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tv   Amanpour on PBS  PBS  March 30, 2018 6:00am-6:30am PDT

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. >> welcome to "amanpour on pbs." tonight, north and south korea agree to meet face to face for the first time in a decade as diplomacy gathers pace. my conversation with renowned u. scientist sigfreed hecker. plus, the "island born" helping readers deal with issues facing our world.
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>> "amanpour on pbs" was made by the generous support of roz lynn b. walter. good evening, everyone. welcome to the program. i'm cristiane amanpour in london. the date is set. the leaders for north and south korea will meet for the first time in more than a decade on april 27th. the historic summit between the presidents will be held on the southern side of the demilitarized zone. the announcement comes just a day after news emerged of kim's surprise visit to beijing where he said we wanted to resolve the issue of deknew leerization on the korean peninsula and adds to the flurry of diplomacy ahead of trump's hoped-for meeting which could take place as soon as may. i put this to the scientist cigfried hecker who has visited
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north korea many times. sig, welcome to the program. you're one of those rare beings who has been to north korea, who knows what's going on. so first and foremost, i just want to know your reaction to be summit with south koa.ng and then perhaps a meeting with president trump. what do you think about this? >> i think it's a great idea and a big step forward, especially after all of the dangers that we saw in 2017. good move, but it's going to be very difficult. but nevertheless, it's welcome. >> okay, it's welcome because it defuses tension. but you know the nitty-gritty, the technical aspects of a negotiation would look like. for instance, is deknew clearization feasible? >> well, nobody his defined exactly what denuclearization
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means. is it possible to walk back all of their nuclear programs? it's going to be very difficult. yes, it's possible, but if denuclearization means actually having them get rid of all of their nuclear capabilities, everything from making the bomb fuel, enriched uranium plutonium and building and testing their weapons to the missile complex, that's an enormous undertaking and we're going to have to have patience and determinations. and cooperation from north korea. >> but do you not think from the western perspective, from a south korean perspective, that is what they want. is it possible if all sides enter in good faith. or do you think that's not what the north koreans see as denuclearization? >> well, i think the north koreans would indeed look at this as a long, long process. kim jong-un himself has said he
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has no need for nuclear weapons as long as the security of his regime is guaranteed and there's no military threat. that's possible but it's going to take a long time to get there. in the meantime, one is going to have to manage the risks of how to get to that eventual goal. >> what do you make of kim jong-un having just gone to china. what do you think china is trying to say? this is kim's first trip abroad since being leader.my immediate was is he clever. he respond ed well to the south korean president moon jae-in. then he reaches out to president trump. and he reaches out to china. so to me, he's sort of lining up
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all the important players. so i've looked at this nuch more he has some support for china whatever is in his mind. >> what do you make of the report last month that says it's detecting activity again at the plutonium reactors. what do you make of that? the north koreans say it's just civilian electricity generation. do you believe it? >> well, that small reactor, which actually i saw coming out of the ground when i was there in 2010, i believe was built primarily for prototype for electricity production. and that's the way they were going along. they've taken a long, long time to get that reactor up, because it's a whole new reactor concept for them.
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however, if they can operate this thing on their own without any international inspectors in there, any reactor that uses uranium fuel will make plutonium. then one would be able to extract that plutonium to make bombs. so that's possible. so right now, if indeed they're left alone to continue their nuclear keps program, if they bring that reactor up, it would be possible to make plutonium. and that's one of the reasons why it's very important to actually come to agreement with the north koreans. either they go ahead and halt the various reactors, not start this reactor, or at least allow international inspectors in. and so to me, this is not a big panic time at all. they're just getting all the pieces in place. they had one reactor that makes plutonium and makes very little. this reactor could possibly make plutonium. because again you know, what can
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you tell us about what you think they actually have right now in terms of plutonium, warheads in terms of missile capability, in terms of uranium enrichment. what do they actually have? >> so for plutonium, we have a very good sense of what they have, because you have to make reactors and extrablt it in a reprocessing facility. we know when those facilities are operating. for uranium enrichment, we basically know very, very little. so all of our estimates of how much highly enriched uranium they could have made, which given this alternate path for the bomb, are based on essent l essentially our estimates. and much of it based on what i saw there in november in 2010. so the bottom line is great uncertainty. the best that i've been able to pull together is, we know what
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they had when i visited, which is 2,000 centrifuges and approximately how much highly enriched uranium they've been able to make. they went ahead and doubled that capacity, we believe. all we can actually see from overheads is they doubled the size of the building. so if we assume they doubled that size and have 4,000 centrifuges, and that at least in my own view is thehave to have at least another facility or perhaps two kplas else that are covert. we don't know where they are. so if you put all of those together, we can come up with an estimate. so the best estimates that i've made in terms of highly enriched uranium is somewhere between 250 can and 500 kilograms of highly enriched uranium. now, what does that mean? if you put that together with the plutonium, then my estimate, they have enough of this bomb fuel for 25 to 30 nuclear weapons. and perhaps they can make enough for another six weapons or so. and by weapons, i mean the
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fishing type weapon like hiroshima and nagasaki. >> right. do you believe that the president, president trump's sort of bellicose stance towards north korea, or the tweet, you know, the threats of the bloody nose, the sort of highly militaristic jingoistic jar bonn by both sides, do you think that has brought about this moment of possible diplomacy? >> president trump has certainly threatened the north koreans. does it work? we're very uncertain about how much highly enriched uranium they have. we're much more uncertain yet as to what's worked or not worked. my own sense is that the north koreans most likely at this point just simply don't know what president trump is going to do. and so to some extent, you might say that unpredictability may
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have an effect on the north koreans. the other hand, it's also a pretty high stake gamble, because at this point, north koreans have the capability, in my opinion, to reach any part of south korea or japan with a nuclear weapon. and so the potential of an outbreak of war is there. and that's what's concerned me most in 2017 and concerned me about the bellicose rhetoric going back and forth. also from north korea to the united states. an so my feeling was, most important thing at this point was to make sure that somehow we don't get an accidentally get into a war. and that's what 2017 looked like. that's why all the developments in 2018, the potential interkorean summit, the summit between president trump and kim jong-un are welcome developments. >> thank you so much for joining
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us this evening. it can be difficult to speak about the horrors we face. hardest still to talk to our children about them. the pulitzer prize winner author is beginning that conversation in his first conversation, "island born." 6-year-old lola is trying to learn about the homeland she left as a baby. diaz draws on iz h own childhood home, the dominican republic, a place full of music and color. when we spoke this week, diaz told me his first picture book is the fulfillment of a promise he made long ago. welcome to the program. >> thank you. >> it's a great pleasure to talk to you. i read your book, the seminal book "the brooes wondrous life of oscar wilde." and i was swept away from it. it was so different.
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just your syntasyntax, the lang how you wrote it. how do you go from that edginess to this adorable, sweet, lovely kids book, complete with beautiful pictures? >> i think the young people in one's life make certain demands on you, and you've got to try to meet them. so my god daughters asked me for a book, a picture book, a children's book for them about them. and i tried to kind of -- i tried to execute to make it happen. >> so they asked you and of course you immediately did it for them, is that right? >> no. i didn't immediately do it. in fact, i'm so slow and that kind of laborious writer that it took me 20 years. they asked me when they were 7 and handed it to them when they were 27. now they're like lawyers and urban farmers. >> yeah.
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well, it is amazing. and you actually just now hit the nail on the head, because this book has landed right in the middle of a global focus on identity and a search for identity, and a hanging on of identity by people from all over the world. especially immigrant communities. it's called "island born." what is lola, the protagonist trying to say? what is her story? >> i think little lola, you know, she's just this really curious, really bright and really beloved girl who lives in a diasporic community. she lives in an immigra community, but she doesn't actually remember the place that she's from, a place the book called the island. and i think it's really about how do we create conversation
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with places that are very important to us and to our communities, how do we remember what's difficult not to remember? and also how do we find home when we often come from multiple homes. and i think that's what the book is trying to get at it. >> so it sort of opens when she's in class and the teacher wantsle whole class, all the different colors and genders and, you know, origins, to tell their story. and everybody has got a little memory of their home, their home country except for lola. she is seized by a panic and just doesn't know what she's going to do about it. >> yeah. lola, at first, this teacher -- i've always loved teachers. i've loved my teachers. kind of sparks this moment in her where she realizes that there's something very important to her life that surrounds her home, the island, that she has no memory of.
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and that requires her to suddenly dig deep, not only in herself and her family. her teacher informs or advises her that even if she doesn't remember, maybe she should talk to people who do remember and that will spark something. >> what message is it saying today, particularly to hispan s hispanics? >> well, both. i think anyone who has another home, anyone who is an immigrant, anyone who is a n newcom newcomer, anyone who has ever wondered about that place where theirandparents come from and who sought to -- how do we create a relationship, how do we understand that kind of presence that's in our lives? i feel the book attempts to show you there's a way forward. and kind of invite people to create a relationship to places
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that seem far and elusive and that there's nothing wrong with you not being able to remember a home perhaps and still attempting to create a relationship with it. in the united states right now, we kind of have a set of politics that are sort of like knives. they're trying to cut people off from their complexity, cut people off from multiplicity. and that's been very, very dangerous and also very cruel. and it's unrealistic. no one hails from one place. we are both in the present and we're in the past. and there's those of us who come from physically different places. we should be exploring and celebrate, not attempting to diminish. we left worlds than very left home to find a better at world obscure that there were people that we loved, that there were aspects of society that were important to us.
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that there was foods and smells and music and habits and song that were just vitalle to our souls. even the model that we left x back home or we're missing y, but that doesn't get to the heart of how often our hom are oftefu of love. they're a cornucopia of feeling and opportunities, but certain circumstances required us to move. and it doesn't have to always be that our home was some sort of apocalypse. sometimes we really left places that mattered to us deeply, but we had no other options. i'm trying to get that as well across. >> so the book is filled with most fantastic illustrations. the teacher tells her, even if you don't remember, go and find people in your neighborhood, in your family, who remember and
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ask them what they remember. one of your favorite illustrations is when little lola is essentially sitting on her grandmother's lap and they're looking at books and the grandmother is telling her stories. fake us ba take us back to that moment. it must have resonated with you and your family as well. >> yeah. and it's important where, i think why this matters, why, for example n this story lola journey, her attempt to figure out her relationship to her home, but in some ways to kind of investigate her family's relationship to her home. her innocent child-like questions open up an opportunity for her grandmother, her abuela to, in fact, say things that she perhaps has not said, to bear witness. lola, her innocence and just her curiosity opened space for the generations to meet, and to meet
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honestly. and i thought that was really, really important. and for me, very moving because that's what happened with me. i had to ask my grandparents questions, because i needed answers to things. and it was only because i asked the questions that that space opened up for them to think about some of the events and some of the kind of experiences that they've had that they've locked away and thought that nobody wanted to hear about. create an intergenerational love, closeness that wasn't there before. for me, it was always a powerful, powerful dialogue i had with my grandparents. and i kind of wanted to narrate that to lola. >> you start to create the specter of a monster. there's a brilliant illustration
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of monster, a cross between a bat and i don't know what, riding a tsunami and everybody fleeing. and lola gets that side of the story from the super in her building. and nobody's told her about the monster, which is, of course, the dictator trujillo in the '60s. tell us about that ugly part of the history there is that she's now a being taught. >> many places have faced political monsters. in the dominican republic, we had a dictator who ruled for 31 years. incredibly cruel, violent, sadistic. he had u.s. backing and a lot of dominican families were ter tro rised. the first wave of immigrants were fleeing from his regime. and he was someone of really --
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he was like a terror that lingered over the entire community. when i was young, trujillo, he was already dead, yet you could feel the fear that he still emanated. he was like something from the undead, something that lingered on. and my parents and grandparents, when they would tell stories, they would tell stories that were scrupulously edited to us children, but we could always tell there was something really disturbing and problematic behind them. and of course, as we got older, being, the shadow behind these e stories was trujillo, this dictator that did so much harm. i know it was important for me to remind our communities that often we are the children who have suffered and overcome political monsters. this isn't just something in the past. this is a legacy that i think will serve us a good stead in the future.
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>> this is an idea you had, you made up this story on the spot something like 20 years ago and it lands now, because you said you're very slow to put pen to paper. but here it is landing in a world of monsters, if i might say. there are so many so-called strongmen emerging all over in democracies, in dictatorships, all over. this seems to me to be a pretty receptive moment, even for a fairy tale about this. >> sadly. very sadly so. as i said, there's something about the way we're wired. something about humans and our weaknesses and our desires and our fears that often lead us to be trapped by authoritarian figures. .there's no question we're in a very difficult moment currently. there is just way too many political monstrosities around
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both in the united states and europe. and the dangers are only increasing, which i think is why it's very valuable for a entire generation and for allf us to remember that the thing that we're really best at is fighting and overcoming political monstrosities. the only reason me and you are talking right now is because this has happened. and even though times seem very ominous, we should take heart because this is our real strength. if we have any superpower, it's that. >> and i was staggered when i read to the end of the story, and i see you specifically describing the women who had defeated the monster. and i didn't know enough about the history and i went back to see that the women in the dominican republic really stood up against trujillo. tell us about that.
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remember all the great women, and the men, who helped defeat him. >> you had women organize. if it wasn't for their social circuits, their political circuits and if it wasn't for just their flat-out courage, i think the dictatorship would have lasted a lot longer than it did. and you had a group of women from one family who in some ways sparked the fire that would end up burning this dictator out of the country. >> we talked about the time in which this book is landing and the dreamers who brought over here through no control of their own. and who in legal limbo, what does this moment mean to you as an immigrant? and just as an american. >> i have been involved with immigrant rights since i was a kid in college. we have to understand that most of the societies in the west owe their prosperity to the
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unrpaid and mistreated labor of immigrants, both documented and undocumented. and this current cruelties, just current -- the kind of maligned mistreatment and stigmatization of immigrants speaks to a real messed up politics. i mean, we should be celebrating our immigrants and figuring out ways to make their lives easier. and by afflicting them, i think, this is a way that our kind of messed up politicians distract people from who their real en y enemies are. immigrants, documented or otherwise, are not the biggest problems facing any country. on the other hand, neoliberal politics which gut education, gut health care, gut public space, make lives more difficult for all of us, we should be focused on all of that andless focused on the weakest among us. >> thank you for joining us. >> it's a real honor. thank you.
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>> juno diaz speaking with me earlier this week. fantasy and harsh reality meeting in his new book "island born." thanks for watching "amanpour on pbs." join us again tomorrow night.
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(upbeat pleasant music) - hi i'm tara lee. i've created these yoga exercises based on the earth element. this sequence is designed to help you

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