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U.S. Envoy Says Missile Test Further Isolates North Korea

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday considered whether to impose sanctions on North Korea for test-firing at least seven missiles, including a long-range one that malfunctioned. U.S. envoy Christopher Hill outlines the American response to the test.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    The point man for the North Korea negotiations is Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill. He joins us from the State Department.

    With 24 hours looking back on what happened yesterday with this series of missile launch tests, how serious do you think this was?

    CHRISTOPHER HILL, Assistant Secretary of State: Well, I mean, they have been signaling for several weeks now that they were intending to have a launch.

    And just about every responsible country in the world weighed in against it, and then they went ahead and did it anyway. So, the first thing they have done is to unite us all. There was a good discussion in the U.N. Security Council today, and I'm looking forward to getting out to the region, having some good discussions, and seeing what we can do next.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    There — everyone from the president to the secretary of state has said that this was a provocation. What do you think the provocation they were provoking, exactly?

  • CHRISTOPHER HILL:

    Well, the provocation is that — you know, we put out, last September, a pretty in-depth agreement, an agreement in principle on how we could denuclearize North Korea, and, in return, they would be offered an open road into the international community.

    And, so, instead, they seem to want to go in another direction. And this also comes after just about a week or two ago, when China proposed that we have an informal meeting of the six parties. So, it's certainly — it provokes a reaction in us. It provokes a reaction in their neighbors and their partners. So, it is a provocation.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The reaction they intended, do you think?

  • CHRISTOPHER HILL:

    Well, I think the North Koreans are learning the law of unintended consequences. But I mean, they have, I think, really united us.

    I mean, we are very concerned about this. The — we have been talking to our South Korean allies, our Japanese allies. And we're going to start having some in-depth discussions with the Chinese. And we're going to see what we can do.

    What is very important about this, though, is, we have got to work together. We have really got to make this a multilateral process, because it's not a bilateral problem.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    You talk about unintended consequences. I presume those consequences would be meted out by the United Nations Security Council you alluded to earlier. What would those consequences be?

  • CHRISTOPHER HILL:

    Well, again, the issue is not what the Security Council may or may not do, although, obviously, they're having discussions, really, as we speak.

    But the issue is really what we can do together as an international community, in particular, what the six parties can do. And I think what the North Koreans hoped for, if one can kind of find some logic to what they have done, is that, somehow, in firing off these missiles, they could say, we need a better deal.

    Well, they're not going to get a better deal through this. In fact, what they're going to face is a six-party process that is more united than ever before, and, frankly, a Security Council discussion which was pretty — which had a lot of unanimity.

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