tv U.S.- North Korea Relations CSPAN April 9, 2018 7:03pm-8:05pm EDT
appear before the house energy and commerce committee. watch live coverage on c-span 3 and online at c-span.org. you can listen live with the free c-span radio app. now a conversation on u.s. north korea relations with former mike chief of staff chair mullen, including what a meeting between president trump and north korean leader kim jong-un might entail and what actionable goals each side to bring to the negotiation table hosted by the council on foreign relations. this is about an hour. >> good afternoon. i would like to welcome you to on policy lectureship international security. the title of the session is u.s.-north korea relations, any progress on nonproliferation efforts. today is a special event because the -- today we decided instead of a single lecturer, we would have this upstanding panel to talk about an issue that is very
preoccupying and perhaps the number one national security challenge for the trump administration. we have a wonderful conversation with mike mullen and victor cha. llen laipson ekk moderating today. -- joinelighted to have us today and the donors that made this event possible. i think our two speakers are well known. we have admiral mike mullen, the chairman of the joint chief of staff and he is currently the president and chief executive officer of mgm consulting and the cochair of a 2016 council on foreign relations task force report come a sharper choice on north korea. we will ask him to update and revise the judgment of that report. victor cha is currently the
senior adviser and korea chair at -- he is the korea foundation chair at georgetown university. he was a member of that counsel task force and has recently written an article in foreign affairs that brings us up to date on his own thinking on korea and as many people know, he was tantalizingly close to being the american ambassador to south korea. [laughter] >we are going to start our conversation with a top-down look. -- continuum from war to peace with coercive diplomacy, negotiations, nonproliferation progress along the points of the continuum. how would you can -- characterize the current moment? .ictor: thanks it is a pleasure to be here today and be part of this lecture.
on that particular question, i feel like we are certainly not where we thought we would be in december. in december of last year before the olympics in south korea, i thought many people were concerned we would have a temporary pause during the olympics, both of the winter olympics in february and thelympics in march, and military exercises restarted in april, that the north would respond and we would be in a cycle of provocation. that is clearly not where we are today. summitin a spring of diplomacy in asia, north and south korean leaders, prime minister abbe coming to mar-a-lago next week. of course, the big meeting between president trump and the north korean leader.
i certainly think that today, we are in a different place although the place we are today is not without its own set of risks. ellen: thank you. adm. mullen: if i could pick up on what victor said in terms of prognosticating, i think it's tough to figure that out. there is -- over the course of the last year, a tremendous amount of uncertainty and the uncertainty that existed with respect in particular in the case of kim jong-un in north korea, not knowing a lot, what he would do, etc. i think it was added to significantly to the uncertainty of what the united states of america is going to do, and that is entering -- the entry point with respect to these negotiations. i have said on a couple occasions now -- next month is a huge month for us when you look at what may or may not happen
with the iran deal and negotiations, there is a lot on the table. as best i can tell, and i think peoplemportant that understand i am not on the inside, i do not have the kind of information that i used to have when i was in a decision-making position or making recommendations. there is a lot i do not think i do know. we clearly are in a very fast pass here -- path here in both cases, iran and north korea, to bring nuclear weapons into play much more so than i thought possible a year ago. in that regard, i think it is much more dangerous. i think the risks, the risk is way up and as i was taught as a cang midshipmen, high risk
bring high reward. at the same time, it can also bring significant downside. i dotly, i do not know -- not know if anybody knows. i certainly do not know what will happen over the course of the next 60 days except the think it's incredibly critical, dangerous, fragile time. ellen: while we are trying to calibrate carefully that really it is impossible to make any strong predictions. i wonder, from your own uncertaintyow the of the preparations for the summit -- how would you rank the odds the summit will take place? do you think there is any prospect that either or both of the parties will decide to hit the pause button? victor: i think it was a surprise to everyone when the u.s. president agreed to meet with the north korean leader. by may, which i think everybody
takes to mean by the end of may. as admiral mullen said, these sorts of summits, when they take place, they can be highly rewarding or if they fail, they especiallyly risky, when you don't have a months-long negotiating process leading up to this meeting. to me, one of the biggest indicators of whether this meeting will take lace or whether it will be postponed will be the inter-korean summit that takes place at the end of this month because i would imagine that coming out of that meeting, the south korean president will want to brief the american president on how that meeting went and probably offer recommendation about whether we should go forward, things look good, the light is green, or whether it is yellow or even it is even red. said, we arellen
all guessing here because this is a highly unusual situation. pick one-- if i had to event, it would probably be the meeting that takes place between the north and south korean leaders. ellen: in the task force, there was a lot of discussion about deterrence and the colors of signaling that -- co-worst of -- coercive signaling that takes place. how would you, if you were advising the president today with the anticipation of a weeks, howin 6 to 10 would you calibrate the signals sent through our security presence and our security relationship in the run-up to the summit? adm. mullen: i would want them to be strong and leave little room for doubt about the
commitment to security in that part of the world. i have been a little bit taken aback, the exercises resumed and there wasn't much that happened with that. were -- in my previous job, at least i would have insight into the preparations -- recommendations would be tied to how much we should do or not do based on what was actually going on getting ready. one of the big concerns -- victor and i were talking earlier and i said, how long does it take to get ready for a summit? typicallyth an ally, three months. think about this -- think about this one and typically, to the degree you can either control it, you want to know the outcome before you ever have a summit and you kind of plan to that and
how much of that kind of work has gone on? to this point, i am not really sure. the stakes are high. on the one hand, one of the things we talked about in the report is you have got to move -- china has got to move and china has moved. to give creditt to, it is very clear that president trump's position has moved xi jinping. of theer enforcement sanctions, i think china has got on thecomplete control process by the amount of money that flows or does not flow across the border and secondly, the visit the other day by kim jong-un. all of a sudden china -- the signal to me is they want to be in the game. i think china is a hugely important player. one of the things we tried to say in that study was the united
states and china have to figure out a way to play here. to me, with -- for the right outcome, it does not make any difference who leads. the other thing tied to the inter-korean summit we talked it isin the report is possible south korea is in a better position to lead and they had been in the past and certainly amongst all of us. i had no question with somebody stepping forward to do that, which president moon clearly has and make that a part of what i hope would be a constructive outcome. question,the security you both participated in the 6 party talks and have been involved in these things, whether signals we may want to send in an adversarial way to the north koreans also sent signals to china. how do you balance what the chinese may desire in terms of a
military presence in the region, the status of our alliances with japan and korea and trying to resolve this particular problem of north korea. are there trade-offs that are tricky for diplomats to think about? -- mullen: i think that think that we don't want our north korean policy to be undertaken or executed at the expense of our broader and -- broader asian policy. if we get stuck in the tactics of a negotiation with north korea, we tend to lose sight of that broader objective, which is that those things have to be consistent. we used to always say that our north korea policy doesn't start with north korea, it starts with our allies and the allies have to be in court nation and agree on a common front ideally as well as china. i think that is an important
thing as we think about going forward to this u.s. north korea summit, a summit in and of itself is not a strategy. a summit without a strategy is very dangerous. for that reason, it is important for the united states, the allies him a south korea, japan, as well as china, to coordinate at -- on what we are looking at in terms of what we seek from the north koreans at this meeting and also the difficult question -- perhaps a harder question of what we are willing --give in order to get the get what we want from the north koreans. i don't think there is any disagreement about what we want from north korea. the hard part to coordinate isng allies and with china what we are going to be willing to get that from the north. ellen: did you feel there were trade-offs between a military -- more broadly about the region
versus the use of the military as one of the components of our strategy toward north korea? adm. mullen: i thought about this a little differently. i suppose that is true, but my other thought is -- and this views tonst a lot of the contrary is i am willing to peninsula, tohat eliminate the possibility of nuclear war, the use of nuclear weapons in that region. i am willing to trade with china to make it happen. i am willing to give up whatever that piece would be of trade and pay that price, which i think would be far less by any measure than the price we would have to sort ofhere was some nuclear war breakout or use of nuclear weapons. arehe degree that there military either consolidations
or compromises, i am certainly willing to have that discussion. i think victor's point is critical as well. we need to do this with our allies and not unilaterally. ellen: i see scott snyder is here, he runs the korea program here at the council and his latest book "autonomy or alliance." how the south koreans and i think the japanese as well, how they achieve greater independence and autonomy as security actors and still revalidate and remain very devoted to the alliance with the united states. inyou see any new dynamics sort of our expectations of the roles that japan and the republic of korea would play in a negotiating process? has it changed at all from the 6 -party talk period? victor: i think it has. , as has already
been suggested, the south koreans -- they clearly a beer to be the engine of a lot of this -- appear to be the engine of a lot of this diplomacy. if we go back to last december when all of us thought this would be bad in 2018, the south koreans are really working very hard using the olympics and working behind the scenes playing telephone tag between all parties trying to get something going. in that sense, they have taken on a big responsibility. the other is in the past, the north koreans were not willing to talk to south koreans about nuclear weapons or denuclearization. anytime the south koreans raised it in a meeting, the north koreans would either walk out or say bathroom break or just did not want to talk about it. they said that is something we talk about with the united
states. it appears at least the south korean president is carrying message back and forth suggesting north koreans have had conversations with the south denuclearizened to the entire peninsula, which is a loaded phrase in and of itself. in my case, i said for asia,, there is some degree of hedging with regard to china, but that is not what allies are doing. practicing autonomy and
getting all the credit -- giving all the credit to president trump. you will remember when he saw extraordinary situation where the national security adviser of a foreign country came out in front of the west wing and announce to the world that the u.s. president had committed to a meeting with the north, an of itself, the first five minutes of the speech was about how president trump is the person to thank for all this diplomacy that has taken place. i think allies in asia are not hedging like in the traditional sense, but they are practicing the degree of autonomy, but at the same time, holding a president really close and giving him all the credit for that. role, do you see any change in how well we can coordinate with japan over options for north korea? has that changed since your task force? clearullen: i think it is
certainly from a distance that president trump and prime minister abe have a good relationship. victor mentioned the prime minister is coming this week. i think that is really important in terms of -- that have of -- that has a very positive effect down the chain. i know secretary mattis has visited and been visited by his , thatrpart and that relationship is very close as well, all of which i am very much encouraged by in terms of how we move forward. i think it reinforces the united states' commitment to the region and that has been up and down in recent years. there have been leaders in more than one region of the world that wondered whether we were committed or not paris certainly from a security standpoint, with respect to both south korea and japan and other friends in that area. feedback i get is that they are
comforted by the fact from a defense or security standpoint that we are there. ellen: let's focus on kim. how is this crisis playing from his perspective? do you think he is reasonably confident he knows what his game or do you think he is reacting to pressures he is feeling? how would you interpret the trip to china? did that strengthen his hand or demonstrate that he is on a shortly to beijing? what does it look like from his side of the story? victor: i think, as your question almost suggests, it is a combination of both incentives , opportunities they see, and pressure bringing them to this point. on the pressure side, this all started with a new year's speech the north korean leader gave in
which he made some nonnegative reference to the winter olympics in south korea. that is where the signaling started. this eventually led to the delegation coming and the olympics, but i think my own was af what drew that combination of things. i think they are feeling the pressure of sanctions. the so-called pressure campaign or the administration calls it maximum pressure or max pressure campaign, has gone to the point where we hire -- we have 10 united nations security council resolutions on north korea. i think at least 6 executive authorities that the over 10ration has and years ago, we were in government when we did the initial pressure campaign and what is available
to the administration now -- you cannot even compare. they have so much more available to the point where almost 100% of north korea's external trade is now sanctioned. we have heard anecdotally from ngo that commodity prices have gone up and the price of rice, price of gas come all these other things. i think they are definitely feeling the pressure and that has brought them back. the other is i think the unpredictability of the administration. there is a lot of talk in past months about possible military action. i think the north -- that registered. i think it affected them. finally, i also think they probably calculated that they could take a pause in their testing, that they have already announced they are a nuclear weapon state and they feel they can threaten the entire united states with nuclear ballistic
missiles and they probably felt they have reached a point where there are other things they may need to do, but they do not need to do it right now. on the opportunity side, the only thing i will say is i think the north koreans have been waiting for this meeting for four decades, the opportunity to meet the u.s. president as a nuclear weapons state, even if the discussion on the table is about denuclearization. i think they have been seeking this meeting and seeking the status of this meeting for a long time. just the meeting in and of itself, i think the north koreans will consider a victory. that brings us to the keyword in the title of today's conversation. what are achievable denuclearization goals? if the summit occurs and the spokennuclearization is with no expectations of short to medium-term steps to implement
it, what does the u.s. do next? if the summit occurs and there isn't a game plan for denuclearization, what is our next move? what do you think our plausible and achievable denuclearization goals for the peninsula? is the rhetoric of total denuclearization the right approach to take or are there downsides to setting a goal that seems very, very far away? adm. mullen: i am one who believes it has to be denuclearization. i am not a contain them guy that withworry nuclear weapons, with a nuclear ofte for a sustained period time, that the south koreans will be asking themselves, should i do this? the japanese will be asking themselves the same thing with implications that they are thinking about it anyway. you end of nuclear rising the
region and its the same logic for me that works with iran. if iran gets a nuclear weapon, in twoup proliferating regions of the world of the most devastating weapons man has ever put on earth. in that regard, that has to be the outcome. victor's much's motor on this than -- victor is much smarter on this than i with the language. haslanguage kim jong-un used is similar to language in the past, which is long-term, glad to denuclearize. i think we need to pull these out. what we don't talk about is all the steps that have to be taken to get to that point to satisfy him to the point where he would actually denuclearize the peninsula. that is a really important part of the discussion, how much of that gets woven into the
negotiations and outcomes. leaders do not have these summits so that they cannot have outcomes. if we don't have outcomes, it is not knowme -- i do where it goes. certainly it has got to be a downside and i hope the downside is not edging closer to conflict. ellen: that was the risk you talked about, a summit that is an prepared sufficiently. .ictor: yeah we all know when you ask your president to get into a negotiation, you usually want at the end to close it and take it at the finish line, not at the beginning for obvious reasons. asthe denuclearization, someone who used to do these negotiations, this is going to sound pedantic to a lot of you, you look for these little things that try to show that your
counterpart is actually generally interested in at least getting back to where you thought they should have been 10 years ago. said, theadmiral denuclearization for the korean peninsula for any of us who of looked at this means absolutely nothing. perhaps that is too strong a what it means in the broader phrase. context is north korea would be ready to give us their nuclear weapons if u.s. hostile policy ended. that is defined as our alliances in asia, our ground troops on the peninsula, and clarification on what north korea would agree to. the phrase i would seek clarification of is whether north korea would agree to what they agreed to in september 2005, which was not just denuclearization of the korean peninsula. i see some former negotiators out here -- it is the commitment in writing that north korea will
disband all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs. that is a different phrasing from the very broad denuclearization of the korean peninsula. it was conveyed in the newspaper today that the north koreans have also said kim jong-un , apparently said that a nuclear , free korean peninsula was the dying wish of his father. again, that may sound nice on paper but that's exactly what his father said about his grandfather when the last two nuclear agreements were found to be dysfunctional. [laughter] so i think looking for some of those points of clarification -- the broader outline of what they the agreement should look like -- i mean, this is an expert audience on these issues, clearly there are steps one
needs to go through to get to a verifiable declaration, to dismantlement. we know what they look like and we know that there are capable and negotiators who could do that, but it is not the sort of thing that the president of the united states can negotiate on his or her own. and certainly not in a summit with a leader with which the united states does not have diplomatic relations and has never met with before this level. ellen: you captured the paradox earlier when you said the great achievement of this third-generation kim leader is that he is meeting the president on his terms, which is as a nuclear power. so there is a disconnect between the strategic objective of negotiation and his a status. why would he, even if he is invoking his father and grandfather as wanting to denuclearize, he has, in fact,
achieved a status in the international system by going a different route. victor: right it's never that agreetwo sides come and on the same thing. that's what that is what diplomats do. they try to close the space. i wonder if the space is not a gaping valley. ine: there are historians the room that will understand that's better than i, but it is jong-un hashat kim been able to his own means in some way reflect away his grandfather was able to do, you know, in the early 1950's and late 1940's, which is bring these great powers together and to figure out what action was going to be taken. in the case of his grandfather,
obviously, to bring them together and essentially ignite a conflict that brought them both there. so i am also, just the comparison to me and i'm things that do not compare, but it is bothersome and is scary from one perspective. the other is kim jong-un is 30, you pick a number, under 35. 32, 33. i wonder when the stakes are so high how much with them is going to be actually in the room. wisdom is not something that you just, that you just reach out and obtain as a thirtysomething. back to outcomes here and the seriousness of this entire effort. the third piece we have not mentioned, who seems to be playing more and more, just again more uncertainty, and i've
asked in recent years when i made trips not part of the world, to either china or japan or south korea, what is rush up ssia up to. and russia has been pretty quiet until recently. now russia is back in the game. this used to be a very important place for the russian navy. they were very dominant there. so they are playing again and it is hard to know, and i have no information whatsoever on how mr. putin is going to play in this as well. ellen: we are now ready to turn to our members and guests today. standl ask you to please when you get the microphone. give us your name and your affiliation and just a reminder, we are on the record, being recorded by multiple services. so let's begin. thank you.
variable x and, stimson center -- i think it is may 11 or 12, the president is required to make a decision about re-imposing sanctions on iran that were lifted by the nuclear agreement. by everything he has said and the national security advisor has said, he is likely to do that, reimpose the sanctions. will that have any affect on north korea's willingness to move towards denuclearization, or vice versa, will concern about that lead in the administration to do something more sensible on may 11? mike: that is a statement, isn't it? [laughter] clear, one of the very things, the first thing i can remember is kingdom on that kim jong-un on talking about
gaddafi, he gave up his weapons and how did that work out. uncertaintymuch right now between now and these two big things. it is hard to know. you have one new player, john bolton has taken over today, whether mr. pompeo will be in place by then it i think somewhat in the air. i do not know. but it is hard for me to believe that it will not have an impact, that it will not be related. in terms of how whatever happens on may 11 tied to things that may or may not happen in these negotiations long-term. that should also, i think the some degree, the informed by the korean summit, which happens i think before that. so i am -- i mean, i do not know. i am one whod
supported the iran agreement, and it has its flaws but it also has its strengths. the downside of moving out of that in terms of iran's ability to bring nuclear weapons forward. we forget how rapidly they can move their technology. that is a huge concern i have. and then the the knock on effects, the reason i talk about earlier is part of this as well. i don't know how kim jong-un and his advisers would not be paying a lot of attention to that as well. and actually, it probably could work in the other direction. in a constructive way. in terms of staying with that and kim jong-un might be able to think he can make a deal. i'm just not sure. actor: can i just offer slight addendum to that?
as both you guys, i don't know what the administration will do on iran. there are a number of different arguments related to the iran piece. let me just say on the north korean side, let me offer a personal thought that i had as to how it could affect the negotiation with north korea. in a way we don't normally think about. but if we try, as i have tried, to think like leaving the president thinks, it is entirely conceivable that he might see a pulling out of the iran agreement as a way to put more pressure on the north koreans by saying, even an iran deal is not good enough. right? i am not even excepting that you -- them, you have to go further than the iran deal.
something is saying like 100% in north korea's trade. yes, it is entirely possible the north koreans could look at that and say, if he doesn't do that, why should we bother negotiating? to try to understand it from the other side, i would guess there are people who believe that is actually a way to put more pressure on the north koreans. ellen: the woman in the back? standing. >> hi. i'm from radio free asia. i have a question regarding the upcoming summit between the u.s. and north korea. specifically about the location and timing. over the weekend, several news reported kim jong-un message he is willing to discuss denuclearization. but there is no report on where or even win, we just know that it could be the end of may. some say it is because kim
jong-un invites trump, so young should be the location for the summit. but there could be a third country. ellen: what is the question? >> i want to know, where the speakers should think the location should be, and also i believe it would take some time once then security, so location is confirmed how long will it take to specify or finalize the date? ellen: thank you. mike: we actually know where it is, but we are not going to tell you. [laughter] nobody has any idea where it is going to be. i cannot imagine the u.s. president would go to north korea, i cannot imagine that, but aside from that we have no idea. yes, every minute of a summit is
choreographed. victor: every minute, said the challenge is, as you can imagine, trying to coordinate this with a country with which we have no diplomatic relations, is formidable. mike: maybe that is a better way to get out it, start eliminating where it cannot be in the will get down to some options. thatnk it was mongolia said today that they would be happy to host it. what that says to me is, it reinforces nobody knows yet, that we are still looking. and i think they will figure that out. ellen: on the aisle side. jim dobbins. >> so, we do not know how many nuclear weapons north korea has and we do not know where they are, which suggests that in agreement to fully denuclearize cannot be reliably verified in all of its aspects.
so could you comment on the difficulties and downsides of concluding an agreement that you know you can't fully verify? mike: even before the verification requirement, they have a pretty rich history of lying about what they are going to do after every other time we got some version of close. so i think we have to go in from that -- from a verification standpoint, with our eyes wide open. one of the reasons i supported the agreement with iran is because i sat down with a the technical side, and it is a brutally specific technical verification regime. as i thought about, what do you do in the north, north korea, i think it has to meet that standard. can you generate that in north korea? that is one of the challenges.
obviously, it would be up to whether there is any kind of seachange from the perspective of the leadership in north korea, in terms of their future. but i worry about the iranian agreement now, are they cheating because they have done in the t in the past? i would have the same concern with north korea. victor: the only thing i would add to that is that in the last agreement, the six party agreement, this is where it all eventually broke down because they were at the point where they provided a declaration. that declaration was clearly not a declaration of all of their capabilities that would have to be verified. and if so, this is going to be -- this is clearly going to be one of the biggest obstacles, if we even get that far, in some sort of negotiation with them, on the weapons and the materials. mike: there are technical means that we did not have 10 years
ago or 20 years ago. the question is, can you put it in play in a way that would a llow us to be much more comfortable from a verification standpoint? victor: the other thing i would add, i know we are being recorded and if i am offending north koreans, i'm sorry, but there is a human capacity -- there's a human capital problem. the iran agreement is hundreds of pages. and the agreement we negotiated we negotiated in 2005, 2007, was like 12 doublespaced pages, if that. it has none of the technical things that were discussed in the iran agreement. even something along those lines, i wonder whether they have the technical capacity to negotiate an agreement like that. ellen: second row. >> you mentioned earlier, mr. cha, the importance of maintaining our security relations with the south koreans and japan.
one concept that has been floated and discussed somewhat in these kinds of forums has been china providing the nuclear umbrella for assuring denuclearization of the peninsula. what do you think about that as a possibility as an outcome of these discussions? mike: china providing the nuclear umbrella for the entire peninsula? i would have a hard time with that up front. [laughter] i mean, when you ask that question one of the things i think of that we are not good at is trying to put ourselves in china's shoes and what their interests are here, even though we can kind of tick them off. is there a way that we can figure out in these negotiations to respect some of their national interests? because they don't trust us and we don't trust them.
so the concern they have with respect to instability. the concern they have with the unification piece. the regime, the potential for a regime change. the u.s. has historically been tasked with securing the nuclear material. i would be a happy camper to have china go do that. i am not sure i am willing at this point to have china provide the nuclear umbrella, although, yeah, maybe i'm missing something here. certainly, might be willing to talk about that. but i think -- [indiscernible] >> the u.s. umbrella with south korea, but as far as north korea -- so the u.s. as it is now, japan and south korea, and china for north korea. mike: i think that is different,
at least my understanding is different. now, i think that would be worthwhile to discuss. i would have no problem. china's interests here are big, as ours are. and we have to take them into consideration if we're ever going to make progress on the peninsula. ellen: do you want to come in on this? victor: i would just say that i think that historically, the chinese have a mutual treaty of friendship with north korea that for the duration of the cold war was seen as china's defense commitment to north korea. it was never clear whether that included a nuclear umbrella. probably it did not. as far as i know, china has not extended its nuclear ability to -- umbrella to any other country. the other thing is that -- the north koreans and the chinese, they share a border. they have fought in a war
together. but they do not like each other. the north koreans feel like the chinese treat them like dirt poor province. the chinese can't stand that the north koreans do things that drag china through the mud all the time. so there is not a lot of love between these two countries, let alone trust. certainly not at all like the sort of defense commitment and nuclear umbrella the united states provides to iraq. ellen: the woman in the back. can you bring her the mic? >> hello. i am with the voice of america. dr. cha mentioned the difficult question is what the u.s. is willing to offer to north korea. mr. mullen said to prevent nuclear war, he is willing to trade off any trade areas to stop the nuclear war. so my question is, should north korea commit to the
denuclearization, if they pull out the u.s. troops from south korea, provide a nuclear umbrella for south korea, is it worthwhile considering for the united states? thank you. mike: that is always a fun question to answer. [laughter] long-term, obviously, if we are able to sort through the security issues in our region, and in particular, with our allies, both south korea and japan, and if we are at a point where the possibility of conflict, if you will, has diminished dramatically, i would certainly be willing to have a discussion about how long the u.s. troops should stay there and how many of them should be there. but i have also dealt enough the the peninsula, that
28,500 troops that are on the peninsula now in the south, they don't actually do this, but when you move 10 of them, they know almost before i knew that they were moving off the peninsula. it is an unbelievably strong, strategic commitment on the part of the united states of america to the security of the south korean people. so it is not anything that could happen quickly. victor: i'm fine with that answer. [laughter] ellen: ok. roberta, then we will go to the back of the room. >> i'm with the naval postgraduate school. this has been an enlightening discussion. i have a very monday in question. where would these nuclear things question. where would these nuclear things go to die out? we have trouble thinking about
putting our nuclear stuff into the colorado mountains. is there a place they can go? mike: yes, there is. i do not know. i want to have that problem. [laughter] ellen: roberta is next. >> i was a member of the task force in the council of foreign relations. mike: hi, roberta. >> you know what i am going to ask you. human rights. mike: rightfully so. >> when the task force met and the report was developed, there was a general consensus that human rights issues should be integrated in some way when there are discussions with the north koreans. either parallel talks or involved in the overall agenda. i wonder how you see that now? there are two summits coming up. there is a lot of sense that while the north koreans are ready to talk about denuclearization, which is tremendous, they haven't said we are ready to talk about human rights.
where will the u.s. -- where should south korea be pushing much priority how should be given? mike: you know where i am on this. it is a hugely important part. i don't think we can stand by and watch the kind of actions by jong-un has taken, that his family has taken for decades, and not say anything and do anything. obviously, you have to prioritize. there might be something that we can use in these negotiations in terms of his trading for something he wants to include -- in terms of his trading off the nukes, but also other things. i mean, it is my sense that this is a leader who wants to be recognized on the world stage. who wants to participate as some version of a normal country. i think there is huge
opportunities, if this goes well, to have that kind of impact. but it is sadly, i think it is where we are in this particular negotiation, it certainly has not appeared to be a part of the discussion. needs toeds to be, it be even if it is not a part that generates an outcome, it needs to be a position very clearly made inside the negotiations with respect to where we are on human rights. we can never, ever let our guard down on that. the united states, in terms of who we represent, what we represent, and the values we stand for. there should never be a doubt in his mind, in any interaction, that that is where we are. victor: i would agree. i mean, it would be very difficult to imagine the leader of the free world meeting with the worst human rights abuser in modern history and not raising
the issue. even if all of the narrative is about nuclear weapons, it seems inconceivable to me that it would not be raised. so it requires a willingness on our part to raise it. the second is it requires a willingness on the part of the north koreans to discuss it. and i actually think that they may be more open to discussing it now, if the theory is true, that part of the reason they are coming to the table is because they are feelings of much muchch pressure, so pressure from the global sanctions campaign against them. it may not be a discussion on human rights that you or i would like to see, having to do with the treatment of the citizenry, the camps, and all these other things. it may be a discussion that they try to shift toward humanitarian assistance. and humanitarian support, food support, vaccinations for their children, things of this nature which would be there a way of trying to get support from the outside world that circumvents the u.n. sanctions regime.
it is -- there is an ideal way we should have a discussion with north korea about human rights and there is a practical one. right now, i think that is the most practical avenue. but i have no idea whether the administration will take that. take that view. ellen: i'm going to go to michael and then don daniels next, then over to you. online news. there are a couple of historical points. if he was quoted correctly, before he became national security adviser, bolton expressed the expectation or hope that the summit would fail. has the u.s. president gone into a nuclear negotiation with this national security adviser expressing the hope that it would fail? and on your victor, that all point, summits are choreographed, i don't think the summit wasd
choreographed -- kennedy's desire to get into debates with him. boltony reaction on the perspective, the question about bolton, is sometimes your perspective changes a whole lot when you now have a real job. [laughter] and sometimes it doesn't. but i think you are sober by the reality of the responsibility. that is one. secondly, john bolton is working not president of the united states. he is working for the president of the united states. so whatever happens in the outcome of this, is going to be and the responsibility of, and credit for or against is going to be the president. i actually believe that. it doesn't mean bolton won't
have influence and all those kinds of things. he will be living with his rhetoric, i think, for a long time because there is a lot of it. but there is a reality of the job, which is very sobering. across many challenges. say -- on, can i just the, i'm looking around the room for people who were involved in this, the last time bolton was in government was under secretary. the two things he carried most from the north korean issue is the creation of psi, and the sanctions campaign, something we call defensive measures up a time to get at north korea's proliferation financing through counterfeiting, drugrunning, things of that nature. my guess is, again, he is a national security adviser, he is
not the president, is he will not stand in the way if the president wants to do the meeting. but he will be very firm on continuing to maintain the sanctions pressure and building that counter proliferation because those are two key pieces that is part of any strategy, whether the summit fails or succeeds. ellen: if you can keep your questions short, we have don daniels then you, then barbara, then one more. >> what happens if this does not work at all? maybe there is no summit or the summit goes south. how do we think about what the options are then, and for the u.s., could we settle for extended deterrence and say, ok, we can't do anything about it and we will settle? mike: i think that certainly that is a possibility. i think if it doesn't work, we will see both countries and those others who are associated with this explaining it
politically why it did not work and most i worry we are tied back to recent rhetoric. if kim jong-un, and i think the empirical evidence is correct, but he clearly has stopped his testing program. if he started again, then i don't think we are far from where we were a few weeks ago which is in very far from -- is not very far from conflict. that is my view. that gets back to the stakes that are in play here, from my perspective. >> this seems like a minor issue, but the japanese prime minister -- you both talked about how important it is for working with allies. the japanese prime minister will
be here soon. one of the things he will bring up to the president are the 17 abductees that north korea has kidnapped. it seems like a minor issue but it is something the prime minister came to prominence for a result of. his political fortunes are not so great. there are delegations of families coming over sin. how do you deal with that issue? host: thank you. can we grab barbara's question and final thoughts? >> nice to see you both again. ok, trump doesn't like squishy outcomes. he has talked about kicking the can down the road and how frustrating that is. what is the least i could come -- that could come out of this and that he could declare a victory over? would it be enough to go to the 2005-2006 statement? could he beat his chest and say that is a huge victory? i'm having trouble envisioning something coming out of the summit that he could call a win. thank you. mr. cha: starting with the question about japan, yeah, this
is politically an important issue for prime minister abbe. i'm sure that he will lead to this. -- with this. at the same time, united states has its own three detainees still in north korea that hopefully will be let go. as you know well, dan, the even agger issue for japan from strategic perspective is if we are going to talk about ballistic missiles on the peninsula, prototype missiles, and japan's concerns are the already deployed ballistic missiles. there is a danger of decoupling that i am sure the allies will try to narrow. on what constitutes a successful -- it is a great question. it is not an easy want to -- one to answer. i entirely agree with you that this president does not like
failure or he does not like to look like he has failed. that may incentivize him to make big statements. peace treaty, normalization, things of that nature. then hand it off to people like you in the audience to negotiate for the next two years. it could be something like that. but i do believe that as we get closer to this meeting, all the parties involved, even the ones who are not involved are going to have a vested interest in not seeing it fail. for the very reason that the admiral talked about, on the other side of failure with a adversary, there is not a lot of space left in terms of diplomacy. but it may be some big flowery statements. the promise of a negotiation process. host: any final thought? -- fox? thoughts?
mr. mullen: i thought that was brilliant. host: that was the way to end. [laughter] host: we have run out of time. i want to thank them for their participation. all of the members of the council for your participation. and our wonderful speakers. [applause] during the white house briefing this afternoon, press secretary sarah sanders reiterated president trump's warning about the chemical attack in syria as well as the president's attention -- attention to announce a new strategy to syria in the coming days. intention to announce a new strategy to syria in the coming days.