U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the following opening statement earlier today at a Committee hearing titled "North Korea after Kim Jong-il: Still Dangerous and Erratic." Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Today, we will examine the tumultuous events that have again consumed the Korean peninsula. In a sense, negotiating with North Korea is similar to the endless repetition presented in the film "Groundhog Day.' Withdrawal from negotiations is followed by provocative action. Next there is a wooing by the United States and its allies with concessions offered. Then a so-called "breakthrough deal.' Finally, another betrayal, often in the form of a missile launch or the disclosure of a secret nuclear operation.
"It was so with the Clinton Administration and with the George W. Bush Administration, and thus it has come to pass as well with the Obama Administration. President Clinton's Agreed Framework ended with the disclosure of Pyongyang's highly enriched uranium program. President Bush's attempt at rapprochement, including the removal of North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, which I adamantly opposed, was met with the construction of a secret nuclear reactor in Syria, which Israel thankfully destroyed, and then yet another betrayal.
"The Obama Administration is confronted with the abject failure of its "Leap Day' deal of February 29th with North Korea, and has refused to send witnesses who were privy to the Beijing negotiations to testify today at this hearing.
"Old Kim, Kim Jong-il, had, of course, responded to President Obama's inaugural overture of an "outstretched hand' by kidnapping two U.S. journalists, firing a missile, setting off a nuclear weapon, sinking a South Korean naval vessel, and shelling a South Korean island. His son, Kim Jong-un, seems fully intent on fulfilling the old adage that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. He has already tried a failed missile launch and may be plotting yet a third nuclear test. The UN Security Council issued a Presidential Statement "condemning' the April 13th missile launch as "a serious violation of Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874.' No real consequences for North Korea's flagrant violation and action that threaten global peace and security.
"While the missile blew up soon after leaving the launch pad, it is said that in international relations, measuring intent is just as important as measuring capability. North Korea's rhetoric should have told our negotiators all they needed to know. The "military first' policy of starving the people to feed the army and supply the munitions industry remains. The South Korean Defense Ministry estimated this month that the North Koreans spent $850 million on the failed missile launch -- enough to buy corn to feed the entire population for an entire year.
"Politics in North Korea remains all about the Kim dynasty and its needs, not about either the concerns of the U.S. or the welfare of the Korean people. A particularly unfortunate result of the Leap Day agreement was the combining of discussions of nuclear disarmament and food assistance at the same negotiating table. This was a departure from the approach of both the Clinton Administration and Bush Administration which held to the Reagan doctrine that "a hungry child knows no politics.'
"It also led to a highly embarrassing reversal on the food aid decision following the missile launch, even as Administration officials insisted that there was no direct linkage between food assistance and the failed negotiations. Our distinguished panel of experts can shed light today on whether the succession from the old Kim to the young Kim has really changed anything in North Korea -- or is it merely a matter of old Kim in a new uniform?
"Further, there is the pressing issue of how we should respond to possible further provocation, including another nuclear test. We also wish to examine how we should go forward in addressing the simmering North Korean crisis: a rogue state in possession of nuclear weapons, working on a delivery capability, engaged in murky proliferation activities with opponents of the United States in the Middle East and South Asia.
"The young general at Sunday's military parade gave every indication that trouble lies just ahead with North Korea. Dressed in a dark Mao suit, he viewed tanks, missiles, and goose-stepping troops, as they paraded through North Korea's capital in a celebration of the hundredth anniversary his grandfather's birth. In his first public remarks since assuming power, the young Kim bombastically warned that "the days of enemies threatening and blackmailing us with nuclear weapons are forever over.' The new Kim looks and acts suspiciously very much like the old Kim."