Mitchell Reports | February 12, 2013
>> the u.n. security council today met and quickly condemned unanimously north korea 's nuclear test and also threatened further sanctions, but so far pyongyang has defied all international pressure. joining me now is professor viktor todd with georgetown university . also the former director for asian affairs at the national security council at the white house . and the author of the impossible state. north korea past and future. it is an impossible state as far as american policy is concerned. i'm told now that secretary kerry was alerted last night around 11:00 this was suspected. then it was confirmed later. spent the night making calls, reaching out to the south koreans, the japanese. has not connect yet at least as of this hour with the russian foreign minister , who is traveling. he has talked to although others. south korea is importantly the president of the security council , so the foreign minister is there in new york and has spoken now. what can be done sng.
>> well, it's a good question, andrea. i think we've been through this so many times now, and we know what the next steps are. the u.n. security council resolution perhaps this time, more can be put on the saekzs list, and all this may help to degrade the program, but we don't have the long-term answer, which is how you stop it.
>> let's talk technically about what's happened. first of all, a number of worrying things. the size of this explosion, at least according to initial intelligence at the director of national intelligence is saying that the original -- the initial seismic readings are pretty tough.
>> right. i think from what i've seen perhaps the seismic signature is double what it's been in the past, which would give you a sense that it was essential a higher yield explosive. the north korean statements are that it is higher yield and it was a smaller device. we don't know whether or not that's true or not, but if it is true that's what we don't want to see, which is lighter, smaller weapons that have a higher yield.
>> just to trabz late, we're talking about lighter, smaller weapons which could be put on the missiles that they have already tested. they've had a successful test in launching a satellite into orbit in december, and that means a weapon that has -- a weapon that can be put on a missile potentially that has the range to reach the western united states .
>> i think that's right. i know there are some who would say we don't have to worry about it because they're not at that stage yet, but the reality is they may not be at that stage, but there's nothing to stop them. there's nothing stopping them from moving in that direction. it could happen. as gatsz said a couple of years ago, it could happen within five years.
>> the former secretary of defense. you know this from having negotiated with them. they have been very, very difficult to negotiate with because fwrae to something and as susan rice was saying, what they did today was in direct violation of their commitment to the regional six-party talks.
>> yes. i think that's right. that's always the frustration. you don't want to deal with them. when you do deal with them, the deals are eventually broken, and i think for the chinese this is particularly frustrating because they're always the ones that are looked to to try to sanction the north koreans , and, yet, no matter how many warnings they give the north koreans , the more the north koreans go ahead and do these tests.
>> this was very much in your face. according to chinese announcements today, if you look at the longitude and latitude, this was about 40 miles from their border in that panhandle area. this is right near their border. it is exactly in defiance of what beijing told them not to do. does china now do the ultimate and take really strong sanction measures against their assets?
>> right. this is the big question is where is china's red line , and one hopes that it was crossed this time. in addition to all the things you mentioned, andrea, the other thing is that the north koreans did this on chinese new year. in my experience in six-party talks the time that the chinese got the most emotional was when the north koreans were doing things that then pushed that into working during the chinese new year holiday, which is a big holiday in china. i imagine they're pretty upset right now.
>> this is what susan rice had to say today.
>> north korea 's continued work on its nuclear and missile programs seriously undermines regional and international peace and security and threatens the security of a number of countries, including the united states .
>> now, you've got the south korean inaugural on february 25th . the state of the union tonight, as you point out the chinese new year, and there's another problem. we don't know yet whether this was plutonium device, which is what they've done in the past, or uranium. tell us what would be the significance if now it shows that it was uranium.
>> the plutonium program, as far as -- they have a fixed amount of plutonium they developed from an old broken down reactor. it's been something they were purr seeing the last three or four years, and it if this is a uranium test, we'll know from it initially, it will take them to a whole new level because they can produce a lot more nuclear weapons based on uranium than they could with plutonium, and increase the proliferation risk exponentially.
>> do we have to be concerned about the new south korean government and how they will respond and whether this could lead to the nuclearization of the peninsula?
>> well, i think we certainly have to worry about whether the new south korean government is going to take a hard or soft line stance towards the north. i think that given that this is right in their face, they will take a harder line, and there they have to just coordinate closely with the united states and with other parties on the security council to insure that everybody has the same message going to north korea .
>> bottom line , do you think this is going to be another case of empty rhetoric from the u.n., angry words, no effective action, and this young leader is going off in a very tough direction, proving that he is the biggest dog in town?
>> i certainly hope not. i mean, i think with the rocket test last december, successful rocket test and with what looks like the successful nuclear test , we are really crossing a new threshold in terms of the security threat posed by north korea . not just to regional neighbors, but to the united states , and so i think the administration here as well as in the other countries really have to get serious.
>> thank you very much. wish