OTR Interviews

Food Running Out in North Korea

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 6, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Time is running out. The Democratic People's Republic as Korea, known to us as North Korea, is facing a catastrophic food shortage the country's food stocks will run dry as early as June. Joining us in Reverend Franklin Graham, chairman of Samaritan's Purse. Before we get to North Korea, "Billy Graham in Quotes," a brand new book.

THE REVEREND FRANKLIN GRAHAM, SAMARITAN'S PURSE: Yes, 2,000 quotes on 200 subs. Over the years, a lot people quote my father. I found many are misquoting him. I thought I'm going to take his quotes from the early 40s up to the - - where he is now at 92 and show the consistency of what he has had to say.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm sure if he is watching I hope he knows we are talking about his ...

GRAHAM: He's watching.

VAN SUSTEREN: Good. The tornado damage in the southwest, governor Sarah Palin and Todd Palin were with Samaritan's Purse?

GRAHAM: They came to Birmingham and worked almost a full day. What was so great they shook the hands of the volunteers, thanked them for volunteering and here they were working themselves. The people that were affected, the fact she would come from Alaska down there to spend part of the day with them meant everything in the world.

VAN SUSTEREN: It looks like a war zone.

GRAHAM: It's some of the worst damage I've seen especially Tuscaloosa where the tornado went right through the town, like a bomb.

VAN SUSTEREN: I hate to make the transition from the people suffering in this country but to North Korea.

GRAHAM: It's tragic.

VAN SUSTEREN: We are headed with you tomorrow. How bad is it in North Korea now?

GRAHAM: You have around 26 million people. About six million are going to be affected with this food shortage. The rains last year, they had a terrible winter. The food stocks have dwindled to where they don't even have enough to get to the next growing season.

The average person, Greta, needs about 1,700 calories a day to maintain body weight. Their rations now are less than 700 calories per person. What it means is you are going to have starvation, malnutrition, there will be death. Children, one-third of the children in North Korea today have been stunted because of the lack of food. People are supplementing by foraging for grass. Grass, they boil it and try to make a stew. They put tree bark and boil that in the water anything for any kind of nourishment. Greta, the need is great.

They have asked the United States government for 335,000 metric tons of food. This is not a huge amount. That's what they've asked for. The United States government asked an assessment be done by NGOs, which Samaritan's Purse was one.

VAN SUSTEREN: To see how much was needed?

GRAHAM: To verify there was the need for food. We were able to go into 17 counties. They gave us access to orphanages, homes, schools. We were able to measure the arms of children to see the malnourishment. So we were able to verify. The food shortages are chronic throughout the country, not isolated in one area.

Then they asked the world food program to do the same. World food program came with the same conclusion. There is a real need for food in North Korea. They need it by June. We were working on this in February. Here we are now may. No decision has been made. It would be tragic if the United States government withholds food and uses food as a weapon.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why would they withhold it?

GRAHAM: Greta, there's a lot of politics involved, and there's other countries that get involved. I don't want to get into the politics of it because as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ I believe the bible teaches we are to do good to all men. The North Koreans, regardless of where we are politically with them, we have some real issues that need to be dealt with, but food should not be held or withheld to try to push them to whatever table we want them to come to.

There's a regime coming and we all know that. This is a great opportunity for the United States to step up, provide this food assistance and encourage the new regime that is coming, let's talk, let's be friends. It has been almost 60 years since the end of the Korean War. Greta, we still have two armies facing each other, and nobody is talking. We need to find a way to get this thing pushed forward.

VAN SUSTEREN: The starvation, that's the people.

GRAHAM: The people, the people that have no choice. They don't have anything. They are just trying to live their life. Back in the 90s we saw over a million die in North Korea due to famine this is as critical today as it was in the 90s. If we don't do something soon you will see hundreds of thousands that can possibly perish in this famine.

VAN SUSTEREN: We'll bring our cameras so we can take the viewers into North Korea so they can get a little idea. They can see for themselves.

GRAHAM: I hope we will be able to bring that footage back and show the American people the need.

VAN SUSTEREN: Reverend, thank you, nice to see you, sir.

GRAHAM: Thank you.