Transcript for Roundtable: North Korea's Threats
The roundtable to talk about north korea is right here. As they take their seats, take a look at martha raddatz on the north korean border with american commander james thurman. An unpredictable and inexperienced dictator. What do you think the likelihood is that kim jong-un will act against south korea? I don't think we know his true intentions. Because he's kind of reckless right now. If they decided to resume hostilities, I think we got to be ready to go. If you ask every one of these soldiers out here tonight, it's about fighting tonight. And that's not a bumper sticker. We got to be able to do that. And martha joins us now. Welcome back. Along with george will, greta van susteren from fox news and david sanger of the "new york times". Martha, let me begin with you. You're just back from north korea. We heard the general right there, said they're ready to respond, do they they'll have to? I don't think they want to respond. I think they're trying to talk south koreans out of responding if one of those missiles is launched and falls in the water. The biggest fear of the united states right now is that south korea will respond in some way, that they'll be provoked to respond. Won't south korea have to try to shoot it down? Not if it goes in the water. That's a perfectly good strategy for kim jong-un, he can say it was just going in the water. We were testing missiles. South korea responded to that without any danger coming their way. They would be the ones accused. The best outcome would be a failure of north korea. David, you have a piece coming out in the "new york times" how the u.S. Can calibrate their response, there's a plan for all-out war. But it's tricky figuring out how to step-up possible to step-up possible responses. 5027 is a very old plan. It's been around for 60 years. It's been updated and updated. So, what we have seen over the years from the north koreans have been provocations like the sinking of a south korean ship three years ago that killed about 46 sailors, the shelling of lightly populated island. I think the big question right now, with the very untested new north korean leader, what do you do when something happens? But as martha points out, a big fear whether the south koreans could go too far. And it does seem -- the united states does seem to take some steps to ratchet things down. After putting a destroyer in the region and missile defenses. Sending that b-2 from missouri. They're stopping missile tests. Unrelated. I think you'llee in the coming days more defensive measures. The defense secretary may announce more defensive measures. The big problem is, no one knows much about kim jong-un. When donald rumsfeld was secretary of defense, he had in his pentagon office, on a table under glass, a satellite photograph taken at night of the korean peninsula, it's ablaze of light. Right up to the 38th parallel. Then it's dark. Those two things, first primitive country. Can't evenectricity and metaphorically it's dark. We have no idea of what's going on. Deterrence determines on a lives of your own citizens. Which his regime shows precious little of. Greta, you're one of the few americans who have been inside north korea. This is a population that's always on war footing. Absolutely. The whole time we were there, all we saw preparation for war. We tend to look at north korea, as americans, from our viewpoint, why would they do anything, provoke the world? If you go inside, they have been at war with us since the early 1950s. That we're spending every saturday night that we're sitting around,ing how we're going to get them. While we're eating pizza, they think we're getting ready for war. I went to two performances, it's aionalistic, we're beating the amerans, they're coming to us, they'll see those ships as u.S. Naval ships as provocation and you got the other problem that april 15th is kim jong-il is his birthday. Finally calibrated steps up the escalation ladder. Next year, we'll commemorate the 100th anniversary of the greatest miscalculation in human history, the beginning of the first world war. When events cascaded out of control, mobilization got started and the railroads couldn't stop them. David, isn't that the big concern inside north korea that the new leader gets pushed into a corner and feels that he has to respond? That's right. Because he has to establish himself with a north korean military leadership that views him as a 28-year-old, 29-year-old kid. Don't know exactly how old he is. Who himself is untested. He feels as if he's got to show himself to be the war hero that his grandfather was and you'll notice that even his personal appearance has been changed to look like to his grandfather. Does he bear an uncanny resemblance to his grandfather's impulses? In 1950, nobody thought that north koreans would go over the border and attack south korea. It was a series of miscalculations in washington. You could argue for the past 15 years, from the clinton administration, to the bush administration, to now, we have made miscalculations about how far and fast the nuclear program would go. Adding to the difficulty, you have a new leader in south korea. You got these two new leaders. The one thing that you can't lose sight of here, is that everything's different with kim jong-un. He may be trying to be like his grandfather. He had a successful nuclear test, he had a successful long-range missile test. And they believe he has a long-range mobile missile. Which general thurman said is a game-changer. It's game-changer because you can hide those missiles. And they believe those could hit the united states. Can't follow those and certainly the long-range would be much -- believe that this long-range, if it works, could hit the united states? That's what general james thurman. The other thing, we are always surprised by everything the north koreans do. We know it afterwards. We don't know it before. Our intelligence is very poor. You talk about provocation, from their per, they're winning this big war against us. We're terrified of them. WE HAVE SENT B-2s OVER THERE. We have sent the f-22 over there. The south korean president, she probably thinks that she has to do something if there's any provocation. Because two years ago, when they sunk that ship, and 46 s were lost, nothing was done. South koreans were upset. Meanwhile, a new leader in china as well, just came in october. China's position on north korea is evolving. If so, pretty slowly. Yes, it better evolve fast because they're right next door. This is really a test of whether china will be helpful or not. It's in their neighborhood. The evidence is clear. If anyone has leverage over north korea it is china. What is your sense? I think the chinese would like the north koreans to go back to the status quo, because if north korea collapses, we're right up on their border. At this point, the china's influence on the north koreans is fairly limited unless they decide to use their one true card, which is turn off the oil. They could end this whole thing, sort of, right away. They're not going to do that? They're not going to do that. Kim jong-un knows that. He's playing the chinese very well. And he knows one other thing, while the united states still talks officially about denuclearizing the korean peninsula, he takes a look at the world and he says, gadhafi gave up his nuclear weapon program and look at what happened to him. Saddam hussein never had a nuclear weapons program and look at what happened to him. Tell me, again, why I'm supposed to give up this small arsenal of nuclear weapons, it's the only thing that's keeping -- martha, the nuclear talks with iran basically failed again. You have to believe that iran is watching this as well, and says, he's got nuclear weapons, he has a stronger hand. Not only watching it, but i think there's cooperation between north korea and iran. In fact that's something else that general thurman and other officials -- what kind of cooperation? Coopeon on nuclear program. North korea wants money and iran wants nukes. It could be one of the effects of the iraq war, a lot of people around the world drew the conclusion that had saddam hussein developed nuclear weapons he would still be in power. They do not feel that way, they feel that they're on a mission, the people feel they're on a mission. They feel like we're awful people. When I'm there, they get nervous and they shake, because I look different than most of them. They see americans as the worst enemy for 50, 60 years, every single day, they think we're about to kill them. Martha, test this week from north korea? I suspect there will be a military test. Midrange missile tests. Possibly shorter-range missiles as well. ON THE 15th. I'M GOING FOR THE 10th. That might be the way out. The test that went right into the water would be the best thing that could happen. As long as no one responds. Thank you very much. Martha and david, thank you.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.