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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript - North Korea


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BLITZER: Angus Walker in Seoul, South Korea, for us, Angus, thanks for that report. Thanks for joining us.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are trying to figure out Kim Jong-un's next move.

I spoke earlier with the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Mike Rogers. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: Wolf, it's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

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

ROGERS: Well, anytime 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 a different behavior with the Chinese. They have got this on-again/off-again relationship with the North Koreans over time.

But they're their biggest benefactor. And about 65 percent of all their foreign goods come through China. They are taking a little bit of a different turn here, which is a positive thing, against North Korea. So you have the Japanese on edge, the U.S., the South Koreans, and now you see the Chinese taking a little bit of a different posture, Wolf. I look at that as a good sign to start trying to unwind this thing.

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

ROGERS: Yes, I think he sees that 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 is an army with a country, not a country with an army. 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 emboldened by all of these activities. The fact that they sunk a ship in 2010 and did some artillery fire earlier than that that killed South Koreans with no response, I think makes him feel emboldened 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 the defender of the people of North Korea.

BLITZER: 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're the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, I can tell you that.

We have got a little room to go. We have some 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 what the leadership intentions are. But, again, our intelligence folks are doing some great work under tough circumstances. And we continue to try to improve that posture.

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

ROGERS: You know, I'm not sure. You don't want to reward bad behavior, especially war -- saber-rattling at the level he's doing now. So I would be cautious about that.

What I would love to see is China shut down the northern -- their southern border with North Korea, and shut off both luxury goods and the black market for fuel. That would have a huge and immediate impact on the regime in North Korea. If we could get them to do that, I think we could start -- 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: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

ROGERS: Hey, thanks, Wolf.


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