tv Amanpour on PBS PBS June 13, 2018 12:00am-12:30am PDT
welcome to amanpour on pbs. tonight from singapore, the summit of the accept tcentury i. is it one giant leap towards peace or a risky gamble? i drill down into the details with the top nuclear expert jeffrey lewis in california. plus, my conversation with a man who has advised the south korean president on president trump's offer to end joint military exercises with seoul. good evening and welcome to the program.
president donald trump and kim jong-un have now departed after a whirlwind day filled with new images and maybe even a new paradigm for the peninsula. for the first time in 70 years. with few details available, experts are trying to dweetermi what was achieved. a historic handshake for the first time an american president meets the leader of north korea. later, they sign a joint declaration in which kim jong-un commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the korean peninsula. >> translator: today, we had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind. we are about to sign an historic document. the world will see a major change. >> president trump took a victory lap. >> i will say this, we're much
further along than i would have thought. i told people, i didn't want to build up people's hopes too much. >> the state was relatively vague, similar to previous agreements with north korea. >> the joint statement does not talk about verifiable or irreversible denuclearization. is that a concession on a part of the united states? >> not at all. if you look at it, it said we are going to -- let's see here. it will be gone. i don't think you can be any more plain than what we are asking. >> trump announced what many see as a major concession right off the bat. saying that he would immediately call a halt to the joint military exercises or war games as he called them with south korea. even suggested u.s. troops could be pulled out. >> i'd like to be able to bring them back home. that's not part of the equation right now. at some point i hope it will be, but not right now. we will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tra
memb tremendous amount of money unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should. but we will be saving a tremendous amount of money. plus i think it's very provocati provocative. >> trump gave kim a look inside his limousine. he showed kim a video that was crafted to lay out the economic gain that could come north korea's way. ever the real estate magnate he added. >> they have great beaches. you see that whenever they are exploding their cannons into the ocean. look at that. wouldn't that make a great condo? >> trump said human rights came up very briefly with kim. then he went on to praise him as a great negotiator. as he would do again during an interview with abc. >> wants to get it done. >> you trust him? >> i do trust him, yeah. will i come back to you in a year and you will be interviewing and i will say, i made a mistake?
that's possible. we're dealing at a very high level. a lot of things can change. a lot of things are possible. he trusts me. i believe. i really do. he said openly and he said it to a couple of reporters that were with him that he knows that no other president ever could have done this. i mean, no other -- he knows the presidents. he knows who we had in front of me. he said, no other president could have done this. i think he trusts me, and i trust him. >> what should we make of the outcome of this summit and the fact that the joint statement was so short on details about the crucial issue, denuclearization? joining me now to discuss this from california is jeffrey lewis. he is the director of the east asia non-proliferation program at the institute of international studies there. he has been warning the first step towards spa s peace is to our expectation. welcome. given that you are talking about lowering expectations, how do you analyze what happened after
the joint communique? was that better or not as good as you expected? >> i didn't lower my expectations quite far enough. what the joint statement says on the issue that i care about, reducing the threat from north korea's nuclear weapons, is really just a reaffirmation of the statement that kim jong-un made to president moon, which uses this word denuclearization. i think it's probably very important to say that that word denuclearization does not mean disarmament. i think the two parties are as far apart as they have ever been. >> jeffrey lewis, there has been a roundup, if you look on all the instant analysis over the last several hours since this happened. there is quite a lot of skepticism about precisely that point and another point, which is the halting of the war games. let me press you on the denuclearization. the word was referred to a lot.
president trump kept saying that it will happen quickly. leader kim jong-un pledged it will happen. i know it will happen. i know he wants to do it. i think everyone is confused as to what exactly each side means by that and what is the difference between denuclearization and disarmament and denuclearization on the korean peninsula as opposed to denuclearization of north korea? >> well, i think that is the absolutely crucial point. the word denuclearization is a north korean word. it's the word the north cokorea chose in the 1980s when they didn't have nuclear weapons but the united states did have them on the korean peninsula. what they mean is a process by which relations are improved and some day in the future, maybe, for example, like president obama's prague speech, we get to a world in which we won't need nuclear weapon anymore.
denuclearization is about putting improvement of relationship first and disarmament second, maybe never. the united states has always criticized that arguing that what we want is disarmament and a dismantlement of the facili facilities. we need to do that first and then the relationship gets better. you really have this fundamental difference of opinion about what is supposed to come first, disarmament or improvement of relations. simply saying denuclearization of the peninsula doesn't help us do more than paper over that. >> in terms of getting on the road to a better relationship, that seems to have been the big takeaway from the summit. both leaders praised each other. you heard president trump very, very copiously praising and fully praising leader kim. in his very brief comment, the north korean leader talks about a historic change on the way,
the past is behind us and you will see the world will see major change. if you were trying to figure out what that change would be and the time line, what do you think are the next steps? is the ball now in north korea's court? >> well, i think it's actually very unclear what the next steps are going to be. part of this is a difference in what the united states is saying and what the united states is doing. you know, what we're doing is denuclearization, which is to say we're putting improvements in the relationship first and we're not really insisting that north korea give any nuclear capabilities up. the problem is every time president trump is asked about this he says, no, no, no, kim will start very soon. for me, the big question is going to be who takes the next step. i think it's very unlikely that kim will do anything more than a few cosmetic steps toward
disarmament. it will ultimately be up to the united states to continue the policy of finding things to give the north koreans to keep them on their best behavior. >> it sounds a lot like -- you said finding things to give the north koreans. i think everybody was stunned by the president -- it seemed like it was off the cuff and was not in the declaration. they didn't sign it to say they are stopping the war games. we don't quite know what does that mean. is it temporary? is it a full stop? is it the entire gamut of the military exercises? we don't know what it means. south korea, the military there, seems to have been surprised by it saying we need to get clarity on what that means. what do you think, having offered that, precisely means? >> i truly don't know what the president was getting at. the north koreans have called for a reduction in the size and the scope of the exercises.
obviously, they would like them all to be canceled. it's hard to imagine the military ever accepting the way the president framed it, which was who pays to practice. the answer to that is everyone. the way you build a capable and ready military is by doing exercises. i don't think anybody disagrees that we shouldn't consider changing the exercises so that they match the political relationship. and if things are going well, then, of course, why do a provocative exercise? the problem is that the president didn't say it in those moderate terms. what he did was issue a blanket condemnation of all military exercises. it's hard for me to believe he meant it. but that's what he said. >> actually, others have pointed out that those military exercises are not just about -- not just about protecting allies
and containing north korea. they're about a big signal to contain china as well and keep the united states relevant in that asia pacific region. does that part of it -- is that part of it now? i guess since president trump is always wanted to do this, do you think -- this is not an accident what he said. he is setting up the future for a -- not just reduction in those games but pulling out the troops as he said that he wanted to do. >> you know, this is one of these things that gets papered over in our bipartisan discussions in washington. there's usually a traditional view that the united states should be allied with south korea. there's been a view -- president carter talked about pulling all u.s. troops out of south korea. i think this idea that the
united states should not be in south korea -- although, it's really outside of what would typically be considered a mainstream discussion in d.c. i think it's something president r him, it's not really a concession. >> jeffrey lewis, it is clear that when one starts personal relationships, it often leads to the ability to change the dynamic politically. you just have to go back to reagan and gorbachev. they did it together. it led to what we know -- we know what it led to. are you willing to concede that might be the case here? a double-barrel question. the president keeps saying he is the only one who could do this, that kim jong-un knows that he is the only one that could do this, that what he achieved in this summit, beyond just the meeting, was a much more robust, much more determined deal than any other u.s. president had achieved or had been able to do. >> i will take the questions in the reverse order.
as a factual matter, it's not true that there's anything in this communique that hasn't been agreed to by the united states and north korea dozens of times in the past. whether it's the resumption of efforts to recover the remains of american servicemen killed in the korean war or whether it's north korea's repeated enthusiasm for denuclearization. when i look at that agreement, it could have been written many pyongyang. i will give the president this. he is the only person who could do this. because his base simply does not care. i'm at the moment being bombarded on twitter by people who are just unironically saying that north korea has given up their nuclear weapons. i think it's easier for the president, given his base, to bring along a large group of people who would normally oppose something like this. there john bolton sits chewing
on his mustache. to go back to the -- go ahead. >> no, no, you go ahead. you just mentioned john bolton. you did tweet about john bolton. he was very prominent, he was in the meetings, he was at the table. you could see him at one point talking to president trump and even to kim jong-un, it looked like, when they were standing in a huddle. he was there. you have said presumably if kim does not disarm, presumably that would empower hawkish officials to call for a tougher stance. do you worry about that? the question really is, what will happen if he doesn't go and do all the things that president trump assured the world that he would do? >> well, that goes back to the other question, that i didn't end up answering, which is how much does personal rapport matter in a context like this? i think you are absolutely right that when two leaders share a
common vision, then they have the political will to push past obstacles. that's a good thing. the thing that worries me is we have seen that president trump is -- you know, he changes his mind. february 2017, justin trudeau came to the white house and ch he liked him.lked about how what then happened is despite the personal rapport, there are serious issues that at least are important to the president. he didn't get what he wanted in the g7 summit. now things have collapsed. i worry that the same thing may happen here. it's a lot of cheeriness at the moment. sooner or later, it will be clear that kim is not giving up the nuclear weapons. then the question is, will trump feel like he has been cheated? >> do you think the united states could live with a nuclear
north korea along with major arms control agreements around it? do you think that's how it might end up? >> i think the united states should live with a nuclear armed north korea. i would have preferred we not get in this spot in the first place. but here we are. it's an interesting question whether we can. can we, as a country, accept that a particular foreign policy has failed and that we have to take the world as it is? i think that it's a hard thing to do. and politicians rarely are rewarded for telling people to eat their vegetables. at the end of the day, yes, i think we need to take north korea as it is, make the progress that we can and accept that there are some things that we will not be able to fix at least not in the near term. >> really fascinating perspective. thank you so much, jeffrey lewis. we ask that question now in
south korea where there are mixed messages following today's summit. while president moon jae-in expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the talks, his defense department was more cautious saying that it needs to figure out president trump's accurate meaning and intention about ending those joint military exercises. my next guest joins me now from seoul with his own perspective on today's meetings. he is a distinguished professor at the university and is a national security adviser to president moon. he was in the room for the historic meeting with kim jong-un at the demilitarized zone in april, that meeting that led to the one we witnessed here in singapore. welcome to the program. let me just ask you off the bat, do you think the world might have to live with a nuclear armed north korea under a rigorous and robust arms control regime? >> no, i don't think so.
we can really -- we can still make north korea give up nuclear weapons. i think -- i still believe in hope in the negotiation settlement. >> you heard what jeffrey lewis said. you have seen the declaration for itself. you are enough of an expert to know that it was not very detailed and that almost none of those points were any different than what north korea had said to south korea in the past and indeed what north korea said to previous u.s. presidents. so what is your actual technical reason for believing that they will disarm, denuclearize? put it simply, get rid of their nuclear weapons. >> when president moon jae-in had discussion with chairman kim jong-un on april 27, they talked
about complete denuclearization. we understand it is meant by the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of facilities and weapons. i understand that declaration reflect the extension. i understand president trump, president moon and chairman kim, they all share the common understanding of cbid when they talk about complete denuclearization. >> just to be -- to get into the weeds, many people believe that when the north koreans say it and when they add the words of the korean peninsula, that means not just them but the whole sort of alliance. in other words, what the u.s. has. we know it's not based inside south korea but it's based on ships and on planes within range. do you think -- just to push
you -- that the north koreans will disarm their own verifiably, irreversibly and completely or are they going to wait for a situation where it happens on the whole peninsula, with the u.s. included? >> not necessarily. if you go back to 1992, both north and south korea adopted the declaration on the denuclearization of the korean peninsul peninsula. in accordance with the declaration, north and south korea are not supposed to manufacture, test, deploy, use and transport of nuclear weapons. therefore, it's my understanding that when they talk about denuclearization of korean peninsula, they are referring to the 1992 declaration on the denuclearization of korea. full understanding on what is meant by denuclearization. >> of course, they didn't have weapons at that time. they do now.
can i ask you what you think your country is going to make of president trump's announcement at the press conference? it was not in the declaration. but that they would stop what he call eed war games with south korea. >> look, whether we have joint military exercise and training or not is decision by the alliance, not by leader of one country. therefore, even the president of the united states cannot make unilateral decision on whether to continue or not to continue war games. it's a mutual consultation. eventually, president trump will be talking with president moon and they will come up with a common understanding. to my understanding is when he talk about expensive in that nature of this joint military exercise, he is really referring to the deployment of assets such
as b-52 or b-2 bombers. i would say that they would be continuation of joint military exercise in training maybe. but referred to president trump's remarks, they may not be the deployment of strategic assets. north korea has been telling south korea if the united states and south korea to not deploy strategic assets. they are willing to tolerate our annual combined military exercise and training. i understand in that way not just in suspending or stopping the war game. >> so now let's flip it a little bit. your president called this historic. he praised both leaders and many in the alliance have said, including in europe, japan and elsewhere that this is a really important moment. what do you think the steps will be going forward? for instance, in the
declaration, the united states names secretary of state mike pompeo as the negotiator. the north koreans haven't named everybody. you would think they had the opportunity to think about it. these were points drummed up before the summit. does that say anything to you? why wouldn't they have named somebody to meet up with secretary of state pompeo? >> quite understandable. up until now, it was ad hoc situation for north korea. once they get into very specifics of nuclear negotiation, then people like foreign minister or vice-chairman, they come to the front line. north korea may need time to discuss who should be dealing with secretary pompeo. eventually, pyongyang will come
up with very specific names. most likely, it will be foreign minister related guys. >> let me just ask you, you heard president trump several times refer to leader kim and he said he was a great personality, very smart, good combination, a very worthy, very smart negotiator, absolutely, very talented he said, absolutely sure he wanted the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization and disarmament. what do you make of those words? you have been in the room with kim jong-un. do you see he has a historic shift in attitude and direction? >> i think so. he has made fundamental change. what we call in the paradigm change in his way of conducting
foreign policy. it is very, very important for president trump to cultivate personal dynamics with chairman kim jong-un. when the secretary pompeo in negotiate with his counter part of north korea, if things go wrong, then suppose president trump make a phone call to chairman kim jong-un. then they can fix all the problems. north korea is a country of one man rule. is a country of -- once kim jong-un make decision, then things get done. in the sense that personal dynamics between the two leaders seems to be very important element in the future ventures. >> very briefly, we have 30 seconds. is there anything that worries you? are there any risks you see on the horizon? >> no, i don't think. it's just the beginning.
of course, devil is in the details. we understand north korea quite well. i think that we will be able to overcome. the hurdled. >> thank you so much for joining us from your national security perspective there in seoul. there's certainly hope for a new beginning. allies in the region, even rivals, are still going to have to determine the fallout and we will wait to see exactly what steps the north koreans take towards their promised denuclearization. that's it for our program tonight. thanks for watching amanpour on pbs. join us again tomorrow night. >> you are watching pbs.
♪ christian: you are watching "beyond 100 days" on pbs. a great leap forward or a rehash of a deal the north koreans made years ago? katty: donald trump says the world will be impressed with the singapore summit, but will the north koreans deliver their side of the bargain? christian: it all started with a handshake. the theater of this summit will be remembered for years to come. kim jong-un speaks of his unwavering commitment to denuclearization, but it's donald trump who makes the first big concession, with a promise to stop wargames on the korean peninsula. >> people are going to be very impressed, very happy,