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May 2, 2018
Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea
Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea

How should the United States respond to North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear capabilities? Some experts suggest the upcoming summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un might provide a pivotal diplomatic opportunity to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons – especially in light of the announcement of harsh new sanctions. But others are more pessimistic, arguing that we’ve been down this road before and that denuclearizing North Korea is more of a pipedream than a legitimate strategic goal. Can Trump and Kim strike a deal to halt North Korea’s nuclear aggression? Or will the talks inevitably fail, heightening tensions and increasing the likelihood of fatal miscalculations?

Presented in partnership with Georgetown University, LIVE at the first Georgetown University Women’s Forum.

  • 00:00:00
    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    A Nobel Peace Prize for Donald Trump? Is that what it all could come to, all of this talk of talks between the U.S. and North Korea with the aim on the U.S. side at least of getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions. If that were actually to happen, that would be big league peace prize stuff, but is it even likely? Where is the trust that a deal like that would require? Where are the incentives for each side to come to the table? Does diplomacy actually have a chance here given the past? Given the personalities? Given the stakes? Well, to us that sounds like the makings of a debate, so let's have it. Yes or no to this statement. Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea. I'm John Donvan with a special edition of Intelligence Squared U.S. in partnership with the Georgetown Women's Forum. We have four superbly qualified debaters who will attack this question from opposite sides.
  • 00:01:00
    First, though, as a special edition, I want to welcome to the stage a journalist and bestselling author who in 2011 went undercover in North Korea, posing as a missionary and as an English teacher to the sons of North Korean elites, came out and wrote an astounding book about it. Please welcome to the stage for a conversation with this journalist and bestselling author, Suki Kim.

    [applause]

    Hi, Suki.

    Suki Kim:
    Hi.

    John Donvan:
    Suki, I just gave away a little bit of your biography and your astounding story, which I, as a journalist, a foreign correspondent -- I went to some of these similarly dangerous, oppressive places, but never making anything like the commitment that you made or taking the level of risk that you took. And the fact that we're here at the Newseum, which is meant to be something of a monument to the best of journalism, first of all I have to congratulate you for what you did. And I also want to understand where the compelling interest came from.
  • 00:02:03
    You started visiting North Korea back in 2002, and you made this trip where you lived for six months, basically undercover, in 2011. Where did the compelling interest come from?

    Suki Kim:
    Well, I mean, professionally, it was very obvious when I first went in in 2002 -- which, I went in by joining a pro-North Korean organization that's based in New Jersey, of all the places.

    [laughs]

    So, I joined them, and I went in for Kim Jong Il, who was the then Great Leader -- who is current Great Leader Kim Jong Un's father. It's his 60th birthday celebration that I went in for. And I ended up doing a cover feature for the New York Review of Books. Early 2000 comes right at the end of the Great Famine of North Korea, which was the end of '90s, and it was -- about a tenth of the population had died. So, by 2002 --

    John Donvan:
    A tenth of the population?
  • 00:03:02
    Suki Kim:
    We approximate, right? Because you never know --

    John Donvan:
    That's astounding.

    Suki Kim:
    -- for -- you can't verify the number, ever.

    John Donvan:
    [affirmative]

    Suki Kim:
    But that's about how many people died. And North Korean population is 25 million. So, we're counting about 2 to 3 million deaths. So, in 2002, when I went in, the devastation was pretty much just in your face, you know? I didn't expect anything to be this dire. And the then-Great Leader's birthday is in February, which was freezing. There was obviously -- I mean, I slept with a coat on and I slept in the VIP quarter back then -- because, you know, there just was no heat. But beyond that, I think it was the sense of what this world was, where you can't go anywhere. You can't say anything. There's nothing except the Great Leader. The thing that was anybody's nightmare was just in my face, and I needed to understand this. Like, what does this world mean?

    John Donvan:
    [affirmative]

    Suki Kim:
    How do I understand it a little bit better? Also, topping that is the fact that I am Korean and I was born and raised in South Korea.
  • 00:04:05
    And my family was also separated by the Korean War. So, there was a personal interest in sort of understanding, just in a gut instinct, what this might be. But professional instinct of trying to really, really get fact and figure. And fact and figure about North Korea is the one thing you cannot get, right?

    John Donvan:
    Right.

    Suki Kim:
    Which is why it took a decade of five visits to North Korea, and finally being immersively -- immersed journalism, living in there.

    John Donvan:
    Just very briefly, you said that your family was affected by the division of the country. Who ended up where?

    Suki Kim:
    Both sides of my family. My mother's brother was taken to North during the Korean War --

    John Donvan:
    [affirmative]

    Suki Kim:
    -- which is 1950, and to 1953. That's what that war was. On my father's side, his cousins were taken. They were all around 17 and 18. Usually young people, around that age -- his cousins were nursing students. My mom's brother was just 17-year-old.
  • 00:05:02
    And those were, at the time, supposedly, first ones to be grabbed, because they're useful. But this is not that unusual. I mean, it's such a tragic reality. They never -- on either side, they just never saw them again. But the -- you know, it's not like they died. In my grandmother, my mother's mother's case, he was taken away and she thought he was going to come back next week. You know, it's not like he died. People saw him being dragged to North. But because, from Seoul to Pyongyang -- if you drive that, it's a couple of hours. So, it's so close. So -- and suddenly, they put this border there. And that generation just thought that whoever ended up on the other side would just come home next week, because it's a temporary division.

    John Donvan:
    So, every time there was a knock at the door, there was -- you --

    Suki Kim:
    Literally, my grandmother never moved, because when he comes home he should walk home. You know?

    John Donvan:
    Should know where the address is.

    Suki Kim:
    Yeah. So, I mean, this is just not one.
  • 00:06:00
    They are counting like a million plus separation, separated family members. So, what that means is that entire generation was -- there was a heartbreak that killed them, because I believe that forced separation is very different from death because you're forever wondering what might've happened and you're also forever thinking there will be a closure. That person will come home and to think that these mothers or sons who just basically waited and waited and waited and here we are 70 some years later.

    John Donvan:
    And just to be clear, in your case the disappeared members of your family you never did find out?

    Suki Kim:
    We never found out.

    John Donvan:
    Where they are if they're alive? If they're buried? Where they're buried? Nothing?

    Suki Kim:
    There was one letter that supposedly came. My father's cousins through Japan of these women saying, "We're okay," sometime in the '70s and because of that my great aunt was always called to the like CIA of Korea for possibly being North Korean spy.
  • 00:07:04
    But then she never heard anything since and this is -- I just want to stress, this is just not that unusual. You know, every other family in Korea has this story. So, I think that when I look at the Korean divisions you're asking me what drove me to it, back the first time 2002 beyond the famine and gulag and all of that is also realizing a generation died this way, right? Like, because here we are now three generations later. So, what does that mean? Because you know, like in a movie some answers are given. You know, there's always some closure happens, but what if that closure never came and that generation died without ever meeting again? And I think that as a writer my job was to somehow deliver this reality to the world who doesn't know this part of North Korea. We always think about things like the crazy dictator and, you know, like beyond all of that was actually a generation that missed -- that got missing.
  • 00:08:10
    John Donvan:
    And then you got this unbelievably distinct, unique look at the young generation. So, in 2011 I want people to buy your book so that we won't tell the whole story, but in 2011 the key plot is that you got a job teaching English. You passed yourself off as an English teacher at a school that specializes in teaching the sons of the power elite of North Korea. These are all the golden boys whose parents are powerful and who are chosen to continue to be powerful and interestingly, they learn English and you went in there for six months. You know, you went in there as a journalist. That was your agenda was to report, but you told everybody you were an English teacher. You were -- you spoke English every single day. You were not allowed to speak Korean and that's the amazing part of the book, because if you were caught you would not be sitting here now in all likelihood.
  • 00:09:07
    How did you get away with it? How did you pull it off?

    Suki Kim:
    Well, I mean, it took, you know, as I was chasing after North Korea, which really is what I was doing from 2002, so I did, you know, everything you could imagine. I interviewed so many separated families, so many defectors in all the surrounding region from China to Mongolia, Laos, to Thailand. I mean, there's all these routes that defectors take. Not only that, interview them in the hiding place to also like, you know, a year after they've arrived in South Korea to try to valid -- like verify how many of their testimonies might be true and might not be true. And so you do all this research and I went to South Africa when the North Korea -- do you remember when they qualified in the World Cup in 2010, I went there to try to understand who might be in the audience, for example, who ended up being a contract works from Namibia who were shipped there, although the media then was reporting they were Chinese actors hired by the great leader.
  • 00:10:07
    You know, the media always makes this stuff up so I needed to understand from every aspect of this country. Defectors generally come from the bottom class, so you -- from the border area of China. So, tried to get to what is at the heart of North Korea. Also, another thing I realized is in 2008 I went in for Harper's Magazine to cover the New York Philharmonic concert, for example, and trying to cover North Korea by going there for a few days, it's just -- you get a PR message that the government wants you to go write about it and spread the word to the world.

    John Donvan:
    Everything is wonderful and everybody you meet is happy and well dressed and --

    Suki Kim:
    It's all crafted. It's all -- you know, it's really like going to Disneyworld and you're on a tour with Cinderella, right? Like what is that? I mean right? Like --

    John Donvan:
    [affirmative]

    Suki Kim:
    -- what is -- I mean, and that's what they want you to tell the world about it. But in this case, it's the world's most brutal regime.
  • 00:11:00
    So, if this is what they decided to show me and I'm supposed to write that down, and I go out into the world, and I tell the world, "This is what North Korea is," you've just done PR for the regime's agenda. So, then, that's what I truly heard. So, how do I get immersed in there? So, I did try -- you know, the PUST -- the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology -- is the school that I went in, pretending to be -- passing myself off as an evangelical schoolteacher. I mean, I was not the only one. You know, there were different threads [spelled phonetically] that I was constantly joining and trying to get into there, to live there.

    John Donvan:
    [affirmative]

    Suki Kim:
    It's the only one that worked out -- and to write a book, you know, because I -- it was years before, where the book was decided, what I was going to do in there. I just needed to get in. So, even until I went in, finally, I wasn't even sure if I would make it in there.

    John Donvan:
    [affirmative]

    Suki Kim:
    But it turned out there was this odd -- I found out first in 2008. I ended up going in in 2011. I was courting that organization for three years.
  • 00:12:03
    And that university was being set up in the suburbs of Pyongyang by an international evangelical organization. And that evangelical organization had a promise with the North Korean regime to not proselytize.

    John Donvan:
    [affirmative]

    Suki Kim:
    So, basically, fundamental evangelical Christians are pretending not to be Christians in North Korea, and I was pretending to be a fundamental evangelical --

    [laughter]

    -- who is pretending not to be evangelical.

    [laughs]

    I mean, that's kind of how I --

    John Donvan:
    So, the lying begins.

    Suki Kim:
    [laughs] And I mean, if it wasn't for that, I couldn't have gotten away with it. I've never read a Bible in my life, you know? And -- [laughter] -- and they actually were not allowed to even talk about Christianity ever.

    John Donvan:
    So, who were these boys you were teaching? Men -- actually, they were young men.

    Suki Kim:
    They were young men. You know, when you read the book, it feels like they're a lot younger -- because being abused makes you infantilized. And that's one thing that was really, really, really very obvious, more and more, with my kids.
  • 00:13:04
    You know, they were really 20-year-old young men. But a lot of times they could be 8. That year, 2011, was also year 100 for North Korea, because North Korea counts their calendar system differently from the world -- officially, at least. So, hundredth year, they could stay -- it's the Great Leader's birth -- the original Great Leader I'm talking about, Kim Il Sung. He was 100th year. So, to celebrate this occasion, they said --

    John Donvan:
    He was born in 1911, so it was a hundred years. Yeah.

    Suki Kim:
    It was -- [unintelligible] -- in order to celebrate, they shut down all the universities in the whole country for the year and put all the -- plucked all the top -- I mean, every university students and put them in construction field, which they said is to build a prosperous nation. So, what they were doing is basically doing manual labor, all university students. And then they plucked their crème de la creme -- 270 of them -- and put these young men into this school that this foreign evangelical people were -- had built, a brand-new school.
  • 00:14:14
    So, in fact, the evangelicals around the world were funding the education of North Korea's elite.

    John Donvan:
    Wow.

    Suki Kim:
    And that's where I ended up, in this military compound, which was 24/7 guarded. Nobody was allowed to leave. And there were minders living right below my room. And they were just watching, 24/7. So, I did bring in these smallest USB sticks, and I wore them around my neck like a necklace. And I kept all the notes on USB sticks and erased them from the laptop. You can have a laptop, because if you're covered [spelled phonetically] as an English teacher, you can have a laptop. But I also buried the documents within the document, so it looked like an English lesson. But you know, from Page 100, the book begins.
  • 00:15:00
    So, and then I would have to erase it every single time, because I wrote, you know, really early in the morning and really late at night, and then just get rid of all the trace from that in case they go through it. I mean, you really have to go through also --

    John Donvan:
    So, you were living two lives. I mean --

    Suki Kim:
    Also, you know, you have to have a backup. Imagine losing that, right?

    John Donvan:
    Right.

    Suki Kim:
    Because once I lose this document, what would have happened to me? So, I had to have a backup on an SD card, and I hid it in the room because there was a -- I didn't know if there was a camera. I knew the rooms were bugged, but I didn't know if the --

    John Donvan:
    Did you like your students?

    Suki Kim:
    I loved them. And I think that -- it's complicated, because you know, I was a journalist looking at them as a subject. But at the same time, in order to be a really, really good immersive journalist, you also have to sincerely be there as a teacher. So, my role -- my way of surviving there -- because it's it was unbearable to be there for multiple reasons. It was completely under surveillance 24/7.
  • 00:16:01
    It's a very exhausting way to be because you're always worried. You know, you're always -- one thing that I remember doing was always going over what I might have said. I had to also eat with the students three times a day and we had these conversations to practice English, but that conversation gets private sometimes. So, you might -- you know, they might start talking about their girlfriend, which they might not -- in the beginning they didn't. It was always about the great leader. Slowly they might talk about their girlfriend. They all said, "We have no interest in girls," and these are 20-year-old boys. Clearly, they're lying.

    [laughter]

    But by the end they would tell me, only for me they would tell me about their girlfriend, so this kind of conversation sometimes then you slip things in order to find out more about what's going on in this country. You know, how many channels of television, for example. They might ask me, you know, because North Korea only has one channel really that officially works and that only shows the great leader programs, but --

    John Donvan:
    Is that a good show?

    [laughter]
  • 00:17:02
    Suki Kim:
    It's unbelievable how many things you can see about the great leader, which is what that --

    [laughter]

    --- country does. It's the same thing over -- it's a déjà vu. It's like Groundhog Day. It's really the -- and I think that's the thing and, you know, it's -- looks so bizarre I think to the western world, but in there it's the same information that's being told over and over and over and over again and to think this has been going on not just for a year, not for five years, for 70 some years. That is all you get. There's only one channel. There's only one newspaper. You know, there's only --

    John Donvan:
    But do these boys know what the outside world is about then?

    Suki Kim:
    [unintelligible] I think this is where, you know, women are trying to understand what North Korea is. First of all, they didn't even know what the internet was. And they all said that they did, but they didn't. And they -- there were majors where it's a science and technology school so their majors were computer. Why? How do I know that they didn't know what it was? Because they would ask questions that clearly -- if you ask them, all of them say, "I know exactly what it is."
  • 00:18:04
    But then they'll say things like, "How many movies can you watch, teacher, on your internet? Can you watch five movies? Or is it 10?" And it's like well, actually --

    [laughs]

    -- you can watch more than five movies on the internet, but I mean, so it's things like this that you realize they don't actually have the concept, but when you think about it would we have known what internet was for those of us here who remembers the world before the internet? You know, we don't. It's hard to explain that things. So, and how much do they know and how much do they know and how much do they not know? First of all, North Koreans cannot travel outside or within the country. There's a check post between each town. Everything is blocked. Only information you ever get is about North Korea. Education isn't really possible. My students didn't really know about a lot of things because basically they would get information about the great leader or anything that's related to the great leader. Why they learn these things. You can't really --

    John Donvan:
    But just stop you for a second. When you talk -- you refer to the great leader being the content a lot, the TV shows, but what about just music and --
  • 00:19:08
    Suki Kim:
    But the -- I mean, that's the funny thing about it. I think -- I remember thinking this when I went to cover the New York Philharmonic and there was a New York Philharmonic playing the Gershwin, right? Or right now we heard -- we saw the K-Pop [spelled phonetically] stars going in there to perform for the elite of North Korea, but in reality, for average person in North Korea music is about the great leader. You know, it's a world --

    John Donvan:
    Seriously, the songs are all --

    Suki Kim:
    --- where -- right. It's either the theme is the great leader, or it's written by the great leader. You know, it's a little bit. You know, the -- maybe a better way to think is like maybe you don't really imagine Beatles being played inside a church. People don’t sing songs, rock and roll, inside a church, right? It's kind of like that, like all the music is about the great leader and any books, any idea, concept is about the great leader.

    John Donvan:
    How does North Korea expect to prepare itself for a future if its generation of star students is, you know, they're learning English but they don't know anything in a certain way? They don't know anything.
  • 00:20:08
    Suki Kim:
    If you want your citizens, that you -- I mean, we've never seen anything like North Korea, right? Like, it's -- if you want your citizens to basically be the machine for the nation, for the -- you know, ideas of the great leader, which is this absolute, absolute cult leader then you really do need your citizens to be as, you know, they're not dumb, but all the information has been stripped for them to not think critically. And that's one of the things I really, really began noticing about my students. When I said they seemed much younger, in an abused world you end up, because you never make decisions on your own. You're never being taught things that couldn't make you wonder about the outside world, which might want to make you leave.

    John Donvan:
    You know, we're talking about the possibility of peace, which would suggest, possibly, reunification.
  • 00:21:00
    This population that you're talking about, whose star students are so cut off from the world, do you -- can you see these two populations integrating -- reintegrating, discovering each other, working with each other?

    Suki Kim:
    I don't mean to influence the debate that's coming up, but --

    John Donvan:
    Don't go too far with that.

    [laughter]

    Suki Kim:
    Absolutely not. I don't see a --

    John Donvan:
    I mean at the people level.

    Suki Kim:
    I mean --

    John Donvan:
    Not -- the political decision they're going to debate. But at the personal level?

    Suki Kim:
    Personal level, I mean, I think that it's a rehab process. You know, I think that people think it's very simple. You reunify and suddenly everybody's happy. No. People who have been abused for 70 years and three generations need a trauma, you know, therapy that will take another generation. It's -- I thought it was really irrevocable, with the damage that's been done to them psychologically.

    John Donvan:
    The title of your book is --

    Suki Kim:
    "Without You, there is No Us" --

    John Donvan:
    Which means -- which comes from?

    Suki Kim:
    One of the most popular songs in North Korea, because it's only the Great Leader that owns everything in the world.
  • 00:22:00
    John Donvan:
    He alone can fix it. [inaudible] --

    Suki Kim:
    And without him --

    John Donvan:
    Without him, it's -- yeah.

    Suki Kim:
    There's nothing.

    John Donvan:
    Suki Kim, thank you so much for setting the table for us --

    [applause]

    -- in a fantastic way. Thank you. Thank you, Suki Kim. And now we're going to move onto our debate proper. Our motion is this: Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea. As always, our debate will go in three rounds, and then our audience here at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., and the audience watching online, will vote to choose the winner. And as always, if all goes well, civil discourse will also win. And now it’s time to meet our debaters. Let’s start with the team arguing for the motion, Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea. Arguing for the motion, first let's welcome and meet Suzanne DiMaggio.

    [applause]

    And Suzanne, you're a senior fellow at New America. You've been leading diplomatic initiatives in places like Iran and North Korea for nearly 20 years. And in May of last year, you facilitated the first official discussions between the Trump administration and the North Korean government's representatives.
  • 00:23:05
    Before we get here tonight, something you specialize in is called "Leading Track 1.5" and "Track 2" diplomatic initiatives.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    Yeah.

    John Donvan:
    Let's get this out of the way. If you can tell us in 30 seconds, what is Track 1 and what is Track 2?

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    I can do that.

    John Donvan:
    Okay.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    So, Track 1 is official diplomacy between governments, and Track 2 is unofficial dialogue among non-governmental participants. And at the risk of sounding particularly wonky, Track 1.5 is somewhere in between. It includes a mix of official and unofficial participants.

    John Donvan:
    We welcome wonk here tonight. Thank you very -- [laughs] -- thank you very much. Suzanne DiMaggio.

    [applause]

    And you do have an impressive partner on your side as well. Bonnie Jenkins. Ladies and gentlemen, Bonnie Jenkins.

    [applause]

    Bonnie, you are a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. During the Obama Administration, you were at the State Department.
  • 00:24:03
    You are an ambassador. You were working on chemical, biological, radiological nuclear threats on a daily basis. You said that you got into the field of arms control by accident. In a sentence or two, how does one get into that by accident?

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    I got into it by accident mainly because I was a fellow at the Department of Defense at the legal office and I went with my colleague to a meeting and I had no idea what they were going to be talking about and I had nothing -- no ideas about these issues and they were talking about the Strategic Arm Reduction Treaty and I said, "This is really cool. I want to do this." So, I've been doing it ever since.

    John Donvan:
    We're going to see tonight just how cool it is. Again, thank you Bonnie Jenkins and the team arguing for the motion Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea.

    [applause]

    We have a team arguing against it. Please first welcome Sue Mi Terry.

    [applause]

    Sue Mi, you're a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. You are widely recognized as one of the world's foremost experts on North Korea.
  • 00:25:01
    You have worked for the NSC, the NIC, and the CIA. You were the CIAs top Korea analysts, one of the top Korea analysts during the Bush administration, and when you were recruited to work for the CIA they told you that if you wanted to know what Kim Jong Il eats for breakfast, you should come work for them. So, did you ever get the answer to that question?

    [applause]

    Sue Mi Terry:
    No. I never got to find out what Kim Jong Il ate for breakfast, but I got to find out that his favorite food in the whole world was Toro fatty tuna [phonetic], so that's something that I had kind of in common with Kim Jong Il.

    [laughter]

    Love of sushi and Toro.

    John Donvan:
    All right. Thank you very much, Sue Mi Terry.

    [applause]

    And also, a powerful partner on your side. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mira Rapp-Hooper.

    [applause]

    Mira, you're a senior research scholar at Yale Law School, a senior fellow at Yale's Paul Tsai China Center. Your areas of expertise are deterrent nuclear strategy, alliance politics among others.
  • 00:26:01
    You recently co-wrote an essay titled, "Perception and Misperception on the Korean Peninsula." That was in foreign affairs. Among the many misconceptions that you think Americans might have about North Korea, what's the -- what tops the list for you?

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    I think the biggest misperception is that either the United States or North Korea reads the other side's signals as intended. This is often a major problem in international politics, never more so than in a relationship amongst adversaries, but because there is so little diplomatic contact between our two countries and the relationship is so fraught, signals are harder than ever to read between these two.

    John Donvan:
    Okay, and let's hope we can shed light tonight. Did I say misconception and you corrected me? I think you did very, very gently without embarrassing me.

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    I may have done so gently. I may have.

    John Donvan:
    And I really appreciate that you did that for me. Again, ladies and gentleman on the team arguing against the motion Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea.

    [applause]

    So, we go in three rounds and in the first round each debater makes an opening statement.
  • 00:27:04
    Those opening statements will be five minutes each. They will be uninterrupted and first to speak for the motion Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea, Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former State Department official. Ladies and gentlemen, Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins.

    [applause]

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    Good evening. When I was first told that I would have an opportunity to be a part of this debate and that my motion would be that Negotiations Can Denuclearize, I said, "Of course. Of course. Why not?" But then I said, "Let me step back a bit and say a little bit about why I have that perception." I have spent my life working in the area of nuclear nonproliferation, chemical, biological, nonproliferation arms control. So, I spent my life sitting at the table with others negotiating treaties, working with the delegations, drafting treaty texts, and really making the what may seem impossible possible.
  • 00:28:05
    Sitting at the table finding out ways in which we can find common interests to find a way and a process for agreement. So, I have been in a world of the possible. I've also done some research on this. Actually, my topic for my dissertation was why do countries decide that they want to or not develop nuclear weapons? And how does nonproliferation actions really play a role in their decisions, that decision making? And I have found out in all of the research that a very important part of this is the leader and what the leader wants to do. And when a leader decides that it's ready, that their country's ready to give up a nuclear weapon or a nuclear weapon program, then they're ready to sit at the table and talk. And we have examples of countries giving up nuclear weapons or giving up nuclear weapons programs. We have Argentina and Brazil. We have Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. We have South Africa.
  • 00:29:01
    All of these countries decided at some point that they wanted to give up their nuclear weapons or their nuclear weapons program. And at some point, a leader made the decision that that as the right thing to do. We have Iran. We all know about the Iran agreement. That was also an agreement that many said could not happen. That was an agreement that many said, "We'll never get to an agreement with Iran for them to stop their nuclear weapons program. But there were fortunately some that believed that it was possible. And as a result, after many months, we have the JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Agreement. So, it can happen, and it did happen. And there's no reason why it cannot happen again. Of course, we do have one wrinkle. It's North Korea. And the problem is, we have a history. We have a history with North Korea, where there have been agreements and those agreements didn't work. However, we're not saying that you should not take account of these things. In fact, when you're going into a negotiation, you should take into account the past.
  • 00:30:04
    And as you prepare yourself for the positions you're going to take, you should take those things into consideration, and that will help you decide how you're going to negotiate and what you're going to try to get from the other side. However, those are not reasons not to negotiate, and it's not reason to think that you cannot reach a conclusion. You can never give up on diplomacy. You can never give up on trying to reach a conclusion with another side. And what is the options? Do we want to go back to where we were? It wasn't that long ago. Do you want to go back to the point where there was a lot of insecurity, where two countries with nuclear weapons were facing each other, where there was a lot of rhetoric outside, where there was a lot of things being said? That's not a situation we want. We want to be at a point now, after all the saber-rattling, after all the words, to finally say, "Okay, let's sit down and talk," because we think we can make a difference now. And the table is set. We have all these negotiations. We have the meetings between North Korea and South Korea.
  • 00:31:02
    We had the meetings with North Korea and China. We have the upcoming meeting with the U.S. and North Korea. Why would these be happening if we didn't think it's possible? What's the point of doing all of this if we can't have denuclearization? So, the table is set. The time is right. We've had our saber-rattling. We've had everyone do their thing with the -- you know, "We're going to threaten you with this and threaten you with that." Okay, now, let's step back and let's do what we need to do to make sure that we can come to some decisions and some agreements on denuclearization. Understanding the past is important, but it should not prevent you from making progress in the future. And for that reason, I know that you all will vote for the motion, that negotiation can lead to denuclearization of North Korea. Thank you.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Bonnie Jenkins. Our next debater will speaking against the motion, Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea. That is Mira Rapp-Hooper, Senior Research fellow at -- scholar at Yale Law.
  • 00:32:03
    Ladies and gentlemen, Mira Rapp-Hooper.

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    There is no bargain that can fully denuclearize North Korea at the negotiating table. That is what we are arguing tonight. If our opponents can convince you of the opposite -- that there is a clear deal that Kim Jong Un would prefer over his now complete nuclear arsenal -- than you should vote for this motion and against our position. But throughout this debate this evening, we ask you to keep in mind one critical definition, and that is the definition of denuclearization.

    Denuclearization is the complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament of North Korea and its nuclear weapons program, as defined by policymakers and the Trump administration itself. And that is the heart of what we are debating tonight.
  • 00:33:02
    In the time I have remaining, I want to make three brief points. The first is that North Korea believes it needs nuclear weapons to survive. The second is that the United States does not have a reasonable substitute it can offer North Korea. And the third is that by chasing a denuclearization pipe dream, we put ourselves at considerable risk. First, North Korea believes it needs nuclear weapons to survive. The Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice, and tens of thousands of American troops still on the Korean Peninsula.

    North Korea invested in its conventional military, arraying artillery all along the Demilitarized Zone to ensure that South Korea and the United States could not invade it to topple the regime. Since the 1980s, it's had an active and secretive nuclear weapons program, and it first tested a nuclear weapon in 2006. It's now had nuclear weapons for over 10 years, and it sought them in order to add nuclear deterrence to the conventional deterrence it already possessed, to ensure that it would never be invaded and that the regime could survive.
  • 00:34:10
    Since coming to power, Kim Jung Un has invested more in his nuclear programs and his missile program than his father or his grandfather before him and in the last few months has finally declared them complete and North Korea's survival assured. For North Korea nuclear weapons are existential. They're a matter of survival and they are something that are now guaranteed. So, what could the United States possibly offer up in exchange? Well, it could offer North Korea logically a security guarantee, a promise that it would never be invaded and that the regime would never be toppled. Sounds like a pretty good thing to offer, but the only problem is we've offered it countless times before and we've always been rejected. Take, for example, a 2005 agreement by which North Korea agreed to denuclearize completely in exchange for a public U.S. promise of a security guarantee.
  • 00:35:04
    That North Korea then violated. In private, North Korean nuclear negotiators repeatedly tell their American counterparts that U.S. security guarantees can't be trusted. They point to examples of the United States invading Iraq or invading Libya, having disarmed their opponent and then invaded those countries to topple the regime and show those as reasons why our security guarantees cannot be trusted. Why would they accept now what they have never accepted in the past? Now that their nuclear arsenal and weapons program is complete. Third and finally, by chasing this denuclearization pipe dream, we risk missing the diplomatic opportunity at hand and courting catastrophic conflict. We cannot buy what is not for sale and North Korea is not selling its full nuclear weapons program right now, but by continuing to chase that goal we allow North Korea to keep building nuclear weapons.
  • 00:36:01
    What we can do is do much better than we've done in the past and that means pursuing realistic goals towards obtainable ends. Arms control that will return weapons inspectors to the country and get a handle on these programs. Working with our allies to contain and deter North Korea and prevent it from spreading the world's most dangerous weapons. But if we chase a promise that Kim Jong Un has not made and does not intend to keep we face two very real risks. The first is that we make real concessions in exchange for a promise that is not real at all and miss this diplomatic opportunity. But the second and worst still is that when the Trump administration awakens from its denuclearization dream it takes us to the world of our worst nightmares. It returns to a world in which it is considering a war on the Korean peninsula. Something that was all too real just a few months ago.
  • 00:37:01
    Finally, I want to conclude by being clear about what we're not arguing tonight. We are not in favor of the use of force. We are in favor of diplomacy towards realistic and obtainable goals. We ask you to vote for smart diplomacy towards meaningful ends and to vote against this motion tonight.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Mira Rapp-Hooper. You've heard the first two opening statements and now onto the third. Debating for the motion, Suzanne DiMaggio, senior fellow at New America and USDPRK dialogue director. Ladies and gentlemen, Suzanne DiMaggio.

    [applause]

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    Good evening everyone. I'm so happy to be here. As we saw at the historic inter-Korean summit, Kim Jung Un told South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, that he was ready to give up his nuclear weapons in exchange for the United States ending the Korean war formally and promising not to invade their country.
  • 00:38:11
    The two leaders signs a joint declaration that called for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and complete denuclearization. That was their common goals. This turn to diplomacy is most welcome, especially when you consider just months ago we were on the verge of war with North Korea.

    Of course, we've seen similar language in previous agreements and in previous failed attempts, but that should not stop us from pursuing what I think is the biggest opportunity for diplomacy with North Korea in almost 20 years. I understand the skepticism. In fact, I share it, but we shouldn't let the past failures get in the way of us trying again.
  • 00:39:00
    So, when considering this evening's motion, I think there are three key questions we should explore. The first one is, is Kim Jong Un ready to come in from the cold. We've seen more of Kim Jong Un these past few weeks -- and heard more -- than we have during his entire six-year tenure as North Korea's leader. My best assessment of what's behind this unprecedented outreach is that he understands he needs to do this in order to gain acceptance of a new strategic policy you just put forward.

    This is the policy of economic reconstruction. In my informal conversations with North Korean senior officials, they have explained that they do not want to amass a humongous nuclear arsenal; they want just enough to deter an attack by the United States, and then turn their attention to economic development.
  • 00:40:00
    This follows Kim Jong Un's Byunjin [spelled phonetically] line, and that's a national policy that has, on one track, the development of the nuclear program, and on the other track economic development. Of course, what we have seen over these years is Kim Jong Un pursuing relentlessly advancements in his nuclear program, at great cost to the well-being of the North Korean people. 2017 was a pivotal year for Kim Jong Un. That is when he declared the completion of his nuclear force in November, and then reiterated it again in his New Year's speech, just this past January. And this leads me to my second question: why now? The North Koreans say they now have a deterrent to deter an attack from the United States, which enables them to come back to the negotiating table as an equal to the United States, as a nuclear power.
  • 00:41:00
    And let's not forget: Kim Jong Un is not his father. He's not his grandfather. He's 34 years old. He sees decades of rule ahead of him. And he understands -- he must understand that he'll -- that in order to maintain the Kim family dynasty, he's got to do something to address the economic conditions in North Korea. And there's only one way to do that, and that's to lift the sanctions. The third and final question is, how can we get to a successful outcome? And that's the most important question. I think we need to rigorously test whether Kim is serious about giving up his nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees and economic development. And to increase the chances for a successful outcome, we should be thinking boldly. We should be thinking of what kind of comprehensive package we're going to offer Kim. Peace treaty, normalization of relations. Security guarantees that of course would have to include Beijing.
  • 00:42:03
    On the economic side -- we need to be thinking, in addition to the relief of economic sanctions, we need to be thinking about investment, trade, economic aid. As a senior advisor recently put it to -- said -- senior advisor to President Moon said, what the North Koreans want is a Trump Tower and McDonalds. So, surely Kim Jong Un knows what it will take to get there. So, I'd like to wrap up by saying that the wording of tonight's motion is particularly important; negotiations can denuclearize North Korea. The operative word is "can," which points to possibility. If the motion was negotiations could denuclearize -- will denuclearize North Korea, I wouldn't be up here to defend that -- because the simple fact is, we don't know if that will be the outcome. So, "can" made all the difference to me. It's possible. So, please keep that in mind when you cast your vote in favor of this motion.
  • 00:43:03
    And the way I look at it is a vote in favor of this motion is a vote in support of diplomacy. Thank you.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Suzanne DiMaggio. And our final debater in the opening round will be debating against the motion: Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea. That is Sue Mi Terry, former CIA analyst and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Ladies and gentlemen, Sue Mi Terry.

    [applause]

    Sue Mi Terry:
    Thank you. So, as a child growing up in South Korea, and as an adult who spent almost all of my career following the North Korean issues, I have to say, when I saw the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, actually cross over the Demilitarized Zone and step foot in South Korea, it was a moving moment.
  • 00:44:00
    You know, I got a little bit emotional. It was moving. It was momentous. It was historic. So, and I'm happy that we are now on this path of trying to sort something out, particularly since several months ago I was having sleepless nights because I was so concerned about all this talk of preventive military strike against North Korea. That would have had catastrophic consequences not only for the Korean peninsula, but for the region and for the world. That said, ladies and gentlemen, can negotiations lead to denuclearization? That's complete irreversible, verifiable. I do not think so. I think negotiations will lead to in another agreement with North Korea. Sure. There will be an agreement between Kim and Trump. There's always an agreement. We have many agreements with North Korea. Every single time it fell apart over verification. We have 1994 agreed framework, bilateral agreement between United States and North Korea.
  • 00:45:05
    We have 1999 Geneva Accords in which North Korea agreed to stop all its long-range testing missile testing. We have six rounds of six-party talks, which led to 2005 joint statement, 2007 joint declaration in which North Korea also agreed to show -- declare all of its nuclear weapons and disable all of its existing nuclear facilities. But we have not every single time agreement fell apart over verification. So, I don't believe negotiations will lead to complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea. What have Kim Jong Un been doing since coming into power? Six and a half years he's done four out of six nuclear tests, including hydrogen bomb test that was 17 times more powerful than the one that flattened Hiroshima.
  • 00:46:00
    He did 90 ballistic missile tests in six and a half years, 20 last year alone. Three intercontinental ballistic missile tests. Last one the one in November 2015. That one showed a capability to reach all of the United States and North Korea has now declared itself a nuclear weapons power. So, this is what Kim Jong Un has been doing, speeding towards completing the nuclear program, accelerating towards it. And why? He has -- because he like his father and grandfather, believe that nuclear weapons is only way to guarantee regime survival. He has, like his father and grandfather, has pursued this program at costs of millions of lives and billions of dollars to pursue this program. Now he's completed it, but now he's going to all of the sudden give it up. When every single time Suzanne meets with North Korea officials, I met with North Korean officials. Every single time and I'm sure they told Suzanne this, too. They talk about Iraq and Libya.
  • 00:47:01
    They don't want to be another Iraq or another Libya. In the case of Libya we said -- we convinced Qaddafi to give up his nuclear weapons program and then we backed and revolted and ended up overthrowing Qaddafi and killing him. How many times North Koreans have said Qaddafi's dead. I don't want to be dead. We don't want to be dead. This is the only way for us to survive. So, why did Kim Jong Un switch to the summitry and diplomacy? Well, there's a lot of things that he wants. He wants sanctions relief. He wants money, food, fuel to flow into pipelines. He wants diplomatic recognition. He wants international recognition as a nuclear weapons state. There were a lot of things that he wants, but it's not complete irreversible denuclearization of the North. Oftentimes, and I have to distinguish what does North Korea mean by denuclearization of the Korean peninsula? Because we -- Suzanne brought this up. There was a peace declaration. There was a [unintelligible] declaration. What does North Koreans mean?
  • 00:48:02
    North Koreans have historically meant by that denuclearization of the Korean peninsula if the regime security is guaranteed and that doesn't mean just the north unilateral disarmament. He's talking about also South Korea. He's talking about breaking U.S./South Korea alliance relationship, getting U.S. troops out of South Korea and ending extended nuclear umbrella the U.S. has over South Korea and Japan so the regime can feel secure. This is what he means by denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. There's a long way to go there and we're not going to get there. Please vote for the opposition side of the motion today.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Sue Mi Terry, and that concludes round one of this Intelligence Squared U.S. debate where our motion is Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea. Now we move on to round two and round two is where the debaters address one another directly and they take questions from me and from you, our live audience here at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
  • 00:49:02
    The team arguing for the motion, made up of Suzanne DiMaggio and Bonnie Jenkins, they have argued that basically, right now, the table is set -- that we are living in a very optimistic time. And they are arguing for optimism. The past, they argue, has shown us that deals that once seemed impossible actually can be reached. They say that they understand and share the skepticism from the other side, but they don't think that that should blind us to the possibilities that we're in. They also argue that the current leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, is -- has an incentive. His incentive is to bring his nation into the world of nations and to repair its economic disaster. And for that, it might be willing to trade what it has and what has worked so hard to turn into a bargaining chip -- namely, its nuclear weapons. The team arguing against the motion -- Sue Mi Terry and Mira Rapp-Hooper, they're saying that denuclearization is a pipe dream. Denuclearization, if it is defined as "complete and verifiable and irreversible," they argue that they cannot conceive of a deal that the United States would offer Kim Jong Un that he would actually accept, that he and his leadership thinks that that nation needs its nuclear weapons in order to survive.
  • 00:50:18
    So, there's a lot dividing these two sides. And I think a lot of it comes down to issues that relate, I would say, to matters of trust, of incentives, of possibilities, of dangers. And I think we'd like to work through all of them a little bit, one at a time. But I want to go first to this question of trust that has been brought up. Can Kim Jong Un be trusted? And also, we heard the counter-argument that they have little reason to trust us -- us being the United States. I shouldn't identify -- as the moderator -- "them," the United States, versus the North Koreans. This -- sorry, it's an old habit. But Bonnie Jenkins, let me go first to you, as somebody who has been involved in a great deal of these negotiations. The issue of trust, where it applies to North Korea and Kim Jong Un, should -- can he be trusted?
  • 00:51:04
    Bonnie Jenkins:
    I think the -- trust is obviously very important. And when you're thinking about when you're going to negotiate with someone, you want to believe you can trust. But you don't have to trust somebody, necessarily, to have negotiations. You have negotiations because you want to come to a conclusion. And that's why you have verification. You have verification because you want to make sure that whatever agreements are made, that the other side will do it. We've had numerous negotiations with the Soviet Union -- with the Soviet Union and with Russia. There were times when we didn't necessarily trust them, but we still had -- we still came to agreement on arms control issues, on nuclear issues. And we had a verification regime. So, we were able to still make it happen. So, trust is -- of course you want to have trust. But if there is an important issue that you want to work on -- which is reducing nuclear weapons -- you figure out how to make it happen and then you verify.
  • 00:52:03
    John Donvan:
    Mira Rapp-Hooper, to respond to that.

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    Well, I certainly would agree with the point, that you don't necessarily have to have trust to negotiate with an adversary. I don't actually think that trust is the crux of our argument here today. What we are suggesting, at least on the North Korean side, is that we haven't seen an indication of an interest in complete nuclear disarmament. We've certainly seen an interest in negotiations. And that's an idea that we very much support. We've see an interest in Kim Jong Un -- in getting sanctions relief. Maybe even in making some meaningful concessions that we could verify. But when it comes down to this fundamental question of denuclearization, it's not actually just a matter of trust. It's a matter of will, and we're arguing that we haven't seen it.

    John Donvan:
    Suzanne, would you like to jump in? Or -- sure.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    Sure. I think it's not a question of trust, when you're sitting down with an adversary -- and it's decades now that we've had this adversarial relationship.
  • 00:53:02
    The right approach is mistrust but verify. And I think that's the approach we should be taking with the North Koreans. That's certainly the approach we took with Iran when we pursued the Iran deal. You know, I have to ask question. Is -- yes, regime stability now, nuclear weapons provide that for Kim Jong Un. But let's think ahead, in terms of the economic troubles that North Korea is facing. They're only going to worsen with the sanctions regime that's currently up against them. The situation is not going to improve. And that, in turn, will become more of a liability for Kim, is -- and threaten his regime stability there. So, I think, in my talks with the North Koreans, they are looking ahead to the years ahead, where that is going to harm them.

    John Donvan:
    Suzanne, let me --

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    So, that's the motivation.

    John Donvan:
    Let me jump in also, because I actually want to explore that point you made, about the incentive that Kim Jong Un has. But I'd like to devote a little bit of time to that and come back to that a little bit later.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    Okay.
  • 00:54:01
    John Donvan:
    And just say for a little bit on this question of trust because Sue Mi, you were arguing also that the North Koreans have made agreements and they've made agreements and they've made agreements and they've never really lived up to them, and that's where I think this question of trust comes in again. So, can you just to stay on that point of trust for one more round?

    Sue Mi Terry:
    Absolutely. First of all, North Koreans doesn't trust us either. They say the [unintelligible] 1994 agreed framework and that when the Bush administration came in he scuttled the deal according to North Korean perspective. So, they said look, we get it. You're a democracy [unintelligible] comes in and you scuttle the deal and now we're looking at the Trump administration. If he scuttles the Iran deal how can the North Koreans trust us? And the same goes for us to them because of the gazillion agreements that we do actually have with them and every single time it fell apart, they fell apart over verification and Suzanne just talked about verify and verify, but that's exactly the crux of the problem. We were not able to verify every single time there was discussions fell apart over verification and just one last word on Kim Jong Un, on the man.
  • 00:55:02
    Just because he's so popular now after all this summitry and diplomacy can we not forget that just a year and a half ago that this is a guy who killed his half-brother using banned WMD chemical weapons in a major international airport place?

    John Donvan:
    Bonnie.

    [applause]

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    I think we can all agree that he's a bad guy.

    [laughter]

    So, I don't think there's not --

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    Disagreement about -- I don't think they're disagreeing about him being bad and not being trustful and that he's broke promises. I think that's a given. I think the point here is that you have to think about how much is that going to weigh in which you want to do now? And do you want to say no to a possibility to denuclearize? Or do you want to say well, it didn't happen in the past. You're a bad guy. We can try to find a way to get rid of the nuclear weapons. We can try to find a way to make the Korean peninsula a lot -- peninsula a lot more peaceful. You know, there's things that we can try to do.
  • 00:56:00
    Do we want to say we're not going to do it because you're a bad person? Or do you want to say let's sit down, you know, roll up our sleeves and think about how we can try to make this situation --

    John Donvan:
    Bonnie Jenkins, I hear from your opponents very, very heavy notes with pessimism. Does that mean your side actually has optimism? Or is that going too far?

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    I think what you've been hearing a lot of people say is optimism but be careful. I mean, you have to be optimistic. If you're going to go into a negotiation you don't want to walk in there with failure on top of your head and say well, it didn't work in the past. You have to be somewhat optimistic if you're going to have a negotiation with another individual or another country.

    Sue Mi Terry:
    Okay. So, let's face the facts. We're dealing with the Trump administration, so you want him -- them to have optimism. We're talking about John Bolton as the national security advisor, okay? you want them to have optimistic thinking that they are going to get [unintelligible] complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization and then they don't get that and then what's going to happen?
  • 00:57:03
    I think it's better to temper their expectations, so this thing does not blow up in our face.

    John Donvan:
    Mira Hooper.

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    And part of the reason we have focused the debate the way we have today is that this definition for denuclearization complete verifiable and irreversible is precisely the definition that the Trump administration is using. And using most sincerely. It was reiterated today by former CIA director now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling not only for the complete disarmament of North Korea's nuclear arsenal, but it's chemical and biological arsenal as well. The complete dismantlement of all of its WMD program and our concern is that if we go into a negotiation with this as a legitimate objective and the Trump administration feels burned, that it immediately tacks back into thinking about preventive war. Again, with John Bolton as the national security advisor and Mike Pompeo now as the secretary of state. That is not the world we want to live in.

    John Donvan:
    Suzanne DiMaggio.
  • 00:58:00
    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    So, I do want to clarify. I'm not arguing for optimism. I'm arguing for pragmatism. And as the saying goes you make peace with your enemies, not with your friends. And no one here is saying by any means Kim Jong Un is an honorable guy as our president said. But I also want to bring to the table that don't forget, Mike Pompeo met Kim Jung Un just a month ago in Pyongyang, rather remarkable and Mike Pompeo has said that he discussed extensively with Kim Jong Un what complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization would be. Pompeo then reported that Kim was prepared to lay out a map to help us achieve it. So here we have our CIA director who's actually heard it from the horse's mouth that he understands with -- what denuclearization is. He's talked to him extensively. I don't understand experts who are saying we should drop the goal of denuclearization, when the North Koreans themselves are saying they're ready to discuss it now.
  • 00:59:09
    That doesn't make sense to me.

    John Donvan:
    And led me add to the point you make, so as -- before your other side responds, the opponents respond. There is this excitement, also, coming from the South Koreans, that seem -- who seem have every -- you know, have the highest stakes in this of anybody. And I want to quote something from Foreign Affairs, written by a special advisor to the South Korean President, Jae-in Moon. He wrote, "After attending all three summits between the two Koreas in 2000, 2007, 2018, I believe this latest one represents real progress and lays the groundwork for lasting peace." Now, he's not naive, I'm assuming. But what's your response to that?

    Sue Mi Terry:
    Professor Moon Jae-in is naive -- I'm sorry.

    [laughter]

    John Donvan:
    Okay. Sue Terry.

    Sue Mi Terry:
    But actually, the Blue House -- there was a blowback with this controversy. This is a Foreign Affairs article that the Blue House has stepped back from because they're like, "Oh, no. They got -- he's a little bit too ahead of this."
  • 01:00:02
    So, that's my opinion on that. I just wanted to reiterate, the North Koreans have not --

    John Donvan:
    So, but -- bottom line, all of that excitement is just naivete?

    Sue Mi Terry:
    No. It's not naivete. But Professor Moon is free front -- forward in this enough so that the Blue House had to walk back --

    John Donvan:
    Okay.

    Sue Mi Terry:
    -- saying, "You know, we're -- this is not our perspective. This is Professor Moon's perspective." They really actually went out and said this today and yesterday.

    John Donvan:
    Okay.

    Sue Mi Terry:
    So, I'm just pointing that out. And I just want to point it out that North Koreans have never said they're going to unilaterally disarm North Korea. They talked about, again, the Korean Peninsula -- commitment to denuclearized Korean Peninsula, continually involving South Korea. Now, I have no problem with engagement and negotiation, and I in fact truly believe that Trump, Kim Jong Un's summit will be successful -- because both parties have an incentive to make sure that this meeting goes well. But again, the point is, afterwards, what would happen after this initial meeting? Will it lead to this complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization is what we're talking about?
  • 01:01:02
    John Donvan:
    Okay. Suzanne DiMaggio, you were trying to, actually, before, start to develop the point that you made in your opening statement. I want to get into that now. Your opponent is saying that North Korea and Kim Jong Un in particular have no incentive whatsoever to give up their nuclear weapons, and you're actually presenting them with one -- this idea that he wants to step out into the world. He has something to trade now, and he would be willing to trade it. Just take 30, 40 more seconds on that point, and then let's have your opponents respond to some of that.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    Yeah. So, believe me, I'm not saying that this is going to happen overnight, denuclearization. Even under the best circumstances. What I'm saying is I think a process could be put in place that could lead to that eventual goal. A lot of things would happen before we get there. And it'd have to be action-for-action along the way, because there is so much mistrust. For example, right now, the North Koreans have stopped testing their weapons. The next thing should be that we -- they stop testing the -- they stop advancing their weapons. And that would include verification, and so forth. So, I think, you know, if Kim Jong Un is indeed not serious, we'll know soon enough, right?
  • 01:02:07
    Because once we get to that stage, if he doesn't let inspectors in, we'll know. If he does, we won't. What I don't understand is, why would Kim take this risk right now? He has this nuclear program. He has an ICBM that theoretically can hit where we're sitting right now. He could just hunker down, sit there in Pyongyang, and continue life as it is, without any backlash. So, something is motivating him. And I think they have made the calculation that without some drastic changes in their economic conditions, that regime will fall.

    John Donvan:
    And you're saying that despite your opponents saying he would never give up his nuclear weapons -- because that's existential for them -- you're saying that that actually is a price he would pay for the benefit that you're outlining.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    It is the ultimate bargaining chip. And again, it would be a process. A lot of things would have to happen.
  • 01:03:00
    Security guarantees would be chief among them. And of course, that would have to --

    John Donvan:
    Okay.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    -- include Beijing.

    John Donvan:
    So, I -- what I wanted to tease out of that was that your opponent is actually presenting an incentive, something that would make it worth it. Why don't you take that on, Mira Rapp-Hooper?

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    Yeah. This is a really important argument to engage, because we are not disagreeing that sanctions may play some role in North Korea coming to the negotiating table. We are simply arguing that on the basis of this economic incentive, they are not prepared to fully disarm. Suzanne, in her opening statement, in fact, made the essential point -- that Kim Jong Un has claimed victory already with his nuclear arsenal. In his statements in the last several months, he has pointed to the fact that it now has the nuclear deterrent it needs to ensure its own survival -- and can pursue other goals as a result. The economic health and stability of the regime is surely one of those secondary goals that Kim Jong Un would like to pursue, over and above his survival, which he is now guaranteed.
  • 01:04:01
    So, I don't think it should surprise us that he feels he can now come to the negotiating table from a position of strength with the regime security guaranteed hoping to make it stronger still by improving North Korea's economic situation and my partners do pointed to several statements to that effect in her opening statement this evening.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    But a nuclear weapons program will not feed Korean people. It will not keep the economy up and running. These are things that he has to think about. So, I think it makes total sense now that he has this ultimate bargaining chip. He has this -- I mean, his negotiating position is peak right now. He can come to the table with confidence and for the North Koreans one of the most important things for them is to be able to come to the table and say we are coming here as an equal. We are coming here on equal footing. That's very important to their psychology.

    John Donvan:
    Let me bring in your partner, Bonnie Jenkins on this point as well -- of incentives. Again, your opponents are saying that he -- basically they're saying the one thing that gives him security, that gives him clout, that gives him power in the world he would never give way because it's just worth too much to him.
  • 01:05:09
    And they also say, you know, the -- John Bolton has cited the Libyan model. Again, they use that against your side's opponents by saying that the United States has proven to the -- to people like Kim that he should not trust the United States because Qaddafi did and now he's dead. So, take on this incentive question, including the economic incentive.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    I mean, well, -- I mean, I don't really understand how that is going to be a problem in terms of whether we can reach agreement on denuclearization. I mean, I'm still not understanding why that is a threat, or why that's a problem. So, I need to have that more -- better clarified because it's not --

    John Donvan:
    Sue Mi Terry. Go ahead. Do you want to yield the floor to your opponent?

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    Yes, yes.

    John Donvan:
    Okay.
  • 01:06:01
    Sue Mi Terry:
    Well, to your point and Suzanne's point, there will be a deal. I mean, North Koreans are coming in from what they think is a position of strength. We think it's because of maximum pressure, but they're coming in. They were offered a deal. So, we're not saying there is not going to be a deal. They could even offer a deal intercontinental ballistic missile because Trump thinking walk away from this and any sort of deal that's going to be good for America. Like, look what I was able to accomplish and no other predecessor was able to accomplish. I protected our homeland even though he does nothing to protect Japan or South Korea, our allies. So, what we are saying is not that -- yes, North Korean leaders coming in from position of equal strength because he thinks he completed the program and he's going to offer a deal, but that's not a full irreversible, complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as we defined it and that's what we --

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    We don't know that. We don't know that and the fact is is we're at the beginning of a -- we haven't even started the negotiation. What Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Kim discussed is very interesting to me. It seems to me that they've agreed to some extent on what is going to be on the agenda.
  • 01:07:01
    And again, I want to come back to this question why would Kim take this risk now if he wasn't ready to move forward at least on a process? If things fail, you can imagine it would strengthen the hands of people who were calling for military strikes against North Korea. So, it's not just the economic incentive. It's also the real possibility of military strikes against North Korea is motivating him.

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    So, I just want to weigh in on this question of why now and why under the type of pressure that Kim has been facing. In addition to the fact that he has faced the very real threat of military strikes, he now also faces the possibility of being able to enter negotiations and drag them out. So, this is part of the reason why we are suggesting that denuclearization is not a feasible goal. If he comes back to the negotiating table, makes modest, very minor concessions, holds out denuclearization as a pipe dream goal that he never intends to make good on, he can reduce the risk of war to him and begin to get economic benefits without ever making good on that promise.
  • 01:08:12
    John Donvan:
    So, you assume he never -- he’ll fool around and dawdle, but he'll never really mean it? That's your assumption?

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    Absolutely.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. I want to take that to --

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    And that's what history would suggest.

    John Donvan:
    Bonnie Jenkins.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    Well, just a couple of things. You have to keep in mind that this is not going to be a negotiation that's going to happen overnight. When you're saying he's going to drag it out, keep in mind that this is going to take a while. I mean, the Iran agreement took over 20 months. You know? And this is not going to be something that's -- that Trump's going to go there, they're going to make an agreement, he's -- and they're going to go home. This is going to take a while, regardless. So, I think it's very important that people understand that, you know, it's going to be a process that's going to take time. And we can't really, at this point, predict that that's going to happen. I think we --

    John Donvan:
    And their --

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    -- we're at -- we're not at that point that we can say that that's the -- that that's specifically going to happen.
  • 01:09:02
    John Donvan:
    And their prediction is that he will never give it up. So, you're saying that's ridiculous, that you cannot make that assumption.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    You can't make that assumption at this point.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    We don't have a crystal ball --

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    You know, we don't --

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    -- to that.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    We don't have enough to say -- I mean, you're basing all your arguments on what has happened in the past. And I understand why you would do that. But in the world of negotiation, and of diplomacy, it's about meeting with the other people. It's about having negotiations and trying to find a resolution. You don't say -- even -- you're not going to say, "We're not going to have a discussion with you at all," when he obviously has come forward and said that he wants complete denuclearization.

    Sue Mi Terry:
    Again, we're not saying --

    John Donvan:
    Sue Mi Terry.

    Sue Mi Terry:
    -- we're not going to have a discussion. We are -- I'm for engagement. I'm for dialogue. We are going to have a discussion. We can't even have -- I think I have a little bit of -- like Mira said, you know, he's going to [unintelligible] a little -- he could even ask for a grand bargain. Normalization for denuclearization, grand things like peace treaty. And we also talked about what peace treaty means -- right, getting U.S. forces eventually off the Korean Peninsula, and ending U.S.-South Korea [unintelligible].
  • 01:10:03
    But I do think one important issue has not come up, which is verification. It came up a little bit. It's really impossible to verify. Right now, I work in the intelligence community. I worked at the CIA for 10 years. And I'm going to tell you, we don't know how many weapons they have, and we don't know where they are. They have so many covert facilities and thousands and thousands of under tunnels -- underground tunnels. And it's going to be hard to even verify. So, this is why I'm saying, again, the definition, [unintelligible] complete, verify, irreversible -- has been used by Pompeo today. And that is what we are saying is unrealistic, and he [inaudible] --

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    And he discussed that with Kim Jong Un.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    And in my view, it'll be easier to verify if you can actually have people in there looking around the --

    Sue Mi Terry:
    All over North Korea? Actually, that's --

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    And we're not going to get that unless we have a negotiation, unless we --

    Sue Mi Terry:
    Exactly.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    And we can't say at this point we're never going to be able to find it, and it's not going to work. You have to have the discussions and you have to have the people in there. And you don't have that right now.

    John Donvan:
    One more, and then we'll have the questions --

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    And that's one thing that you have --

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    John, I just want to --

    John Donvan:
    Mira Rapp --

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    -- weigh in here, because this is an essential point. We, in our opening statements, called for negotiations.
  • 01:11:00
    We called for arms control, and inspectors in North Korea, and getting our arms around these programs. We are responding to the motion as constructed, which is "Can we denuclearize North Korea?" And it is to denuclearization that we are saying no. Everything else --

    [speaking simultaneously]

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    But the North Koreans themselves --

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    Talks, arms control, yes.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    -- are saying they're ready to discuss it. What negotiator would go into a negotiating -- any negotiation and step back from the position that the North Koreans themselves are saying they're ready to discuss? Of course, we're going to go in there with --

    [applause]

    -- our absolute maximalist position. You'd be crazy not to. So, what I'm saying is the United States has done a very poor job over these years of reading the North Koreans. A lot of times you just read what they say. You hear what their pronouncements are and you can understand what they're trying to do. All I'm saying is, any good negotiator is going to go into this like a tiger, see that the North Koreans -- Kim Jong Un himself discussed it with our Secretary of State.
  • 01:12:03
    Why would we go in there and give that up? It doesn't make any sense to me.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    And just very briefly -- I mean, I -- it's -- if you're going to argue that it's okay to have inspectors, and you're going to do that, you're going have the negotiation, have inspectors -- then is that -- that's part of the process of denuclearization. You want to have inspectors in there so you're kind of having it, and you're also not having it. And I also want to go back on my optimism point.

    John Donvan:
    By the way, I --

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    It's -- I called it --

    John Donvan:
    -- brought up the word optimism. I'm not -- you guys never said optimism. I asked you if --

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    [laughs] Yeah.

    John Donvan:
    -- the opposite of their pessimism was your optimism. You do not have to defend --

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    It's cautious.

    John Donvan:
    -- against --

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    The word that you've been hearing everyone say is cautious optimism, which means --

    John Donvan:
    Okay.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    -- to be optimistic but be cautious, because there is a history of working with the country. So, you don't go in there blind and say, "Oh, we're real happy. Everything is going to go great." You go in there but you be cautious and you be careful about what you do and what you say because you know there's a history.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. Let's go to some questions, then. Right down here in the green shirt.

    Male Speaker:
    My name is Luke.
  • 01:13:00
    And one of these things that we heard from the con side was about accountability with Kim Jong Un. I don't think anyone in this room probably would trust this guy, right? But what about regional actors who may be interested in negotiations to denuclearize North Korea? For instance, South Korea, Japan, China. What role may they play in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula?

    John Donvan:
    Let me take that, first, to the side arguing against.

    Female Speaker:
    No, go ahead.

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    So, there's no question --

    John Donvan:
    Mira Rapp-Hooper.

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    -- yeah. There is no question that any agreement that we come to, whether it's arms control as we're arguing, or the big lofty denuclearization goal requires other countries that are not just the United States. South Korea essential. China essential. Japan essential. And ultimately if we put in place an arms control regime, that will rely on the international community and international agencies like the International Atomic Energy Agency to do those inspections. But there's another side to this international coin, right?
  • 01:14:00
    Which is to realize that every country that sees itself as having a deep interest in the North Korean nuclear issue has already staked out its bargaining position. So one example of this is China. Not going to be represented at the Trump/Kim summit in just a few weeks, but certainly made its feelings known to Kim Jong Un when he visited Beijing a few weeks ago. And in response to Kim Jong Un's visit to Beijing, the Chinese have already promised to begin letting guest workers from North Korea back into China. That is before Kim Jong Un has done anything. The Chinese have already begun to grant him economic relief. So part of what we're calling here -- for here is realistic goals that all of these international actors can get behind because if we leave the goal too lofty then everybody gets to define it for themselves and move the levers of pressure and incentives as they see fit as opposed to in relationship to something tangible that we can all agree to definitively.
  • 01:15:00
    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    I'm glad you raised this question because I really want to give special attention to South Korea. We would not be here without President Moon Ji Yin and his deft diplomacy. I think we must give him a great deal of credit. He read the situation well and he offered an attractive off-ramp to Kim Jong Un, the Pyongchang Olympics and inter-Korean dialogue. So, Kim Jong Un told Moon that it was ready to step back from one of its -- one obstacle to past negotiations and that was the North Korean insistence that the U.S. remove their troops. The North Koreans are now saying they won't insist on that. That's a major positive sign. He also told Moon that they do not expect economic sanctions to be lifted immediately. They understand it's a process and we have control over it. Unless and until they do verifiable steps towards denuclearization we don’t have to do a thing. Why do we have to lift a single sanction?
  • 01:16:01
    This isn't child's play. This is something that professionals do. People who work in negotiation, people who work in verification. This is not something we have to give away before we get to the table and certainly without it being verified.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. Another question?

    Male Speaker:
    Does the North have enough in the way of conventional fire power aimed at Seoul to kind of give up their ultimate bargaining chip without giving up all their chips?

    Sue Mi Terry:
    Oh, of course they have a conventional power. There's 14,000 conventional tubes that are zeroed in within 60 seconds of Seoul. That's why I said, you know, the preventive war would've been catastrophic. But so, does South Korea. South Korea is also conventional power. North Korea basically lost in terms of rivalry with South Korea on every possible thing, the nuclear weapons is the only thing they really have over South Korea.

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    If I understand your question until North Korea had a reliable nuclear deterrent, U.S. military planners assessed that the United States and South Korea would win any war with North Korea.
  • 01:17:07
    John Donvan:
    Let's take the --

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    But what's interesting is that for the first time the North Koreans have put forward the possibility of discussing a reduction of their conventional forces, too, which is very interesting. We've never heard them say that before. It's another step of -- positive step that I see in why this time is different. They're bringing things to the table they haven't before.

    Sue Mi Terry:
    It's not against South Korea. It's against United States. That's why developed -- they developed intercontinental ballistic missiles with capability to reach us. So, it's not about having something over South Korea. I think they're goal is with against United States.

    Female Speaker:
    Hi. My name is Christine [phonetically spelled]. This question is going to double-down on optimism. It seems like a common-sense solution is for the U.S. also to offer to denuclearize. Has that ever been on the table? And if it were do you think the North Koreans would trust that and both sides would move to verifiable denuclearization.

    [applause]
  • 01:18:01
    John Donvan:
    I'm so glad you asked that question, because that was the one I wanted to get to before I went to audience questions. Thank you.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    Well, it --

    John Donvan:
    Let's take it to Suzanne DiMaggio and Bonnie Jenkins.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    Well, great question. And in the past, when the North Koreans have talked about denuclearization, this is exactly what they meant. Reciprocal. They've had, at times, a very expansive definition. They're not saying that now, because they know it's a non-starter. That's another signal that this could be serious, and another signal why we should take the risk of engaging with them -- it's a small risk -- and try to get what we can out of it. The fact that they're stepping back from demanding we remove our troops, they're stepping back from saying we have to denuclearize too -- all these things -- you know, if they have been saying it, I would be the first to say, "Look, they're not serious. Let's, you know, cut this off right now. But they're not saying that. They're actually saying the opposite."

    Female Speaker:
    [inaudible] --

    John Donvan:
    Other side like to respond?

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    And the -- this was --

    Female Speaker:
    Yeah.

    John Donvan:
    All right. Let Bonnie Jenkins --

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    And no, the U.S. has never -- that's never been an issue, with the U.S. getting rid of its nuclear weapons.
  • 01:19:02
    Female Speaker:
    Why is that?

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    Well, because I think they realize that that's probably --

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    A non-starter.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    -- not going to happen anytime soon. And that's part of a bigger argument that's part of the Non-Proliferation Treaty itself.

    John Donvan:
    Let's take it to the other side --

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    So --

    John Donvan:
    -- to respond to that.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    Well, I just want to say one more thing.

    John Donvan:
    Sure. Go ahead.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    That talking about things that are on the table -- Kim Jong Un did say also that the weapons are not targeting South Korea and the U.S. So, it's very interesting that he said that, so --

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    Okay. I'll return to this because my partner Sue has said it several times already, and I don't want to ask her to repeat herself again. But that is the fact -- that North Korea has always called for the denuclearization of the entire Korean Peninsula. And that is the language that appeared in the joint statement between North and South Korea just last week. And that when they say the denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula, they mean the end of the U.S. alliance with South Korea, the removal of American troops from the peninsula, and --

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    That's not true.
  • 01:20:00
    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    -- no --

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    That is not true. How can you say that? They have --

    Sue Mi Terry:
    Because that's how -- what they've always meant.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    But they haven't said it this time.

    Sue Mi Terry:
    But it's in the [unintelligible] --

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    In fact, what they're saying --

    Sue Mi Terry:
    -- declaration, complete denuclearization --

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    -- is removing the --

    Sue Mi Terry:
    -- of the peninsula.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    -- nuclear and strategic assets from South Korea, not our troops. Stopping the deployment --

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    What nuclear and strategic assets?

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    -- of nuclear assets. We don't have any nuclear assets.

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    Exactly.

    [laughs]

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    So, we take them there and tell them, "Have a look. We don't have them there."

    John Donvan:
    I think the audience -- I might be wrong, but I think the audience member's optimism was, "Well, why not give all" -- were you saying, why should -- why not -- why should the U.S. not agree to pull out its 28,000 troops and remove the nuclear umbrella -- if that would be the price of getting Kim to give up --

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    Well --

    John Donvan:
    -- his --

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    -- so, I think our audience is actually asking --

    John Donvan:
    Am I right --

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    -- about American nuclear -- American denuclearization.

    Female Speaker:
    All of it.

    John Donvan:
    All of it. I thought so. The whole ball of wax.

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    So, the denuclearization question, as Bonnie alluded to, is a much broader question, and basically is about the global zero movement, the effort to get to zero nuclear weapons, something that certainly President Obama was committed to, in theory, something we have not seen reiterated as an objective under this administration.
  • 01:21:08
    [laughter]

    So, I would not suggest that's really on the table right now, from an American perspective. But that also requires consideration of several other countries. But when it comes to the question of removing all U.S. troops from the peninsula, the question there comes down to whether we have removed all remaining elements of the North Korean threat. If the United States was to agree to end the alliance with South Korea and remove its 28,000 troops from the peninsula, it could only do that under conditions where it was sure that South Korea was secure. That's not just the denuclearization of North Korea, but that is the inability of North Korea to invade the south conventionally. And an agreement to denuclearize would still not give South Korea that guarantee.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    Let me make my point one more time. The North Koreans --

    John Donvan:
    Suzanne DiMaggio.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    -- are not demanding the removal of U.S. troops from the peninsula. In fact, they've said the opposite.
  • 01:22:01
    They accept it. It is our president who seems to be the most interested in removing our troops -- that we've just learned yesterday out of this report -- who seems more interested in doing that than the North Koreans are. Again, let's not make up facts. Let's follow what the North Koreans are saying. Let's bring them to the table. Let's hold them to account by all means, but let's pursue this to the fullest extent.

    [applause]

    Male Speaker:
    Yeah. Hi. My name is Dave Valenski [spelled phonetically]. Just for the side for -- I think everyone would acknowledge that China has the most influence, by far, of any country in North Korea. And yet, we've also seen over the years that China has also been condemning North Korea for its nuclear program. So, given that and given that the Chinese themselves have not been able to denuclearize North Korea, how can we then come up to the same table?

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    Should I answer that?

    John Donvan:
    Suzanne DiMaggio.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    You know, the -- you know, China's primary goal with North Korea has not been denuclearization.
  • 01:23:05
    It's been regional stability. Keep that in mind. That's what they're motivated by. They don't want a collapse of North Korea. They don't want refugees flooding their borders and they certainly don't want U.S. troops on their border, which would happen if North Korea collapsed. But the point about China is let's keep things in mind they have done a much better job bringing tougher sanctions against North Korea and enforcing those sanctions, not perfect. That's one of the reasons why we're at this point, because the sanctions are binding. And secondly, in the resolution of this issue, China is going to play one of the key roles because in terms of security guarantees who do you think is going to be the guarantor for North Korean security? It's going to be Beijing.

    John Donvan:
    Do you think China's role strengthens your argument in this debate?

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    Absolutely. I think at the end of the day the Chinese would like to see the -- this problem go away.
  • 01:24:02
    They don't want to see North Korea go away. They don't necessarily want to see Kim Jong Un go away because that is the buffer between us and them. So, they would like to see that Kim Jong Un stay, but tensions reduced. And certainly, if Kim Jong Un gets rid of their nuclear program I think China would step up to the plate and be a guarantor for their security.

    John Donvan:
    Would the opposite side like to -- the opposing side like to respond?

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    Sure. I think you could also make a very clear opposing argument, which is that exactly as Suzanne said the Chinese have always been more interested in stability on the Korean peninsula than in denuclearization. And under severe stress from the Trump administration they have put more pressure on North Korea this year. They have put more sanctions in place and those have started to bite somewhat, but that what they're looking for next is to be in a position where they can start to take some of that pressure off. And they've actually started to do that already.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    But they won't do that because they will then fear we'll move back to the threat of military -- U.S. military strikes, pre-emptive strikes on North Korea and that is the last thing the Chinese want.
  • 01:25:08
    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    They've literally started to do it already.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    That's one of the reasons they've stepped up to the plate with sanctions.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    And I'm also not sure how far China wants to get ahead of the process. I mean, I think -- I mean, they had the meeting and that was good, but there -- I don't know how far ahead they want to get in the negotiation and what's going to happen with the U.S. and North Korea. I mean, you're kind of making the case that they're already giving things and North Korea hasn't done anything yet, but you know, I'm not sure how far they want to get ahead of the process.

    John Donvan:
    Another question from down front here. If you could stand up, sir.

    Male Speaker:
    Hi. I'm Ali Wayn [spelled phonetically] with Rand. So, the Trump administration and its North Korean counterpart officials from both sides seem to very optimistic going into these negotiations. What are each side's sources of leverage going into these negotiations, and what are each side's weaknesses and blind spots?

    John Donvan:
    Okay. Let's do that. Very briefly.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    I think --

    John Donvan:
    So, who holds what cards?

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    -- the incentives, of course, are all what I've mentioned -- the security guarantees, peace treaty, normalization, bringing North Korea into the -- in front the cold, the economic part.
  • 01:26:10
    The liabilities I see -- and I'm going to be very frank -- is, I think, our administration, our decimated State Department. Can we actually carry out such complex negotiations? Hopefully Mr. Pompeo --

    [applause]

    -- will build up, bring back the swagger, as he says. You know, and I have to say it. I think the North Koreans see an opportunity in Donald Trump. They see someone who's very, very eager to cut a deal. They see someone who's wavered on alliances. Look at NATO. They see someone who doesn't give a hoot about human rights, so they don't expect any lectures there. So, maybe in their mind, of all the things I've said, they also say, "Hey, this is the U.S. president for us. Let's do this."

    [laughter]

    John Donvan:
    But aren't you giving ammunition to the other side?

    Female Speaker:
    [laughs] You sure are.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    No. I'm saying they want to do a deal with this president.
  • 01:27:01
    When I was in Pyongyang in February 2017, he was in office three weeks. They brought up the idea of a summit at that point. They've been thinking about this for a long time, and they've been planning it.

    John Donvan:
    Bonnie Jenkins?

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    And I would just -- I mean, I would just add to what Suzanne said. You know, there's the Iran situation. And what we do with Iran, I think, is going to be something that is a game -- [unintelligible] game. And also, our recent nuclear posture review, where we committed to building more nuclear weapons. However, I will say, despite all of that, he still wants to meet. He still wants to talk. He still are making -- are saying things that he hasn't said before. So, in light of all that, he still wants to have a conversation and we still think that we can do this through negotiations.

    John Donvan:
    The other side.

    Sue Mi Terry:
    I agree with everything --

    John Donvan:
    Sue Terry.

    Sue Mi Terry:
    -- Suzanne said. North Korea has been thinking about this for a very long time. They are not -- they have completed their program and they're now walking to this meeting thinking they are in a position of strength, and they're going to play Trump administration.
  • 01:28:05
    They're going to offer something that's going to sound and look good to the Trump administration, that's going to come back to haunt us later. And this is exactly the scenario that we're warning against.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    But at the end of the day, if it can't be verified, there's no deal. And that's the hard facts of it.

    John Donvan:
    Mira Rapp, you get the last word.

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    I would very much agree that North Korea's greatest strength is its deft negotiating position that it's been playing for the last year, its completed nuclear arsenal, and the fact that it increasingly has both South Korea and China on its side -- because of our president's bad behavior -- and that the primary weakness on the U.S. side is desire to deal and ill-preparedness, the likelihood that the Trump administration is going to fall for a deal that is not good for the United States or the world because it is looking so much to score the win. But I'll underscore strength on the U.S. side, which is the fact that for all that our State Department has been decimated and is understaffed, we still do have extraordinary civil servants staffing our back channel and trying to staff this summit --
  • 01:29:07
    [applause]

    -- to prepare as best as they possibly under otherwise very adverse circumstances.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    And that concludes Round 2 of this Intelligence Squared U.S. debate, where our motion is Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea.

    [applause]

    And now we move onto Round 3. Round 3 will be closing statements by each debater in turn. They will be two minutes each. Speaking first for the motion, Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former State Department official.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    Well, I hope that you all enjoyed the debate. And I just want to say, one thing I didn't talk about is I have spent 22 years in the military. I was in the Navy -- I mean, the Air Force, and I switched to the Navy Reserves. And during my time in the Navy, I did one of those exercises. I went to South Korea and I did one of the military exercises with them, one of the exercises that North Korea is so concerned about. It was a great experience.
  • 01:30:00
    I met a lot of really great South Koreans, made some very good friends. And it was a really big exercise, with all the branches of the U.S. and the Soviet -- and the Soviet -- and South Korean military involved. But I will say that despite the fun that we had and the friends that we made, none of us wants that to be a reality. None of us wanted to say that this is actually something that we really have to be worried about, and that we really -- everything that we're practicing, that we really have to do. So, we should be doing everything possible to try to bring peace to the region. We should do everything possible to negotiate whenever we have a chance, to take every opportunity to try to find a way to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, and to find a way that we can reduce the tensions so that we don't have to worry about a nuclear exchange or any other kind of war on the peninsula. Thank you.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Bonnie Jenkins.
  • 01:31:00
    Our next speaker will be speaking against the motion making her closing statement, Sue Mi Terry, former CIA analyst and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    Sue Mi Terry:
    My paternal grandparents came from North Korea. They were -- they happened to be in South Korea when the Korean war broke out and they never made it back. So, their lifelong wish was to see their separated parents and siblings and see unification and peace on the Korean peninsula. Unfortunately, both of them passed away without seeing either. We're asking you to vote for our side of the motion not because we don't fervently hope for peaceful solution in the Korean peninsula, but exactly because we do. Now Suzanne said we need to pay attention to what North Koreans are saying and what we need to read what they're saying so I actually brought something to read. So, because too often we debate U.S. policy towards North Korea, based on what we wish it to be rather than reality of the situation. In the New Year’s editorial address, which launched all this diplomacy and summitry, Kim Jong Un said, "U.S. will not dare to invade us because we currently have a powerful nuclear deterrent."
  • 01:32:09
    Just two weeks ago Kim stated during the preliminary session of the Korean workers' party that "North has completed nuclear arsenal as a firm guarantee. The North Koreans worked hard with their belt tightened to acquire a powerful treasured sword for defending peace." So, does this completion of perfection of nuclear arsenal as a firm guarantee for the security or wellbeing of prosperity sound like a prelude to unilateral disarmament of North Korea? This is what we're talking because again, North Korea has a different definition of denuclearization. Does it sound like, because she said we should read to what North Koreans have been saying? This is what he said two weeks ago. Does it sound like a leader who's ready to give up completely irreversibly his nuclear weapons program?
  • 01:33:01
    We do need to hear what the North Koreans are telling us. We are urging you to vote against this motion today because falsely raised expectation is actually more dangerous and more risky and not good ultimately for the peace of the Korean peninsula.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Sue Mi Terry. The motion again is Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea and here to make her closing statement in support of the motion is Suzanne DiMaggio, senior fellow at New America and USDPRK dialogue director.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    So, thank you for your great questions and attention tonight. Over the course of my career I've spent many hours sitting across the table from what -- from those many would call adversaries and one of the things I've learned from this experience is that thing -- unexpected things happen when you're face to face. Suddenly preconceptions, what's happened in the past, assumptions fly out the window and you really never know until you get there.
  • 01:34:08
    So, one of the greatest lessons I've learned through my work is that even though we live in the 21st Century, the internet age, nothing can take the place of that face to face dialogue and we haven't had that with North Korea for a very long time and the fact that we came so close to a war perhaps a nuclear war just months ago, means it's time to get it started again. So, this is not a case where President Trump is going to sign an executive order and with the stroke of his pen make this happen. This is going to be a process, as I've said. So, we need to be pragmatic. I think at the end of the day what it's going to come down to is whether or not we can change the nature of our relationship with North Korea and anyone engaged in diplomacy knows how hard it is to do that with an adversary.
  • 01:35:03
    Look at our situation with Iran today. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. And I'd like to end with a quote by a great diplomat and friend, actually someone told me at the end of the debate if you ever want to win quote the great diplomat Richard Holbrook. And come to think of it, I think it was Richard Holbrook who told me that.

    [laughter]

    Great diplomat and risk taker. He understood taking a smart risk to get peace. So, he said, "I think history is continuous. It doesn't begin or end on Pearl Harbor Day or the day Lyndon Johnson withdraws from the presidency, or on 9/11. You have to learn from the past but not be imprisoned by it. You need to take counsel of history, but never be imprisoned by it. U.S. -- unquote. U.S.-Korean relations over the decades has been riddled with missed opportunities, with failed attempts to make peace. We can, and we should learn from these past mistakes.
  • 01:36:04
    Our opponents have raised the fact that we haven't been able to do this in the past as the reason we shouldn't do it now. That makes no sense to me. In fact, it makes me more revved up to get this done. And I think the opportunity is too big before us. So, please --

    John Donvan:
    Suzanne, thank you.

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    -- for this motion.

    John Donvan:
    Thank you. You're just out of time.

    [applause]

    And that motion, again, is "Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea." And here to make her closing statement against the motion -- and you have a little extra time to even things out, if you need it, Mira Rapp-Hooper, senior research scholar at Yale Law.

    Mira Rapp-Hooper:
    "Desiring to eliminate the danger of nuclear war through denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and thus to create an environment favorable for peace, and peaceful unification of our country, North and South Korea declare that they shall not test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy, or use nuclear weapons."
  • 01:37:02
    Was this the declaration from last week's summit between North and South Korea, you might suppose? Alas, it is not. It is the text of the 1992 agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, signed by North Korea while it was in the midst of launching the nuclear weapons program it has now completed, nearly all of these promises made with the intent of breaking them. We have been down this road before. We believe that some deal with North Korea may be possible. But we also know that denuclearization has never been further from sight. Have our opponents persuaded you tonight that there is a specific deal that will cause Kim to disarm completely at the negotiating table? They've certainly argued that there are talks that could be productive, and we agree. We agreed with that when we entered this room.
  • 01:38:00
    But we don't agree that those talks will make him give up his entire hard-won nuclear arsenal, and that is what denuclearization is. That's what we've been debating here tonight, and we don't think they've met this burden. Don't be fooled into buying what's not for sale. A vote for this motion tonight is a vote for the same policy we've been pursuing towards North Korea's nuclear weapons program for the last 30 years. Join us instead in calling for smart diplomacy that has a fighting chance of making the world safer and more secure through realistic goals. Think through the history we've presented tonight and demand that we do better than we've done in the past. Join us in voting against this motion.

    [applause]

    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Mira Rapp-Hooper. And that concludes our closing statements and Round 3. The first thing I wanted to do was to say how pleased I am on a bunch of levels about this debate.
  • 01:39:03
    The first level is that the partnership with the Georgetown Women's Forum has been so spectacularly positive for us, and we thought the promise was excellent. It turned out to be so much better than we even anticipated. Great partners and a great event for us to be part of. So, thank you so much to the Georgetown Women's Forum.

    [applause]

    The other thing I want to say is that in terms of our goals of raising the level of public discourse by bringing debaters to the stage it will really, number one, bring game, really want to compete, but do it in a way that's respectful and honors the other side and recognizes that the other side has legitimate arguments to make is our goal. And the way in which all four of you conducted yourselves tonight is a model for everybody who's ever going to have an argument. So, thank you so much for that.

    [applause]

    And the way we launched tonight, my conversation with Suki Kim, I just need to tell you that her book is so beautifully written and is really worth getting into more deeply. We could've gone two hours with Suki Kim for that. So, I think -- you're still here. Thank you so much again, Suki, for doing that.
  • 01:40:07
    [applause]

    I know that we have some fans here, people who really follow our debates already, but for people who don't if you're just learning about us you can learn a lot more by visiting our website iq2us.org. You can vote on debates there. You can watch and listen to podcasts. We've done more than 150 debates now. Membership for that is free so you can just set up an account. And you can watch all of our debates, by the way, on demand on Roku and Apple TV devices. Again, just search for the IQ2 US app on those devices. Our debates also are featured on public radio stations across the country. I just have a question I'd like to ask all our debaters that -- this is not part of the competition anymore. We're just curious since you think about these things. We've been talking about the impact on North Korea of everything we've been talking about. But in terms of you know, if and when there's a summit between Trump and Kim, Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, in terms of Donald Trump's presidential legacy, even the president, will this thing have -- do you think it has a domestic impact?
  • 01:41:15
    Do you think whatever happens will matter in the mid-term elections and in the political game as its being played here in general one way or the other?

    Sue Mi Terry:
    I think President Trump is absolutely hoping for that. This is why -- because he can -- so I think he's going to really come out of this meeting and he's desperate for some sort of a win because he can say this is my foreign policy success. No other predecessor from Clinton to Bush to Obama could accomplish something and look what I was able to accomplish running into -- going into November election. So, I don't know if it will actually have an impact, but I know that this is probably what the President Trump is hoping for.

    Bonnie Jenkins:
    I have two answers to that. One is -- I mean, they're already talking about the Nobel Peace Prize. So apparently there's thinking that this is going to somehow make him eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 01:42:05
    So, I think that in itself is going to make him want to have success whatever it might be to get the prize. But the other thing is that unfortunately a lot of these issues don't always resonate during elections and a lot of these issues of nuclear weapons don't resonate in terms of voting. Americans tend to focus mostly on domestic issues. Mostly on issues that are closer at hand. That they can actually see and taste. And this matters to us in Washington and it may matter to people on university campuses who are studying the issue, but when it comes to elections and people going to vote it's not really what people focus on unfortunately.

    John Donvan:
    Anybody add anything to that?

    Suzanne DiMaggio:
    I think I agree with Bonnie on that point. I think if the summit is a success and it gets us on a sustained path towards negotiations, it will have an effect domestically, but not in the political sense.
  • 01:43:05
    When I think of what happened in Hawaii just a few months ago when people got a text that a missile was incoming, everyone assumed it was North Korea. You know, my hearts really went out for them and I felt terrible about that. I think if this summit is a success and we get down that road the prospect of that happening, people's fears about that, the prospect of a nuclear war diminishes greatly. And that is something we should all hope for and work toward.

    John Donvan:
    Mira.

    Mira Rapp Hooper:
    I'll just add that although I complete agree with Sue that the president is likely looking to be able to point to something as a win, headed into the midterms, by the time it comes time to vote in a presidential election in 2020, whatever this becomes will be held up against the rest of his foreign policy record. And there is another crucial decision coming up this month that we did not get to talk about during this debate -- that is, the fate of the Iran nuclear deal.
  • 01:44:00
    If the president scores, essentially, a cheap win with North Korea but simultaneously dismantles a real deal that was keeping another nuclear program in the box, this will not burnish his legacy.

    John Donvan:
    Okay. Well, speaking of elections and voting, you have now voted twice, and I now have the results. And we can declare the winner of this debate. Again, it's the difference between the first and the second vote that determines our winner. On the motion: Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea -- before the debate, in polling, our live audience here in Washington -- 34 percent agreed with the motion, 41 percent were against, 25 percent were undecided. Those are the first results. Again, it's the difference between the first and second vote that determines our winner. In the second vote, the team arguing for the motion -- Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea -- their first vote was 34 percent. Their second vote was 27 percent. They lost 7 percentage points. The team against the motion, in their first vote, was 41 percent. Their second vote was 67 percent. They pulled up 26 percentage points. That means the team arguing against the motion -- Negotiations Can Denuclearize North Korea -- declared our winner by our audience here tonight.
  • 01:45:09
    [applause]

    Our congratulations to them. Remember, though, this debate is not over yet. Our audiences are tuning in online, on public radio, and on podcasts -- still have time to vote. You can see those results, which are ongoing, at IQ2US.org. Team, you won. Congratulations to both of you.

    [applause]

    Thank you, everybody. It's been a pleasure. Thank you from me, John Donvan, and Intelligence Squared US. We'll see you next time.

    [end of transcript]

    This is a rough transcript. Please excuse any errors.
Post-Debate
Winner

Against The Motion
67 %
27 %
For The Motion
6 %
Undecided
Pre-Debate
Against The Motion
41 %
34 %
For The Motion
25 %
Undecided
Breakdown
Against The Motion
35% - Remained For the Against Side
15% - Swung From the For Side
17% - Swung From Undecided
For The Motion
4% - Swung From the Against Side
16% - Remained For the For Side
7% - Swung From Undecided
Undecided
2% - Swung From the Against Side
3% - Swung From the For Side
1% - Remained Undecided
Post-Debate
Winner

Against the Motion
76 %
9 %
Undecided
16 %
For the Motion
Pre-Debate
Against the Motion
60 %
11 %
Undecided
29 %
For the Motion
Breakdown
Against the Motion
54% - Remained For the Against Side
17% - Swung From the For Side
4% - Swung From Undecided
Undecided
0% - Swung From the Against Side
4% - Swung From the For Side
4% - Remained Undecided
For the Motion
6% - Swung From the Against Side
7% - Remained For the For Side
3% - Swung From Undecided
Video thumbnail image.
Play this video clip.
Keynote Conversation With Suki Kim
Best-selling author Suki Kim sits down with John Donvan to discuss her book, which chronicles her experience as an undercover journalist in North Korea.
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Suki Kim on Life Inside North Korea
Best-selling author Suki Kim sits down with John Donvan to discuss her book, which chronicles her experience as an undercover journalist in North Korea.
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Audience Question: China’s Trump Card
Experts in the fields of East Asia studies, diplomacy, and nuclear policy discuss Beijing’s influence over Pyongyang.
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Under Maximum Pressure
Will economic sanctions and a new era of “maximum pressure” lead Kim to hand over his nukes? New America’s Suzanne DiMaggio and Mira Rapp-Hooper debate.
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Negotiating With a Dictator
Should the Trump administration negotiate with Kim Jong-un, given his history of violence and oppression? Korea expert Sue Mi Terry and Bonnie Jenkins discuss.
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Audience Question: Weighing the Sides
When it comes to the looming Trump-Kim summit, what are each side’s sources of leverage? Our panel debates.
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Trust in Diplomacy?
Can the United States trust North Korea to uphold its end of a nuclear deal? Arms control expert Bonnie Jenkins and Yale scholar Mira-Rapp Hooper debate.
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Audience Question: North Korea’s Neighbors
What role might China, South Korea, and Japan play in the Trump administration’s negotiations with North Korea? Mira Rapp-Hooper and Suzanne DiMaggio respond.
About The Debaters
For The Motion
An image of Suzanne DiMaggio
Suzanne DiMaggio − Senior Fellow, New America & U.S.-DPRK Dialogue Director
Suzanne DiMaggio is a director and senior fellow at New America, where she focuses on U.S. foreign policy, the... read bio
An image of Bonnie Jenkins
Bonnie Jenkins − Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution & Former Ambassador, U.S. State Department
Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins is a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution where she focuses on nuclear... read bio
Against The Motion
An image of Sue Mi Terry
Sue Mi Terry − Former CIA Analyst & Senior Fellow, CSIS
Sue Mi Terry is a senior fellow with the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in... read bio
An image of Mira Rapp-Hooper
Mira Rapp-Hooper − Senior Scholar, Yale Law School & China Center
Mira Rapp-Hooper is a senior research scholar at Yale Law School and a senior fellow at Yale’s Paul Tsai China... read bio
Main Points
For The Motion
  • North Korea’s nuclear capabilities are rapidly advancing. Kim Jong-un has repeatedly threatened to hit the homeland and his recent missile tests show that he has the capacity to reach the U.S. Allowing the DPRK’s program to go any further could set a dangerous precedent on the world stage and empower nefarious actors to go nuclear.
  • Sanctions are causing serious economic pain in North Korea: Oil imports and coal exports are plummeting and commodity prices are spiking. Given Trump’s recent announcement of newer, harsher sanctions, the U.S. is close to imposing an economic blockade on the North. Kim may be more willing to acquiesce to American demands.
  • The Iran nuclear deal proves that rogue regimes can be brought to the table. If the Trump administration successfully rallies the global community, Kim Jong-un could be compelled to halt his nation’s dangerous nuclear ambitions.

 

Against The Motion
  • From lies about enriching uranium to repeated violations of international law, North Korea has proven itself to be reliably unreliable. Even if Kim agrees to the Trump’s terms, it would be nearly impossible for the U.S. to verify the “Hermit Kingdom’s” compliance. If past is precedent, Kim will use his country’s isolated status to his advantage by agreeing to denuclearize in order to loosen sanctions, only to renege later.
  • Pyongyang has a long history of prioritizing its nuclear program over the basic needs of its people. Kim will continue to blame Washington for North Korea’s economic woes, providing further justification for his claim that the DPRK needs a strong nuclear arsenal to stave off Western aggression.
  • For Kim, a nuclear deterrent is an insurance policy for regime preservation. And when it comes to denuclearization, there is a mismatch in terminology. Kim will likely demand that the U.S. remove its troops from South Korea and pull back the nuclear umbrella over its East Asian allies – concessions that are at odds with America’s strategic goals and would damage long-standing alliances in the region.

 

The Right Way to Coerce North Koera
Victor Cha and Katrin Fraser Katz / April 1, 2018
Our Long History of Misjudging North Korea
Victor Davis Hanson / March 22, 2018