Diane Sawyer's Interview with North Korean General: 'War Is Inevitable'
Ri Chan Bok Says Talks Can Continue If Sanctions Are Lifted
Oct. 19, 2006
If President Bush continues to ask North Korea to "kneel," war "will be inevitable," and it would begin on the Korean Peninsula, North Korean Gen. Ri Chan Bok told "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer, in an exclusive interview inside North Korea.
President Bush wants the country to kneel down, Ri said, and North Koreans cannot agree with that.
Sawyer visited the general in a ceremonial hall.
For decades, the general has been in charge of the flash point demilitarized zone, the 2.5-mile stretch between North Korea and South Korea.
In the interview, Sawyer read Ri the president's statement warning of grave consequences for North Korea should the nation continue nuclear testing or transfer nuclear technologies to third-party countries.
She asked whether the general had a reaction.
Ri told Sawyer that he didn't tend to believe what Bush said.
"Can the general guarantee or reassure the American people that this nuclear information will not be passed to terrorists?" Sawyer asked.
"We have nuclear weapons to defend our country and our people," he said.
The general said he could guarantee that these weapons were to defend North Korea and not to earn money or be sent to third parties. He added that North Korea did not have a relationship with terrorist organizations.
Sawyer asked him what the words of North Korea meant when leaders said there would be a merciless blow in response to any sanctions.
Ri said he couldn't say specifically, but pointed out that North Korea had short- and long-range missiles.
Sawyer asked whether the country's nuclear technology was weaponized and whether it could be loaded on missiles.
He would not say whether he could nuclearize the country's weapons, but said to be assured that the country had the facilities to deliver nuclear weapons.
"North Korea is ready," he said.
When talking about the possibility of talks, the general said the country didn't care if the talks were bilateral or six-party, but he said the sanctions must be lifted for progress to begin.
He said if all this happened, then North Korea would be ready to stand down on its nuclear program.
The general also had a message for President Bush.
"He keeps talking about North Korea as the 'axis of evil,' as an outpost of tyranny, as an unacceptable government that makes its own people hungry," he said.
"We would ask him please to stop making these bad comments on our nation, and I'm speaking not just for myself but for all people in this country."