Transcript: The President's Interview with Print Media Columnists
Again, the argument now is over what consequences, and my attitude is the more we can isolate Iran economically if they choose not to simply just stop their enrichment in a verifiable way, the more likely it is we'll be able to determine whether or not this government is as cohesive as some assume it is. I think it's in the country's interests to pressure to determine if there's fractures or fissures. But all options are on the table.
Q: But, with Iran and North Korea, couldn't we end up in a situation where we have essentially reverted to a policy of strategic deterrence, as we would for
THE PRESIDENT: I would hope not.
Q: But some of our friends seem willing to live with that.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, on North Korea, we're putting in the places to putting in the parts to make sure that, to the extent that he's got capabilities of launching a weapon or preventing him from selling the weapon, we're putting those in place. The missile defense system was designed precisely for this kind of situation, the one we've got now, which is ones, twosies, or threesies it's not a multiple launch regime, but it's getting pretty accurate. And all of a sudden, somebody stands up a weapon and aims it and says, "Hands up," and we say, they're not coming up, because we've got the capacity to stop it.
The same with the proliferation issue. That's the first round of sanctions in the or consequences in the resolution was we bound together to stop you from proliferating, Kim Jung-il. This is a situation where constant pressure is needed to force these leaders to make different decisions before we use the military. And in the case of North Korea, I changed the whole policy, as you know, to convince other countries to be an equal partner. And they are now at the table. They're not just the people that invite us to the table, or provide the table, they're at the table.
And I've worked very hard on this to get for there to be people that understand the consequences of what it means for North Korea to have a nuclear weapon. It is clear in everybody's mind of the consequences. It's interesting to watch the reaction to the world the other day when a Japanese official announced that perhaps they should think about developing a nuclear weapon. Let me just say, it got a lot of people's attention.
And I can't predict in open societies it's easier to predict the behavior of these leaders. I can't predict, is the answer for how they'll behave. I do know that focused pressure on and keeping people knitted up, because what America cannot afford to do is become isolated in this instance. If we're the only one at the table if everybody had their way, they'd just scatter and say, go solve it. And then what happens is, is that we end up in a position where people say, do what the man says. It doesn't sound unreasonable, let him learn how to enrich, that's easy or whatever Kim Jung-il would demand. And the world would tend to say, go fix it, America, it's your fault, not their fault. And that's what ends up happening in bilateral relations with these leaders. And I'm just not going to let it happen to us.