Meet the Press   |  April 07, 2013

Richardson: U.S. needs a diplomatic path with North Koreans

Former Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., and Michele Flournoy who served as undersecretary of defense policy under President Obama from 2009-2012 weigh in on what needs to be done to help deter the young North Korean dictator from taking action on his recent threats.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> let me get to more perspective on north korea , our lead story. governor, you've got a lot of experience with north korea . what is going on here?

>> i think kim jong -un is playing to three audiences, and this is why he's doing these provocative acts. by the way, andrea was with me on one of the eight trips i did. first, he's playing to the north korean generals. they run the show, are the military. he's play iing to the korean workers party , are the leadership there. secondly, he's playing to his own people. he got burned by that missile test that failed, and he feels he has the buttress his domestic standing, and i think the third thing he's doing, he's testing the new south korean president . every year -- every five years or so when a new south korean president comes in, north korea does a provocative act. so the issue is what do we do about it? i think what we've done in terms of the military posture , the stealth activity makes sense. but i think eventually there's going to have to be some diplomacy and the six-party talks i don't think are working. i think china has to be the key. we have to really get them to lean on north korea . but i think a new diplomatic track is needed. some out of the box diplomacy involving the u.n., the world bank , some special envoy outside of government, because i think we need to get to this new young leader who i don't think is calling the show but nonetheless because it's a daie it ty, because he is nominally in charge, is probably the key player there.

>> michele flournoy , secretary of defense hagel underlining how serious this issue is when he talked about the threat.

>> they have nuclear capacity now. they have missile delivery capacity now. and so as they have ratcheted up their bellicose, dangerous rhetoric and some of the actions they've taken the last few weeks present a real and clear danger.

>> two things going on there. one, kind of ratcheting up the escalation in words which the administration wanted to tamp down, but kim jong -un is saying i don't want to talk about losing my nuclear weapons . i won't even get into those discussions. so from a diplomatic point of view, what do you do?

>> we have to convince this new, young, inexperienced leader he's playing a losing hand. that the only way out of the box to get the economic development he wants, to get the progress that he wants is to ratchet back the rhetoric, come back into compliance with the international obligations that north korea has and to get serious about trying to implement some of the commitments he's made at the negotiating table in the past. i think in the mean l time the u.s. has been right to focus on bolstering deterrents, bolstering defense, standing shoulder to shoulder with our ally, south korea .

>> i would only add this. i think the goal should not just be to calm him down, to cool the rhetoric down. the goal has to be how do we get north korea back to the negotiating table on nuclear proliferation , on denuclearization? they have to do it because that whole asian area is a tinderbox and we have enormous interest. we have 30,000 american troops. they've got hundreds of missiles. they've got maybe up to five to six nuclear weapons . they've got a belligerent leadership. it's in our national are to try to diplomatically defuse the situation. i think secretary kerry is the kind of person that can come up with that.