This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 29, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: North Korea has agreed to implement a moratorium on lon g range missile launches, nuclear tests, and nuclear activities at Yongbyon, including uranium enrichment activities.
Today's announcement represents a modest first step in the right direction.
GORDON CHANG, NORTH KOREA EXPERT: I don't think that he's going to be able to convince the generals to give up their most destructive weaponry. Karl Marx said history repeats itself. Well, it's doing that right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, HOST: Some officials in the Obama administration are calling this the 'Leap Day deal' with North Korea in which some 240,000 tons of food aid are being put on the table for the North Koreans. Republican Senator Jon Kyl is pushing back hard, saying the White House is breaking a promise not to provide these incentives in exchange for what he calls dubious commitments. Quote, "I'm deeply disappointed but not surprised by the about-face. This is just par for the course for an administration that has a demonstrated record of misleading Congress and disregarding U.S. national security." This is of course with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un who took over for Kim Jong-il.
Back with the panel. Charles?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: 'Leap Day deal,' it's a fool's deal on two counts. Number one, we know they are going to cheat. Every time we had an agreement with them going back to the Clinton agreement called the framework agreement, we provide real stuff, here a quarter of a million tons of badly needed food which the regime needs in order that it survive. We give them real stuff and they give false promises over two decades they have not kept. They set up violations in advance. They have actually said today that they will only carry out the agreement as long as talks proceed fruitfully. So that means at any time they can stand up and walk out and say we're obstructing and break all agreements.
But the second part is worse. Even if they adhere to the agreements this is completely useless. All this does is stop uranium enrichment. But they have uranium and a plutonium program. The plutonium is untouched, and that is the program that actually has produced the nukes that the North Koreans have today.
So it proceeds apace. There is no change at all. I think it is just a nice, soothing headline for an administration in an election year. I think it's a folly.
BAIER: A.B., UNICEF says 80 percent of the kids in North Korea are malnourished and this food aid is necessary. But these deals, we have done them before.
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "THE HILL": Right. And so the White House is really in a corner trying to explain how this is not a quid pro quo and we have a policy of not negotiating disarmament for food, cooperation on disarmament for food, but it happens to be that this is a humanitarian need and they are responding to it.
And as Senator Kyl points out, it is an exchange. It breaks with the policy. No matter how much they try to put it in other words and parse it, that is what they're doing. Of course, as Charles points out North Koreans have not only given themselves a caveat in their statements and only made promises of sort of a sliver of the whole nuclear operation, but they can at any time receive the food and then walk away.
BAIER: The thing we don't know, Jonah, is the relationship between the new leader Kim Jong-un and military leaders in North Korea. And what that looks like. We don't know much about North Korea.
JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW" ONLINE: Right. And it's strange credulity to think that this sort of boy-nerd king, 28 years old, is somehow going to stand up to these generals who basically put him in power. The more likely thing is this is the same thing we have been hearing for 20 years now, where they sell the same bill of goods to us over and over again and we keep buying it.
North Korea is a moral horror and I think 100 years from now the entire civilized world will look back at how we tolerated what goes on there far too long. I would rather have no deal on any of this stuff, because it is a farse, I agree with Charles entirely. And just do a Berlin-style airlift and drop food in, because when we give them food, they just give it to military and elite and continue to let the people starve. It's outrageous that we perpetuate it.
KRAUTHAMMER: I think this is an election year gimmick. I don't think it advances anything. We're not testing the new leader. I think Jonah is right. He is not in control. It's the generals. If you are a general why wouldn't you accept food you need to prop up the regime and offer essentially nothing?
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