LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
North Korea Threatens to Declare Itself a Nuclear Power
Aired August 28, 2003 - 19:05 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR: North Korea dropped a verbal bombshell today during talks in China about its nuclear ambitions.
CNN senior White House correspondent John King has the details and the administration reaction.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Korea's startling declaration came on day two of six-party talks in Beijing.
U.S. officials tell CNN North Korea's deputy foreign minister told the delegates that Pyongyang is prepared to publicly declare itself a nuclear power, to conduct a nuclear test and has the means to deliver nuclear weapons.
It was a defiant response to the U.S. demand that North Korea agree to permanently dismantle its nuclear weapons program. Yet, the Bush administration's reaction was decidedly low key. The White House said North Korea has a long history of making inflammatory comments that served to isolate it from the rest of the world.
And President Bush was described as happy with the talks, especially with cooperation from Russia and China.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (NO AUDIO)
KING: North Korea is perhaps the world's most unpredictable regime. U.S. Officials say Pyongyang's delegates in Beijing also have talked of dismantling the nuclear program and of their interest in the second round of negotiations after this round ends Friday.
MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The North Koreans are playing essentially a hot and cold game here. They're showing up at these talks trying to seem conciliatory and reasonable but also trying to sound tough and willing to use force or willing to make big threats.
KING: Mr. Bush has repeatedly refused to characterize the nuclear showdown as a crisis. But back in May, he and South Korea's president said flatly they will not tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea.
KING: So while most administration officials view this tough talk simply as a negotiating tactic and remain hopeful of a diplomatic solution, they also know full well at the White House that if North Korea declares itself to be a nuclear power or if it tests a nuclear weapon, that the president's credibility will be on the line and very difficult military options on the table.
COOPER: John King in Crawford, thanks very much.
Want to put a little perspective on today's news about North Korea. There are seven confirmed nuclear nations. Those countries that have tested or in the United States' cases used nuclear weapons, they are the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France. Also India and Pakistan. One more nation, of course, is suspected of having nuclear weapons, Israel.
North Korea would be the ninth nation to go nuclear if they, in fact, did.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com