John Kerry Tries, Fails to Stop Amendment Calling for N. Korea to be Re-Listed as Terror Sponsor (Update: Dems Defeat Amendment, 54-43)
Progress on ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is always tenuous and remains incomplete. But the regime’s nuclear declaration is the latest reminder that, despite President Bush’s once bellicose rhetoric, engaging our enemies can pay dividends…. Now the president must not prematurely close the books on North Korea’s alleged uranium enrichment activities and nuclear exports. We must ensure there are credible verification and monitoring procedures to ensure North Korea is out of the nuclear business for the long term. — Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, June 26, 2008.
In much the same way that the North Koreans play bait-and-switch with our diplomats and politicians, our diplomats and politicians have learned to play bait-and-switch with us. Then, as President Bush announced that he would strike a still-recalcitrant North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, politicians in both parties tried to deceive us by suggesting that their support was conditioned on North Korea’s future performance. Anyone who’d been watching North Korea’s past performance, to say nothing of our State Department’s, could easily see this bait-and-switch for exactly what it was. Since Kerry’s statement, North Korea has balked at verification, removed all doubt that it has a uranium enrichment program, completely reneged on Agreed Frameworks I and II, launched an ICBM, and tested a nuke. John Kerry can’t possibly be fooling anyone, except anyone who hasn’t bothered to reach into the memory hole for his own words. Regrettably, too many journalists fall into the latter category.
Since he became Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry has done everything in his power to protect Kim Jong Il from the consequences his own behavior, no matter how strongly Kerry has implied otherwise. That is dishonest of Senator Kerry, and it’s too bad that no one else (a journalist, for example) is asking Kerry to explain his bait-and-switch appeasement of North Korea. That’s probably why it continues to this day.
Yesterday, Kerry’s diplomacy of enabling suffered a minor setback when the ever-stalwart Senator Brownback joined forces with Sen. John McCain and Democratic heavyweight Evan Bayh to add an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill. The “sense of the Senate” amendment recounts North Korea’s recent provocations and its recent history of aiding terrorist organizations, and calls for President Obama to re-list North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. The amendment isn’t even binding, so the President would be completely within his power to ignore it, and yet Senator Kerry opposed even this. Here’s the full text of the amendment:
Despite Senator Kerry’s protestations, the amendment made it into the final bill, which the Senate will vote on today. The chances that this amendment will become law are now greatly enhanced. Whether President Obama will actually re-list North Korea is another story. His failure to do so is a weak spot in his administration’s otherwise surprisingly strong North Korea policy. The evidence clearly shows that the months since North Korea was de-listed as a terror sponsor have seen a sharp rise in North Korea’s terrorist behavior.
It’s enough to make you wonder what imminent diplomatic progress with Kim Jong Il Senator Kerry really thinks this amendment would endanger. It’s rumored that Kerry is angling to go to Pyongyang to negotiate for the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Perhaps Kerry doesn’t want to injure his own chance to aggrandize himself, but neither Kerry nor anyone else should go begging to Pyongyang for the release of these women.
Let’s sort a few things out here. First, no matter how brave, dumb, or both Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee were at the time of their arrest — and there are still enough unanswered questions about it that I’m drawing no firm conclusions — there is absolutely no justification for sentencing two journalists to 12 years in a labor camp for merely crossing a border and taking pictures. If there’s no justification, there’s clearly an explanation: North Korea wants a ransom of some kind, it wants a propaganda coup, and it wants to intimidate journalists who cover North Korea from angles that aren’t officially approved by the state. It has accomplished the third goal, but it should be denied the first two, because a crime of violence done “to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion” is terrorism, and only a fool rewards a terrorist. Kerry, never one to let principle stand in the way of self-aggrandizement, must be salivating, not just as he dreams of posing with Laura Ling and Euna Lee before a mob of reporters at LAX, but at the prospect of telling those reporters that North Korea has held out the chance for “a new beginning” — “peace in our time,” if you will — if we’d only lift a few more sanctions. Kerry, in other words, yearns to be the man who brings home Agreed Framework III. But Senator Kerry should not give North Korea its ransom or its propaganda coup, and he should cease to Congress’s primary protector of Kim Jong Il from the consequences of his own actions. If Kerry succeeds in frustrating the Administration’s promising financial constriction of North Korea, one consequence that may be averted is the extinction of Kim’s odious dynasty, one that has willfully starved and murdered millions of North Koreans.
All of this is especially ironic when even President Obama has seen the futility of appeasement and begun moving to shut down Kim Jong Il’s palace economy. So who will be the last North Korean to die for John Kerry’s ego? Given North Korea’s record of nuclear proliferation even while it negotiates with us, we might also wonder who will be the first American.
Update: First, a correction. Not being as expert as I should be on Senate procedure, I garbled one point in the post above. Yesterday, Senate procedure ensured that the proposed amendment would get voted on, but the amendment hadn’t yet secured a place in the final bill. That vote was held today, and the amendment lost. Kerry then backed a watered-down amendment of his own, which merely calls on the State Department to produce a report on re-listing in 30 days. Kerry’s amendment passed, 66 to 31.
First, I’ll print the roll call, and below that, an excerpt from the debate (Kerry, by the way, does much to confirm the suspicion I express above). The vote was closer than it might have been before, but the loss was a bitter one anyway. You may want to look for a list of your own senators on this one. The only Republicans voting against the amendment were the worthless Richard Lugar, who represents Foggy Bottom in the Senate, and Bob Corker, probably for arcane fiscal reasons. Four Democrats (Bayh, Nelson, Nelson, and Lincoln) voted Aye:
This is how Senator Akaka answers Kim Jong Il’s threat to his constituents in Hawaii — with appeasement.
Another state within range of North Korea’s missiles, another senator for appeasement.
My senator, Ben Cardin, is Chairman of the Helsinki Commission. His idea of standing up for human rights around the world is shielding the people who run these death camps from any condemnation or consequence for their crimes against humanity. Search for any bill so much as co-sponsored by Cardin that would address North Korea’s atrocities. You won’t find one. Shame on Ben Cardin.
This, of course, is a man who had to apologize for his hyperbolic comparisons between American soldiers and the Khmer Rouge, but he has no outrage for Kim Jong Il.
Tom Harkin, Co-Chair of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, hasn’t one unpleasant word to say or consequence to offer to Kim Jong Il, the world’s most brutal living despot. Shame on Tom Harkin.
This is how Daniel Inouye responds to North Korea’s threats against his state.
Richard Lugar, who looked me in the eye in 2004 and promised to support the North Korean Human Rights Act, has never missed an opportunity to undermine that Act’s implementation and allow State to sideline the entire issue of human rights in North Korea. This is typical Dick Lugar. Shame on him.
NOT VOTING (3)
Debate text follows:
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending Thune amendment and call up my amendment No. 1597.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The clerk will report.
The assistant bill clerk read as follows:
The Senator from Kansas [Mr. Brownback], for himself, Mr. Bayh, Mr. Kyl, and Mr. Inhofe, proposes an amendment numbered 1597.
(Purpose: To express the sense of the Senate that the Secretary of State should redesignate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism)
Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, this is a bipartisan amendment put forward by Senator Bayh and myself. I ask unanimous consent that Senators Kyl and Inhofe be added as cosponsors.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. BROWNBACK. This is a bipartisan resolution and sense of the Senate that the administration should relist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. As my colleagues know, the Bush administration, through a great deal of hoopla, listed North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. They took them off the list in spite of such terrible and erratic behavior as nuclear weapons, missile technology, and now taking U.S. citizens hostage and holding them. Nonetheless, the Bush administration, as part of the six-party talks, did an agreement, a deal to delist them as a state sponsor of terrorism. All that got us was more nuclear weapons, more missiles being sent off, more provocative action by the North Koreans, and a dismal situation.
What we are asking with the amendment is that it is a sense of the Senate that North Korea should be relisted as a state sponsor of terrorism.
In that regard, I wish to enter a few items in the Record to be printed at the end of my presentation that are currently in the news. This is yesterday’s front page of the Washington Post where it talks about “[North ] Korea’s Hard-Labor Camps: On the Diplomatic Back Burner.”
I ask unanimous consent that this full article be printed in the Record.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
(See exhibit 1.)
Mr. BROWNBACK. That is an old story. Unfortunately, we know very well about the gulags that exist in North Korea and the 200,000 people we believe are in those. Here is today’s Washington Post. This was new information I found shocking: North Korea building mysterious military ties with the military junta in Burma now taking place and the possibility of them giving military equipment and supplies, I suppose possibly even nuclear arms and missile technology, to the military government in Burma.
I ask unanimous consent that this be printed in the Record at the end of my statement.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
(See exhibit 2.)
Mr. BROWNBACK. If that is not enough to relist them as a state sponsor of terrorism, I don’t know what is. But there is a full record we can go forward with on relisting North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. At the outset, I think we ought to look at this and say this is an extremely tough situation for the United States. It is one on which we need to take aggressive action to confront them on what they are doing to militarize some of the worst places and worst actors around the world and what North Korea is doing to threaten interests of the United States.
All this is taking place while Kim Jong Il is ill. To what degree, we don’t know for sure. A succession is being discussed. Of what nature, we are not sure. But clearly North Korea is doing the most provocative things they have probably done in the history of that provocative nation. It is taking place right now. We should notice it and recognize these are terrorist actions. We should clearly call for them to be relisted.
I have, many times, spoken before regarding the long and outrageous list of crimes of the Kim regime. I will not go through those again at great length. But I will say the crimes committed by the North Korean regime include not only those external and diplomatic of nature–violating agreements, treaties, conventions, and proliferating dangerous technologies to the world’s worst actors–but the regime has also committed massive and unspeakable crimes against the North Korean people themselves who for decades have been beaten, tortured, raped, trafficked, starved, used as medical experiments, subjected to collective familial punishment, and executed in the most brutal and painful ways. If you want further details on that, read yesterday’s Washington Post article.
Hundreds of thousands languish in the gulag and concentration camps spread out over the entire country. All the while, the world watches and wrings its collective hands. As we pledged never again, we watch as yet again another criminal regime commits a genocide. Never again becomes yet again.
I have introduced legislation to address these issues. I hope the Foreign Relations Committee can find time to take it up.
The amendment before us today deals with another aspect of the North Korean criminal state, its longstanding and robust sponsorship of international terrorism. The amendment would place the Senate on record as standing for the proposition that North Korea’s hostile and provocative actions will not be ignored. Indeed, they will have meaningful consequences under the law. This amendment, of which Senator Bayh is the lead cosponsor, expresses the sense of the Senate that the Secretary of State should redesignate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism based on its nuclear and missile proliferation, abductions, and material support for terrorist groups.
On October 11, 2008, the State Department removed North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism on which it had been placed since 1988. At the time, this is what President Bush said to the North Korean regime upon announcing that North Korea would be removed. He said:
We will trust you only to the extent that you fulfill your promises. If North Korea makes the wrong choices, the United States will act accordingly.
They have made the wrong choices. We should act accordingly.
At the same time, then Candidate Obama said:
Sanctions are a critical part of our leverage to pressure North Korea to act. They should only be lifted based on North Korean performance. If the North Koreans do not meet their obligations, we should move quickly to reimpose sanctions that have been waived and consider new restrictions going forward.
They have not lived up to their obligations. They have continued provocative actions. They should be relisted.
Let’s examine how well the North Korean regime has lived up to its commitment since being removed from the list. Since removal last October, the North Korean regime has done the following: launched a multistage ballistic missile over Japan in violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions; kidnapped and imprisoned two American journalists and sentenced them to 12 years of hard labor in a North Korean prison camp; pulled out of the six-party talks vowing never to return; kicked out international nuclear inspectors and American monitors; restarted its nuclear facilities; renounced the 50-year armistice with South Korea ; detonated a second illegal nuclear weapon; launched additional short-range missiles; is preparing to launch long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States; and today news accounts are reporting about North Korean proliferation to the Burmese junta, including perhaps nuclear proliferation.
Add to this a long history of other ongoing illicit operations that finance the North Korean regime’s budget, including the following: extensive drug smuggling; massive and complex operations to counterfeit U.S. currency, many of which are believed to be in wide circulation; money laundering; terrorist threats by the regime against the United States, Japanese, and South Korean civilians. That is what this regime and group has done and is doing. That is some of what they have done since they were delisted from the terrorist list.
What have we done in response? The U.N. Security Council has passed another sanctions resolution similar to the same resolution North Korea has brazenly violated to get us to this point. In 2006, the State Department, in its terrorism report, said this about keeping North Korea on the list: North Korea “continued to maintain their ties to terrorist groups.”
Most worrisome is that some of these countries [including North Korea ] also have the capability to manufacture [weapons of mass destruction] and other destabilizing technologies that can get into the hands of terrorists.
If that was the justification for the terror list in 2006, certainly North Korea’s actions today fit that standard–perhaps even more so than back then, and I believe it is more so.
We cannot have it both ways. If we removed North Korea from the terrorism list last year as a reward for its dubious cooperation on nuclear weapons, we would only be reversing that step by adding it back after the regime betrayed its commitments and followed up with hostile and provocative actions.
I would also like to address this issue: It often has been raised with me–and the Secretary of State herself has raised this indirectly with me–that the multiple statutes that control the list of state sponsors of terrorism do not provide the legal ability for the Secretary of State to redesignate. I think this argument is flawed, and I would like to summarize that by reading the relevant portions of each of these acts, because here is the key point on it, that they are saying: Well, we have to find factual basis that is different from the first round for us to do that. We are going through a legal review of doing this. But here the state sponsor of terrorism list is controlled under two different acts: the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act.
As to countries covered by the prohibition, it says this. This is quoting from the Arms Export Control Act:
The prohibitions contained in this section apply with respect to a country if the Secretary of State determines that the government of that country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.
That is what it says in the Arms Export Control Act. The list I have just read goes through what has taken place, and they are clearly and repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism. It does not say anything about they cannot be relisted or we have to go through some elaborate finding process, that it cannot be based on actions they have done. These are the actions they have done in the last 6 months that are of public record. And it says the Secretary of State makes this determination and has fairly wide discretion to be able to do it.
Under section 628 of the Foreign Assistance Act, it says: The United States shall not provide any assistance to any country if the Secretary of State determines that the government of that country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.
Again, the statute is very broad in its statement. It does not say anything about they cannot relist them. It says they can do this on the discretion of the Secretary of State.
I do not know why we need to wait any longer, with the actions this government has taken and even with these most recent ones reported today of working with Burma or of the publicly done ones we know about of nuclear weapons detonation or the ones of missile technology being launched. Why do we need to wait longer?
I recognize this is a sense of the Senate, so it is just a sense of this body. But this body has had a strong impact in prior actions when we took a sense-of-the-Senate resolution to list the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, that we believed they should be listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. The administration acted not long after that to list them as a state sponsor of terrorism.
I believe if this body took strong action here now and said we believe North Korea should be relisted as a state sponsor of terrorism, it would send a very strong and proper signal to the administration–not that we are doing your job, but we believe this is the case and this is something that is meritorious toward North Korea and its actions.
That is why I urge my colleagues to support the bipartisan Bayh-Brownback amendment and vote for this amendment to the Defense authorization bill.
Mr. President, with that, I yield the floor.
Exhibit 1 [From the Washington Post, July 20, 2009] N. Korea’s Hard-Labor Camps: On the Diplomatic Back Burner (By Blaine Harden)
Exhibit 2 [From the Washington Post, July 21, 2009] Clinton: U.S. Wary of Growing Burmese, North Korean Military Cooperation (By Glenn Kessler)
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
Mr. REED. Mr. President, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Kerry, is prepared to comment and speak. I ask unanimous consent that at the conclusion of his remarks, the Senator from Delaware be recognized as in morning business.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The Senator from Massachusetts.
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, obviously North Korea’s actions in recent weeks–months, really; testing a nuclear device on May 25 and launching ballistic missiles on July 4–received the appropriate objection in many different ways of China, Japan, South Korea , the United States, and many other countries. Clearly, those actions threaten to undermine the peace and security of northeast Asia, and the U.S. response to those actions ought to be and, I believe, is already resolute. China responded very clearly. The sanctions have been toughened–individual sanctions for the first time. A number of steps were taken by both the United Nations and China. China, incidentally, has been unprecedented in the personalization of some of the sanctions that it has put into place.
I know the Senator from Kansas cares, obviously, enormously about the underlying issue here. But I have to say this amendment, while well intended, simply does not do what it is supposed to do. It has no impact other than the sense of the Senate: sending a message which at this particular moment, frankly, works counterproductively to other efforts that are underway.
Right now, the Secretary of State is meeting at ASEAN. Right now, the various countries involved in this delicate process are working to determine how to proceed forward with respect to getting back to talks and defusing these tensions. For the Senate just to pop on an amendment like this at this moment in time not only sends a signal that complicates that process, but I think it also, frankly, will make it more difficult to secure the return of two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee.
It simply is an inappropriate interference without a foundation, I might add–without a foundation–in the law. Let me be very specific. When President Bush lifted the designation of terrorism–in fact, nothing that the Senator from Kansas has laid out here actually is supported either by the intelligence or by the facts. I could go through his amendment with specificity. Let me give an example. This is from the findings in his amendment:
On March 17, 2009, American journalists ….. were seized near the Chinese-North Korean border by agents. …..
He is citing that as a rationale for putting them back on the list. Well, the fact is, the families themselves, as well as the two journalists–but the families–have acknowledged that they, in fact, were arrested for illegally crossing the border. So that is inappropriate. But not only is it inappropriate to cite a fact that is not a fact, but it is not a cause for putting somebody on the terrorism list.
Nowhere do any of the actions cited here fit into the statutes that apply to whether somebody is designated as appropriately being on the terrorism list. Let me be more specific about that. When President Bush took them off the list, here is what they said. This is the President’s certification:
The current intelligence assessment satisfies the second statutory requirement for rescission. Following a review of all available information, we see no credible evidence at this time of ongoing support by the DPRK for international terrorism, and we assess that the current intelligence assessment, including the most recent assessment published May 21, 2008, provides a sufficient basis for certification by the President to Congress that North Korea has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period.
There is no intelligence showing to the contrary, as we come to the floor here today, and it is inappropriate for the Senate simply to step in and assert to the contrary.
Moreover, the President said:
Our review of intelligence community assessments indicates there is no credible or sustained reporting at this time that supports allegations (including as cited in recent reports by the Congressional Research Service) that the DPRK has provided direct or witting support for Hezbollah, Tamil Tigers, or the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Should we obtain credible evidence of current DPRK support for international terrorism at any time in the future, the Secretary could again designate DPRK a state sponsor of terrorism.
Well, we have not. It simply does not fit under the requirements.
We need to use the right tools. This amendment is flawed and I am convinced could actually undermine what I know is going on right now in terms of efforts by a number of different parties to try to move this process forward. This is not the way a responsible Senate ought to go about trying to deal with an issue with this kind of diplomatic consequence.
The relisting, incidentally, has no practical effect in terms of anything it would do with respect to our current policy other than raise the issue with respect to the Senate at this moment but, as I say, inappropriately with respect to the statutes it concerns.
President Bush actually preserved all the existing financial sanctions on North Korea at the time he lifted the terror designation, and he kept them all in place by using other provisions of law.
The fact is, this administration has, in fact, responded in order to put real costs on North Korea for its actions. We led the international effort at the United Nations Security Council, and we did enact sweeping new sanctions on North Korea , and by all accounts they are biting.
The U.N. Security Council resolution 1874, passed unanimously, imposed the first ever comprehensive international arms embargo on North Korea . Those sanctions are now beginning to take effect. A North Korean ship suspected of carrying arms to Burma turned around after it was denied bunkering services in Singapore, and the Government of Burma itself warned that the ship would be inspected on arrival to ensure that it complied with the U.N. arms embargo. So that is real. That is happening. Significantly, China has agreed to impose sanctions both on North Korean companies and individuals involved in nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation.
So the sanctions that were recently imposed by the Obama administration, in concert with the international community, are having a real impact. So I think we ought to give them time to work. I do not think we ought to come in here and change the dynamics that, as I say, I know are currently being worked on by the Secretary of State. As we are here in the Senate today, those meetings are taking place. It is better for the United States and the international community to focus our efforts on concrete steps rather than resort to a toothless and symbolic gesture. This will have no impact ultimately because we are still going to go down our course, but it can ripple the process which the administration has chosen to pursue.
I might also point out, the President and Secretary of State have been closely communicating with allies and with partners in the region. They are currently involved in discussions with China, Russia, South Korea , and Japan on this issue. Even as we debate the issue here, the effort at the ASEAN Forum is specifically geared to try to coordinate our approach with our treaty allies and with others. We ought to give the administration the opportunity to succeed.
Third, obviously all of us reject the recent actions taken by North Korea . There is no doubt about that. But it was not so long ago that we were actually making some progress on the denuclearization effort. And observers of the region–those who are expert and who follow it closely–are all in agreement as to the rationale which has driven North Korea to take some of the actions it has taken.
I was in China about a month and a half ago. I spent some time with Chinese leaders on this issue because one of the tests took place while I was there and I saw the Chinese reaction up close and personal. I saw the degree to which they were truly upset by it, disturbed by it, and took actions to deal with it.
The fact is that they explained it, as have others, as a reaction by North Korea to perhaps three things: No. 1, the succession issues in North Korea itself; No. 2, the policies of the South Korean Government over the course of the last year or so; and No. 3, the fact that while they had nuclear weapons and had been engaged in a denuclearization discussion with the United States, most of the focus appeared to have shifted to Iran, and there was some sense that the focus should have remained where those nuclear weapons currently exist.
So I believe we need to preserve diplomatic flexibility in the weeks and months ahead. There is an appropriate time for the administration to come to us. There is an appropriate way for us to deal with this issue, to sit down with the administration, to make it clear to them that we think we ought to do this, to talk with them about it, to engage in what the rationale might be under the law. But as I say, none of the reasons that are legitimate under the law for, in fact, a designated country as going on the terrorist list is appropriate or fit here. I think that is the most critical reason of all.
I yield the floor.
[“¦unrelated remarks from Senator Carper (D-DE)”¦]
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona is recognized.
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I rise in support of the amendment offered by the Senator from Kansas concerning North Korea .
I must say I was entertained by the outlook–as far as North Korea’s behavior is concerned–by the distinguished chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. I can’t remember when I have disagreed more.
The State Department’s 2008 Country Reports on Terrorism stated that “as part of the six-party talks process, the U.S. reaffirmed its intent to fulfill its commitment regarding the removal of the designation of the DPRK as a state sponsor of terrorism in parallel with the DPRK’s actions on denuclearization and in accordance with criteria set forth by law.”
They certainly haven’t taken any action on denuclearization, and it certainly hasn’t been in accordance with the criteria set forth by law.
There was a problem with this trade, however. We delisted North Korea , and we got something worse than nothing. Facts are stubborn things. In response to our action, Pyongyang has embarked on a pattern of astonishing belligerence and has reversed even the previous steps it had taken toward the denuclearization prior to its removal from the terrorism list.
A few facts. In December 2008–just 2 months after the United States removed Pyongyang from the list–North Korea balked at inspections of its nuclear facilities and ceased disablement activities at the Yongbyon reactor. In March, the regime seized two American journalists near the China-North Korean border and subsequently sentenced them to 12 years of hard labor in the North Korean gulag. These are two American citizens who may have strayed over a border. Does that mean they are sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in the most harsh prison camps in the world? What are we going to do about it? It is remarkable. Two weeks later, it tested a long-range ballistic missile, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and then announced it was expelling international inspectors from Yongbyon, reestablishing the facility, and ending North Korean participation in disarmament talks. In May, Pyongyang conducted its second nuclear test; in June, a North Korean ship suspected of carrying illicit cargo departed North Korea in likely defiance of U.N. Security Council obligations; and earlier this month, Pyongyang again launched short- and medium-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, including on the Fourth of July.
All these are indications that the North Koreans somehow should not be listed as terrorists? I think we ought to, frankly–I respect and appreciate my friend from Kansas. Maybe we ought to have a binding resolution, rather than a sense of the Senate. It is remarkable that these events have taken place against a backdrop of belligerence and intransigence by North Korea . Pyongyang has never accounted for or even acknowledged its role in assisting the construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria, which the Israelis had to bomb. Similarly, it has refused to provide a complete and correct declaration of its nuclear program. Of course, something we all know, which is one of the great tragedies in the history of the world, is this is a gulag of some 200,000 people, where people are regularly beaten, starved, and executed. According to the Washington Post, most of them work 12- to 15-hour days until they die of malnutrition-related illnesses, usually at around the age of 50. They are allowed just one set of clothes. They live and die in rags, without soap, socks, underclothes or sanitary napkins. It is a horrible story.
It is not an accident that the average South Korean is several inches taller than the average North Korean. This regime may be the most repressive and oppressive and Orwellian in all the world today. So the Chinese have been serious–according to Mr. Kerry, the Senator from Massachusetts, the Chinese have been resolute on the issue of the ship inspections. The U.N. Security Council resolution calls for monitoring and following of the ship, and if the decision is made that they need to board a North Korean ship, if the North Koreans refuse, then the following ship cannot board but can follow them into a port, where the port authorities are expected to board and inspect the vessel. And then that violation is reported to the U.N. Security Council. That ought to rouse some pretty quick action. I don’t share the confidence of the Senator from Massachusetts that if a North Korean ship goes into a port at Myanmar, you will see likely action, except maybe the offloading of whatever materials are being bought by Myanmar.
Look, the North Koreans have clearly been engaged in selling anything they can to anybody who will buy it because they need the money–whether it be drugs, counterfeit currency, nuclear technology or missiles. Every time we have held onto the football, like Lucy, they have pulled it away.
I think this is a very modest proposal of the Senator from Kansas. I point out that years and years of six-party talks, different party talks, negotiations, conversations, individuals who have been assigned as chief negotiators who then end up somehow negotiating, with the end being further negotiations, has failed.
If the North Koreans continue to test weapons, test missiles, sooner or later, they will match a missile with a weapon that will threaten the United States of America. Right now, those missiles they are testing go over Japanese territory. I think it is pretty obvious we are dealing with a regime of incredible and unbelievable cruelty and oppression of their own people. The newly published Korean bar association details the daily lives of the 200,000 political prisoners estimated to be in the camps. Eating a diet of mostly corn and salt, they lose their teeth, their gums turn black, their bones weaken and, as they age, they hunch over at the waist.
This is a regime that, in any interpretation of the word, is an outrageous insult to the world and everything America stands for and believes in. I believe they will pose a direct threat, over time, to the security of not only Asia but the world. They were able to export technology all the way to Syria, obviously. Why should they not be able to export that to other parts of the world?
I urge my colleagues to vote in support of the amendment by the Senator from Kansas, and I hope we can vote on that sooner rather than later.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas is recognized.
Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to add Senator Bennett from Utah as a cosponsor of the amendment.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. BROWNBACK. I thank my colleague from Arizona. I think he understands more than anybody in this body the situation and what happens in a gulag-type situation. That has drawn me to the topic of North Korea for a couple years–the human rights abuses. Hundreds and thousands of North Koreans are fleeing to be able to simply get food, and a couple hundred thousand of them are in the gulag system. It is unbelievable that this can happen in 2009. We have Google Earth that can even show this. But we just say: OK, that is the sort of thing that happens there. It is mind-boggling to me that we wouldn’t act resolutely.
I appreciate the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Senator from Massachusetts, who is a distinguished Senator and is very bright and experienced in foreign policy. I could not disagree with him more about North Korea . We have had an ongoing dialog and discussion about this. He makes the point that we should not pop this on the bill.
I have been trying for months for us to relist them as terrorists. They should not have been delisted in the first place. It was a terrible process move on the Bush administration to try to move the talks forward, saying we are going to delist you and you are going to do something for us. Pyongyang and Kim Jong Il said thank you very much, and now we are going to stick it in your face, which is what they have continued to do.
I have listed the things, as the Senator from Arizona has mentioned as well.
The thought that we are acting resolutely, to me, is an insult to the people in North Korea who have lived under this oppressive regime. We are not acting resolutely toward North Korea . We are not putting any sanctions on them. We have asked for international sanctions, but why aren’t we willing to put sanctions on ourselves? If we think this is such a proper course to follow, and we are willing to push it on an international body, why wouldn’t we be willing to do it ourselves? Why wouldn’t we be willing to list them as a terror nation, as a state sponsor of terror? I don’t understand that; why, if it is good in the international arena, we wouldn’t do it ourselves.
Plus, we need to have teeth into this. This is a modest–a modest–proposal. It is a resolution, a sense of the Senate that North Korea should be relisted as a state sponsor of terrorism. We are not relisting them. That is an administration call. We are saying we, as a body, given the provocative actions that have taken place since they have been delisted clearly merits the relisting of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. That is our opinion, and that is what we are saying to the administration.
Without a foundation in the law, it is clearly–as I read previously–allowed for the Secretary of State to determine that the government of that country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. That is the actual wording of the law in the Arms Export Control Act. Clearly, they have acted to sponsor international terrorism with their relation with Burma, with the missiles, with the nuclear weapons, and with the proliferation they have done and continue to do.
He says, and is suggesting, that delisting has no practical effect. I believe it does have a practical effect, and it certainly does on the administration’s stance toward North Korea and their international posture toward North Korea . Plus, it has a practical effect on what we can provide for as far as aid from the United States to North Korea . We shouldn’t be providing aid to the North Koreans. We should provide food aid, if we can monitor it. We shouldn’t be giving oil to the North Koreans. That should be limited so the administration cannot do that. They would not be able to if they are listed as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Mr. President, it will hurt the people of North Korea and those who are in the North Korean gulags if we don’t relist them. It recovers any vestige of hope they might have that at some point in time somebody of enough stature, such as the United States Government, is going to take enough notice that they are going to put pressure on the North Korean regime. I have talked with some people who were refuseniks in the Soviet Union, in a Soviet gulag during an era where we had far less communication capacity than we do today, and yet they were able to get messages at that point in time into the Soviet gulag that the Americans were putting pressure on the Soviet Union and the lack of human rights in the Soviet Union, and it gave them hope. It gave them hope in the Soviet gulag.
If we can pass this, it can give people in the gulags in North Korea hope that somebody is at least paying enough attention to put pressure on this, and maybe they may be able to live longer, or actually live at all. It can give them hope, instead of “abandon hope all ye who enter here,” as it says at the entrance to Inferno and as it is in the gulag system in North Korea .
So it is a modest resolution, and I would hope my colleagues would vote overwhelmingly for this resolution to relist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.
I yield the floor.