Washington, DC–With the president heading to the G8 Summit at a time when the United States faces numerous challenges to its security around the world, it is clear that there is a heavy burden upon President Bush to demonstrate real leadership and make progress with our nation’s allies.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Joseph Biden, Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Carl Levin, and Senate Armed Services Committee Member Jack Reed today sent the following letter to the president, urging him to address five key problems in order to ensure America’s national security.
The text of the letter is below.
July 12, 2006
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
The upcoming G-8 Summit is an important opportunity to make real progress in five areas important to the American people: securing and stabilizing Iraq so we can begin the redeployment of U.S. forces this year, preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons option, reining in what appears to be a rapidly developing North Korean nuclear program, addressing energy security and global climate change, and addressing negative trends in Russian policy. Each of these areas demands your immediate attention and leadership. Our security will continue to be weakened if you fail to rally our allies in St. Petersburg and produce real achievements on these critical issues.
We join with you and our allies in our desire to succeed in Iraq. The Iraqi people deserve a peaceful and stable future. Our troops and our citizens have sacrificed a lot in the service of Iraqi freedom and protecting America. However, this war is now in its fourth year, scores of U.S. troops and Iraqis are killed and wounded each month, sectarian violence plagues the nation, and many Iraqis have yet to see the fruits of the international reconstruction process. We continue to see few indications that your Administration has done enough to ensure that 2006 is a year of significant transition as called for by the Congress. It is in the interest of the Iraqi people, our troops, and our security for the Iraqis to assume responsibility for securing and governing their country as soon as possible and, as General Casey and our field commanders apparently have indicated, for the phased redeployment of US troops to begin this year. You should use the Summit to make it clear to our allies that U.S. forces will commence a phased redeployment from Iraq this year.
You have an opportunity to also use the G-8 Summit to press upon our allies the importance of meeting their obligations to assist the Iraqi people in rebuilding their country and to fully engage them in the effort to stabilize Iraq. Despite the fact that the international community has pledged more than $13 billion in assistance over two years ago, very few of those pledges have been fulfilled. Our troops and taxpayers have more than fulfilled their obligation to the people of Iraq and it is long past time for the rest of the world to do the same. In addition, we also believe it would be helpful for you to enlist the assistance of our G-8 partners and others to develop a strategy to aid the Iraqis in reconciling their sectarian differences and enhancing regional security. It is long past time to make Iraq the world’s challenge, not just America’s problem.
We have growing concern about Iran’s apparent nuclear weapons programs and ambitions which the U.S has been ineffective in checking. We agree that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons is unacceptable. We support your effort to forge an international consensus against Iran’s nuclear activities of concern and to offer to join our European partners in negotiations with Iran. That is the best way to ensure that we continue to isolate Iran, not the United States, on its troubling nuclear program.
We urge you to make Iran’s nuclear program a centerpiece of the G-8 Summit in St. Petersburg. You should insist that all Summit participants agree that Iran must immediately and verifiably suspend all of its nuclear enrichment and reprocessing-related activities, fully resolve all outstanding issues raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and ratify and implement the Additional Protocol on nuclear inspections. The Summit communiqué should also spell out for Iran that there will be real and serious consequences if it fails to comply, including the commencement of U.N. Security Council proceedings should it maintain its intransigence and diplomatic efforts fail. In that regard, you should seek the renewed commitment of all Summit participants to additional sanctions against Iran should those eventually be necessary.
The North Korean regime bears responsibility for its provocative and destabilizing actions that threaten international security and stability. While you have acknowledged the gravity of North Korea’s actions, your Administration has allowed the threat posed by North Korea to fester and grow. Since your Administration took office, most independent experts believe North Korea has roughly quadrupled the amount of weapons-usable plutonium it possesses and apparently has made progress on the issue of its highly enriched uranium program. North Korea has announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, abrogated the Agreed Framework, and resumed long-range missile testing. America is getting less secure by the month, and it makes little sense to remain bogged down over whether we are negotiating multilaterally or bilaterally rather than focusing on the substantive issues at hand.
We urge you to announce at the G-8 Summit that you are prepared to reinvigorate diplomatic efforts by publicly authorizing Secretary of State Rice to conduct direct talks with North Korea’s representatives, within the context of the six-party talks, and, if our allies agree, outside the six-party talks, to advance the interests of the US and its partners in stopping North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. U.S. willingness to engage with North Korea will strengthen the international coalition we need to be effective in ending Pyongyang’s dangerous policies. It will demonstrate to our allies and the international community that the United States is committed to proactive high-level diplomacy. It is also critical to keeping countries with us for tough action in the event that diplomatic efforts have been exhausted.
Energy Security and Global Climate Change
Energy security and global climate change are serious challenges that threaten the security of the United States and our allies. They demand constructive leadership and serious proposals from the United States. Reducing America’s dependence on oil, particularly from unstable foreign sources, should be an urgent national security imperative that requires a real plan not just rhetoric. Unfortunately, our dependence on foreign oil under your Administration has only grown and is forecasted to continue to grow. At the same time, global demand has also increased pressure on an already tight market. You must work with the other G-8 leaders to provide a global strategy to reduce our dependence on oil, particularly foreign oil.
Similarly, the United States needs a real plan to reduce the mounting risks from global climate change. Our nation has a moral responsibility to lead the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in cost-effective ways, rather than continuing to obstruct efforts to work swiftly and jointly toward global and national solutions. The United States should be cooperating with the G-8 nation leaders and the rest of world to change the patterns of global investment and cooperation to reward and encourage the development of a less carbon-intensive energy infrastructure. That change would accelerate development and commercialization of technologies and products to replace oil, thereby decreasing dangerous emissions and our energy dependency simultaneously.
Solving the problems on this year’s Summit agenda will require nations to work together in the interest of security and democracy. Recent actions by the Russian government raise serious questions about Russia’s commitment to these values. The United States should lead other members of the G-8 in a frank and open discussion about the policies and behavior of Russia. Russia’s leaders need to understand that restricting freedoms at home or threatening democracy in the region undermine Russia’s credibility and standing in the international community. If Russia’s leaders want their country to assume its rightful place in the world, they need to change course.
The U.S. must embrace and implement a multi-tiered and multi-lateral strategy using all of the resources at your disposal – diplomatic, financial, legal, trade, and economic – to tackle these difficult problems. That means using the G-8 forum and every opportunity to change the course we are on and instead move toward a more secure future.
Senator Harry Reid Senator Joseph Biden
Senator Carl Levin Senator Jack Reed