How should the administration proceed after North Korea's nuclear test?

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 6, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. Only as it does so, will North Korea fully join the community of nations.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The North Korean regime will find respect in the world and revival for its people only when it turns away from its nuclear ambitions.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: North Korea's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is a path that leads only to more isolation. It's not a sign of strength.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): As of today, January 2016, at 10:00 a.m., North Korea's first hydrogen bomb test was successfully conducted.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The initial analysis that's been conducted of the events that were reported overnight is not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test.


BRET BAIER, HOST: Long history of North Korea, provocation against the U.S., against the world. Now they say they have a hydrogen bomb. A quick brief history here on the -- what North Korea has done with its nuclear program. Admits, first acknowledges it had a secret program in 2002, conducted its first underground test, 2006, second test after walking away from talks, 2009.
In 2013, third test using what it called a miniaturized nuclear device, and then January, just this past couple of days, North Korea claiming it has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.

So what about this, what it says about Obama foreign policy? Let's bring in our panel, Charles Lane, opinion writer for the Washington Post, editor in chief of Lifezette, Laura Ingraham, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, Chuck?

CHARLES LANE, OPINION WRITER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, this turn of events is a reminder for those who believe you can talk regimes like this out of their nuclear weapons that history has not been terribly kind to that proposition.

North Korea has been sort of fiddling with one American administration after another, starting way back really with the George H. W. Bush administration, which was the one that withdrew the U.S. nuclear weapons from South Korea in an effort to win some kind of reciprocity from the North in the first place. And President Obama has treated the problem I think with what could be called benign neglect, basically staying away from and in a way hoping it would all go away or that China would somehow take care of it.

And now we're stuck with this. It doesn't sound like they actually exploded a hydrogen bomb. We don't know, but the evidence that's coming out makes me skeptical. But what's revealing here is they think it is in their interests to claim that they're doing so. And they obviously are trying to see what the reaction of the various players in the region will be and then how they can use -- exploit that reaction to play these countries one off against the other.

BAIER: Laura, as Chuck mentions, multiple administrations are culpable here about North Korea. But the Obama administration really has not talked about this at all and did not put any pressure on China, which is the lynchpin when it comes to North Korea.

LAURA INGRAHAM, EDITOR IN CHIEF, LIFEZETTE.COM: I remember, I think it was 1993, Madeline Albright clinking champagne glasses with Kim Jong-il, and there was a great breakthrough which of course completely collapsed. This has happened time and again.

We have to look at this in context with what's happened over the past 10-15 years over multiple administrations. Bipartisan blame I think goes to our neglect of Asia. We never pivoted to Asia in this administration.
However, we have spent trillions of dollars and gotten ourselves trillions of dollars in debt and we have become weaker and weaker and weaker in Asia, being able to influence world events in Asia. We obviously are almost singularly focused on Middle East and Asia gets neglected.

I think we have to look at our economic policy, look at our attraction and affection for globalism, because we have seen America's position in the world erode as our financial standing has eroded. So taking care of business at home, shoring us up would make us more influential and perhaps be able to do something more than send out poor old Josh Earnest to make another comment.

BAIER: Speaking of the Middle East, and there are questions about how this factors in in the big picture with the Iran nuclear deal. Take a listen to this.


CAPT. CHUCK NASH, (RET) FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: This whole thing about an Iranian nuclear deal, they're just outsourcing the design, development, and testing, because these other countries have the ranges where they can actually do the tests. In North Korea we just saw one happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying that the White House doesn't believe that Tehran or Pyongyang are working together in concert in nuclear development like even in this particular test?

EARNEST: I'm just saying that I can't confirm the veracity of those kinds of claims. But I can suggest that because of the leadership in the United States and other international institutions like the United Nations, there are significant barriers to those two countries doing exactly what you described.


BAIER: But are there?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, there are. But, look, the main culprit here is not Iran. The main culprit is China. And I would give Obama a pass on this. I don't think there's anything he could have done that would be different from what his predecessors had done. In fact I would argue that the Clinton and the Bush administrations made things worse. They fed the North Koreans. They were hoodwinked into accepting all kinds of swaps and deals which were useless. At least Obama stayed out of it. We would have had no effect.

The fact is that nothing that we can do is going to have any effect. We're talking about sanctions, would have no effect. There's only one way to affect what the North Koreans do, and that is through China. And China has no interest in squeezing off or strangling the regime. But China supplies the food and the fuel. So how do we affect China? One way that we could do it, with a simple statement from the United States, it shall be the policy of the United States to look favorably upon Japan and South Korea acquiring a nuclear deterrent, and that we would give whatever assistance is required, end of statement. I can assure you that will have an effect on China, which is the only player here that matters.

BAIER: Next up, Republicans with sharp elbows, Democrats with some difficult definitions.

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