tv Washington Journal Aaron Mehta Discusses U.S. Nuclear Capabilities CSPAN August 12, 2017 8:34am-9:07am EDT
in our cities, and are most affluent suburbs. >> friday, the conversation with elena kagan. >> you said at the beginning of our conversation we are not appear democracy. we are a constitutional democracy. that means the judiciary has an important role to play in policing the boundaries of the other branches. that can make the judiciary and unpopular set of people, when they say to a governor or president or congress, know -- no, you can't do that because it's not in your constitutional powers. >> next week it 8:00 eastern on c-span and c-span.org. was sent using the free c-span radio app. -- listen using the free c-span radio app. host: welcome back. aaron mehta is with us, associate editor with the fence
news. thank you for being with us. let's start with some tape from president trump, who always has been talking about the north korean threat and escalating the threat. [video] president trump: i would like to de-nuke the world. nuclear is our greatest threat worldwide. not even a question. uke the like to de-n world. i would like russia, united states,, china, pakistan get rid of them. until such time as we do, we will be the most powerful nuclear nation honors by far. the first order i gave to my this, ouras i want nuclear arsenal, to be the biggest and the finest in the world. we spent a lot of money, a lot
of time and a lot of effort. it is in tiptop shape and getting better and stronger. until such time as this scourge disappears we will be so much better in so much stronger than anybody else. host: the president, as we know why now, licenses that likes to speak in superlatives. is a really larger and more powerful since he took office? guest: no. only talk about modernizing nuclear weapons, it takes time. we are talking about things that take years to decades, not things that can happen in six months. the obama administration left president trump with a plan that is well underway, but even that plan will take again years and years to get to completion. the idea the president came in and told generals when you donate our nuclear weapons better, stronger, faster, harder and it happened in six months is not true.
host: what does it mean to modernize our arsenal? guest: the nuclear posture is based throughout the nuclear triad. you have sea, land, and air based weapons. in the current set up that means the icbm's, submarine second lunch that their weapons, bomber second drop bombs or precisely. those are all fairly aging. this is a big focus towards the end of the obama administration. the pentagon realize we have let these things collapsed. in the 1990's the thought was the cold war was over. that foster changed as russia came back and china spent money building up its military. the north korea situation has escalated. now they are saying we need to make sure our capabilities are able to continue forward and are credible. their plans underway.
the first is modernizing nuclear submarines. in the next couple of weeks we expect the first steps the modernize the icbms. they are looking at the cruise missile and working on the bomber. these are well underway. there is command and control issues they are working on, developing warheads. these have been in the works since roughly 2010. host: here is a tweet that got a lot of attention from the president. "military solutions are fully in place, locked and loaded should north korea act unwisely. hopefully kim jong-un will find another path." he does not necessarily see a diplomatic solution on the horizon. he says over the last several administrations they have tried diplomacy and it has not worked. north korea has continued unabated. might this be the thing that changes kim jong-un's regime and
make something twice? guest: look, part of the reason why using diplomacy as a tool is because in 1994, was the regime gained nuclear capability, it essentially had a trump card over the rest the world. the reason they pursued the nuclear program was because they knew once they had capability, the u.s. cannot credibly go in without risking the loss of millions of lives in south korea and japan. those lives were already at risk because north korea has a massive military 50 miles on the border. -- japan always been has always been a range of nonnuclear missiles. is the correct way to change the rhetoric? it may be. the reality is with the north koreans now able to, as far as analyst can say, likely to have
a nuclear icbm in the near you can't simply go and threaten them because they know essentially they have this thing and you can't go in and threaten without risking millions of lives. host: how has the program grown so quickly? they have been living under sanctions for decades. yet their nuclear program has advanced at a pace that most analysts did not project or expect. has had ath korea long history of selling drugs and weapons, human slavery in some ways. there are always people willing to find them. banks that you see get sanction every year for being part of north korea. in terms of how the advance, -- entireheir sign scientific base towards this. family, their purpose
was always to keep the family and power. it is not to become a world dominating hegemon. maybe it would be nice if they took back south korea and unify the peninsula. there is no love lost with japan or china. it's about keeping the family in place. they know if they start a nuclear war, the family will not be in place. they will take a lot of people with them but they are going out. they will not start a nuclear war. saying youoking at guys cannot start a nuclear war and take us out. host: give us a call at (202) 748-800 [laughter] from republicans --(202) 748-8001 for republicans. democrats, (202) 748-8000. independents, (202) 748-8002. guam was in the news for the first time in a while. how quickly do you think the u.s. could respond?
guest: it's a question of what is threatening guam me. what came out of the north korean newswire that translates statements in english was we will -- it was very detailed. we will launch four icbms. they target a u.s. territory. is not hitting the territory, and ever acquire missiles of flight over japan, which is in a no no. they would always ditch them in the sea of japan before it reached japanese territory. the question is are they going to follow through. we have seen a complete lack of change in american military posture in the pacific in the last couple of days. there has been a lot of rhetoric and concern, that we looked at this and call the bunch of sources and track ship movements. nobody's moving things. if the u.s. thought this was
about to go off, a launch towards guam, you receive missile-defense ships going, carriers out and about. it is just not happening. host: that in itself would be a provocative act, right? if they moved all the troops and their families from south korea, the dmz, ship movements started to happen. to north koreans would say it's about to happen. guest: there is some bacterial communication going on even now. there are two sides trying to read each other public actions. a president going off script tweeting things out. the fire and fury statement that kick this off was off-the-cuff according to sources inside the white house. you have the two sides not really talking to each other, making sure they are signaling. it is interesting the u.s. is not doing this. that to us says people in the pentagon and people in the white
house are saying let's be smart about this. we checked. as of the last 48 hours there's been no b-1 flights in korean territory. they are based out of guam. those have not happened in a while. that is a conscious decision. host: we have to get some calls in here and spread the love. an independent. caller: all of us have this hoopla by the media. i'm a veteran, by the way. resolve the it or afghanistan or iraq. we need a serious diplomatic corps. we need to engage the chinese,
its,ge russians, engage br france and especially iran. through the back door or whichever way, please do not go with this gung ho military worrying about guam. the people really understand what he has? the military that north korea has? seoule ability to destroy in a matter of 10 or 15 minutes. i remember the korean war, i was four years old. i remember that in czechoslovakia whenever collecting food. please media, tried to tell and it down and get our diplomatic corps over there and get this worked out because if he is going to go wacko as he is a
will sufferorld tremendously. there is no love between japan and korea. that goes way back to world war ii when the japanese had the korean women and people as slaves. there are issues over there that only diplomatic way. . thank you very much. guest: thank you for your service. i think he had a couple of good points. if there is any sort of war, and we are talking nonnuclear war, seoul in tokyo are in the line of fire. i think there is always been a historical push to avoid that specifically because of what happened with the korean war and the reality of modern warfare. the diplomatic corps is another interesting point. several top state department
experts who would deal with these issues are not filled at the moment. a lot has been discussed about state department vacancies. that has been brought into the glaring spotlight with this situation now. host: john from north carolina, to republican. caller: good morning. that we have had -- north korea had this capability for the last four or five years. the same capability they are displaying now. but the mainstream media, such as cnn, msnbc, all the rest of country media in this did i want to report it while obama was in office. officece trump is in
they are reporting it to try to discredit president trump. could you tell me how long the north koreans have had this capability? and be honest please. thank you very much. guest: i think it's interesting the previous caller said the media was making too much of this, and you said the media to be hiding this to benefit president obama or trump. the media likes a story. this is news and we are reporting news as it happening. in terms of capabilities, they have been working towards this. certainly under the current regime. one of the first things that happened was testing was set up. a cycle of testing or nuclear reactor set up, and then you exchange that and exchange for food. kim jong-un decided we will step
it up and make sure the capability is something we can work on. this year we have seen more testing than in previous years as they felt they were getting closer and closer to an icbm with a range holding the u.s. in danger. i don't have access personally to classified documents. butuld love to have access, the reality is this has been coming. everyone knew this was coming. the hopelessly policy changes you could prevent them from getting to this point. people were surprised by how quickly they got to this point. it was not expected they would have an icbm with this range by now. host: they have a missile small enough to fit on an icbm. the other thing worth pointing out is president obama in his meeting with then himident-elect trump told the biggest crisis on the horizon for be the threat posed by north korea.
we have party from portsmouth, virginia. good morning. caller: thank you for taking my call. i served for 25 years. ships, five or nuclear capable. this program with the nuclear capable ships and countries has been going on for a long time. like digital and spoke before me, they want to blame everything on the last eight years. president obama is now gone and president trump is no president. followingtrump has a such as a cold. i don't -- cult. i don't think he has no idea what he is getting this country into. he is not a king, he's a president. i think we are having done a real bad task with this president. we are not talking about an over the line war. we are talking nuclear war that
will destroy this country and lead us to world war iii. those people propping up president trump and what to condemn president obama or whoever, they need to think about it twice. would i leave, what really impressed me is a president trump with all his language would encourage his daughter and his two sons to become a part of this war he's about to get us into. thank you for taking my call. guest: thank you for your service. it does not war, really matter if you're a republican, democrat, obama supporter or trump supporter. we are all in trouble. it is in everyone's best interest that there is never an exchange of nuclear weapons. that is a flat-out statement that everyone can agree on. then it's a question of what is the best way to go about that. there is a reasonable argument
to make sure north korea does not have nuclear weapons in the future, or to work with them to give them food or economic aid in exchange for them slowing down the program. that is a discussion that will certainly be happening in public and when congress returns in september. we will have to see where the government goes. host: in the event of nuclear war we are all in this together. there is a question of how the world community would respond as a relates to guam and nato article five. the parties agree an armed attack against one or more of them in europe or north america should be considered an attack against them all. they agree if such an armed attack occurs, each of them recognized by article 51 will assist the party or parties so attacked by taking forth with individually and in concert with the other parties such action as
it deems necessary, including the use of armed force to restore and maintain the security of the north atlantic area. that is a lot of words. it did not occur to me until one of our producers mentioned it, guam,rth attacking particle five might not take effect. -- article 5 might not take effect. guest: if a country is attacked, the other allies have to help. we invoked it after 9/11. nerds,yst friends, nato got bless them -- god bless them. essentially if it is not a mainland towards europe, things can happen but you are not automatically invoking article 5.
this was put in because when nato was formed they were still colonies in the pacific. the idea was in a colony gets attacked, you want to drag all of europe into a war in asia? lon -- ify is it guam for hawaii were attacked -- let's say hawaii. even if technically the nato partners don't have to respond if the u.s. invokes article 5, they would respond in some way. weather with a tour transportation help or security, whatever they would do the nato partners would help because there are benefits to keeping the united states happy with them. whether that is the nato or a coalition of the willing situation as we have seen in iraq and afghanistan, they are nato countries willing to help the u.s. it's not an official nato mission under article 5. they came together as allies. host: let's go back to the
phones. jersey city, new jersey. jr on the line for democrats. caller: how are you doing? i want a job. -- a mediator.a bring all the nuclear weapons to me. -- stockpile them all on my island. armsl be the sergeant at of all these weapons. host: all right. good plan, i like it. taxesgo to barbara from -- texas for republicans. caller: we did not start this with north korea. kim jong-un has been talking goal isis -- his whole
to cause distraction and death here in united states. that is what he wants to do. we have paid him off before. what does he keep doing? the same thing he's been doing. building up the nuclear arsenal. we get him money and food any keeps building of the arsenal. what are we supposed to do? sit on our hands until he hits us with nuclear bombs? than the democrats and everybody will actually come to say something needs to be done? does he have to go that far? imho supporter -- i am a trump supporter and something needs to be done about this man. now we have a president that wants to do something to protect united states, he's a madman? that just kills me. guest: sure. i take a slight issue with the statement that what kim jong-un wants to do with blowup america. he does not want to blow
america, he wants to make sure america does not blow up north korea. in his mind he's always under threat from america and japan and south korea. he says in his mind, and this is been the rule for a long time, we need a posture where we cannot be invaded. kim jong-un does not want revenge for some wrong going back to the 1950's. he wants to keep his power. and this is why things have always escalated and got to the point of de-escalation in the past, if there was a nuclear war and a missile was launched at the united states, north korea would cease to exist. that is flat-out truth and both sides know what. that is why they will not want to missile must they are convinced the u.s. was coming first. host: how is he different from his father?
's father did a lot of saber rattling in exchange for things. what is kim jong-un's ultimate goal? how does his approach differ? guest: his father started the nuclear program and understood this was the way forward to make sure we maintain security. a little more aggressive towards south korea in the early days. they were rates on the blue house, the equivalent of the white house. assassination squads. been a lot of that really from north korea under the current regime. will build are we nuclear capabilities and that will be the way forward. a have seen a less willingness to trade off between nuclear capability and traded for food, wait a couple years, build it back up, traded for food. it has been straight up, we are building these things and we will have a military posture
based around having these things. let's get this done and never can talk. host: melville, new jersey. charles is on the line. caller: i don't have a whole a to say other than we need to support our president. we need to support our political people. we need to quit backing down all the time and start standing up against these people because they are holding us hostage. they are holding us like a ransom. if they get their way this time, the next time they will want more and it will be more and more and more. that gives them more time to get to the point where they can actually really take everybody out. i think we need to just put our trust in the government and let them do their job and let our military do their job. guest: i think there is a point
in the statements that have been made public. has said wettis need to work the diplomatic track right now. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff war on the korean peninsula is catastrophic. stand, win, america will but it will cost hundreds of thousands of not millions of lives. damage, the cost of maintaining what happens after the war without infrastructure in an uneducated population, it is a massive disaster in the best case scenario. until the point the u.s. has decided there's no other recourse but war, it is certainly in the pentagon they want tot pursue diplomacy until the last second. host: president trump is using
the bellicose rhetoric and the actual pentagon, state department is using a more conventional route. guest: as far as we can tell. a lot of this is behind the scenes. are a number of reports that came out towards the end of signaling there's behind the scenes tracks going , the open lines of communication between the north korea and u.s. right now. host: our final call for the is half-hour comes from pb. a democrat. caller: is kim jong-un the same guy that dennis rodman went to see? guest: he is. caller: can't donald trump go to see him? idea. it is certainly an
i don't think we will see a u.s. president travel to north korea anytime soon. secretary tillerson was in the same area as his north korean counterpart recently. there was some sort of communication between the two sides when they got together. we will certainly see what happens. , if northl question korea did launch an attack from is the u.s. prepared to defend itself? guest: it will certainly try. the question of ballistic missile defense is a long-standing one. earlier this year, the u.s. and ita defense system was successful. an icbm-like target. but they knew where it was -- you talkom
to skeptics who say you've kind of proved it worked. south korea has a system but it is not designed for icbm's. we have other missile defense systems in the area. rocketse largely for and smaller missiles that can come from north korea. the question of defending the american homeland against icbm's is an open one right now. host: we won't know until we have to use it. guest: essentially yes. withests have worked there's a lot of confidence when you talk to people in the pentagon. the reality is we won't know until we know. host: aaron mehta for defense news. thank you for your time. coming up, "world magazine" reporter emily belz will be here.
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