With the Democratic and Republican presumptive nominees now identified, here is our comprehensive list of what the two candidates have said about the Korean peninsula since the beginning of the race.
QUESTION: “This past week a lot of people are confused because you’re talking about, sounding like Obama, saying you would go to North Korea, you’d talk to the North Koreans…”
TRUMP: “I wouldn’t go to North Korea, Joe, I wouldn’t go there. The last thing I’d do is go – I would never go to North Korea I don’t know who would say I would go there.”
QUESTION: “Ok you won’t go there, you’ll talk to the North Korean leader.”
TRUMP: “Yes I would.”
TRUMP: “As far as Japan and South Korea are concerned, all I’m saying is, we defend them. They are paying us a tiny fraction of what it’s costing. I want them to pay—I would love to continue to defend Japan, I would love to continue to defend South Korea, we have 28,000 soldiers on the line between North and South Korea right now, it is costing us an absolute fortune which we don’t have, we’re a debtor nation. I would like them to pay up. They have a lot of money, both of those nations. We take in Japan’s cars by the millions, South Korea sells us, every time you buy televisions –
QUESTION: “So you don’t have a problem with the troops staying there, you just want Japan and South Korea to pay us for our presence.”
TRUMP: “I want them to pay up. This isn’t 40 years ago and 20 years ago. We are not a country that can afford to defend Saudi Arabia, Germany, the NATO nations, 28 NATO nations, many of which are not paying us and they’re not living up to their agreement, Japan, South Korea, we’re like the dummies that protect everybody. All I’m saying is, we have to get reimbursed because we can’t afford it.”
QUESTION: “You want them [Japan] to have a nuclear weapon?”
TRUMP: “We spend a fortune on defending South Korea. Now I order thousands and — thousands of television sets here, they come from South Korea. They make so much. They’re making a fortune. They’re a behemoth. So is Germany. Why are we defending them? Why aren’t they reimbursing us? Why aren’t they paying a good portion of the costs? They’re going to get it because it’s in their best interest. If we have to walk, we have to walk.”
QUESTION: By the way, you said the other day about South Korea and Japan maybe having to develop their own nuclear weapons capabilities?”
TRUMP: “No, what I said is, ‘I’ll keep it the way it is but they have to pay their fair share.’ Just so you understand, South Korea is a behemoth. They make so much. The ships of the world, the great ships of the world — you can’t buy televisions anymore unless you go to South Korea — other than Sony which is in Japan.”
QUESTION: “But you know what, the last time we pulled troops of the 38th parallel, we had a problem, it’s the Korean War. So I really want to – we shouldn’t be pulling troops…”
TRUMP: “I’ll tell you — I’ll tell you — I’ll tell what — the Korean War. OK, so we compete with South Korea — I have buildings in South Korea, I get along great with the people in South Korea. Do you know that the top people cannot believe — of course, they didn’t know I was going to be running for president — they used to tell me — they don’t tell me that anymore — they cannot believe they get away with what they get away with.”
QUESTION: “You said you worried about the proliferation of nuclear weapons…You also said, though, that you might support Japan and South Korea developing nuclear weapons of their own. Isn’t that completely contradictory?”
TRUMP: No, not at all. Look, you have North Korea has nuclear weapons. And he doesn’t have a carrier yet but he has got nuclear weapons. He soon will have. We don’t want to pull the trigger. We’re just – you know, we have a president, frankly, that doesn’t – nobody is afraid of our president. Nobody respects our president. You take a look at what’s going on throughout the world. It’s not the country that it was.
QUESTION: But if you’re concerned about proliferation, letting other countries get nuclear weapons, isn’t that proliferation?
TRUMP: No, no. We owe $19 $trillion, we have another $2 trillion because of the very, very bad omnibus budget that was just signed. It’s a disgrace, which gives everything that Obama wanted. We get nothing. They get everything.
So that’s going to be $21 trillion. We are supporting nations now, militarily, we are supporting nations like Saudi Arabia which was making during the good oil days which was a year ago, now they’re making less but still a lot, $1 billion a day.
We are supporting them, militarily, and pay us a fraction, a fraction of what they should be paying us and of the cost. We are supporting Japan. Most people didn’t even know that. Most people didn’t know that we are taking care of Japan’s military needs. We’re supporting Germany. We’re supporting South Korea. I order thousands of television sets because I am in the real estate business, you know, in my other life, OK.
QUESTION: “It has been a U.S. policy for decades to prevent Japan from getting a nuclear weapon. South Korea as well.”
TRUMP: “Can I be honest are you? Maybe it’s going to have to be time to change, because so many people, you have Pakistan has it, you have China has it. You have so many other countries are now having it…”
QUESTION: “So some proliferation is OK?”
TRUMP: “No, no, not proliferation. I hate nuclear more than any. My uncle was a professor was at MIT, he used to tell me about the problem.”
QUESTION: “But that’s contradictory about Japan and South Korea.”
TRUMP: “Excuse me, one of the dumbest I’ve ever seen signed ever, ever, ever by anybody, Iran is going to have it within 10 years. Iran is going to have it. I thought it was a very good interview in The New York Times.
QUESTION: “So you have no problem with Japan and South Korea having nuclear weapons.”
TRUMP: “At some point we have to say, you know what, we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea, we’re better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself, we have…”
QUESTION: “Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?”
TRUMP: “Saudi Arabia, absolutely.”
QUESTION: “You would be fine with them having nuclear weapons?”
TRUMP: “No, not nuclear weapons, but they have to protect themselves or they have to pay us. Here’s the thing, with Japan, they have to pay us or we have to let them protect themselves.”
QUESTION: “So if you said, Japan, yes, it’s fine, you get nuclear weapons, South Korea, you as well, and Saudi Arabia says we want them, too?”
TRUMP: “Can I be honest with you? It’s going to happen, anyway. It’s going to happen anyway. It’s only a question of time. They’re going to start having them or we have to get rid of them entirely. But you have so many countries already, China, Pakistan, you have so many countries, Russia, you have so many countries right now that have them. Now, wouldn’t you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons? And they do have them. They absolutely have them. They can’t – they have no carrier system yet but they will very soon. Wouldn’t you rather have Japan, perhaps, they’re over there, they’re very close, they’re very fearful of North Korea, and we’re supposed to protect.”
QUESTION: “So you’re saying you don’t want more nuclear weapons in the world but you’re OK with Japan and South Korea having nuclear weapons?”
TRUMP: “I don’t want more nuclear weapons. I think that – you know, when I hear Obama get up and say the biggest threat to the world today is global warming, I say, is this guy kidding? The only global warming – the only global warming I’m worried about is nuclear global warming because that’s the single biggest threat. So it’s not that I’m a fan – we can’t afford it anymore. We’re sitting on a tremendous bubble. We’re going to be – again, $21 trillion. We don’t have money.”
QUESTION: “So you have no security concerns about Japan or South Korea getting nuclear weapons?”
TRUMP: “Anderson, when you see all of the money that our country is spending on military, we’re not spending it for ourselves; we’re protecting all of these nations all over the world. We can’t afford to do it anymore.”
QUESTION: “But isn’t there benefit for the United States in having a secure Europe. Isn’t there benefit for the United States in having a secure Asia.”
TRUMP: “There’s a benefit, but not big enough to bankrupt and destroy the United States, because that’s what’s happening. We can’t afford it. It’s very simple. Now, I would rather see Japan having some form of defense, and maybe even offense, against North Korea. Because we’re not pulling the trigger. The bottom line on North Korea is china, if they wanted to, they’re a tremendous supplier of North Korea. They have tremendous power over North Korea. If they wanted to, if they weren’t toying with us, Anderson, China would be the one that would get in and could make a deal in one day, okay.”
QUESTION: “The Japanese view has always been, if the United States, at any point, felt as if it was uncomfortable defending them, there has always been a segment of Japanese society, and of Korean society that said, ‘Well, maybe we should have our own nuclear deterrent, because if the U.S. isn’t certain, we need to make sure the North Koreans know that.’ Is that a reasonable position? Do you think at some point they should have their own arsenal?”
TRUMP: “Well, it’s a position that we have to talk about, and it’s a position that at some point is something that we have to talk about, and if the United States keeps on its path, its current path of weakness, they’re going to want to have that anyway with or without me discussing it, because I don’t think they feel very secure in what’s going on with our country, David. You know, if you look at how we backed our enemies, it hasn’t – how we backed our allies – it hasn’t exactly been strong. When you look at various places throughout the world, it hasn’t been very strong. And I just don’t think we’re viewed the same way that we were 20 or 25 years ago, or 30 years ago. And, you know, I think it’s a problem. You know, something like that, unless we get very strong, very powerful and very rich, quickly, I’m sure those things are being discussed over there anyway without our discussion.”
QUESTION: “And would you have an objection to it?”
TRUMP: “Um, at some point, we cannot be the policeman of the world. And unfortunately, we have a nuclear world now. And you have, Pakistan has them. You have, probably, North Korea has them. I mean, they don’t have delivery yet, but you know, probably, I mean to me, that’s a big problem. And, would I rather have North Korea have them with Japan sitting there having them also? You may very well be better off if that’s the case. In other words, where Japan is defending itself against North Korea, which is a real problem. You very well may have a better case right there. We certainly haven’t been able to do much with him and with North Korea. But you may very well have a better case. You know, one of the things with the, with our Japanese relationship, and I’m a big fan of Japan, by the way. I have many, many friends there. I do business with Japan. But, that, if we are attacked, they don’t have to do anything. If they’re attacked, we have to go out with full force. You understand. That’s a pretty one-sided agreement, right there. In other words, if we’re attacked, they do not have to come to our defense, if they’re attacked, we have to come totally to their defense. And that is a, that’s a real problem.”
QUESTION: “Would you be willing to withdraw U.S. forces from places like Japan and South Korea if they don’t increase their contribution significantly?”
TRUMP: “Yes, I would. I would not do so happily, but I would be willing to do it. Not happily. David actually asked me that question before, this morning before we sort of finalized out. The answer is not happily but the answer is yes. We cannot afford to be losing vast amounts of billions of dollars on all of this. We just can’t do it anymore. Now there was a time when we could have done it. When we started doing it. But we can’t do it anymore. And I have a feeling that they’d up the ante very much. I think they would, and if they wouldn’t I would really have to say yes.”
QUESTION: “So we talked a little this morning about Japan and South Korea, whether or not they would move to an independent nuclear capability. Just last week the United States removed from Japan, after a long negotiation, many bombs worth, probably 40 or more bombs worth of plutonium or highly enriched uranium that we provided them over the years. And that’s part of a very bipartisan effort to keep them from going nuclear. So I was a little surprised this morning when you said you would be open to them having their own nuclear deterrent. Certainly if you pull back one of the risks is that they would go nuclear.”
TRUMP: “You know you’re more right except for the fact that you have North Korea which is acting extremely aggressively, very close to Japan. And had you not had that, I would have felt much, I would have felt differently. You have North Korea, and we are very far away and we are protecting a lot of different people and I don’t know that we are necessarily equipped to protect them. And if we didn’t have the North Korea threat, I think I’d feel a lot differently, David….I think maybe it’s not so bad to have Japan — if Japan had that nuclear threat, I’m not sure that would be a bad thing for us.”
QUESTION: You mean if Japan had a nuclear weapon it wouldn’t be so bad for us?
TRUMP: Well, because of North Korea. Because of North Korea. Because we don’t know what he’s going to do. We don’t know if he’s all bluster or is he a serious maniac that would be willing to use it. I was talking about before, the deterrent in some people’s minds was that the consequence is so great that nobody would ever use it. Well that may have been true at one point but you have many people that would use it right now in this world.
QUESTION: For that reason, they may well need their own and not be able to just depend on us…
TRUMP: “I really believe that’s true. Especially because of the threat of North Korea. And they are very aggressive toward Japan. Well I mean look, he’s aggressive toward everybody. Except for China and Iran.
See we should use our economic power to have them disarm — now then it becomes different, then it becomes purely economic, but then it becomes different. China has great power over North Korea even though they don’t necessarily say that. Now, Iran, we had a great opportunity during this negotiation when we gave them the 150 billion and many other things. Iran is the No. 1 trading partner of North Korea. Now we could have put something in our agreement that they would have led the charge if we had people with substance and with brainpower and with some negotiating ability. But the No. 1 trading partner with North Korea is Iran. And we did a deal with them, and we just did a deal with them, and we don’t even mention North Korea in the deal. That was a great opportunity to put another five pages in the deal, or less, and they do have a great influence over North Korea. Same thing with China, China has great influence over North Korea but they don’t say they do because they’re tweaking us. I have this from Chinese. I have many Chinese friends, I have people of vast wealth, some of the most important people in China have purchased apartments from me for tens of millions of dollars and frankly I know them very well. And I ask them about their relationship to North Korea, these are top people. And they say we have tremendous power over North Korea. I know they do. I think you know they do.”
QUESTION: “They signed on to the most recent sanctions, more aggressive sanctions than we thought the Chinese would agree to.”
TRUMP: “Well that’s good, but, I mean I know they did, but I think that they have power beyond the sanctions.”
QUESTION: “So you would advocate that they have to turn off the oil to North Korea basically.”
TRUMP: “So much of their lifeblood comes through China, that’s the way it comes through. They have tremendous power over North Korea, but China doesn’t say that. China says well we’ll try. I can see them saying, “We’ll try, we’ll try.” And I can see them laughing in the room next door when they’re together. So China should be talking to North Korea. But China’s tweaking us. China’s toying with us. They are when they’re building in the South China Sea. They should not be doing that but they have no respect for our country and they have no respect for our president. So, and the other one, and this is an opportunity passed because why would Iran go back and renegotiate it having to do with North Korea?But Iran is the No. 1 trading partner, but we should have had something in that document that was signed having to do with North Korea as the No. 1 trading partner and as somebody with a certain power because of that. A very substantial power over North Korea.”
QUESTION: “Mr. Trump with all due respect, I think it’s China that’s the No. 1 trading partner with North Korea.”
TRUMP: “I’ve heard that certainly, but I’ve also heard from other sources that it’s Iran…Well that is true but I’ve heard it both ways. They are certainly major arms exchangers, which in itself is terrible that we would make a deal with somebody that’s a major arms exchanger with North Korea. But had that deal not been done and they were desperate to do it, and they wanted to do it much more so than we know in my opinion, meaning Iran wanted to make the deal much more than we know. We should have backed off that deal, doubled the sanctions and made a real deal. And part of that deal should have been that Iran would help us with North Korea. So, the bottom line is, I think that frankly, as long as North Korea’s there, I think that Japan having a capability is something that maybe is going to happen whether we like it or not.”
Photos from Gage Skidmore’s photostream on flickr Creative Commmons.