Sanders Welcome everyone. This show has a tendency to focus on domestic issues. On the economy, healthcare, education, the environment. We are delighted to be talking about a topic that deserves a lot more discussion: foreign policy. Former secretary Perry, thank you so much for joining us today.
Perry Senator Sanders, the problems you have to face every day are healthcare, budget, education and so on. But there is a real existential danger we face with nuclear weapons.
Sanders There are no ifs, buts or maybes. In a world where many countries have nuclear weapons, this is an issue that we have got to deal with.
Mr Secretary, you and a number of retired senior security officials released a letter recently urging President Trump to begin negotiations – without preconditions – with North Korea over its nuclear program.
In your judgment, why is that the best course of action? Haven’t we tried negotiation with North Korea in the past?
Perry North Korea today has a real nuclear weapons arsenal. That’s very dangerous. But North Korea is not a crazy nation. They are reckless, ruthless, but they are not crazy. They are open to logic and reason.
Their main objective is to sustain their regime. If we can find a way of dealing with them that they can see gives them an opportunity to stay in the regime, we can get results.
Sanders But do you think Kim Jong-un is a leader with whom we can seriously negotiate?
Perry He is a leader with whom we must negotiate. He is working on getting an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile]. In all probability, he will achieve that goal within a few years.
Sanders An ICBM capable of reaching the United States?
In the meantime, he already has medium-range missiles capable of reaching Tokyo and Seoul. The problem is here and now. We can do things to stop that and slow him down, and we should be doing those things for our own security.
Sanders You mentioned that Kim Jong-un is not crazy. What do we know about this very secretive regime?
Perry Everything we know suggests that he is just an extension of the Kim family. All of the leaders they’ve had in the past have been ruthless. All of them have been reckless. All of them have pursued a nuclear weapon program.
His main objective is to stay in power. We have to understand, that’s what he’s trying to achieve. Our understanding and our goal would be to lower the danger from the nuclear weapons and, eventually, to eliminate them.
I think its possible to achieve that. It will require some teaming with China. With China, we can put together both the carrots and sticks. We cannot simply point to China and say: “You solve the problem.” We have to work together with them.
Sanders Do you have confidence that China is prepared to do what it takes to develop a nuclear agreement with North Korea?
Perry China is more concerned about the nuclear weapons program in the North than they were a decade ago. But they have to be convinced that the negotiating path that we put together is not designed to overthrow the regime. They are opposed to doing that. Continue reading.