Interdicting N Korea Will
Cause Nuclear Strike - Spokesman

Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Late night news & current affairs

From Harry Mason

As John Howard ventures out into the region with his tough on terrorism message, one of the key targets of his new policy is threatening retaliation. Mr Howard will be explaining Australia's decision to begin exercises with the US Navy to practice interdicting North Korean ships on the high seas. North Korea has warned it would regard actual operations to interdict its ships and aircraft as an act of war. Kim Myong Chol, the executive director of the Centre for Korean-American Peace, is often referred to as the "unofficial spokesperson for North Korea". He joined Tony Jones to discuss the latest developments.
Reporter: Tony Jones
TONY JONES: Kim Myong Chol, Australia and the US plan to begin, as we've said, these naval exercises in the very near future to practice interdicting North Korean ships.
What reaction do you expect from Pyongyang to these practice exercises?
KIM MYONG CHOL, CENTRE FOR KOREAN-AMERICAN PEACE: If practice become actual war games against North Korea, North Korea react violently against American mainland.
TONY JONES: When you say react violently, what do you mean exactly?
We know that North Korea has suggested it will regard those interceptions as an act of war.
KIM MYONG CHOL: North Korea will regard it as an act of war.
That means North Korea is ready to attack America.
TONY JONES: Are you saying there that they would attack -- you've mentioned attacking the North American mainland, which seems a little far fetched.
KIM MYONG CHOL: That's right.
North Korea put the torch to New York, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco.
TONY JONES: We've heard this sort of rhetoric before.
Isn't it more likely, in fact, that the North Koreans would use its naval vessels or aircraft to try and defend or protect its own ships and aeroplanes?
KIM MYONG CHOL: If American ship interdict North Korean ships, North Korea retaliate against American mainland, launching missile attack - New York, Washington, other cities.
KIM MYONG CHOL: Why start war?
TONY JONES: Kim Myong Chol, is there really any reason to believe, though, that North Korea has the capacity to reach the American mainland with any kind of nuclear weapons?
If the Americans start war, they'll get answer immediately.
North Korea not Iraq.
TONY JONES: Why would they escalate immediately to nuclear war, as you're suggesting?
Would there not be --
KIM MYONG CHOL: Why America escalating?
Why America engage such exercises?
That is escalation.
Why America refuse to talk to North Korea?
That is also escalation.
If American attempt at war games is escalation, that's an act of war.
TONY JONES: You'd be aware, of course, that it didn't only the United States that's talking about intercepting these ships.
Australia is involved and so were 11 countries in the talks in Brisbane recently.
KIM MYONG CHOL: If Australia become part of American manipulation against North Korea, North Korea reserve the right to strike back on Australia.
TONY JONES: And what capacity do you reckon the North Koreans would have to do that?
KIM MYONG CHOL: No, no, no, no -- any Korean can do that.
Any Korean.
That is official North Korean position.
If Australia become part of American operation, North Korean response is to attack Australia.
TONY JONES: In what way?
KIM MYONG CHOL: North Korea can reach Australian mainland any time.
Unfortunately Australia has no capacity to reach North Korea.
TONY JONES: Kim Myong Chol, can I just ask you this: How closely has Pyongyang been monitoring Australia's involvement in the talks which are leading up to this operation?
KIM MYONG CHOL: Carefully.
North Korea is carefully monitoring all Australian behaviour.
So Australia must be careful in its behaviour to North Korea.
TONY JONES: You've just suggested that, if the United States were to involve themselves intercepting North Korean ships or aeroplanes, that in actual fact there would be a nuclear strike on the United States, is that correct?
KIM MYONG CHOL: That's right.
TONY JONES: Are you saying the same thing about Australia?
TONY JONES: Kim Myong Chol, you're aware that the Australian Prime Minister is presently travelling through the region to talk about these things.
Will Pyongyang be seeking to send a message to the Australian Prime Minister at this time?
KIM MYONG CHOL: The North Korean message is to be careful in talking.
Otherwise, harm to Australia.
TONY JONES: You're aware, of course, that Australia already has intercepted a North Korean ship on which was found --
KIM MYONG CHOL: That is a police action.
TONY JONES: Yes, of course.
KIM MYONG CHOL: That was a police action.
TONY JONES: ..on which was found a massive shipment of heroin.
So it's clear that the North Korean Government is involved in illegal shipments of some kinds.
Why should the world not expect eventually weapons of mass destruction to be on those ships?
KIM MYONG CHOL: No, no, no.
Australian police inspector said there is no hard evidence of this involving Government.
Also they made observation the United Nations made the same disclosure.
North Korea is not involved in such illegal activity.
TONY JONES: There wouldn't be a single North Korean ship leaving North Korean ports which didn't have a senior North Korean official on board would there?
KIM MYONG CHOL: It doesn't necessarily mean that the Government is involved here.
If that is the case, the American GI, steal the Iraqi museum pieces, then that means American Government involved?
Some person may be involved illegal activities.
But it never mean that Government involved.
TONY JONES: Can I ask you, if I can move the subject on a little, can I ask you whether you can confirm or deny that North Korea has finished reprocessing the 8,000 nuclear fuel rods at the Yongbyong reactor?
KIM MYONG CHOL: That's a, you know, obvious fact.
Why America hesitating to confirm it?
Governments also expressing doubt, very strange behaviour.
Also North Korean Government announce and inform American Government that they have completed the processing.
There is no doubt about it.
TONY JONES: So how much plutonium do they now have from that reprocessing effort?
And how many nuclear weapons have been made from that?
KIM MYONG CHOL: According to American scientists, there's 30 kilograms.
TONY JONES: What about according to the North Korean officials?
KIM MYONG CHOL: North Korea Government never say that.
It up to American analysis.
TONY JONES: Alright.
Can we go a little further?
Can you confirm the truth or otherwise of claims, reports indeed, apparently coming from intelligence sources, that at another secret testing facility, the North Koreans are attempting to develop small nuclear weapons to put on their missiles?
KIM MYONG CHOL: It's most likely that it's a kind of a decoy.
Intelligence is a failure.
North Korea succeeded developing nuclear weapons long, long ago.
No need for further testing.
TONY JONES: Yes but it is believed they have, or may have, a number of rudimentary nuclear weapons but they don't have any -- it's believed by American intelligence -- they don't have any which now fit on missiles as war heads.
KIM MYONG CHOL: American intelligence on North Korea is a very, very flawed, you know.
They are 10 years, 20 years behind [in] fact.
North Korea already hundreds of nuclear war heads all locked on American cities.
Why new tests?
That's the kind of decoy.
TONY JONES: Can I ask you whether you in fact are a kind of decoy, yourself.
We hear the statements that you make from time to time.
Now I know you lived in Pyongyang and wrote a biography of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.
Do you still have contact with him?
Do you still have contact with other North Korean officials at this time?
I am in regular contact.
TONY JONES: So the message that you're delivering us, is that the message the North Koreans want the world to hear now?
You can take it at the face value.
TONY JONES: How do we know, though, that it's not simply propaganda, that it's what they want the world to hear because they're engaged in a desperate race at the moment to build nuclear weapons and they don't want anyone to stop them doing that?
KIM MYONG CHOL: You know the best way to start war against North Korea -- why not launch strike against Yongbyong?
What will happen?
Why start war?
Why launch a pre-emptive strike on North Korea?
Get answer.
If North Korea is bluffing, American easily topple down Kim Jong-Il Jr.
Good news for America.
Why not start?
TONY JONES: You'll have to accept, Kim Myong Chol, that many people will find your reaction to the prospect of nuclear war to be quite extraordinary.
You seem to be welcoming it in some respects.
KIM MYONG CHOL: Not extraordinary.
TONY JONES: Let me ask you this, would Pyongyang accept at this stage some intervention from the UN to stop this crisis before it does get out of control.
KIM MYONG CHOL: You mean that the North Korea accept American intervention?
TONY JONES: United Nations intervention of some sort.
KIM MYONG CHOL: United Nations?
If United Nations remain neutral, North Korea accept.
Otherwise, no.
TONY JONES: What way can you see to defuse this situation before it does get out of control?
You've presented the world with no option if they want to stop North Korea developing nuclear weapons other than to attack North Korea in some way.
KIM MYONG CHOL: Sign peace treaty, very simple.
Recognise North Korean Government.
That's all.
Only paper, very simple.
No money.
Sign peace treaty with North Korea.
That's all.
Nothing more.
TONY JONES: Some people would say that, in fact, the possibility for peace lies with North Korea.
It simply has to stop developing nuclear weapons which, indeed, are breaking the non-proliferation treaty, it needs to stop processing these fuel rods and it needs to make some sign to the world that it intends to have peace.
KIM MYONG CHOL: If America recognise North Korea, sign peace treaty, North Korea ready to stop.
Otherwise, North Korean nuclear arsenal will grow, grow, grow, growing.
TONY JONES: Alright I'm afraid we are out of time, Kim Myong Chol.
As always, it's rather sobering to talk to you late in the evening as we do.
It is, however, good of you to come and talk to us.
Thank you very much.
KIM MYONG CHOL: Thank you.
© 2003 Lateline. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.



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