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Leading Lawmakers Unveil Congressional Oversight Framework for the Potential Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

Menendez, Engel, Wilson, Gardner Introduce North Korea Policy Oversight Act to help secure and monitor any agreement between President Trump and Kim Jong Un

WASHINGTON – Congressional national security leaders unveiled legislation to provide stringent congressional oversight of U.S. diplomacy with North Korea and any agreement that emerges from the Trump Administration’s engagement with Kim Jong Un. The bipartisan North Korea Policy Oversight Act of 2019 was introduced today in the Senate by Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and in the House of Representatives by Representatives Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Joe Wilson.

The legislation lays out Congressional support and oversight of diplomatic efforts to address the nuclear threat from North Korea, ensuring the Trump Administration maintains critical leverage and alliances to achieve a practical and verifiable denuclearization agreement. The legislation also underscores that changes to U.S. Force Posture on the Peninsula are not subject to negotiation with North Korea.

“It is increasingly clear that North Korea today continues to pursue its nuclear and ballistic missile programs without constraint. The Trump Administration must execute strategic, rigorous, and thoughtful diplomacy in their dealings with Kim. This bipartisan effort lays out a clear oversight framework to support principled diplomacy to achieve denuclearization while also outlining congressional expectations for any agreement to secure, monitor, and verify the denuclearization of North Korea,” said Senator Menendez. “While his efforts this far have fallen short, I sincerely hope the President is able to find a diplomatic solution that advances American national security and the security of our allies and partners. But the failures of the president’s policy thus far leaves us without a visible pathway forward on denuclearization, making the need for Congressional oversight more necessary than ever.”

“I’m alarmed by the Trump Administration’s lack of transparency on their policy toward North Korea,” said Chairman Engel. “Congress has not only a right but a responsibility to the American people to conduct oversight of the Administration’s activities. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that ensures Congress can properly keep track of the developments on this critical national security issue.”

“President Trump has already made unprecedented progress towards deescalating tensions with North Korea. Now that Washington and Pyongyang are engaged diplomatically at the highest of levels, we must do all that we can to completely and irrevocably deny the North Korean regime from ever threatening the world with a nuclear bomb,” said Representative Wilson. “As North Korea continues to develop its nuclear and ballistic programs, this bill makes Congressional expectations of any future agreement with Pyongyang very clear. The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is more important today than ever, and Congress must ensure any future deal realizes this goal. I hope this bipartisan effort will strengthen the Trump administration’s hands in talks with North Korea and that diplomacy can ultimately prevail.”

The North Korea Policy Oversight Act of 2019 highlights the necessity of monitoring and verifiably eliminating North Korea’s sizable and complex nuclear and missile program, while reaffirming Congressional intent to maintain pressure and deterrence on the government of North Korea until they take significant, meaningful and provable steps toward denuclearization.

A copy of the North Korea Policy Oversight Act of 2019 can be found HERE.

North Korea Policy Oversight Act of 2019

Section 1. Short Title.

 This Act may be cited as the ‘‘North Korea Policy Oversight Act of 2019.’’

Section 2. Definitions.

 This section defines appropriate committees of jurisdiction and the scope of the term “denuclearization”, as it pertains to this Act. The term “denuclearization” refers to the complete, verified, and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs and programs related to the delivery mechanisms for nuclear weapons, including ballistic missile programs.

Section 3. Findings.

 This section finds that North Korea’s nuclear program is the result of six decades of illegal efforts, including six nuclear tests since 2006, violation of nine listed UN Security Council Resolutions, and the failure of North Korea to live up to its diplomatic commitments. In addition to nuclear and missile related sanctions, the United States has also applied sanctions against North Korean individuals and entities, including on Kim Jong Un, for their complicity in human rights abuses against the North Korean people. In the joint declaration at the June 2018 Singapore summit, North Korea committed to “working toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” while a second United States–North Korea summit on February 28, 2019 ended without a joint statement or agreement.

This section also finds that The Intelligence Community has concluded that “North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability” and is observing “activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization”.  And May 5, 2019, North Korea tested three missile systems at ranges of up to 240 kilometers, including a short-range ballistic missile, and on May 9, the United States impounded a North Korean ship accused of sanctions violations.

Section 4. Statements of Policy.

 This section states that it is US policy to pursue all credible diplomatic means to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea, including the complete abandonment and verifiable dismantlement of all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs/facilities/infrastructure, as well as North Korea returning to compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and IAEA, and that the US will sustain economic pressure until North Korea undertakes meaningful and verifiable actions toward denuclearization.

This section also reaffirms our commitments to Japan and South Korea, and states the US shall continue to promote human rights for the North Korean people.

Section 5. Diplomatic Strategy Report.

 This section calls for the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress assessing diplomatic negotiations with North Korea, the threat posed by North Korean nuclear and missile programs, and US efforts to exert economic pressure on North Korea, in coordination with our allies.

Section 6. Briefings.

 This section calls for Member-level briefings not later than 15 legislative days after each round of senior-level diplomatic talks between the U.S. and North Korea, as well as quarterly staff briefings not later than 30 days after enactment of the Act.

Section 7. Sense of the Congress on Congressional Hearings.

 This section states that it is the sense of Congress that regular congressional oversight through SFRC and HFAC hearings are important during diplomatic engagement between the United States and North Korea.

Section 8. Oversight of Agreements with North Korea.

 This section mandates that no later than 5 days after reaching an agreement with North Korea on its nuclear program, the President will transmit the agreement and all relevant materials to Congress; and requires that any binding agreement between the US and North Korea should be submitted to the Senate as a treaty.

Section 9. Verification and Compliance.

 This section states that not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment, and 180 days thereafter, the Administration will submit to Congress a report on North Korea’s record of verification and compliance.

Section 10. Reports.

 This section allows for consolidation of reports.