about. And
I think, if I'm not mistaken, it was right after your meeting with him that he uttered those expletives about migrants from Africa and other parts of
the developing world. Were you surprised?
SOLBERG: Well, yes, I don't think - in a way, he said very nice things about Norwegian and, of course, we are happy that people like us. But as I
usually say, we peaked in immigration to the US in the 1880s. That was the top.
Norway is a country that has, second to Ireland, given most of our population to the United States, but it is 150 years since we really were
in large numbers going to the United States.
And it's important to remember that if you want to stop migration, we have to work around the world to make sure that we have an international
community that creates jobs for people living.
Africa is going to become 3 billion people in the next 100 years. We have to create jobs in Africa. If not, we are going to get the movement of
South America is the same. If there's no hope (INAUDIBLE 1:23) jobs, that's an argument for more international cooperation, not less.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Erna Solberg, thank you so much for joining us.
SOLBERG: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at Amanpour.com. And you
can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.