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North Korean Nukes. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired September 26, 2017 - 13:00:00   ET


PAULA HANCOCKS: I'm Paula Hancocks, this is CNN.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Tonight, could a war of words over North Korea's nukes accidentally lead to a real war? Britain's first Ambassadors in North

Korea and long time observer, former Washington Post, East Asia Bureau Chief joins us to discuss. Also ahead, the photographer behind one of the

most famous magazine covers ever. Steve McCurry reflects on the career, capturing Afghanistan.

STEVE MCCURRY: Suddenly everything melted away and I thought what ever I do here in this class room this morning I have to photograph, I have to

have a portrait of her.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Good evening everyone and welcome to the program, I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. Could brinksmanship between North Korea and

the United States lead to an accidental nuclear war? Threats and counter threats between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, little rocket man and the

(inaudible) just keep escalating.

After President Trump said from the United Nations that Kim was on a suicide mission, and that the United States could have no choice but to

totally destroy North Korea. North Korean Ambassador Ri Yong Ho came back with this threat.

RI YONG HO: None other than Trump himself in on a suicide mission, in case innocent lives of the U.S. are harmed because of this suicide attack, Trump

will be held totally responsible.

AMANPOUR: Next, President Trump took to twitter saying the North Korea will be tested like never before. And won't be around much longer. North

Korea says that the tweets amount to a declaration of war. But the White House brushes that away.

SARAH SANDERS: We've not declared war on North Korea and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd.

AMANPOUR: Meanwhile, North Korea is deploying troops and aircraft to its eastern coastline where it claims the right to shoot down U.S. bombers

flying even in international waters offshore and a single blunder by either side can quickly escalate into fire and fury.

In 2002, David Sim became Britain's first and longest serving ambassador to North Korea and he joins me now from Vienna in Austria and from Seattle

Blaine Harden is with us, he's the former Washington Post, East Asia Bureau Chief and the author of King of Spies; the dark rain of America's spy

master in Korea.

So, gentlemen, welcome both to the program. Let's first start by really breaking down this war of words, it is extraordinary, I do not recall this

kind of add hominine, verbal warfare going on between two leaders ever. So, Ambassador Sim, first of all, how dangerous is it?

DAVID SIM: Well obviously we're in a situation which is far from ideal, to a certain extent, retric at this level it can be part and parcel of any

sorta of (inaudible) situation, but I think we do have to look beyond the retric and keep trying to focus on the ways we can diffuse the crisis and

bring about an end to North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

AMANPOUR: We'll get to that in a second, first Blaine Harden then, what do you think? You know, Kim Jong Un fairly isolated there, hasn't traveled

widely, maybe doesn't get the kind of information and objective judgments from people, what do you think could be the consequence of this war of


BLAINE HARDEN: Well the war of words is uniquely strained, but in North Korea now, there are no preparations for war, TV and radio program is

normal, the government has advised people to use their anger towards the United States to work harder, people at the border, military people, North

Korea military people at the border have been advised not to act rationally and to ask for advice before they do anything.

It seems like there's a real disconnect between the redirect and the reality on the ground and I think that that's something that your audience

should keep in mind. North Korea's been around for 70 years, it's really in the business, the regime is in the business of survival and they're very

good at it. A huge military confrontation with the United States is not in the interest of survival and that's, I think the dominant reality.

AMANPOUR: Well then, to that, Id like to put to both of you, something that former U.S. Defense Secretary, William Perry told me, he said, of

course that North Korea is not a suicidal regime. But, and this is what he said and we discuss afterwards.

PERRY: One of the dangers is not that they're going to make a surprise attack on us. So we ought to pose our diplomacy around trying to reduce

the real dangers not the imagined danger.

And the real danger is that we're going to blunder into a war with North Korea. A war that neither one of us would want and war which would be

catastrophic especially for South Korea and Japan.

AMANPOUR: So Ambassador Slinn, you started saying that we've got to figure out long term how to contain or deal with this and William Perry has had a

huge amount of experience with the North Koreans. How does one deal now with a nuclear power?

SLINN: Well it now seems obvious that the west, the U.S. is going to have to come to terms with living with a nuclear North Korea. And that is far

from ideal but the tools of deterrents and defense can be made to work in the way they've worked before.

Now moving on, of course it's worth trying to engage the North Korean regime, trying to have negotiations with them. Personally I'm not sure

that there's much optimism -- much reason for optimism for success.

We have to remember that North Korea and the U.S. are actually talking to each other through a channel in New York and from what I understand there

has been no sign of any real interest from the regime in Phyongyang of talking about serious negotiations. But let's try. Another possibility.


SLINN: .which I.

AMANPOUR: Go ahead.

SLINN: .another -- I'd like to think would be possible is a very quite dialogue between Washington and Beijing, diplomacy in secret, talking in

secret to try and discuss the Chinese concerns and to see whether something can done in private to see what China might do to help. But I stress, that

has to be done in private and it may be that in the current blissful(ph) the chances of that are not good but I certainly think it's worth

continuing to try it.

AMANPOUR: So Blaine to you, the idea of China, everybody looks to China, including Donald Trump, to solve this problem but Kim Jong Un doesn't show

any pro-Chinese, in fact quite the opposite. We keep hearing how he's constantly doing tests right at the maximum embarrassing time for China.

And right now we understand a North Korean foreign ministry official has gone not to Beijing but to the Kremlin. Where do you see the political

nexus that could talk some sense and resolve this situation with North Korea?

HARDEN: Well China's influence does seem to be diminishing, particularly this year. Kim Jong Un seems to have gone out of his way to embarrass

President Xi and to actually talk trash to China with it's propaganda news agency.

There is, I think, for the United States in dealing with North Korea is the cat is out of the bag as far as nuclear weapons is concerned. They have

them; they're not going to give them up and their developing the means to deliver them.

It's something that the U.S. has dealt with with other countries and there's a lot of expertise in dealing with that. But one other thing is

that time is on the side of other countries in dealing with North Korea.

There are a couple developments going on in the country and I think the Ambassador could talk to this as well is that North Korea's economy is

becoming more marketized than it every was, which means that there are people in that country who have power because they have money that's not

beholded to the Kim regime and that changes things in any society.

And it will overtime change some of the fundamentals of power in the country. And the other thing is that information is coming into the

country in new ways, radio, but lots of miniature electronics.

So keeping a lid on North Korea and not going to war, waiting them out, talking to them publically and privately, trying to increase diplomatic

ties, these all help and in the long run these kinds of dictatorships tend not to last. Although, this one has lasted longer than any other.

AMANPOUR: It certainly has. And we understand has learned the lessons from Iraq and Libya, Sadam Hussein and Gaddafi when it comes to giving up

certain weapons. But I do want to put that to you Amabassador, what Blaine just said, it does have a more robust than past people give credit for

because of the small market economy that's come to it. Plus is there more information coming? You've talked about sticks that can be smuggled in to

give more information to people.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: The economy does seem to be slightly stronger than it used to be. That is also weakness for the regime as well. There are

people, undoubtedly part of the elite themselves, who have made a lot of money in recent years based on their crony like links with the leader and

no doubt using straight resources.

That gives the west that gives the U.S. a point of pressure, in fact. It gives a hope that sanctions might have some impact. Because if you start

to try and target the funds overseas of some of these people. In other words, cut the - threaten to cut them off from the funds that they've

generated in the last few years.

These funds are not sitting in North Korea. These funds are sitting outside in China; maybe in western countries as well. If you start as the

presidents executive order of last week seems try to want to do, to target some of these individuals, threaten to cut them off from their funding.

You might start to see in due course some change in the place called dynamic within Pyongyang. You talked about -

AMANPOUR: Go ahead.

SLINN: You talked about information going in on USB sticks. I think this is an important area for possible expansion. When I was in Pyongyang in

2002, 2003, there were the first stories about North Koreans watching South Korean movers.

Everybody was saying, all the experts and analysts outside were saying the regime is not going to tolerate this; they'll clamp down on it. Ten, 13

years later watching USB sticks, watching South Korea and Chinese movies from USB sticks is arguably the most important form of entertainment for,

especially the young North Koreans.

It's those young North Koreans who we perhaps ought to be targeting to try and start bringing about change from within.

AMANPOUR: All right. Very shortly and quickly now to you Blaine. Many Americans perhaps think a war with North Korea is something like Iraq or

any other country, Afghanistan, but military leaders have said it's not that at all; it could be a lot worse. Do you think there is kind of a

desensitization of what this kind of war could be if it came to it?

BLAINE: Well, North Korea has the capacity to use artillery and medium range ballistic missiles to kill lots of people in South Korea and in

Japan. If they have the capacity to put a nuclear warhead on a medium range missile, Tokyo is a pretty close target with more than 30 million


So, the consequences of a conflict where North Korea perceives an existential threat and decides to go all out before it's extinguished,

you're talking the possibility of many, many hundreds of thousands of deaths or even more in our two most important allies in Asia. So, that's

why it's good to go quiet with the provocative Tweets and press on with diplomacy. Deal with what is there, a nuclear power and wait for the state

to collapse, however long it takes.

AMANPOUR: Both of you thank you so much indeed. Blaine Harden and Ambassador Slinn; thank you so much. And when we come back, America's

longest war that would be Afghanistan. Next we view that conflict through the lens of the photographer Steve Mccurry. His Afghan girl captivated the

world and now his book Afghanistan gives the full picture.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. Now, it is one of the most haunting and memorable magazine covers in history. It was National

Geographic's June 1985 issue, known simply as The Afghan Girl. Thos fierce green eyes mesmerized the world. But, into whose lens was she looking? It

was the lens of the renowned photographer, Steve McCurry.

McCurry has traveled the world with his camera, spending significant time in Afghanistan over the last several decades and he's just completed some

of his best shots in a book named for the country he holds so close to his heart, Afghanistan. And he joins me now. This is the book. Steve

McCurry, welcome.

We've moved over to our window onto the world and into your images. So let me first ask you -- you're so famous for that one picture and we'll get to

it. But what drew you to Afghanistan in the first place?

STEVE MCCURRY, PHOTOGRAPHER: I was a young freelance photographer. I started my career in India. I thought this would be an interesting (ph)

place to start. And after about a year of looking around for stories and pictures, I wandered into Pakistan, up in the mountains. (ph) I was just

going to look at some of the interesting tribes in Hindu Kush.

And I met two Afghan refugees in the hotel that told me about this war which was raging literally over the next mountain. And they said this is -

- this story's (inaudible) -- nobody knows about it in the world. We want you to come in and tell our story. We crossed the border illegally,

without a passport. And I had never worked in a conflict zone, so this was completely new to me.

AMANPOUR: Today, in 2017, it is America's longest war. But let's go back to when you were there during the war. This was one of the images. Of

course that was taken in 2013. But it is -- it really does show how long this place has been at war. Look at that.

MCCURRY: Yes. And the resilience and the fortitude that these people have where they can be beaten down, they can be crushed, and yet they still find

the energy and the -- to be able to open up a small shop selling oranges in the middle of winter. This was literally in December and he's out there

trying to.

AMANPOUR: I love the way you say a small shop. It is actually the top of the trunk of that blown out car.


AMANPOUR: I'm really struck by something that you said about your style of photography. If you wait, people will forget your camera and the soul will

drift up into view. It's a beautiful way of putting it.

MCCURRY: Well for me, I want to get to know the people, I want them to relax, I want to have them kind of just be natural and to spend enough time

with somebody so that they become very comfortable with the camera and eventually their personality comes out, and you can make wonderful pictures

just by -- literally, observation and curiosity.

AMANPOUR: When did you take this one?

MCCURRY: This was in 2004. This was an old army barracks. This had been a mosque, because it was painted green, and they converted it to a

classroom. And I love that one boy's expression, looking kind of very eagerly at the blackboard, trying to figure out what's going on.

AMANPOUR: I just think it's phenomenal. Let's now get to the piece de resistance, which you took two decades before that photo. And this is, as

we said, The Afghan Girl with the fierce green eyes. And we are showing it with another picture. Of course, that is her so many decades later. You

went to find her. What were you thinking when you took that picture?

MCCURRY: So I walked into the tent. And off on the side was this Sharbat Gula, this little Afghan girl. And I saw the whole class but like a laser,

I focused on her, because she had this incredible look, these really intense blue-green eyes. And suddenly, sort of, everything melted away and

I thought OK, I -- whatever I do here in this classroom this morning, I have to make a portrait of her.

So she sat in front of my lens. I made five or ten pictures. And I could just -- I was just hoping this picture was sharp and in focus. (ph) And

then I was kind of in the middle of this portrait session and then she got up and walked away. I thought wait a minute. That's not how it's supposed

to work. I'm -- so -- but that was over.

AMANPOUR: And you got the shot?

MCCURRY: I got the shot. I didn't see the picture until about two months. But it was back in the time of film, I went back, started selecting

pictures, and I saw that picture. And I saw that picture and I thought wow, that's something special.

AMANPOUR: Did it change your life?

MCCURRY: It -- it not (ph) only (ph) changed my life until today, but it changed her life. I promise you, not a day goes by that there's not a

request, an email, something that -- heart (ph) comes back to that picture. Books, magazines, exhibitions, it's just -- it's really become incredible.

AMANPOUR: You know, the word iconic gets throw around a lot, but that really is. Perhaps, also, when you found her again, that also says

everything. Because I mean, she's an old haggard woman.


AMANPOUR: .who looks so disappointed with life.

MCCURRY: Yes, but the good news was that she was alive. Because I sure that we would never find her in a million years. She was living in a very

small village in Nangrahar (ph) which is now like controlled by ISIS, Taliban. We compensated her for the picture.

Suddenly, we bought her a home under her name which is really under heard of in that part of the world. And she was suddenly was living in Pashower

(ph). And her life was now, you know, she was being provided for.

AMANPOUR: As we scroll through some of these, just such beautiful pictures of this amazingly beautiful country, what are you trying to do with this

book apart from collecting and compiling the best pictures?

MCCURRY: I'm pretty sure the humanity of the Afghan people -- I'm trying to show the natural beauty of the country. So much -- so much of it

reminds me of Aspen or Arizona, beautiful snow capped mountains and deserts, it's really extraordinary, you know, the landscape.

And they -- they're -- Afghans have a great sense of humor, they're extremely hospitable, it's great to spend an evening with some Afghans

because there's going to be a lot of laughs, a lot of good food.

And it's just -- breaks your heart to think that this war has been going on for decades and the misguided -- my view of policy to continue this war and

-- because there's no way in the world Afghan -- Afghans are going to succumb to this kind of foreign intervention.

It's just not going to happen. I think if you get to know the Afghan -- Afghan people and their personality, you realize that, you know, we're

going to have to be there for forever. And that's just not going to happen. Eventually it's going to be -- have to be settled, but not on the


AMANPOUR: Steve McCurry, thank you very much indeed for.

CURRY: My pleasure. Thank you.

AMANPOUR: When we come back, more dramatic images, but from space. Look at what the satellites see on the Korean peninsula, right there at the

bottom, the bright lights of the economically powerful South, and then lots of darkness in the impoverished North, before we get to China.

Now, a similar contrast has emerged over Puerto Rico. But this is because of a natural disaster. A once bright and blazing U.S. Territory is now

left deep in the dark there since Hurricane Maria. Next we imagine an island cut from electricity and health.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight imagine that this enchanted isle, Puerto Rico.


AMANPOUR: The U.S. territory 1,800 kilometers off the coast of Florida has been without electricity since hurricane Maria hit last week. That's the

entire island which is home to three and a half million U.S. citizens.

Many are also cut off from food and clean water. And it could take months before power returns to the crumbling island. Catastrophic flooding has

decimated infrastructure and a massive dam has been critically damaged and threatens tens of thousands of people now.

Islanders are complaining that they're been all but forgotten. And today President Trump said that he would visit there next Tuesday. Our Rafael

Romo is joining us with the latest from the capital San Juan.


AMANPOUR: Rafael thank you for being there. You've been there for a long time now since this hurricane. What is the worst that's going on now?


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN REPORTER: The thing that breaks your heart Christiane is I just had a conversation with the medical director in a children's

hospital and he tells me that they're running out of diesel. There's no power so they need the diesel to operate their power generators.

At this point Christiane, they have twelve children in ventilators and they don't really know what they're going to do after tomorrow. The supply of

diesel right now is only good for today so we're beginning to hear stories of desperation like this one, medical emergencies everywhere on the island



AMANPOUR: And again they're U.S. citizen, many people don't twig that they're U.S citizens and they're just 18 kilometers off Florida. I

understand that everything is so bad they can't even call out on cells phones and things like that. How much actual sustenance and help are they

getting from the outside?


ROMO: The help is slowly but surely getting here. And you're right; the communication problem is very, very serious. There are people here on the

islands that haven't been able to communicate with some of their family who live on the mainland. And some cases where they're not even able to

communicate with people who live on other parts of the island.

So, that is a very serious situation. And it's also putting a - it's creating problems for authorities in trying to deliver aid to those

communities that need it the most Christiane.

AMANPOUR: And what do you think they'll make of President Trump coming? Do you think that'll give it a boost - a kick in the right direction?

ROMO: I think the commitment more than anything to not forget Puerto Rico and the message that these people who live on this island are American

citizens, three and a half million of them. Puerto Rico has a population larger than 21 states on the mainland. So people want to send that message

to Washington. We need help, this is the worst catastrophe in our history and the help has to arrive right away.


AMANPOUR: Well Rafael, thank you for keeping it in the spot light. Thanks for joining us from San Juan and that is it for our program tonight.

Remember you can always listen to our podcast, you can see us online at and you can follow me on Face book and Twitter. Thank you for

watching and good bye from London.