This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," November 4, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: What can the world do about North Korea? The next round of six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear crisis is set to begin next week on November 9.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson just returned from North Korea. We spoke with him earlier today about his trip.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, in terms of your trip to North Korea, did you get the VIP tour or did you get to see the real North Korea?
BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: Well, I got a little bit of both. They treated me very well. They were very open. The tone was good towards the United States. And then I got a tour of the Yongbyon nuclear complex, which they do very little of that to anybody.
It showed that -- I believe that they're ready to negotiate seriously about eliminating their nuclear weapons. You got to have strong verification but for the first time, I've been there many times, I sense that they're really wanting to negotiate an agreement with the six-party countries and especially with the United States.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what's the motivation because they've made the agreement before and they haven't kept it so why now?
RICHARDSON; Why now? I believe that they feel that economically they've got to move out of isolation. They've got to have a market economy. They've got a lot of starving people. Their agriculture is not mechanized. And, they see the west. They see the six-party countries, especially China and South Korea and the United States as the bastion for future investment.
Now, their big card is their nuclear weapons and they may have as many as two or three. I was quite frankly not very impressed with their reprocessing facility. It's all antiquated. But I believe they've reached a point where they see in the next two to three years the opportunity for a deal and they see a Bush administration more interested in diplomacy than active hard line stances that were taken in the past.
They see Secretary Rice and her negotiating team as ready to deal with diplomacy and that's I believe what is sparking them to make a deal and to come to the (INAUDIUBLE) schedule the talks in early November in China.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is the impact of putting them as part of the axis of evil when President Bush named them as part of that, has that helped or has that hurt in terms of our national interest?
RICHARDSON: Well, that's been a mistake and I believe the president should have done that. It's done. I don't think it makes sense to put your enemies in a box and then try to isolate them. They only dug their heels in. Their rhetoric intensified. We lost a lot of time in negotiating agreements with them.
Iran is another case. I believe that Iran is -- really we need a strong, multilateral effort, the U.N., the International Atomic Energy Agency. I think the Bush people there too are trying to resolve this diplomatically and I'm encouraged.
But putting them in the box, talking about military options as we did with Iran and North Korea in the past that was not the right policy but they've changed that and to their credit negotiations at least with North Korea are moving in the right direction.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do we, by we I mean the United States, do we know what their nuclear weapon program is, you know, how far advanced it really is?
RICHARDSON: Well, with the North Koreans nobody knows for sure. The fact that they showed me a nuclear reprocessing facility shows that they're ready to, I believe, come clean as much as they can. You have to have a strong verification effort.
I asked them, I said "Well how many weapons do you have?" I didn't expect them to tell me but I believe that after I asked a number of people maybe one, maybe two, three, no more than that.
Their nuclear facilities, their reprocessing is a antiquated. They're very old facilities and that has to be a factor. Now, they could have imported some nuclear materials. We don't know that. Our intelligence needs to improve in that part of the world. But I believe that the Bush effort and Secretary Rice's effort to bring them out of isolation, to negotiate with them directly, face-to-face, we've refused to do that.
We now negotiate with them directly out of the six-party talks. It's a step in the right direction and they signed a statement of principles just a month ago that said that they would eliminate their nuclear weapons in exchange of a renunciation of force, economic assistance, fuel assistance. That's the way to go in making a deal with them.
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