Can North Korean Nuke Crisis Be Solved Diplomatically?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," October 9, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: "The Big Story" gets reaction now to this escalating [North Korean] threat from Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill. It's his first live interview on today's breaking news.

Secretary Hill, what now?

CHRISTOPHER HILL, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, obviously the action very much is in New York. Ambassador Bolton is floating several ideas, several elements that we hope will be put into a Security Council resolution, which will not comprise an angry letter to Kim Jong Il but will take measures to impede his ability to get the technology and the financing for these weapons of mass destruction.

GIBSON: Are you talking about unwinding the North Korean's bomb program and is that possible?

HILL: Well, we're talking about really making it hurt. We're talking about the fact that North Korea has been engaged in this program for many years now, and we've really got to up the costs to the North Koreans.

At the same time, we have to take measures to protect ourselves against this. So we will be looking at ways we can work multilaterally with our partners and allies, ways that we can prevent the North Koreans from proliferating this type of material and getting the financing to develop more.

GIBSON: Secretary Hill, what can we — and I suppose that means the United States — and the rest of the world, what can we do to make it hurt for the North Koreans?

HILL: Well, first of all, you understand this is not a bilateral problem for the United States. This is a problem that the entire world has with North Korea. And I think the sense of outrage that we have heard from all corners of the world bears that out. A key country in this is China. And so the U.S. is going to work closely with China and se if China can be brought together in a Security Council resolution.

As you know, China is a member of the Security Council, permanent member of the Security Council, and see what we can do to come up with some approaches that will really make it very, very difficult and very costly for the North Koreans to persist in this behavior.

GIBSON: Secretary Hill, this is a country where the people are already starving. I'm trying to imagine, what is it that hurts Kim Jong Il even more than a starving population?

HILL: We are not aiming to make starving people starving even more. I mean, we don't have a problem with the North Korean peasantry. We have a problem with a regime that has persisted over the years to develop these weapons. And every time we have tried to work with them as we did and have in the six-party process, we have got sort of these dog ate my homework answers and they have never come forward seriously. So we're going to look for ways to really make it tough for them.

GIBSON: Can you give me an example? Cutting off oil shipments? You just said you wouldn't cut off food shipments, I think.

HILL: I think we will be looking at targeted areas that we believe can hit the regime. I'm not going to get into the specifics of this. John Bolton is working very hard with his colleagues up in New York. But I must say there is a lot of political will up there in New York right now to fashion something that will work.

GIBSON: Secretary Hill, if we are willing to trade off stuff with the North Koreans to have them step back from their nuclear program, wouldn't tests actually put more pressure on the outside world to up the ante?

HILL: What I think what the North Koreans are trying to do is that by testing a weapon, we are in the nuclear club and like it or not, you are going to have to accept us as a nuclear nation. We're not going to accept them as a nuclear nation. We are going to do all we can to make sure that they come to the understanding that they cannot have a future with nuclear weapons.

We had a very good deal last year, the six-party agreement that we reached in Beijing, with very hard work by the Chinese on September 19, a year ago, to put on the table, elements that North Korea should really want.

So we hope that the North Koreans will see this decision as a very bad one and come back to that six-party deal and get on with implementing it.

GIBSON: Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of state, thank you very much.

HILL: Thank you.

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