WASHINGTON — A GOP senator behind crushing sanctions efforts on North Korea said he’s happy that the “failed policy of strategic patience” is gone yet cautioned that there needs to be only one goal in engagement with dictator Kim Jong-un.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said the summit “must be followed by multiple meetings to test North Korea’s promises of denuclearization, which they have made in the past and then repeatedly violated.”
“Until such time as North Korea takes concrete steps to denuclearize, our policy should be to continue the maximum pressure campaign,” he said. “The complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as enshrined in U.S. law and multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, must be the only goal.”
A document signed by Kim and President Trump in Singapore provided no details, yet says Trump “committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
It also said the two parties “commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified” and would “commit to establish new U.S.–DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity,” but Trump did not say what those new relations would look like.
Trump agreed to end U.S.-South Korea military exercises, which he and North Korea both called provocative.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) noted today that Kim “has gained much from step one, including an apparent promise from the president regarding important U.S.-South Korea defensive military drills.”
“I look forward to a detailed briefing from the administration on the talks and any specific commitments North Korea has made toward denuclearization. Congress has an important oversight role in this process,” Royce said. “Throughout, we must press Beijing and others to continue complying fully with all sanctions against the North Korean regime. Kim Jong Un should not receive a dime of relief until he fully and verifiably denuclearizes.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) echoed the belief that “as negotiations now advance, there is only one acceptable final outcome: complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.”
“We must always be clear that we are dealing with a brutal regime with a long history of deceit,” Ryan said. “Only time will tell if North Korea is serious this time, and in the meantime we must continue to apply maximum economic pressure. The road ahead is a long one, but today there is hope that the president has put us on a path to lasting peace in the Korean peninsula.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the summit a “historic first step in an important negotiation” on the Senate floor today.
“If North Korea does not prove willing to follow through, we and our allies must be prepared to restore the policy of maximum pressure,” McConnell said. “Today, I congratulate the president on this major step, and share his hope that it will begin a process that leads to an historic peace.”
Also on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stressed that “a nuclear North Korea with ICBMs probably presents a greater danger to the United States, and the safety and well-being of our country, than any other in the world — so it’s imperative that we actually get action here, not just photo-ops.”
“Unfortunately, the entire document is short on details. As we have learned, in the wake of the collapse of the 1994 and 2005 agreements, North Korea is liable to backtrack on vague commitments as soon as it’s in its interest,” Schumer said. “Chairman Kim, like his father before him, has a history of backing away from agreements. There is a great fear now that Chairman Kim, having won a major concession from the United States –- meeting with our president –- may not go any further.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said he’s now “looking for North Korea to make a complete declaration as to their nuclear weapons and missile programs, verify that those programs are frozen, allow international inspectors in to see exactly what is going on, and to agree to the removal of nuclear weapons and related materials from the country.”
“Any agreement put to Congress – which the administration has committed to and must follow up on – needs to address these issues with solid commitments: removal, inspections, verification, and importantly, underscoring that before any nuclear-related sanctions relief can take place, demonstrable progress toward those goals is underway,” he said.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said “it is difficult to determine what of concrete nature has occurred” at the summit and called for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to testify at an oversight hearing.
The committee’s ranking member, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), said that “in exchange for selfies in Singapore, we have undermined our maximum pressure policy and sanctions,” as “no sooner was the ink dry on the agreement then China stated that ‘adjustments’ were needed to the sanctions.”
“While the president publicly chastises and insults leaders of countries whose citizens have fought with and died alongside Americans, he smiles and shakes hands with a brutal dictator,” Menendez said. “We have given a free pass to an international pariah who abuses his own people, kills his own relatives, and routinely threatens our national security.”