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What Stand will U.S. Take Against North Korea?

Aired October 18, 2002 - 12:26   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush earlier today calling for action from the United Nations, even as possible compromise language boosts U.S. hopes for a new resolution. Yet, with the news of North Korea's nuclear capability, does the Bush administration see a threat that equals that of the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein?
We begin today with live reports. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, she is standing by over at the White House. CNN's Nic Robertson, he is in Baghdad. For now, the Bush administration has been trying to use diplomacy, not force as a way to deal with North Korea. The U.S. will use diplomatic pressure to convince the communist nation to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, says that option is still open, unlike the situation with Iraq.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Saddam Hussein is in a category by himself as still the only leader to have actually used a weapon of mass destruction against his own people, against his neighbors and, of course, he sits in the Middle East, in a very volatile region and to imagine this homicidal dictator with a nuclear weapon is something that we simply could not tolerate. But I don't want to downplay the importance of what has happened in North Korea or to talk about the dangers, clearly dangers with a regime of that type.


BLITZER: Let's go to our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne, basically, as far as the administration is concerned, what is the difference in dealing with North Korea and Iraq?

MALVEAUX: You know, the main difference, Wolf, is really the Bush administration believes diplomacy can work in this case with North Korea, as opposed to Iraq.

They do not believe that they can contain Iraq by using diplomacy or economic sanctions or anything else, but they really believe that there is a possibility in this case. That's why we have seen a flurry of activity. We have seen the assistant secretaries of state in Beijing. They are going to be travelling to Japan and Russian to make that case. Also, the president, President Bush will be meeting with China's president Jiang Zemin next week, Friday, at the Crawford Ranch. It is a meeting that had been set up prior to all of this, but you can bet that this is really going to be at the center of their talks. The president also will be meeting with leaders of Japan and South Korea as well at the economic summit in Mexico, and next weekend to stress this, to make this diplomacy -- to move this diplomacy forward.

And Wolf, as you know, there are some other means that they're also looking into, and that is really economic leverage. Some of those options, the United States considering pulling some of the fuel assistance that it provides to North Korea on a short-term basis for some non-humanitarian needs, and also putting pressure on other governments not to allow them to supply technology or equipment to North Korea, big trading partners in particular, China as well as Russia -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House. Thanks for that report.

And this programming note, we'll hear much more from the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. She will be my guest Sunday on "LATE EDITION." That is at noon Eastern. Condoleezza Rice on "LATE EDITION."

Today, truck loads of Kuwaiti papers left Baghdad for a weekend return to Kuwait. The return of Kuwaiti archives is one of the conditions Iraq must meet before sanctions can be lifted.

Let's get the view from inside Iraq. Once again, our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson. He is joining us live from Baghdad with what is going on there -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have seen in recent months Iraq reach out diplomatically to countries in the region to try and build support, and this effort to repatriate Kuwait's national archives to Kuwait, an effort very much in that mold, reaching out, a demonstration to other countries in its region that Iraq can make up for its ills, for its sins in the past. These documents were looted in Kuwait during Iraq's occupation there in 1990, just before the Gulf War.

Their effort today, perhaps not meeting as much of a positive reaction from Kuwait as they would have liked. Iraqi officials would really have liked Kuwait to respond, perhaps, more positively and openly to this gesture, but it is at a time when Iraq really needs that regional support.

Also, we saw last night President Saddam Hussein swear in a new oath of office following the referendum. His speech, a 40-minute speech he gave following that swearing in ceremony widely viewed here by many Iraqis as quite soft in tone, bringing relief to some people that they don't feel that the president, Saddam Hussein, is putting them on a war footing. The tones, although very strong against the United States, saying that the United States was on the path of evil and that the United States threatens the stability of the world, the tone not much softer according to people here and some diplomats that it could have been -- he could have been more bellicose -- Wolf.

Nic Robertson on the scene for us in Baghdad. Thanks very much, Nic, we will be checking in with you, of course, very often.


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