Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

The White House posted the transcript to Friday’s gaggle a bit late, but compensated by giving me a rare Saturday gaggle transcript as well.

On Friday we find a light-hearted view of North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal.

Q Do you believe that North Korea is preparing for a nuclear test?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t want to get into discussing intelligence matters, but what I would say is that if North Korea did take such a step, that would just be another provocative act that would further isolate it from the international community. All countries in the region are committed to seeing a nuclear-free Peninsula. And we have been working, through the six-party process, to make sure that that objective is met. And so we want to see North Korea come back to the six-party talks and discuss, in a serious way, how to move forward on the proposal we’ve outlined.


Q Do you know if Kim Jong-il is going to be there on Monday?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t know. I haven’t seen the latest list.

Q Wouldn’t that be something? Was he invited? Do you know if he was invited?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think he may have been. But I’ll have to double check. I just haven’t seen the list. There are a lot of world leaders that are going to be attending.

Q He’ll be there?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I recall reading some news report that — I thought I remembered seeing some news article earlier in the week that he wasn’t going to be attending, but I just don’t recall specifically —

Q I read something that said that he hadn’t confirmed.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t recall specifically. I remember one news story, I think earlier this week, where it said that he wasn’t going to be attending.

Q He might be tied up with something else.

Q The tests, or something. (Laughter.)

By Saturday it was time to rattle the nuclear sabre.

Q Do you have anything more on North Korea?

MR. McCLELLAN: What’s your question?

Q Whether they have been testing? There’s evidence they might be preparing to test a nuclear —

MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things, I guess. One, we do have concerns about North Korea. I think it’s shared by our partners in the region. North Korea would only further isolate itself if it took such a provocative step. We are working with our partners in the region to get North Korea to come back to the talks and to be prepared to move forward in a serious way. We’ve had ongoing discussions with our partners on those matters about how to get North Korea back to the talks, and that’s where our focus remains. I think you heard from Secretary Rice earlier this week — we have a robust deterrent capability and everybody needs to remember that, too.


Q When you say you have a robust deterrent capability, is that just to remind North Korea that —

MR. McCLELLAN: I just point out that — what Secretary Rice had said the other day.

Q That they should be forewarned?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that we have a strong deterrent capability.