Condoleezza Rice IV With Jin Jung of KBS News
Interview With Jin Jung of KBS News
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Seoul, Republic of Korea
October 20, 2006
QUESTION: The first question is about PSI. Can you explain in details the United States request for South Korea to participate more actively in PSI?
SECRETARY RICE: The Proliferation Security Initiative is a voluntary association of countries that use authorities that they already have within their national authorities and international law, existing international law, to make certain that dangerous cargoes are not being shipped, whether it's nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons materials. And it's done through the sharing of intelligence. Sometimes if there is something suspicious, a country will be asked to prevent a cargo from lifting or to prevent overflight rights. And so it is not what is sometimes thought of. We're not talking about the Cuban missile crisis here with a blockade or quarantine. This is really just a voluntary association of countries that are using their existing authorities to try to keep the trade in dangerous materials from taking place.
QUESTION: Let's talk about the Mount Kumgang project. Does U.S. want Korean -- South Korean Government to stop this project?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, what projects the South Korean Government continues or discontinues is up to the South Korean Government. I didn't come with a list of things that we wanted South Korea to do in terms of its relations with the North.
The most important issue here is that we all have obligations under Resolution 1718, obligations to make certain that North Korea cannot advance its nuclear weapons program. After all, they set off a nuclear weapons test right here in South Korea's backyard. And so it is important to use whatever leverage a country feels that it can use to get the North Koreans to make the right choice, to stop its aggressive behavior and to return to the six-party talks so that it can dismantle its nuclear weapons program and join the international community of states.
And so what South Korea chooses to do specifically certainly is the business of South Korea. It's not ours to tell South Korea what to do. But we are all trying to review what leverage we have in order to help the North Koreans -- or to make the North Koreans -- make the right choice.
QUESTION: If North Korea conducts a second nuclear test, how will the U.S. respond? Will there be a military response?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the United States has made very clear that we believe that there are diplomatic options here. The United States -- the President of the United States has all kinds of options. But the President has made very clear we have no intention to invade or attack North Korea.
Rather, we believe that the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the international community more broadly can bring enough pressure to bear on North Korea that North Korea chooses to give up its nuclear weapons programs. After all, North Korea signed an agreement in September of 2005 that not only that it would denuclearize, in other words dismantle its nuclear programs, but also laid out a set of incentives, a set of benefits that North Korea would get, if it in fact denuclearized. What we are asking is that the countries that are -- that have leverage here use that leverage so that North Korea comes back to the negotiating table and does the right thing.
But I want to be very clear. This is not U.S. policy. This resolution is not a U.S. resolution -- Resolution 1718. It is a 15-0 resolution of the Security Council in which China, Russia, Great Britain, France and the United States, all permanent members of the Security Council, agreed that this is the course that countries should take in order to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.
QUESTION: What is North Korea crosses the redline; that is, traffic nuclear weapons?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President has made very clear that the United States would take extremely -- I believe extremely grave a North Korean decision to try to transfer a nuclear weapon or technologies either to another state or to a non-state actor, for instance to a terrorist. And we would hold North Korea accountable for that.
But again, this is not a problem for the United States. We live very, very far away, in fact. This is a problem for everybody, for the international system as a whole. And the neighbors here in this region need to be particularly strong in making certain that they respond to the North Korean provocation.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. position remain unchanged with regard to the direct talks with North Korea and do you have a plan to send a special envoy to North Korea?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we have no plan to send a special envoy to North Korea. North Korea knows that they can talk to the United States at any time in the context of the six-party talks. One of the great myths out there is that somehow we have been refusing to talk to the North Koreans. We have talked to the North Koreans at the six-party talks. Our negotiator, Chris Hill, in fact, in July of last year, 2005, had a long dinner with his North Korean counterpart. So the North Koreans can talk to us anytime that they wish.
But you have to ask why are the North Koreans so insistent that there be direct negotiations with the United States when they've had plenty of opportunity to talk to the United States. It's because they do not want to face the collective pressure of China and Japan and South Korea and the United States and Russia. They would rather somehow that if they're just talking to the United States and then there's an agreement and they violate that agreement, as they did the 1994 agreement with the United States, then it would be a problem between the United States and North Korea. This is not a problem between the United States and North Korea. This is a problem between North Korea and the international community.
QUESTION: Let's talk about the Banco Delta Asia investigation. Is there any possibility of removing economic sanctions?
SECRETARY RICE: The Banco Delta matter came out of illegal activities of North Korea, activities like counterfeiting our money. The United States of America is not going to stand by and have North Korea counterfeit its money and do nothing about it. And we've been very clear that this is about illegal activities. This has nothing to do with the nuclear issue. It has everything to do with illegal activities that, by the way, threaten the very foundation and stability of international finances when you have countries counterfeiting the money of one of the major currencies. And so we will pursue this within our legal framework. It's a legal matter.
QUESTION: Discussion is about the main object of U.S. policy toward North Korea. Is it to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction or regime change?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the principal desire here, the principal goal of American policy, is to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. And it's not just the principal goal of American policy. It's the principal goal of South Korea, which has lived up to its obligations under the 1992 joint agreement with North Korea not to have nuclear technologies, nuclear weapons. It's the goal of China, which has made very clear that a denuclearized Korean Peninsula is in China's interest; of Russia, of Japan and of the United States.
Now, we are quite aware that the regime in North Korea has a terrible human rights record. I think there's no doubt about that, that the North Korean people are unfortunately always right at the edge of starvation because of the policies of their government. And the North Korean people deserve better.
But we've made clear that we don't have any plans, any intention, to invade or attack North Korea. We've made clear in the joint agreement in September of 2005 that if North Korea denuclearizes we could, in fact, with the verifiable dismantling of the nuclear program, begin to see political engagement, all the way to normalization. That's written in the agreement. And so when the North wants to confuse the issues about American policy, I would just say let's go back to the agreement that we all signed, the six parties signed in September of 2005. It states very clearly what will happen if North Korea dismantles its nuclear weapons.
QUESTION: This is the last question. You may have heard the criticisms on the U.S. Administration's policy toward North Korea, and so what would you say to those critical voices?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would say it's not the United States that just set off a nuclear weapons test in South Korea's backyard. It's North Korea. The United States has had an alliance with the Republic of Korea for 50 years now, more than 50 years, and an alliance that has kept peace on the Korean Peninsula, that has provided stability in this region.
Under the umbrella of that stability, South Korea has prospered. It has become a vibrant democracy where critical voices are welcome. It's become an economic power. The South Korean people enjoy freedoms and prosperity. And if there's any doubt about the value of both the alliance and of the democracy and the economic system that has developed here, I would simply ask people to look across the DMZ and look at the sad state of Korean people on the other side.
QUESTION: Thank you for joining us.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.
Released on October 20, 2006