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Seoul: North Korea Set to Talk to US About Giving Up Nuke; Stalin's Legacy in Putin's Russia; DREAMers in Limbo after March 5 DACA Deadline

Aired March 6, 2018 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, important insight into three major challenges. Is North Korea for real as the South now says Kim

Jong-un would give up his nuclear weapons? What's the catch?

Plus, the Kremlin in the crosshairs after yet another suspected poisoning of a Russian former spy right here in Britain.

And a life in limbo as so-called DREAMers face an uncertain future. We find out what it means to be an immigrant in Trump's America.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

North Korea is ready to talk with the United States about rid of its nuclear weapon entirely if the regime's security is guaranteed. That's

what the South Koreans say after meeting with Kim Jong-un himself for more than four hours in Pyongyang.

It's thought to be the first time Kim has met a South Korean official since he became leader in 2011. North Korea state media called the conversation

an openhearted talk.

The US president has hailed possible progress, but he's also warned it may be false hope. And he said the United States is ready to go hard in either


Jung Pak was for many years a top Korea analyst at the CIA and she is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and joining me from Washington.

Welcome to the program, Jung Pak.

And let me start by asking you because you were a skeptic. Have you changed your mind today? Are you surprised that this gamble on sports

diplomacy over the Winter Olympics seems to be producing a little movement?

JUNG H. PAK, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I think this is a positive development. I think it - but it would be too soon to pop the

champagne corks right now.

But that said, this is a big change in terms of what Kim Jong-un is willing to offer. And the fact that he's talked about, according to the South

Korea Blue House, that he's offered to talk to the US about denuclearization.

This is new for Kim Jong-un who has been a man with a plan in terms of developing and moving fast forward on nuclear weapons development. But

it's old news and playing from his father Kim Jong-Il's playbook in terms of course of diplomacy.

His father, in the past, had used dialogue to defuse tension after major provocations. And let's not forget that North Korea has tested ICBMs with

the range that could hit the United States and a sixth nuclear weapons test.

AMANPOUR: But even that is important because that's been discussed according to the South that Kim Jong-un would freeze, give up, whatever the

correct terminology is, have a hold in his tests of either ICBM technology or nuclear test if there were talks underway. So, that's movement.

PAK: That's movement. But there are conditions attached usually to what North Korea offers. A freeze on its program doesn't mean very much if

there is no verification. So, if we don't have IAEA inspectors who are going into North Korea to make sure that there is a freeze, North Korea

could use a dialogue as a front while they buy time on their missile and nuclear programs.

So, obviously, North Korea, Pyongyang has officially corroborated all this that's coming out of the South. But we've heard that the public - the

media there called it an openhearted conversation and dialogue.

And we do know that apparently, according to the South, there will be a major summit later on in April. There will be a hotline set up between the

North and South leadership, so they can actually talk to each other.

And again, there seems to be movement. I know that you're saying we've got to wait and verify and trust and all the rest of it. But, I guess, what do

you think then Kim Jong-un's strategy is right now?

PAK: I think there are several drivers for why Kim is reaching out now. And much has been said about wanting to reduce sanctions, implementation,

the so-called maximum pressure strategy that the Trump administration has been leading.

So, sanctions are probably biting a bit, but I also think that he wants to try to lure South Korea away from the US and to test the alliance and how

strong that alliance is.

But I think there are - also the fact that he might enjoy the attention. If you look at all the newspapers that are plastered with Kim Jong-un

holding court with the South Korean delegation, he looks pretty confident, he's in charge.

[14:05:09] The fact that this meeting was in Pyongyang and he is hosting means that he can control the scope and the timing and the venue for these

talks. And he has also invited his wife to these - to at least one dinner, which shows that - which is his way of trying to show the world that North

Korea is a normal power and that he is the peacemaker in the region and not the Trump administration.

AMANPOUR: Well, President Trump, you heard me say in the introduction, has commented that this is possible progress, but, of course, as everybody says

we've got to wait to see what happens.

Some of the US intelligence officials have been lukewarm for the same reasons that you are giving. But from the South Korean perspective, this

is - kind of proves their point that they wanted to have dialogue.

They've achieved dialogue and they seem to achieved being a bridge between North Korea and the United States. And the Trump administration gave them

that space and that time to conduct this dialogue.

So, how would you say it's going to playing in Seoul?

PAK: I think dialogue is a good thing and this was a good - this is a political win for President Moon, who has wanted to pursue the inter-Korean

engagement and to improve that side of the - his North Korea policy.

But the other side is that he has been supportive of the maximum pressure campaign to try to squeeze North Korea and to try to reorient Kim's

approach to his nuclear weapons program.

So, dialogue is a good thing. And any way to defuse tension or miscommunication or miscalculation by the US or South Korea or North Korea

are good things.

But I think we're all clear that we want to make sure that we go into this with wide eyes.

AMANPOUR: OK. But on that point, we really have to sort of narrow down on that because one of the South Korean president's advisors has told us that,

look, since the days of Kim Il-sung, the founder, the grandfather of the current leader, they've always talked about denuclearizing and often the

United States, maybe others, have sort of not let that come to pass. They've called it propaganda, et cetera, raising the same kind of doubts

that you are now as a former CIA analyst and specialist.

What should the United States do now in order to give this the maximum possibility of success?

PAK: President Trump had tweeted that we're ready for dialogue and for pressure. I am pretty confident about the pressure part. I think the

maximum pressure campaign is all hands on deck. I'm not so sure about the engagement part.

And because of warming inter-Korean ties and the fact that North Korea has come out and said that it wants to talk to the US, this requires a much

more subtle, finessing diplomacy, somebody who is really versed in dealing with North Korea.

And I have to remind the viewers that we still don't have a US ambassador to South Korea. And Joe Yun who did an amazing job trying to drum up

engagement, the special representative for North Korea policy, his last day was last week. So, we are missing two critical players on the dialogue


AMANPOUR: At what couldn't be a worse time. Jung Pak, on that note, thank you so much.

And we should just say, we regularly seek comment on this issue from the White House or the State Department. Again, today, they declined.

Now, North Korea has long been suspected of assassinating its critics abroad, but that is not the only country. Here in the United Kingdom,

police are now racing to determine whether the Kremlin had any hand in poisoning a Russian former double agent.

Sergei Skripal was found unconscious alongside his daughter in the English town of Salisbury. Russia, of course, denies any involvement.

Joining me now is the historian and novelist Simon Sebag Montefiore who has written extensively on Russia including biographies of Joseph Stalin and

Catherine the Great. And his latest novel is "Red Sky at Noon" about World War II.

Simon, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: The Russians are denying it. They're saying this is just yet another example of Russiaphobia gone mad. How do you analyze this half-

conscious, semiconscious man and his daughter?

MONTEFIORE: Well, because we don't know the details medically yet, and that's to be discovered. But this is definitely a pattern of behavior.

The Russian state has always regarded it as its right to take revenge on defectors and double agents.

Ever since Peter the Great lured his own son back and tortured him to death in the 18th century and, of course, in Stalin's time, this became KGB/NKVD


[14:10:00] There was a directorate of special tasks that was especially set up to destroy people like Krivitsky, Ignace Reiss and Trotsky abroad.

So, this is very much a pattern of behavior.

AMANPOUR: And just before I move on to the pattern of that behavior, investigative journalists from "BuzzFeed" and the - well, from "BuzzFeed"

specifically have been looking into a lot of people who've been killed here, Russians, about 14, that the British police simply have closed the

case and given all sorts of other reasons for their very suspicious death.


AMANPOUR: Why do you think that's happening? Why aren't the British taking it more seriously as this is happening on their own soil?

MONTEFIORE: Well, I think British police may be quite naive about this, but also is the fact that the whole - the clever thing about using poisons,

rather than just assassinating people with guns, is there's always enormous doubt about whether the people have actually been poisoned or not.

Oftentimes, it's unprovable. There are all sorts of poisons that disappear very quickly from the body. And so, the great thing about using poisons

is, diplomatically, there's a gray area and Russia is taking advantage of that.

AMANPOUR: So, putting it in context as to what's happening in Russia right now, you've written all about the historical leaders from Catherine the

Great, Peter the Great, Potemkin, Stalin, but this is Putin's Russia and he's facing an election. What is the context and the status there?

MONTEFIORE: Putin has intervened in Syria, he's intervened in Ukraine. Syria is turning out to be a much more difficult and sticky arena and

military front than he expected.

At home, he's running a sort of fake election where candidates like Miss Sobchak are running against him. And so, he's desperate to show strength

and to project military power.

And that is Putin's kind of formula. And the formula of all Russian leaders, from the Romanovs to Stalin onwards who wish to rule as autocrats.

And that is security and prosperity at home, glory abroad.

AMANPOUR: One of the former Obama administration officials wrote today about Putin sort of - it's a Potemkin village. And you know a lot about

Potemkin. You've written about that Russian leader. But, basically, saying that he may not be all that he's cracked up to be. Explain what

he's thinking -

MONTEFIORE: Well, he certainly isn't all he's cracked up to be. The economy is sclerotic. He hasn't reformed. His military adventures abroad,

which are so necessary to his image, into the excitement of the Russian people who want to believe Russia is a majestic international power, but

all of them now are becoming more and more difficult to maintain the image of victory.

And at home, his power is a television-based regime. So, in fact, it is a Potemkin village in many ways. But that's very unfair to Prince Potemkin,

who was the greatest Tsar that Russia never had.

AMANPOUR: Never had, yes. Indeed. But moving on from there, we also talked about the amount of sort of military projection that Putin is doing.

And he did use his state of the nation address to brag about a whole new generation of nuclear weapons and all of that. I mean, that's a lot of


MONTEFIORE: It's a lot of investment. That is where they are pouring all their money into military. That was an extraordinary display of

spectacular military, muscularity, virility.

But, of course, we're living in a world where the president of United States also boasts about upgrading his nuclear weapons, having bigger,

better nuclear weapons than anywhere else, where he wants to have Kim Jong- un-esque military parades down in Washington - the main streets of Washington.

And so, of course, this has intensified an arms race in China, in Russia and, of course, in America itself.

AMANPOUR: I want to go back to how you got such extraordinary access to write your books. I think President Putin likes the job you did on

Catherine the Great, so that when you went to write about Stalin, young Stalin, you had amazing access, right? Tell me about it.

MONTEFIORE: That's exactly what happened. When I went to write about Catherine the Great and Potemkin, no one was interested in the 18th

century, so I wrote my book about it.

The Russians had always been very touchy about the fact that Catherine the Great was regarded as a nymphomaniac and Potemkin was regarded as her pimp

and a man who built fake villages, which is, by the way, was a total libel. He actually built real cities like Kherson and Odessa.

AMANPOUR: And she wasn't a nymphomaniac.

MONTEFIORE: And she wasn't a nymphomaniac. She was -

AMANPOUR: One of the greatest Tsars Russia had.

MONTEFIORE: She was one of the greatest statesman the world has ever known, astonishing character, both of them as a couple. They called each

other the twin souls. Were not only one of the greatest romances between two politicians, but probably the most successful partnership.

[14:15:02] So, when the book came out and it rehabilitated both of them, and the new Putin regime said this guy is, obviously, not a typical Western

anti-Russian. We will let him use and have access to the Stalin papers the first time, which were just opening then in in 2000, 1999.

AMANPOUR: And then, they didn't like what you did with that because you haven't had the access now.

MONTEFIORE: No. When I published "Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar", which was the book that came out of that, they hated the way it presented

Stalin as a sort of running an almost gangster boss style of intimate - a court, if you like, and they hated that. So, they cut off my access.

AMANPOUR: Particularly since Putin is quite close to Stalin now.

MONTEFIORE: Well, we are in a very strange, ambiguous situation because, in one sense, Stalin was the victor of World War II and the warlord who had

delivered victory at a terrible cost incidentally.

But that is the founding myth of the Putin regime really is the victory of 1945. But at the same time, Putin as an autocrat is terrified of

revolutions. So, 2017, the anniversary, the centenary of 1917, has passed with no celebrations whatsoever. And the interesting thing is how are they

going to celebrate this year 2018, the centenary of the execution of the Tsar and his family.

AMANPOUR: I can't let you go without asking you one more question. You're also the biographer of Jerusalem. Just your thoughts on what it means that

President Trump has recognized it as the sole capital of Israel and is moving the embassy.

MONTEFIORE: Well, in some ways, it's a recognition of reality. It is the capital of Israel. But in other ways, it's unwise to give anyone anything

in the Middle East unless they've given you something back in return.

The one good thing about it is Trump has carefully not ruled out recognizing a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem as well. And I hope that,

in the end, Jerusalem will be the capital of two states.

AMANPOUR: Simon Sebag Montefiore, thank you so much indeed for joining us.

MONTEFIORE: Thank you very much for having me.

AMANPOUR: So, turning now to developments in the United States where almost 100 DREAMers and their supporters were arrested protesting the Trump

administration's deadline yesterday for their legal protections under DACA, which is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act.

Now, they're in uncharted territory. The courts are keeping DACA in force now. Nobody knows for how much longer.

My next guest, Jorge Ramos, says the DREAMers are bringing new vitality to American politics. Ramos, perhaps America's most influential Spanish

language journalist, knows a lot about activism. Here he is at Donald Trump's campaign event in August of 2015.




TRUMP: Excuse me. Sit down. You weren't called. Sit down. Sit down. Sit down. Go ahead.

JORGE RAMOS: I have the right to ask -

TRUMP: No, you don't. You haven't been called.

RAMOS: I have the right to ask a question.

TRUMP: Go back to Univision. Go ahead.

RAMOS: You cannot deport 11 million -

TRUMP: Go ahead.

RAMOS: You cannot deport 11 million people. You cannot build a 1,900-mile wall. You cannot deny citizenship to children in -

TRUMP: Sit down.

RAMOS: No, no, no. I'm a reporter and I have - don't touch me, sir. Don't touch me, sir. You cannot touch me. I have the right to ask a


TRUMP: Yes, go ahead.


AMANPOUR: So, Ramos has written a book about what it means to be an immigrant in America. It's called "Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino

Immigrant in the Trump Era" and he's joining me now from Miami.

Jorge, welcome to the program. It is extraordinary to introduce you with that piece of videotape and that reminder of what happened a couple of

years ago. Your thoughts now seeing that - yes, I mean, he just didn't want to answer your question even before you started with the statements?

JORGE RAMOS, ANCHOR, UNIVISION: Well, yes, it was. I have to admit, it was a long question, but you've been to many press conferences. And not

all the time you wait for your turn. If I had waited for my turn, believe me, I would be waiting right now.

I think we were right, Christiane. I think we were right when we protested, when President Trump, then candidate Trump, said that Mexican

immigrants were criminals, drug traffickers and rapists. I'm a Mexican immigrant. He was lying.

So, I asked for an interview. He didn't want to give me an interview. And he published the letter that I sent him with my cell phone number on it.

Obviously, I got hundreds and hundreds of texts and calls.

After that, then I went to Dubuque, Iowa and you just saw it. So, I think, at the beginning, we were right. Here there was a candidate making racist

remarks and, at the same time, there was a candidate attacking the freedom of the press.

At the beginning, people were saying, oh, you're a Latino, you're too sensitive. No, we were right when people realized that. It was already

too late. He was already at the White House.

AMANPOUR: So, fast forward now to 2017 - that's practically two years since your encounter - and are your worst fears that you expressed in that

press conference realized?

[14:20:12] RAMOS: Exactly. Here we have the most anti-immigrant president since the 1950s. He wants to cut legal immigration in half. He has

arrested about 30 percent more immigrants than Barack Obama in his last year.

He has offended constantly immigrants, calling people from Haiti and African nations from s-hole countries and he constantly criminalizes


So, it is very difficult to be an immigrant, a Latino immigrant nowadays in the United States. He has created a hostile, even dangerous country for

many people and he has separated thousands and thousands of families.

So, I think he has a nostalgic view of the United States and we are being attacked because of that.

AMANPOUR: So, your book is called "Stranger". Do you, as an immigrant who came long, long time ago to the United States, feel like a stranger in the


RAMOS: I do. And I'm not the only one. I've been living in this country for 35 years. Both my children were born here. This country gave me the

opportunities that my country of origin couldn't give me.

Finally, I'm a journalist with no censorship. I left Mexico because of censorship. And still, I feel like an immigrant. And not only as an

immigrant, but also as a stranger.

When you have the president of the United States telling you, go back to Univision, he really meant. He really meant go back to Mexico.

And after that press conference, you didn't see that. There was one of his followers telling me, get out of my country. This is also my country. And

if that happens to a journalist who is on TV, just imagine what happens to millions more who are not on TV and who are much more vulnerable.

AMANPOUR: So, look, the fight over the DREAMers continues. Right now, it's held up in the courts. We don't know how long.

But just as an indication of the atmosphere and the context, I mean, we were all quite stunned when we read a week ago that the United States

Citizenship and Immigration Services have deleted the phrase Nation of Immigrants from its mission statement.

Now, people all over the world will find that extraordinary. What precisely do you think it's saying? I know you probably disagree with it,

obviously, but what precisely do you think is the reason for that?

RAMOS: I honestly believe that Donald Trump has a nostalgic view of the United States. He wants to go back to 1965 when about 85 percent of the

people were white.

I think Donald Trump and his advisers and his followers, they are afraid of the direction that the US is taking. There's a huge demographic


In 2044, Christiane, for instance, everyone is going to be a minority - whites, Latinos, Asians, African-Americans, everyone is going to be a

minority and many people don't want that.

I think Donald Trump has these - is promoting official racism from the White House. And what this means is that he wants to stop immigrants from

Latin America and from Asia. He wants to cut, for instance, what he calls chain migration. It is really family reunification.

But here's my question, if Melania Trump was able to bring her parents through chain migration or family reunification, why not the rest of

America? That's a concern to me.

AMANPOUR: It's a question to ask. There's no doubt. But I want to ask you about the Democrats as well, who have also failed to do the

constructive and right thing or come up with some kind of immigration reform as everybody is asking.

President Trump has tweeted that, "It's March 5th" - this is what he did yesterday - "the Democrats are nowhere to be found on DACA. Gave them 6

months, they just don't care. Where are they? We are ready to make a deal!"

And, of course, we all remember that the Democrats actually failed to maintain their threat of closing down the government in the last time the

DACA issue came up. So where are they on this issue?

RAMOS: That is true. Let me just say that the president who established DACA was Barack Obama. The president who killed DACA is Donald Trump.

Now, it is true, Democrats didn't deliver. Barack Obama as a candidate promised me on TV that he was going to introduce immigration reform - in

other words, a proposal to legalize about 11 million in this country and he didn't deliver when, in 2009, he controlled the White House and both

chambers of Congress.

And not only that, Christiane, Barack Obama deported 2.5 million undocumented immigrants, more than any other president in the history of

the United States.

So, this is what happened when Latinos had the possibility, the option of choosing between Democrats and Republicans, 14 million Latinos that were

eligible to vote decided to stay home. And maybe that decided the last election.

AMANPOUR: So, then, what do you think is going to happen. I mean, you talk about President Obama and he was, in fact, called by your community

the deporter-in-chief.

[14:25:02] RAMOS: He was.

AMANPOUR: So, what happens - I mean, this is, obviously, such a massive issue for the United States. How does politics work, grassroots politics

to come up with sensible immigration reform once and for all, bipartisan?

RAMOS: I don't think it's going to happen with Donald Trump. I think everybody, including the DREAMers, the DACA students, everybody is already

talking about plan B because, with Donald Trump, it is going to be impossible to do anything.

He says that he has a big heart, but at the same time he is constantly attacking us. He is a president who has made racist - openly racist

remarks. Well, I don't know if he is a racist, I don't know what is in his heart, but I know what's coming out of his mouth. So, I'm not expecting

absolutely anything when it comes to immigration.

AMANPOUR: What's plan B then?

RAMOS: Plan B is 2020. Plan B is 2020. Plan B is 2024 if Donald Trump gets reelected. But I think many people in the Hispanic community and many

people who voted for Donald Trump, among the 63 million who voted for Donald Trump, they are realizing that if they want to save the United

States as a country that is tolerant, inclusive, multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic that something has to be done politically.

And the only way to do it is voting, voting on 2020. That's plan B. And I don't think anybody else is expecting anything from Donald Trump nowadays

when it comes to immigration.

AMANPOUR: Jorge Ramos, on that note, thank you so much for your exceptional insight.

And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at You can also follow me on

Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.