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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript - North Korea


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BLITZER: Back in Washington, lawmakers are piecing together the latest intelligence from North Korea. They are trying to figure out Kim Jong-un's next move.

And Mike Rogers, chairman of the house intelligence committee is joining us now.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: Wolf, it is great to be here. Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Do you have a good sense of what the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, what his end game is?

ROGERS: Well, I'm not sure anybody has a good sense what his end game is. You know, when the flowers come out in North Korea, normally every year, the savor rattling begins. But, it had a pattern with a beginning and end.

What we were seeing and that was his father, we are seeing in the son is a very unpredictable pattern when it comes to aggressive bellicose behavior. And so, everyone is on edge and concerned because he is ramped it up quicker and faster than his father ever did. And we are not sure he has a strategy to get out of it.

BLITZER: Is the U.S. and south Korean allies, the Japanese, are they still bracing for North Korea to launch a missile or series of missiles within the next few hours or days? What is the latest assessment?

ROGERS: Well, in any time somebody like this who has capabilities to launch a missile makes those threats, you have to take them seriously, so yes. I think U.S. forces are on posture to deal with that, same with the Japanese, same with the South Koreans.

And the unpredictable part of this is you see a little bit of different behavior with the Chinese. Now, they have this on again, off again relationship with the North Koreans over time, but they are in their biggest benefactor. And about 65 percent of all their foreign goods come through China.

They're taking a little bit of different turn here which is a positive thing against North Korea. So, you have the Japanese on edge, the U.S., the South Koreans, now you see the Chinese taking a little bit of a different posture. I look at that as a good sign to try to unwind this thing.

BLITZER: Is there -- are there any indications that Kim Jong-un and his top military leadership are seeking to tone things down or is it -- still seems to be ratcheting up tension?

ROGERS: Yes. I think he sees there's an internal to North Korea advantage for him to continue to do this, to try to solidify himself with his military base, and North Korea is one of those countries that's an army with a country, not a country with an army. And so, he needs to solidify that base so that he can continue to solidify his power across the country.

I think he is feeling pretty embolden by all of the activities. The fact that they sunk a ship in 2010, it did some artillery fire earlier than that. It killed South Koreans with no response I think makes him feel embolden to continue ratcheting this up until some common sense or at least external pressure kicks in to have him ratcheting down.

I think he's going to continue to do this. I even believe, Wolf, that he may even be looking for a minor skirmish as they have in the past in order to thump his chest, and show that he is this new military commander and defender of the people of North Korea.

BLITZER: Because if he were to do now what he did in 2010, a torpedo, South Korean war ship, killing 46 sailors or bomb a South Korean island. It killed four South Korean back in 2010. There was retaliation from south Korea or the United States. but, I suspect this new president of South Korea would retaliate this time, and maybe the U.S. would as well.

ROGERS: I can't speak to the U.S.'s intentions there. But, I will tell you that Park, the new leader in south Korea, has made it very clear she will not tolerate that. And they have to stand up to what is this very belligerent behavior. And he is 28-years-old. He is untested.

Again, we don't have the same predictable profile that we had for his father. So there's a lot of great reasons why you need to stand up and not let them get away with threatening nuclear exchange with the United States, threatening war with the South Koreans, ratcheting up almost on a daily basis what some new, you know, is telling South Koreans they should prepare for war, having the consulates evacuated in North Korea because they are preparing for war.

All of that is a ratchet up. I think you would find park would be very aggressive about responding to any military action or any skirmish that might happen. It would be in proportion, I believe, but there would be a reaction.

BLITZER: And I think she would respond in proportion, as you point out. How good is U.S. intelligence on what's going on in North Korea?

ROGERS: Never as good as you want it to be when you are chairman of the intelligence committee, I can tell you that. We have a little room to go. We have some good indications, but we're a long way from having that comfort level about fully understanding across the board about not only with military intentions but with leadership intentions are.

But again, you know, our intelligence folks are doing great work, under tough circumstances, and we continue to try to improve that posture.

BLITZER: Does it make sense to send a high level emissary to Pyongyang?

ROGERS: You know, I am not sure. You don't want to reward bad behavior, especially saber rattling at the level he is doing now. So I'd be cautious about that. What I would like to see is China shut down the northern -- their southern north border with North Korea and shut off luxury goods and the black market for fuel. That would he have a huge and immediate impact on the regime in North Korea. If we could get them to do that, I think we could then start negotiations on how they unravel it because that pressure would be so immediate and so real and it would be felt, as I said, just almost immediately.

BLITZER: Chairman of the house intelligence committee, Mike Rogers.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

ROGERS: Thanks, Wolf.


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