tv U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Speaks on Nuclear Policy CSPAN April 4, 2019 3:15pm-4:23pm EDT
runs in 1960, there are no computer science classes at universities. by the time he's killed in dallas, there are computer science classes everywhere. air travel is replacing automobile and train travel in many ways. people are flying more and more. hub airports being developed across the country. so it was the jet age. the space age. and kennedy grabbed on to it and made that the cornerstone of the new frontier. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern, on c-span's "q & a." now a conversation on u.s. strategy and negotiating a peace deal with north korea. we'll hear from steven begen. he's interviewed by "new york times" pentagon correspondent, helene cooper. hi. thank you for being with us
today. we have steve begen, who was appointed to be the u.s. special representative for north korea. he's the tip of the spear of diplomat -- of diplomatic -- the trump administration's diplomatic initiative in north korea. and i'm very happy. i'm helene cooper, pentagon correspondent with the "new york times." >> so you've been on the job for six months. how is it going? >> it feels like more than six months. diplomacy is still very much alive. and while we haven't made as much progress in the six months as i would have hoped coming in on the first day, we stay closely engaged with our counterparts in north korea.
we just came off of a summit meeting in hanoi where president trump and chairman kim jong-un spent two days together, discussing some very weighty issues. and the president said in his press conference, and it's true, that we remain engaged. the door is open. and we will continue to work with the north koreans to try to achieve our shared goal of the complete denuclearization of the korean peninsula. our goal finally verified denuclearization. let me frame it more broadly, helene, so you have a sense of what we have been up to for the past six months, as well. the president held his summit with chairman kim on june 12th, 2018. so about eight months ago. and out of that summit meeting, the two leaders agreed to a joint statement that laid out four areas we would work together in order to try to advance a better outcome for the korean peninsula. the first was to transform relations between the u.s. and the dprk.
the second was to work towards a permanent peace regime on the korean peninsula. the third was the complete denuclearization of the korean peninsula. and the fourth was to recover the remains of those who fell in the korean war. and that remains a very important priority. since june of 2018, we've had steady engagement with the north koreans. secretary pompeo made his first trip after the summit to pyongyang in july of 2018. he spent an entire day with his counterpart, kim jong chol, who secretary pompeo has appointed as his counterpart. those meetings were tough. they were the first time we tried to put detail into the agreements, particularly around denuclearization. and while the meetings didn't produce a certain outcome, they set the stage for many of the future discussions that have taken place after that.
in august is when i started with the state department. august 23rd. and i started two days after i started the secretary and i were scheduled to visit north korea for the secretary's next visit. the president in reviewing the circumstances around that trip made a determination that north korea probably wasn't yet ready to make some of the commitments we were looking for, and he asked the secretary of state to postpone that trip. and the secretary did. in february, the secretary traveled to the u.n. general assembly in new york and he and i had a very good meeting with the foreign minister of north korea, rung ho, although foreign minister ri was clear the denuclearization issues were not going to be in his portfolio. they were assigned to kim jong chol. secretary pompeo was invited to
pyongyang a second time. he and i went to pyongyang the 5th of october, spent an entire day with kim jong-un. some of the day was spent with kim jong chol. and we focused on commitments the two leaders made in the joint statement. going into november, it was our expectation that we would have a final framing meeting and really the kickoff of working level talks. and that was scheduled for the first part of november, and a few days before that meeting, we received word from north korea that there were scheduling issues, that they had other issues that were complicating their participation, and they asked for a postponement of that meeting. we don't know the full -- we don't know the full circumstances around that. and like so much else about north korea, even with the incredible resources we have available to us, we had to
engage in some speculation as to what was happening. at the same time, north korea was disengaging also from china, from russia, from south korea. and we're not quite sure what happened and what transpired inside north korea during the months of november and december. but whatever it was, it's like a switch came back on in late december. partially driven -- in fact, really driven by an exchange of letters between president trump and chairman kim. we began to see tightened up engagement between us and the north koreans that flowed into chairman kim's new year's address. in his new year's address, their equivalent of the state of the union address, chairman kim reaffirmed his commitment both to denuclearization, as well as to transferring the resources in his economy to developing in his country to develop the domestic economy. those messages were reassuring and they set in motion a series of visits that have had us engaged with the north koreans almost nonstop since the new er.
kim jong chol came here in mid january, spent a full day with the secretary. he also spent -- had an extended visit with president trump in the oval office. they covered a lot of topics. at that same visit in mid january, i was introduced to my new counterpart, recently appointed. the special representative for the united states. so a direct mirror of my portfolio here in the u.s. and his name was kim yk chol. six months after the singapore summit, we were finally engaged by mid january in rather intense discussions with the north koreans, framing out an agenda for discussions and a schedule for discussions, and also during the course of that meeting in mid january, the decision was made to proceed with a second summit meeting at the end of february in vietnam. so working toward that, i took a team of experts and scientists, international law experts,
negotiators to pyongyang in early february. we spent several days in pyongyang engaged with our north korean counterparts. again, further framing out a set of issues that both sides would like to advance in the framework of the joint statement that came out of the singapore summit. we broke briefly, and then returned to meet again in hanoi, where we met for several days in the run up to the summit, and then participated in the summit meeting between the two leaders. the point i want to make with that framing is that we have been closely engaged with the north koreans, especially over the last couple of months. and it's certainly our expectation we'll be able to continue that close engagement in order to advance the shared goals of the two leaders as expressed in the singapore summit. >> okay. well, thanks for the framing. and i'm glad that you bring up the -- sort of the relaunch of talks in january, because the january time frame is sort of
what i wanted to start speaking with you about. in your stanford speech back in january, you seemed to suggest that you -- the united states was totally open to confidence-building steps. and there is certainly -- one of the things -- as soon as -- i've been getting a lot of tweets from people and questions from people wanting to direct to you the whole idea of whether or not the american stance is hardening. because in your stanford speech, you said, quote, from our side, we are prepared to discuss many actions that could help build trust between our two countries and advance further progress in parallel on the singapore summit objectives of transforming relations, establishing a permanent peace regime on the peninsula and complete denuclearization. you said that. and that sounds totally -- that sounds like a -- an opening for negotiations. but last week, a senior
administration official said this at the state department. nobody in the administration advocates a step by step approach. in all cases, expectations is complete denuclearization of north korea as a condition for all other steps. that's a position supported by the entire inner agency, end quote. which is it? >> it's -- so the semantic difference is i have to say, escape me. all four of these priorities are linked. the united states is interested in transforming relations with the dprk. the united states is interested in advancing a permanent peace regime with north korea. the united states is absolutely interested in pursuing denuclearization with north korea. and the fourth pillar, as i mentioned, the return of remains very much remains a high priority for us, as well. they're all linked. they're all proceeding in parallel. the united states has discussed many initiatives in each of
these areas with the north koreans. but has -- is so often the case, nothing can be agreed until everything is agreed. that's a clear principle that has permeated our negotiations on both sides with the north koreans. that's not to say that we can't take steps to build confidence between the two countries. but the foundation of this policy is denuclearization. and until we can get to some point where we have the same traction on that issue that we have on the other issues, it makes it very difficult for us to move forward. you've heard the president himself talk about many of the issues that would build confidence, and most recently the summit. he had an exchange in front of the press on this very point. these are issues that we have explored in detail with our north koreans in parallel with denuclearization. but we're just not there on denuclearization. and that's -- that was the issue at the summit that really challenged us to move forward with a more complete agreement. we've closed some gaps as the
president and the secretary said. we had a very constructive discussion. but we're not there yet. and that's the place where we need to -- really need to exert the most effort to see if we can advance an agenda that achieves all of these issues in parallel, not just in isolation. >> but i think that's where there is some confusion. are you saying, then, that the united states is open to do this incrementally, and if you don't do this incrementally, how can you get it all done? why should north korea believe that at the end of this rainbow we'll get a pot of gold? >> yeah. we are not going to do denuclearization incrementally. the president has been clear on that. and that is a position around which the u.s. government has complete unity.
the north koreans offered a portion for lifting all the sanctions against north korea. in effect, that would put us in a position where we would be in a position where we would be lifti lifting all the economic pressure that's been imposed upon north korea for the totality of its weapons of mass destruction programs. we would lift that pressure, but in exchange for only a portion of those weapons of mass destruction programs. that would have put us in a position, a very difficult position, of essentially subsidizing what would to potentially be ongoing development. we need a total solution. this is what the president brought to the table. and this is what the president sincerely conveyed to chairman kim jong-un. the united states is ready to go down this road with north korea, to transform relations, to create permanent peace regime,
to denuclearize and also to close humanitarian issues like the return of remains. but north korea has to be committed. and what the president -- as the president said at his press conference, he challenged chairman kim to go big, to buy into the vision. to do this together with us. i know the north koreans found that difficult to accept. obviously, we didn't get to a point at the summit in hanoi where we could reach an agreement on that broad framework. but we're prepared to continue trying. the door is open to diplomacy. we want a very different future for the united states and north korea on the korean peninsula. and the president is 100% supportive of us remaining engaged diplomatically to try to achieve that goal. the gap is still just a little bit too large for us to get there today. >> i'm going to try this one -- a slightly different way. because you are certainly aware that there is a narrative that is out there right now that national security adviser john
bolton has now got a hold of the process. and the united states' position has hardened considerably. are you saying that we -- the trump administration position has not hardened? >> no. the trump administration position is not hardened. from the very beginning, the u.s. view has been to achieve the final fully verified denuclearization of north korea. the president on down have said the lifting of sanctions will come with attaining that goal. that's not to say we can't continue to talk with the north koreans and there are other areas we can explore that can potentially advance all the singapore commitments the two leaders made. but there's absolutely been no difference in -- or distinction in the u.s. policy on denuclearization. i will say that i have -- am acutely aware that i inherited a portfolio that for 25 years has been mired in political
disagreements, in policy differences. and also has a fairly miserable record of achievement. we started this diplomacy with north korea with the greed framework in the early 1990s. and one can debate why each subsequent initiative failed and who was at fault. but you can't deny the outcome. starting in 1994, really starting in 1992, when the north and south agreed to not pursue nuclear weapons on the korean peninsula, racing forward 27 years to today, we have a nuclear weapons state on the korean peninsula. so the policies have been a failure. the trump administration's policy is to push very hard across all fronts. we want to build confidence. we want to build trust. we want to end the war, which is currently in abeyance with the 1953 armistice. we want to heal the wounds of war. we want to recover the remains of the soldiers very much for
the same reasons that that helped us normalize relations in other places like vietnam at the end of the conflict. it's all part of the total strategy. but it does require north korea to be fully committed to the elimination of its weapons of mass destruction. and that's what the president was challenging kim jong-un to buy into that vision completely. and if they do, as the president has said, we will exceed their expectations in what we can achieve together on the korean peninsula. >> you guys all know that we're going to be taking questions in a very complicated ipad-related manner in a few minutes. [ laughter ] my former colleague, michael gordon, didn't trust this. so he e-mailed me a question he wanted me to get in. and i want to read this email from gordon, because it gets to the point you're talking about and are we moving the goalpost issue. president trump has repeatedly stated publicly that he has no fixed time line for completing
the negotiations with north korea. and it's not in a rush to denuclearize north korea as long as pyongyang does not conduct nuclear missile tests. in september, mr. trump said, quote, i don't want to get into the time game. if it takes two years, three years or five months, it doesn't matter. there's no nuclear testing and there's no testing of rockets. but last thursday, the senior state department official said that the goal was to denuclearize north korea and eliminate the north icbms during mr. trump's current term in office. who is right? president trump or the senior state department official? >> so the president has not set an artificial time limit on this process. that's absolutely right. in question to how long it would take us, we stand by the expectation that if we fully mobilized our resources and if we worked with the north koreans and not had to do this over
their objection, that we could align ourselves in a manner sufficient to achieve this in something approaching a year. we continue to push for this process to begin. and it has been said many times that this will be something that we would like to get done in the president's first term. but ultimately, it requires the north koreans to start, helene. and that's the missing variable right now. is that the north koreans have to be similarly bought into that objective. and so the pressure is not on us. and i think that's implicit in what the president is saying. the united states has preserved all of the pressure of its international and continue to put significant hardship on the korean economy. at a minimum, this limits the resources that could be available to divert the weapons of mass destruction programs. but in the best case also, it
creates the right combination of incentives for north korea to choose this path. the president has been also very clear about sanctions. he doesn't desire to impose or sustain sanctions against north korea. he would like to have us in a position where we can begin thaf denuclearization. there is no artificial timetable on this. it doesn't have to be done by x date. and we won't be driven by antif. again, the missing variable is north korea has to be fully invested in the final and reach a common approach on that. we weren't able to do that in the summit in hanoi, so we'll continue to work at it and see if we can't get there as soon as possible.
>> okay. what do the north koreans mean when they say -- [ speaking foreign language] there's some confusion. you had working level talks in hanoi before trump arrived. do both sides agree on what exactly -- do both sides have a clear understanding of what exactly that means? >> we have no greening to close pyongyang. there's no agreed approach with anything related. that's a good question and right because in the 2008 declaration part of the six-party talks was a plutonium reactor in the plutonium processing facility. we also know over the decade north koreans declared a urinium capability and the material
yongbyon with nuclear weapons. it's much more than that. it's a whole industrial complex involved in the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear weapons development in north korea. it consist's of hundreds if not dozens of facilities across a large area that is generically referred to as yongbyon. we're asking them to eliminate the nuclear program. our definition of yongbyon would be quite expansive. in our discussions with the north koreans, i won't go into every detail of how they have chosen to describe yong bon but
it's important. you also have an accompanying declaration. we need to agree. we can begin elements of denuclearization before that declaration is complete. in 2008 declaration it took nine months to generate it. if the north koreans are willing to proceed immediately with steps to begin addressing elements of their weapons of mass destruction program, we won't for that. an industrial site with capabilities, and also what they hold as a consequence of their weapons of mass destruction. >> i'm going to try to resist asking you to channel the mind
of kim jong-un, but it's a little difficult. i've been trying to restrain myself. there has been missile launch sight activity, which u.s. slights picked up. what do you think kim is trying to signal with this? i think referring to sites traditionally been involved with rocket and missile programs. i think you and i would agree hele helene, it's important we be precise. north korea has not launched a missile. >> there's activity there. >> there's activity. the short answer is we don't know. what kim jong-un will decide to do will be his decision and his decision alone.
i think the president has made abundantly clear our position on that. his statements that he would be disappointed, very disappointed if, in fact, this happened. we don't know that it's intended to send any particular statement to us. one of the things, i mentioned i'm acutely aware i've inherited a portfolio of issues steeped in 25 years of difficult policy battles and politics. also there's a phenomena of issues, snap decision of experts to drive a conclusion about anything that's happening in north korea. two instances i would cite that aren't entirely dissimilar from this where we also don't know. so sometime during the fall last year, north koreans surprised the world with a press report that they had just completed a successful test of an advanced tactical weapon.
so tactical. they were signaling in their own wording not a strategic weapon, which would could imply weapons of mass destruction. i was astounded by the immediate analysis that this was a message to the united states, this was the end of diplomacy, this was a provocation directed at us. here we are four or five months later, i don't think there's an expert alive that could tell me what they tested or if they tested anything. all they released was chairman kim jong-un standing on a beach in a coastal area surrounding by men in women with a pad writing notes. a large part of analysts in the commentary were interpreting this directly at the president, directly at the united states. to this day we don't know what that entailed. a more recent example was last week while speculation was building about what was
happening at sites traditionally associated with north korean -- missile and rocket tests. there was a seismic event that the press reported was measured somewhere north of dmz at some level on the richter scale approximately 2.0. immediately i saw messages -- i saw headlines and analysis that this was a statement coming out of hanoi summit. there was even some implication against defiance of all analytical evidence that this could have been a nuclear test. it continues to boggle my mind how many are reaching conclusions about this. >> do you think the press is beating the war drum beat? >> it's a 24 hour competition cycle but not just the press but think tank and analytical as well.
hanoi summit, if you were sitting where i'm sitting, you would think a lot is detached from reality, what was speculated and provided as fact. that's an operational challenge that's going to exist in any important international diplomatic endeavor like this. added to it is the fact there's multiple national interests at play here. so i wouldn't lay any blame and i wouldn't say anybody is pressuring us. i would just say that the tendency to reach these snap conclusions is, in my view, a little bit hasty. i will say we take very seriously the reports that we've seen about what's happening and we're watching it as some of my colleagues in the administration that said.
we don't need commercial satellite. we'll see what plays out. right now i don't know what message they are trying to send. we have certainly sent our message loudly and clearly and the president of the united states, that we would not think that would be productive for them to test a rocket or missile. >> some of the reporting that came out of hanoi suggested we've now added chemical and biological developments to the table and negotiations. have we? this again gets back to the whole moving the goalpost thing i keep harping on. >> since the day i arrived and adopted this portfolio, the effort to bring a more permanent peace to the korean peninsula has involved elimination of all weapons of mass destruction. it would hardly make sense to
remove the threat of nuclear weapons from north korea and endorse the continued presence of chemical and biological weapons. it would be unacceptable to us and north korea's neighbors including russia, china, japan and south korea. also moving goalpost is in defiance of factual history of north korea's weapons of mass destruction programs. if you read u.n., they are as pointed on biological weapons as nuclear weapons. the process of final verified denuclearization is set the antecedent for lifting those sanctions. those sanctions, international imposed by u.n. security council would also look to biological and chemical programs as part of the complete process we're
undertaking. so this issue is one that we've discussed with the north koreans. it is not new. and it would be a very serious oversight on our part to leave any weapons of mass destruction out of the equation if we're truly going to be successful transforming the korean peninsula in order to have a peaceful engaged relationship not only between the united states and north korea but between north korea and all of its neighbors. helene, we talk a lot about the challenges of the diplomacy, need to decipher opaque messages sent to us and also about the complexities involved in this process of denuclearization, the means of delivery.
but i also think we need to focus on the positive possibilities, too. the diplomatic engagement between united states and north korea last year has not been without its results. yes, the president has frequently cited moratorium they have on nuclear december -- they are also not inconsequential entirely. they offer some insight into the the direction we believe north korea is willing to take. what we need to see them do is go farther down the road. outside that it's further as well. united states more engaged with north korea diplomatically right now than we have been in the last decade. we are deeply engaged. the contact i laid out a little bit in my framing remarks up front, the north koreans are also involved in outreach with
their neighbors. with china, the halting discussion with japan and with south korea. the south koreans and north koreans are working very closely also to try to lower hostilities on the korean peninsula and create an opening for the full vision president trump laid out in singapore to come to fruition. i have traveled recently to the demilitarized zone. it was measures negotiated between chairman kim late last year in consultation with united nations command and u.s. forces korea. they have tape a number of steps around the zone to lower tensions. the elimination of all weapons has been implemented in the joint security area around the village. it's a remarkable thing. for those of you who are in korea or have the opportunity to visit the dmz, i would strongly
kme commend it. i think some of the details are being worked out, final arrangements in the dmz. i heard from someone recently it's not so easy to travel there until all the remaining issues are implemented around the set of agreements. i was able to visit. palpable difference from anything i've seen since i first visited dmz in 1988. over those 31 years we having from two armies bristling with weapons poised on a very narrow buffer on the korean peninsula to a more calm and orderly and engagement. regular communications between the north and south and command in the dmz. these are not inconsequential changes that have taken place on the korean peninsula.
as we focus on the urgency of this particular issue or that, or the crisis or potential crisis de jure, i think we also need to step back and realize over the past eight months president trump's diplomacy with north korea and south korea's diplomacy with north korea have created space for many constructive things to happen. while we're a long way away from where we need to be, as i said at the beginning of my remarks, we're not nearly as far along on denuclearization as i would have hoped we are. we're making progress. we're engaged diplomatically. the president was emphatic out of the hanoi summit. conversations with constructive. they ended without an agreement but they didn't end badly. i don't want to lose sight of the positives in this environment as we focus on particular issues or controversy s or semantics of the moment.
>> that's a lovely wrap-up. and if i was a nicer person i would now open it up to questions, but i have a couple more of my own that i want to squeeze in there. i think at this point i'm supposed to tell you guys that the app, whatever ware doing here is open, and you can send in your stuff. it says incorrect password so i don't even know if this is going to work. >> this isn't working. >> but in the meantime, you property up steps we've taken. one of them, i couldn't sit here as a pentagon reporter and not ask you about the continued suspension of military exercises between the united states and south korea on the peninsula. president trump himself has called them expensive and provocative. how do you see this continued suspension playing part -- what kind of role do you think this continues to play in your negotiations? you know the people at the pentagon don't like this. >> yeah.
what the president has said, and this is unilateral policy but the president has committed that he's suspended major joint military exercises between the united states and south korea. or as he would refer to them as war games. and that remains the policy and the president reaffirmed it from the podium. >> the war games thing, they really don't like that. >> the president reaffirmed that point from the podium in hanoi when he did his press conference. but i will also say i think the pentagon has done a fantastic job of working within the parameters of that policy. >> because we continue to do the military exercises. we just don't call them that. >> to make sure we do the military training that any responsible -- any responsible decision-maker at the pentagon would want to undertake. we do military sector training. we have 28,500 u.s. soldiers on the korean peninsula, and they
need to be prepared always to defend the mission that's been assigned to them. my job from the department of state is to give them diplomacy they deserve. general robert abrams, our commander of usa forces korea is to make sure they are ready. the president's job is to set policy for united states of america. the president has done that clearly, unambiguously. notwithstanding what you're hearing, my view is that he's fully supported by his advisers, and they have within the parameters of that developed an approach to training our forces that is acceptable. so, you know, i think we're in a good place. >> i'm going to be going to questions shortly, but just one -- i would be remiss if i didn't ask you why in light of the trump administration's withdrawal from the iran nuclear deal, why would the north -- this goes back to the issue of
trust. why would north korea feel comfortable at all in striking an agreement with the united states? >> so i'm no expert on the jcpoa. although and much of that -- all of that was negotiated during a period in which i wasn't serving in government. but i would make an observation as a layman, which is probably somewhat dangerous since i'm no longer a layman, and that is my sense is the jcpoa failed for a number of reasons. including the fact that once it was put in place, it appeared to me, at least from the outside, iran doubled down on its aggressive behavior in the region. >> but this was an iran nuclear deal. this wasn't funding hezbollah, did not reneged on the nuclear deal. >> i didn't say they reneged on it. you're asking me how the north koreans would see it differently. let me tell you how they would see it differently. what we're engaged with north koreans is much bigger than denuclearization. although denuclearization is the
foundation of the policies and ultimately the test of whether either going to be successful, the president is committed to transforming relations and also an agenda to close and heal the wounds of a war that happened almost seven years ago. the president's -- trump's vision is much bigger than the very narrow vision in the framework. it seems to me it's not a flaw of the agreed framework, it's a flaw of the diplomacy with iran. the presumption we could reach a narrowly focused denuclearization agreement, regardless of what you think of the merits of it, at the same time a relationship develop in a manner that is successful while iran was doubling down on aggressive behavior around the region and around the world, so what's different is that this is much larger vision than what was accomplished in the jcpoa. that doesn't mean it's going to
be easier, and ultimately whatever we do in this diplomacy will have to pass the test of public opinion and ultimately pass the support in the united states congress. that's another flaw of the jcpoa agreement is that it's a shortcut to bypass the congress. jcpoa did it and agreed framework did it for that matter. and it makes them much less durable. so if i were coaching the north koreans, i would say do the right thing, denuclearize, engage in this full agenda, shift the momentum of the entire 70-year history of war and hostility on the korean peninsula to one in which the united states and north korea are engaged towards a much brighter future. that's what we're working on. that's what we're doing in parallel. that's all the things that we're doing. it's not at the expense of denuclearization, that is the foundation of our policy and that will ultimately be the test of success. but our vision is bigger than that, too. >> okay.
i'm ready to ask your questions. jeff brumfield -- >> you sound skeptical. >> i'm not skeptical at all. from jeff brumfield, can you tell us your understanding of what the north koreans offered in hanoi, and if the north agreed to more limited sanctions relief in exchange for jongbyon, would you be receptive? >> so ultimately it was the president's decision in hanoi, and i think like virtually all of his advisers, i think we had a pretty good understanding of what the north koreans were proposing. what the north koreans were proposing is to eliminate some portion of their nuclear weapons program in exchange for the
lifting of basically all sanctions. now, whether that portion -- that really doesn't -- that really doesn't rest upon the definition of yongbyon, although as i said earlier over the course of the last few weeks and months north korea has had a shifting definition of what yongbyon is. but really the question is would the united states lift the sanctions against north korea in exchange for closing down part of its nuclear fuel cycle, part of its weapons of mass destruction programs and allow the attendant benefits to flow in a manner that in some cases might directly subsidize the ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction in nondisclosed or noncommitted parts of the weapons program. and the administration has been clear from the president on down that we will not lift these sanctions until north korea completes the process of denuclearization. that's been the president's policy for a very long time. that didn't change at yongbyon -- excuse me -- didn't change at hanoi, and it hasn't
changed now. >> can i ask you briefly, and this is a little bit off the topic, but can i ask you about otto warmbier? this gets back to the issue of trust again. how do you as a negotiator deal with a leader who apparently said to our president that he knew nothing about the torture and what happened to otto warmbier, and how does that affect your ability to trust what comes out of kgu going forward? >> so the real question underneath that is bigger, which is how do you negotiate with the leader of a system like north korea, because that's a bigger question. it's also subsumed in that sentence. and the answer is, you know, you do it carefully. you look for -- you look for sufficient verification in monitoring to ensure the outcome
of the agreement, and you make sure it's done right. it's no different, i suppose, than any other negotiations, even with a benign power. the united states has to have -- it's going to have to be a thorough agreement, have verification, have monitoring. these are all the components of a final verified denuclearization, and it will be heart to get. because it's also intrusive and in our intention it has to be irreversible. now, part of the approach that we're also undertaking is to try to change the tenor. and so we are engaging with the north koreans directly through diplomacy. the president has in singapore committed to transforming relations to establishing permanent peace and the other steps that i've mentioned multiple times today. it's not going to be done in isolation. but we're negotiating with a
country that poses a very credible threat to its neighbors, to the region and the world. and we don't get to pick other country's leaders. chairman kim is the leader of north korea, and we will engage with him and his representatives to see if we can address this threat. >> kate hewitt, you mentioned that the u.s. despite not being open to incremental denuclearization is open to pursuing confidence building measures. would you give a few examples of these confidence building measures? >> certainly we're very interested in getting inspectors into north korea. and as part of that we're going to need some sort of permanent liaison with the north koreans in order to be able to look out for the welfare and the rights of our people who are there. you've heard the president, in fact, at the summit in hanoi, there was an exchange in front of the cameras between president trump and chairman kim on this very issue.
we're not there yet. we're not able to establish a liaison office, but this is just one that's been mentioned in public. there are a lot of other initiatives that we've discussed in private with the north koreans that i would be loathe to lay out in public because their the subject of discussions and negotiations between us, but we've discussed a lot of ideas and we will continue to engage with them diplomatically to see if there's an opportunity to engage and reach agreement on some of these. but the confidence building is important here. we should never lose sight of the fact that we are fighting against a tide of 70 years of war and hostility on the korean peninsula. yes, there are dramatic differences between us. systems differences between us and the north koreans that make it systemically difficult. but this is the longest open war that the united states has anywhere in the world. the fighting ended in 1953, and
the president has been quite clear he's prepared to change the trajectory on the korean peninsula for the better. >> you guys know this is an international month of women, so i'm only going to read questions from women. ms. cory henderstein i think has what is a good one. for the working discussion and lead urp to the hanoi summit, the united states brought a robust delegates, nuclear sanctions, legal and military experts, but i've not heard whether dprk brought equally expert delegation. were the north koreans prepared for negotiations with an appropriately prepared technical team across the table, or were they only interested in a case of views. was this a case of you guys just sitting there reading talking points particularly from a north korean point of view?
>> i'm not going to go into detail about what happens behind closed doors between us and north koreans. i think both sides owe each other a certain amount of sensitivity and respect in that regard. i will say that the north korean delegation that has sat across from the table was highly qualified, and we presume speaks with the authority of the government of north korea. we don't get to pick who we negotiate with. the north koreans get to pick who they put across the table from us. but we had -- we had very good discussions. we would not are gone on for practically two full weeks with a gap in between if both sides weren't adequately represented. however, for sure as we move forward in this and as we begin to get traction, both sides are going to need to increasingly draw upon tactical experts. the issues at work here are highly complicated. the issues of the fuel cycle will require some of the most talented and experienced individuals of the united states
government to be participants. likewise, the same for the north koreans. >> could we expect a third summit between president trump and chairman kim shortly? >> between? >> trump and kim jong-un. a third summit. >> a third summit. so i know the president has spoken about his willingness to continue to meet with chairman kim, possibly in a third summit. we don't have anything to announce today. but in our view and the president's view, this top level engagement does help create the space. and from my point of view as a negotiator that kind of engagement does create space for us at the working level to test out ideas and see if we can close the gaps. so that will ultimately be up to the president. it'll be driven by a course of events, but the president hasn't ruled that out.
>> ms. laura lockwood, is the u.s. pressing north korea to accept iea inspectors? >> we would very much see part of the complete process of denuclearization of north korea to include north korea's return to the nonproliferation protocols. and to that end, iea has an important role in order to ensure certain practices continue to be observed to international standards. we are not at the point with the north koreans where we're negotiating the specific composition of inspectors for some of these issues. and also there's an additional level of complication that comes from the fact that is well-known north korea has acquired and mastered the technology necessary to produce a nuclear weapon. iaea inspectors are generally precluded from engaging in nuclear weapons programs under
the nonproliferation treaty. so it's a complicated issue. but ultimately we would be reassured very much by the involvement of the iaea in this process as they bring tremendous expertise to bear on these nuclear issues around the world. >> ms. kaley thomas, if i'm mispronouncing that name i apologize, but she's getting to the idea of this whole idea of step by step. if lifting sanctions is unattainable until full denuclearization is achieved what incentives is the u.s. able to offer in order to achieve any progress moving toward that goal and full vision of us dprk relations you just described. >> again, i wasn't in government in june of last year singapore summit occurred. some official statements suggested the united states was prepared to move very quickly
and within a year complete the process of denuclearization. as i look back on had that begun in earnest last year we would be moments away from whatever was brought to bear at that point, we might be in a position to lift sanctions. that's occurred to me many times. lifting of sanctions is an issue that comes up in our discussions with north koreans. with good reason, we think sanctions are having a huge impact on the country. the president challenged chairman kim to go big, "move
fast. the united states is prepared to act on all the commitments in the singapore joint statement which truly would transform events on the korean peninsula. the president has gone even further to begin laying out a vision for what he believes is a bright economic future as well with rich natural resources, undeveloped economy and critical location in the cross-roads of china, russia, zika. the economic potential the president describes is enormous. this is the vision trying to inculcate our north korean counterparts with. the faster they move, the faster they get to this brighter future, the united states -- i cannot be more emphatic, the united states has chosen to take this course. the president has created a space and momentum for diplomacy. the missing is north korea has to fully commit to elimination
of weapons of mass destruction and affiliated programs. if they do that, we will get to this endpoint quickly. >> he spent a lot of time at the pentagon trying to get them not to talk in acronyms. this sandra bell sounds like she belongs in that building. listen to this. are we demanding dprk ratify, cbtb. i assume we're talking about biological weapons convention, chemical. i never could cbt. >> comprehensive testing prosecute of further lacks a verification program. what tools and techniques are we bling to use to ensure their biological program is eliminated. >> great question, acronyms and all. all three are part of the resolutions. it's not the united states asking, it's the unanimous vote of the united nations security
council called upon north korea to abide by these. north korea is not one of the 190 some countries a member of chemical weapons convention. north korea is not a member of comprehensive test ban treaty, "nor is the united states. that was not ratified here as well. we are pressing north korea certainly for the elimination of nuclear chemical and biological consistent with the london standing wishes of the united nations security council. so that's very important. the mechanism for doing those and seems particularly in the case of nuclear weapons we're going to be pursuing a much larger vision than simply comprehensive test ban. but it's not conflict certainly with the objectives but our
diplomacy is about much, much more than the absence of nuclear tersing. in the case of chemical weapons convention as the convert points out, there is an organization called the opcw. implementing body based in the hague. they could be important. biological convention there isn't a similar implementing agency associated with biological convention, so it's going to be a little bit more complicated than that case to ensure north korea is in full compliance with the bwc. that's our goal in both cases, both the cases of chemical weapons and by lebron james cal weapons but we may need more to arrive in the case of biological
weapons convention. a lot of work to do. not all of these issues are yet on the table with us. as i said to helene earlier, we have raised all them with north korea but the mod alt alities a methodologies we're still working through and ultimately we need the agreement of north koreans to do that if we're going to be successful. we have two more minutes left. last questions, please. i'm going to take it then. what is he like to negotiate with? >> they being north koreans. all of us who work on this issue are acutely aware of the magnitude of what we're undertaking. we don't undertake it lightly. it is hugely reassuring to have full support of the secretary of
state, the entire administration is engaged on this issue. as we go into the room with the north koreans, it gives us a lot of confidence speaking with them as to what is america's objective in this negotiation. i have to assume that in the room, the person sitting across the table from me has the same mandate and same sense of mission their government. it can be challenging for sure. in a system tlik that you don't have robust internal debate, thoughtful commentary from think tanks, critical or thoughtful reporting from media. you don't even have the makings of what we would have inside the u.s. government of an interagency process that council is dealing with attention of keeping alignment on policies as
important as this one. it's a very different system. it's driven by the top down. that's why i'm such an enthusiastic supporter of the way the president has approached us. we have tried for 25 years to percolate positions up from the working level to the leadership level with no success. president trump in engaging chairman kim has engaged the real decisionmaker in the north korean system. and the one who can truly create the space from my counterparts, sitting across the table from me, to be flexible, agile, creative, find solutions for these issues, there's a lot of stress on the people on the other side of the table. you can feel that palpabley when you talk to them. these issues are difficult, as they should be. these are very important issues for both countries. as i said before, we're swimming against the tide of 70 years of history. but you know, there's a lot that
comes into play, personal relationships, building of trust, the ability to communicate. it's going to take us a while to get there but i'm confident we can. the north koreans, like the president, have made the decision to engage in this diplomatically. i have to operate under the assumption that those people are the right people, that they are capable, which i think they are, and they have the trust and direction of their leadership in these negotiations. so it's complicated with north korea. that's a huge understatement. it's not like negotiating like i did in the private sector. the consequences for failure for both sides are enormous as well. so that weighs on it. we've had a very successful set of engagements. we've been in discussions. we haven't produced an agreement. we didn't produce a joint statement. there's not yet a point where we closed the gaps necessary, but
the discussions have been constructive and we've been engaged. this is what diplomacy is. this is what the president committed and recommitted to coming out of the hanoi summit. they are people. that's what they are. we just have to find a way to get to the right answer that represents the national security interest of our country and they have the same mandate for their government. >> thank you so much, steve. we're apparently going to be beaten if we don't stop right at noon so we're stopping. at the end of the session please state the following, please join us for lunch across the atrium ball in the ballroom. thank you so much. >> thank you. [ applause ]
on span 2, alex azar talks about affordable spending. an alex acosta talks about proposed programs at 8:00 eastern. all month we're airing our winning student cam documentaries where we ask students to answer what does it mean to be american. our c-span bus was recently in arizona. here is what people there had to say. >> for me what it means to be an american is to be involved, passionate, supportive and thankful to the persons, veterans, "sky sports neinstitu processes that protect. >> i am american. i am so proud. what that means to me, a former undocumented person who came in search of the american dream was able and was given a pathway to
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c-span's the presidents will be on shelves april 23rd but you can preorder your copy as a hard cover or ebook today at c-span.org/thepresidents or wherever books are sold. >> next a conversation on the trump administration's proposed space force. we'll hear from assistant air force secretary william roper who discusses space technology and national security. >> good morning. thank you, todd for the introduction. thank you, csis, for hosting these events. it's an important time to be talking about space. you know, throughout recorded history and likely even before then, humanity has been inextricably linked to information from space. the waxing and waning of sun paths and moon phases provided