Washington, DC–Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Joe Biden, and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Carl Levin today hailed the passage of their legislation to fix the failing Bush Administration policy towards North Korea. Though President Bush named North Korea as part of the “Axis of Evil” in 2002, his Administration has allowed that country to grow ever more dangerous in the four years since.
The legislation, passed as part of the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill, is a Congressional vote of “no confidence” in current Administration policy. It will require the President to appoint a new Senior North Korea Policy Coordinator to conduct a review of our nation’s approach to North Korea, including matters related to security and human rights, and make recommendations about how the US might improve its policy.
The legislation would also require the President to report to Congress every 180 days on the number of nuclear weapons likely possessed by North Korea, and the amount of new nuclear material North Korea may have produced, as well as on any new developments in North Korea’s missile programs. The full text of the bill is attached below.
“President Bush declared he would not tolerate a growing North Korean nuclear threat, but that is exactly what has happened on this Administration’s watch,” said Senator Reid. “North Korea has grown more dangerous, President Bush and his Congressional allies have allowed this to happen, and it is time to hold them accountable for allowing America to become less secure.”
“The Bush Administration’s policy of malign neglect of North Korea was based on the false assumption that the DPRK would solve our problem by collapsing,” said Senator Biden. “Once again, the Administration has made a colossal misjudgment on a matter vital to our national security. Hopefully a new policy coordinator will allow the Administration to finally speak to North Korea with one voice and to pursue a pragmatic solution to this crisis without delay. The legislation also requires the Administration to fully inform the American people about the nature of the threat we are now facing. Up until now, the Administration has been as skillful downplaying the full scope of North Korea’s growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities as they were at hyping non-existent links between Iraq and Al Q’aeda and 9/11. It’s time the American people learned the hard truth, including the fact that North Korea’s stash of plutonium has grown at least 400% on this Administration’s watch.”
Said Senator Levin, “When President Bush came into office the intelligence community estimated that North Korea may have had one or two nuclear devices or weapons. Six years later, most experts estimate that North Korea has increased its arsenal over four-fold to more than eight nuclear weapons. And North Korea declared last year that it is a nuclear weapons state. The Bush Administration’s ineffective policy has allowed the situation to escalate. Our legislation aims to force the administration to resolve its internal debate about how to deal with North Korea’s nuclear threat, to develop a coordinated strategy and to implement it with the full force of the President’s authority. It also requires regular updated unclassified and classified intelligence assessments to Congress, so that members of Congress and the American people can have a fair, open dialogue with the Administration about U.S. policy towards North Korea.”
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, as passed the Senate, 22 June, 2006 on a 96-0 vote.
SEC. 1209. NORTH KOREA.
(a) Coordinator of Policy on North Korea.–
(1) APPOINTMENT REQUIRED.–Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall appoint a senior presidential envoy to act as coordinator of United States policy on North Korea.
(2) DESIGNATION.–The individual appointed under paragraph (1) may be known as the “North Korea Policy Coordinator” (in this subsection referred to as the “Coordinator)”.
(3) DUTIES.–The Coordinator shall–
(A) conduct a full and complete interagency review of United States policy toward North Korea including matters related to security and human rights;
(B) provide policy direction for negotiations with North Korea relating to nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other security matters; and
(C) provide leadership for United States participation in Six Party Talks on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
(4) REPORT.–Not later than 90 days after the date of the appointment of an individual as Coordinator under paragraph (1), the Coordinator shall submit to the President and Congress an unclassified report, with a classified annex if necessary, on the actions undertaken under paragraph (3). The report shall set forth–
(A) the results of the review under paragraph (3)(A); and
(B) any other matters on North Korea that the individual considers appropriate.
(b) Report on Nuclear and Missile Programs of North Korea.–
(1) REPORT REQUIRED.–Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 180 days thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress an unclassified report, with a classified annex as appropriate, on the nuclear program and the missile program of North Korea.
(2) ELEMENTS.–Each report submitted under paragraph (1) shall include the following:
(A) The most current national intelligence estimate on the nuclear program and the missile program of North Korea, and, consistent with the protection of intelligence sources and methods, an unclassified summary of the key judgments in the estimate.
(B) The most current unclassified United States Government assessment, stated as a range if necessary, of (i) the number of nuclear weapons possessed by North Korea and (ii) the amount of nuclear material suitable for weapons use produced by North Korea by plutonium reprocessing and uranium enrichment for each period as follows:
(I) Before October 1994.
(II) Between October 1994 and October 2002.
(III) Between October 2002 and the date of the submittal of the initial report under paragraph (1).
(IV) Each 12-month period after the submittal of the initial report under paragraph (1).
(C) Any other matter relating to the nuclear program or missile program of North Korea that the President considers appropriate.