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Public Statements

Condemning the North Korea Rocket Launch

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, last week, the despotic regime in North Korea launched a rocket under the guise of sending a ``weather satellite'' into outer space. Fortunately, the three-stage missile failed within two minutes and crashed into the sea, a setback for the North Korean military but a moment of relief for that country's peace-loving neighbors.

While this missile test was a failure--so spectacular a failure that even the propaganda arm of North Korea's government admitted it--that does not mean that any next such test will also fail. This launch was another slap in the face to the United States by a regime that has repeatedly violated agreements we have made in good faith. The Obama Administration has yet again attempted to negotiate with a terrorist regime that uses every negotiation opportunity to buy time to develop its nuclear program. Meanwhile, thousands of North Koreans are starving.

In the most recent ``Leap Day Agreement'' entered into with the United States, Pyongyang agreed to suspend major elements of its nuclear program and refrain from any long-range missile launches. We, in turn, would provide another 240,000 tons of nutritional assistance. Now we have once again provided the regime with food which they reportedly sell for hard currency in order to continue to prop up their military programs. North Korea yet again chooses to violate violates its part of the deal.

I have read reports that estimated the cost of the failed rocket launch at $850 million. The same report said that the cost of the launch cost would have been enough money to buy 2.5 million tons of corn and 1.4 million tons of rice--or enough for the North Korean Government to feed millions of its starving people. This to me is criminal behavior. This launch was a gesture of contempt for the efforts of the United States, the Republic of Korea, and our other partners in Northeast Asia who have been working to prevent nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula and to damper North Korea's belligerence.

We must remain vigilant not only in preventing missile tests but also in preventing North Korea's further attempts to develop nuclear weapons.
For more than six decades, it has been the policy of the U.S. government to promote peace, stability, and security in Northeast Asia and in the Korean Peninsula.

South of the Demilitarized Zone, these efforts have seen tremendous and unparalleled success. Since the armistice ended the Korean War in 1953, our ally South Korea has grown economically and matured politically. Korea is now a model democracy, one of the most successful in East Asia, and it shares with the United States the values of liberal governance, free enterprise, and regional security.

By contrast, North Korea is ruled by a family dynasty that disdains those values and seeks to undermine them.

South Korea now has the 11th-largest economy in the world. It is the seventh-largest trading partner with the United States. Over the past six decades, Americans have fought side-by-side with our allies from the Republic of Korea not only in the Korean War, but also in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Over two million Americans of Korean descent live in our country, raising families, building businesses, and contributing to their communities. Thousands of South Korean students are enrolled in American colleges and universities. Many Korean tourists and business travelers visit the United States each year.
The bonds between the United States and Korea are strong and long-lasting, dating back to the 1882 Treaty of Amity and Commerce--130 years ago.

We have no ill wishes for the people of North Korea, whose government does not represent them. That 1882 friendship treaty was made with all of Korea and we look forward to the day when all Koreans and all Americans may participate fully in amity and commerce.

Sadly, the belligerent nature of the North Korean regime has postponed that bright day.

For that reason, in this time of tension in Northeast Asia, I urge my colleagues to condemn, unequivocally, North Korea's programs to develop both nuclear bombs and long-range missiles. We must insist that these projects be ended in the interest of peace and stability.


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