CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
North Korea Acknowledges Nuclear Weapons Program
Aired October 17, 2002 - 12:40 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Another huge story has unfolded over the past several hours: After being confronted with evidence from the United States, North Korea is now acknowledging it does have a nuclear weapons program.
One man, already, who made this prediction in his book is Selig Harrison. He is the author of the book "Korean Endgame," director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy here in Washington.
Professor Harrison, thanks for joining us.
You're not surprised that the North Koreans have done this. Why should anyone have been surprised, given the track record of the North Koreans?
SELIG HARRISON, AUTHOR: You know, what they're really doing is bargaining. They are saying to the United States, look. We are trying to develop a nuclear weapons program. We don't have one, and we don't have missile material. We're willing to trade it. We're willing to end it.
We're willing to let you come and inspect it to your satisfaction if you do two things. First, stop threatening preemptive action against us. Second, talk to us about economic health.
You know, this is really North Korean's answer to the Bush Administration's new policy of threatening preemptive action against countries that it considers a threat to the peace.
BLITZER: But, in 1994, when this deal was worked out during the Clinton administration, the North Koreans agreed to stop all their nuclear weapons development in exchange for these reactors that the U.S. would spend about $4 billion...
BLITZER: ... to develop them in North Korea. But that was the plan all along.
HARRISON: They haven't been built. And furthermore, there was another article of that agreement, Article 3, Section 1, in which we promised that we would give formal assurances that we would not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against North Korea.
BLITZER: So, what you're suggesting is that when the president included North Korea in the so-called axis of evil, that scared Pyongyang?
HARRISON: No, I think Pyongyang wants to deter us. They don't want the Bush administration to carry out a policy that it outlined on September 20, when it said that the United States, with a new national security doctrine, can take preemptive action against countries we consider a threat. They're trying to deter us from that, from taking preemptive action against them or the kind we're threatening with Iraq by developing a nuclear weapons program.
BLITZER: What is this development -- this stunning development -- North Korea now confirming publicly, yes, they're working on a nuclear weapon? In fact, we have no idea how close they may be, but they've been secretly doing it all these years. What does that do to the U.S. effort to go after Saddam Hussein?
HARRISON: I don't know. I think that, you know, these are very different situations. We really don't have the option of military action in Korea, because anything we did against North Korea would be very damaging to South Korea. I mean, North Korea's got weapons targeted on South Korea. If we got into another Korean War, that would be our ally that would suffer more than the North Koreans. Iraq's a totally different case, it seems to me. We have much more flexibility. Whether or not it's a wise policy to pursue against Iraq is another question.
BLITZER: Professor Selig Harrison, whose been to North Korea -- how many times have you been there?
HARRISON: Seven times. They've been saying ever since 1994, if you don't live up to the provisions of that agreement, normalize relations with us, and live up to Article 3, Section 1, which means making a formal promise not to use nuclear weapons against us, this agreement's going to unravel.
BLITZER: A lot of people are on edge in Asia right now because of this late development.
Selig Harrison, thanks for joining us.
HARRISON: Thank you.
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