(Senate - April 10, 2003)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages S5161-S5163]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              NORTH KOREA

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, today North Korea formally withdrew 
from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Yet while the United States 
has marshaled its military, diplomatic, and political resources against 
Iraq over the past 6 months, too little appears to have been done with 
regard to North Korea, which I believe represents the most imminent, 
serious, and dangerous threat facing the United States.
  Over the past few months North Korea has: expelled International 
Atomic Energy Agency inspectors; moved 8,000 previously canned 
plutonium rods back to a reprocessing facility; started up its Yongbyon 
nuclear facility again; scrambled fighter jets to intercept a U.S. Air 
Force reconnaissance plane over the Sea of Japan; and, threatened to 
abandon the armistice that has been in effect since 1953.
  We must face facts: North Korea, an isolated dictatorship, with a 
collapsed economy, controlled by its military, and in possession of 
nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, represents a clear and 
present danger.
  If the United States does not exercise leadership and seek a 
pragmatic approach to engaging North Korea--pragmatism that comes not 
from weakness, but from strength--we run the risk of disrupting 
strategic stability in the Asia-Pacific region, the most vital 
political, military, and economic region for the United States in the 
21st century, and undermining our international credibility and global 
nuclear nonproliferation efforts.
  North Korea is a quasi-Stalinist state which, since its formal 
creation in 1948, has been run by two men--Kim Il Sung, who died in 
1994, and his son, Kim Jong Il. It is still almost entirely closed to 
the Western World, a stark and isolated country marked by repression 
and poverty.
  The North Korean people have no access to outside sources of 
information, such as television or radio or the Internet.
  The totalitarian discipline of the North Korean people is 
dramatically illustrated by the fact that North Korean infiltrators 
commonly commit suicide rather than allow themselves to be captured. 
Only in rare cases have they been captured before they killed 
themselves. That is a measure of fanatical devotion.
  Second, the North Korean economy is increasingly isolated and stands, 
in my view, on the brink of collapse.
  In many ways, North Korea is the ``black hole'' of Northeast Asia. 
Even before Russia and China curtailed their energy and food support in 
the 1990s, the North Korean economy was in free-fall.
  One measure of the dire straits facing the North Korean economy is 
the famine that has gripped that nation for the past decade. Largely 
created by gross human negligence, not natural causes, it has killed an 
estimated 2 million people since the mid-1990s. Although harvests have 
improved modestly in recent years, food shortages are still a serious 
  In recognition of this problem, just last month Secretary of State 
Powell announced that the United States would provide 40,000 tons of 
food aid to the North--a modest level compared to recent years but 
significant nonetheless.
  A second measure of the desperate situation facing the North Korean 
economy is the collapse of its energy sector.

  North Korea's total electricity consumption in 2000 was only 65 
percent of what it had been in 1991. North Korea has resorted to a 
rationing system for electricity and often experiences extended 
blackouts and power losses due to an antiquated transmission grid, and 
the North Korean agricultural sector is severely afflicted by a lack of 
diesel and power supplies, as well as spare parts and fertilizer.
  Taken together, North Korea's continuing isolation, famine, and 
economic collapse constitute a humanitarian crisis, and act as a 
barrier to improving cooperation and engagement in Northeast Asia on a 
number of fronts--political, economic, and military.
  In early October of 2002, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly 
informed North Korean officials that the United States was aware that 
North Korea had a program underway to enrich uranium for use in nuclear 
  According to Secretary Kelly, with whom I have discussed this 
situation on several occasions, North Korea initially denied the 
allegations, but later confirmed the U.S. claim. In confirming that 
they had an active nuclear weapons program, they also declared that the 
1994 Agreed Framework was essentially null and void.
  Under the Agreed Framework, signed by North Korea and the United 
States: North Korea would freeze its existing nuclear program and agree 
to enhanced International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, safeguards; the 
United States would lead an effort to replace the DPRK's graphite-
moderated reactors for related facilities with light-water, LWR, 
powerplants; the U.S. pledged to provide 500,000 tons of heavy fuel 
oil, HFO, annually until the LWRs were completed; both countries would 
move toward full normalization of political and economic relations; 
both sides would work together for peace and security on a nuclear-free 
Korean peninsula; and both sides would work to strengthen the 
international nuclear nonproliferation regime.
  Implementation of the Agreed Framework was never perfect. None of 
those who negotiated it or worked to implement it were operating under 
the mistaken belief that North Korea was a ``good actor.'' But the guts 
of the deal--international safeguards on North Korea's plutonium 
facilities in exchange for HFO and the construction of the LWRs--
appeared to be intact until October 2002, when North Korean officials 
acknowledged the existence of a clandestine program to enrich uranium 
for nuclear weapons that is in violation of the Agreed Framework and 
other agreements.
  With the Agreed Framework now null and void, North Korea may well

[[Page S5162]]

find in the production of fissile material a new cash crop, ready for 
export, to support its sagging economy.
  What makes the North Korean nuclear program of particular concern is 
that North Korea also possesses advanced missile technology--in fact, 
it is the only country on earth that continues to sell Missile 
Technology Control Regime-banned missiles--including missiles that one 
day may be capable of reaching the United States.
  North Korea produces a wide range of ballistic missiles, including 
extended range versions of the Soviet-era Scud missile as well as 
indigenous medium range No Dong and Taepo Dong missiles.
  In fact, in 1998, North Korea test fired one of its Taepo Dong 
missiles over Japan and into the Pacific.
  In addition, since at least 1987, North Korea has been developing 
long-range missiles, including the Taepo Dong 2. A two-stage Taepo Dong 
2 has a range of approximately 6,000 miles, while a three-stage version 
has a 9,300 mile range, allowing it to hit almost any point in North 
  North Korea has also developed and produced cruise missiles. In fact, 
the land-to-ship missile fired last month on the eve of Roh Moo-hyun's 
inauguration as South Korea's new President, was a cruise missile 
believed to be based on the Chinese Silkworm missile design.
  Exporting missiles is one of the few sources of hard currency for 
North Korea, and in addition to the recent Scud sale to Yemen, North 
Korean leader Kim Jong II has admitted that Pyongyang sells missile 
technology to other nations, including Syria, Iran, and Libya.
  Now, I believe the blame for precipitating the current crisis lies 
squarely with North Korea, which clearly violated the Agreed Framework 
by undertaking its secret uranium enrichment program.
  The government of Kim Jong II has clearly placed its focus not on 
feeding its people but in developing its military, its missiles, and 
its nuclear capability all in defiance of the treaties it has signed.
  Yet it also appears that our own handling of events on the Korean 
peninsula over the past 2 years, as well as our broader foreign policy 
rhetoric and statements have served, ironically, to fuel North Korea's 
paranoia and made the situation much more difficult to manage.
  Part of the problem was our reluctance to endorse former President 
Kim Dae Jung's ``Sunshine Policy,'' a diplomatic and economic effort by 
the South Korean Government to ease tensions with the North. President 
Kim was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for precisely these 
  This move was perceived as a major humiliation in South Korea, helped 
set the stage for the rise of anti-Americanism, and was seen as a sign 
by the North that the administration was intent on a policy of 
isolation and confrontation.
  Next month, when President Roh visits Washington, I would urge the 
administration to take great care to assure that the United States and 
South Korea share a common vision, goal, and purpose regarding North 
  The North Korean situation offers no easy solution. But over the past 
several months it has gone from bad to worse, and the administration 
has yet to demonstrate the degree of high-level seriousness and 
commitment necessary to defuse the crisis.
  We cannot allow North Korea to produce additional nuclear material. 
Restarting its production facility will allow North Korea to develop at 
least a half dozen nuclear weapons within 6 months.
  It is bad enough that North Korea might acquire a significant nuclear 
arsenal for its own possible use. But even worse would be North Korea 
becoming a plutonium factory selling fissile material to the highest 
bidder. As we were reminded in December when we intercepted a quasi-
legal missile shipment to Yemen, this is a regime that will sell 
anything it develops.
  In short, the administration's justification for being concerned 
about Iraq that it is a brutal dictatorship that may threaten 
instability in the region and may provide WMD to terrorists is quickly 
becoming a reality with North Korea.
  A failure to stop North Korea's nuclear program is sending a terrible 
message to other rogue states and to our friends and allies as well. 
Every would-be proliferator is measuring our response to North Korea as 
they consider how to chart their futures.
  And a nuclear North Korea may lead friends in the region, like Japan 
and South Korea, to conclude that they have to increase their military 
capabilities, sparking an arms race in Asia and drawing China, India, 
and Pakistan into a regionwide cycle of escalation.
  At the end of the day, I believe that we face the same three basic 
options today that we did in 1994: We can launch a preemptive strike 
against North Korea's nuclear facilities; we can pursue a policy of 
isolation and containment; or, we can seek to persuade North Korea to 
abandon its nuclear ambitions through negotiations.
  In reality, a preemptive strike is not a feasible option.
  First, while we might be able to take out Yongbyon and other well-
known sites, we simply don't know where all of North Koreans fissile 
material, missile, or nuclear facilities are located. There are over 
10,000 caves and holes in North Korea. We don't know the location of 
the uranium facility.
  Second, launching a preemptive strike is hardly a palatable option 
given the military realities on the ground at the DMZ. Such a strike 
would lead to all-out war on the Korean peninsula, and although I 
believe the U.S. and our allies would emerge victorious, the price 
would be high.
  Finally, our South Korean allies strongly reject a preemptive strike, 
which should give us pause.
  Likewise, there are major problems with continuing a policy of 
isolation and containment, as some in the administration have argued 
for. In essence, isolation and containment appear unlikely to succeed 
in toppling a regime that has been isolated and contained for so long. 
And it means that we have acquiesced to North Korea's going nuclear, 
and to North Korea acquiring serial production capacity for nuclear 
weapons and fissile material. Furthermore, isolation will not prevent 
North Korea from exporting fissile material to Iran, al-Qaida, or 
  A policy that allows North Korea to build and retain nuclear weapons 
and long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States, and to 
possess excess fissile material and a highly efficient network to sell 
or transfer fissile material to terrorists or other rouge states, is 
not in our best interest, which brings us to the third option 
  I strongly believe that the United States must signal its willingness 
to engage in immediate U.S.-North Korean negotiations to dismantle 
North Korea's nuclear program in return for U.S. security assurances to 
North Korea, economic assistance and normalized relations. In fact, as 
some experts have suggested, bilateral negotiations themselves could be 
premised on a North Korean commitment not to reprocess the Yongbyon 
reactor fuel rods into plutonium during the discussions.
  As we seek creative solutions to engage North Korea and go forward 
with a process of negotiations, it is critical that we do so in harmony 
with South Korea and Japan, and both China and Russia must also play a 
major role. The administration is right that this crisis is an 
international problem that requires the active involvement of the other 
powers in the region.
  I am particularly pleased to note that China has, in fact, played a 
constructive role in helping to convey to North Korea the gravity of 
its current course.
  At the same time, I believe that the burden of international 
leadership falls on the United States, and, as we seek to engage North 
Korea diplomatically, we must move beyond continuing to argue over the 
shape of the table or how many chairs should be at it. Continuing to do 
so is little more than an excuse for those who would prefer to see the 
crisis escalate instead of seeking to solve it.

  Although the administration believes, correctly, that bad behavior 
should not be rewarded, it is also a truism of diplomacy that if you 
want to get something you must be prepared to give something.
  And I strongly believe that it is in the United States' best 
interests to get something from North Korea: That North Korea cease and 
desist its nuclear activities and stop proliferating missiles.

[[Page S5163]]

  So I believe that it is imperative to think creatively about 
inducements that can be offered to induce North Korea to relinquish its 
nuclear ambitions. Implementation of several relatively modest 
nonnuclear energy sector initiatives--introducing market institutions 
to the North Korean energy sector; undertaking efforts to repair the 
existing electric grid; rehabilitating coal supply and transport; 
eliminating waste; and underwriting small-scale renewable projects--
would provide for a stable energy sector for North Korea in the near 
and intermediate term. And, as part of a process of larger diplomatic 
engagement with North Korea, this can contribute significantly to 
defusing the current crisis.
  There is no evidence that North Korea has started to reprocess. North 
Korea may well be determined to go down the nuclear path and a nuclear 
North Korea may well be an unavoidable consequence of the current 
crisis. But nothing is yet set in stone, and at a time of increasing 
uncertainty the world looks to the United States to lead. And there is 
no better way to underscore our seriousness than through direct 
negotiations. Such talks are all the more important when dealing with 
an isolated, tyrannical and bellicose regime, because miscommunication 
can all too easily lead to miscalculation, with possibly catastrophic