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Senators Menendez, Gardner Introduce Legislation for North Korea Oversight

WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the North Korea Policy Oversight Act of 2018, legislation that provides 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. Joining Menendez in introducing this bipartisan legislation was Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

The bill lays out Congressional support and oversight of diplomatic efforts to address the nuclear threat from North Korea, ensuring the Trump Administration maintain 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.

“If we are going to be successful in the pursuit of peace with North Korea, the Trump Administration must execute strategic, rigorous, and thoughtful diplomacy. I am concerned that, thus far, it has not,” said Senator Menendez. This bipartisan effort is in line with the Administration’s own goals and lays out a stringent 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.” 

The North Korea Policy Oversight Act of 2018 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.

I sincerely hope the President is able take full advantage of this historic opportunity to find a diplomatic solution to advance American national security and the security of our allies and partners. But after the Administration signed a vague joint statement in Singapore without any details on a pathway forward on denuclearization, the need for Congressional oversight is more evident than ever,” concluded Menendez.

A copy of the North Korea Policy Oversight Act of 2018 can be found HERE.


North Korea Policy Oversight Act of 2018

Section 1: Short Title

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘North Korea Policy Oversight Act of 2018.’’

Section 2: Definitions

This section defines, for the purpose of this act, “appropriate congressional committees” as the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Appropriations Committee of the Senate, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Appropriations Committee of the House. The term “nuclear nonproliferation treaty” refers to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, completed in Washington, London, and Moscow in July 1968.

Section 3: Findings.  The Findings state that:

·        North Korea’s nuclear program is in violation of nine listed UN Security Council Resolutions.

·        North Korea’s nuclear program is the result of six decades of illegal efforts, including six nuclear tests since 2006.

·        North Korea has enough fissile material for at least 30-60 nuclear weapons and the Department of Defense estimates that North Korea has about 200 launchers, capable of firing short and medium range missiles.

·        The U.S. requires a comprehensive diplomatic strategy for achieving the complete denuclearization of North Korea. 

·        While Kim Jun-Un appears to support diplomatic efforts, North Korea has a record of failing to live up to its diplomatic commitments, and economic pressure and sanctions provide critical leverage for these negotiations.

·        If North Korea fails to live up to international consensus, the U.S. can pursue additional sanctions, counter-proliferation, and deterrence efforts.

Section 4: Statement of Policy. It is U.S. policy to:

·        Pursue all credible diplomatic means to achieve the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.  The policy includes provisions to pursue meaningful diplomatic engagement with North Korea for the purposes of advancing negotiations regarding denuclearization, reducing risk, developing confidence-building measures, as well as encouraging other nations to deny North Korea to maintain diplomatic missions, enforcing sanctions, assuring allies, and aiding North Korean refugees. 

·        Not recognize North Korea as a legitimate nuclear weapons state, per the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

·        Encourage other nations to refuse diplomatic missions from North Korea, to enforce UN sanctions on North Korea, and to end the practice of hosting North Korean’s migrant workers.

·        Support North Korean refugees and asylum seekers, per the North Korea Human Rights Act Re-authorization Act of 2018.

·        Prevent the transfer of nuclear weapons or weapon technology to or from North Korea and other states/non-state actors.

Section 5: Diplomatic Strategy. The U.S. will:

·        Pursue a peaceful complete denuclearization of North Korea, such that North Korea returns to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and to IAEA safeguards and eliminates all of its ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction and commit to joint efforts for lasting peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

·        The President will submit a report describing how diplomatic negotiations with North Korea are expected to proceed, with continual written updates every 30 days.

·        The U.S. will continue to impose sanctions on the government of North Korea and the Worker’s Party of Korea, and on those acting on behalf of North Korea, until meaningful and verifiable denuclearization takes place.

·        Not pursue military action against North Korea contrary to international law.

·        The Secretary of Defense will submit separate reports on the effect of any negotiations with North Korea on U.S. security interests and military presence with regards to the Pacific Command, Korea, and Japan.

Section 6: Sense of Congress regarding U.S. Forces on the Korean Peninsula.

·        Underscores the importance of the US presence on the Korean peninsula and that US forces are not subject to negotiations with North Korea.

Section 7: Briefings

·        Member level-briefings from the Secretary of State and Director of National Intelligence following each round of talks between the U.S. and North Korea, as well as monthly staff briefings beginning 90 days after enactment of the Act

Section 8. Submission of Agreement and Verifications Report. 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 to the appropriate congressional committees and leadership.

·        The Secretary of State will prepare a report on the agreement, describing its verification process, and the ability of the U.S. and the IAEA to implement the verification strategy. 

Section 9: Additional Reports. This section states that:

·        Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, along with the Director of National Intelligence, will submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on North Korea’s record of verification and compliance. The President will continue submit to the appropriate congressional committees and leadership a report on North Korea’s nuclear program and the compliance of North Korea with the agreement.