Former U.S. Ambassador To South Korea: Trump "Trying To Out-North Korea The North Koreans"


Christopher Hill, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea under President George W. Bush, joins ABC's Martha Raddatz on 'This Week' to talk about the situation in North Korea.

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: Well, I think he's trying to out-North Koreans the North Koreans. So let's see if that works. Certainly it makes people nervous when they're not quite sure what he means by it. And, you know, great powers can't really bluff.

So when you talk in those terms, you have got to be prepared to back it up. And I guess that's what worries people the most.

That said, I certainly appreciate the fact that he has understood this is a major issue. I mean, if I were President Trump, I wouldn't want to go before the American people in 2020 and say, well, you know, we gave it the junior college try and we decided there is nothing we can do about this...

I think it is -- we have come to a moment where this is kind of different from the past. First of all, they have had over 25 missile tests. They're working on a whole new generation of missiles. Of course, one of them failed in the last 24 hours. But that doesn't mean they'll try again.

So it's a new generation of missiles. And clearly, they're working on a warhead design for nuclear devices. So this is, I think, a very serious matter. And it's coming down the tracks.

And people often take the view, well, somehow, this is all about their regime survival. This is how they'll survive being a nuclear weapons country. Actually, I think they're more ambitious about it. They see this as a means to somehow decouple the U.S. from its ally in South Korea, from its ally in Japan, and somehow create a situation whereby, at least in theory, holding the U.S. at risk, the U.S. would be less willing to participate in a conflict on the Korean Peninsula, were it to come to that.

So they have ambitious plans for this. And I think we need to be very clear about the need to stop them. And I'm particularly discouraged when I hear people talking about, well, maybe we can freeze their tests in return for freezing our exercises with South Korea.

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