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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Holds Hearing on U.S. Foreign Policy

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.

Mr. Secretary, I join my colleagues in thanking you for your presentation yesterday for its quality and its content.
I think that we are all gratified that the administration finally came to the United Nations and made its case to the world. And many of us have said that the hard diplomatic work and the work of educating America have been too long in the coming.

I think the road would have been much easier for you to this moment, and I think the road would be easier in the days ahead, had the administration listened to you. I know your position has always been to try to maximize that international effort, and I think this is a vindication of your position and of the many of us here in the Congress who long pushed for something less unilateral and more of the hard work of diplomacy.

I don't want to go into the—I think the case you made yesterday speaks for itself. For those who look for a smoking gun, there is a really a kind of smoking gun—I mean, it doesn't have to be the gun itself that is smoking. It can be evidence which makes clear the effort to move the gun around before it's actually smoking.

And I think you made a very powerful case with respect to that, and that is important here. And people need to
look at it dispassionately, nonpartisanly, and with the security interests of our country in mind.

I am concerned about the work ahead to maximize the international effort here. And I know you are, too, and I know you are going to be engaged in that.

I also would say—and I think it's important for all of us to say this—that there is an enormous burden on the United Nations at this point to live up to its responsibilities. And I think those of us who care about multilateral institutions cannot just talk about them in the abstract. They have to perform. They have to step up to their moment and I think this is one of those moments.

If Saddam Hussein cannot convince the world—and I think it would be very difficult, but maybe he can, and I'd like you to share with us if you think there are specific ways that he could, in fact, live up to the standard that you have set given the difficulties of inspections. That is, sort of, question number one, if I may.

But I want to ask, because time runs so rapidly here, I really want to ask you about this question that's been raised by colleagues on North Korea.

There's been a little bit of revisionism here, if I may say so, Mr. Secretary, politely, because there's been a history of the review process of the administration and, indeed, I think in 2001 there were some changes made in the approach, not to mention the increased, heightening of rhetoric, the, sort of, axis of evil and pygmy dictator and other such things.

None of this precludes responsibility from North Korea for breaking the agreement. I understand that.

But in late-2000, the heavy procurement efforts for material linked to the highly enriched uranium program became known. In November of 2001, Lawrence Livermore's secret report on the highly enriched program was part of the ongoing intelligence assessment. And in June of 2002 the pieces came together and top officials concluded they were cheating.

Here we are now in 2003 and basically the administration has taken all of its options off the table, the option of military, the option of sanctions, the option of talking for a long time—now we are talking.

But what is really dangerous, what makes this more dangerous than 1994, is that the reprocessing of plutonium is the critical measurement. That's the demarcation line here. And that is the decisive step before the development of weapons. Once the plutonium is reprocessed, the genie is out of the bottle.

Now, there's enough plutonium from existing fuel rods that have been under international control since 1994 to make five to six nuclear weapons within six months, and six more the next year. If the North Koreans resume and complete work on two other reactors that were shut down in 1994, a 50 megawatt reactor and a 200 megawatt reactor, they could be making plutonium for dozens of nuclear weapons each year: a literal plutonium assembly line.

Now, why do I stress that? Well, Mr. Secretary, this, sort of, takes you back to Cold War potential, this goes beyond the capacity to have a suicide mission, where they lob a couple or engage in a couple, it gives them the capacity to have a second strike capacity, which puts you in a very different structure.

Secondly, it has a profound impact on the cascading effect of nuclear proliferation in the region, in Northeast Asia. Japan, South Korea, China, India, Pakistan, all are impacted by the lack of resolve of this.

And it's more dangerous because we know that this material could be sold, even the weapons themselves, to Al Qaida or other efforts. Unlike Iraq, and I emphasize this, North Korea has an established record of selling weapons technology widely and indiscriminately, obviously.

And many South Koreans have now come to interpret this struggle as not a struggle between them and North Korea, but a struggle between North Korea and the United States. And that is, in fact, something that North Korea's exploiting.

So I think the administration has, sort of, left this fuzzy. I mean they're saying, "We don't want nuclear weapons," but it's not the nuclear weapons, it's the reprocessing.

And for a long period of time we were exchanging oil for the knowledge that they were not reprocessing. I think every American would buy the exchange of oil for non-nuclearization of the region. That's what we had.

The lifting of the cameras and the lifting of the inspectors has deprived us of that.

And yet there is no sense of, sort of, the demarcation line on the processing, and no clarity from the administration about what option is, in fact, on the table and how we'll proceed.

Former Ambassador Gallucci and Sandy Berger have made one proposal of a bargain. Others have made another proposal; I believe Michael O'Hanlon at the Brookings.

So could you share with us, sort of, is the line worth drawing on reprocessing? If it is, how does the administration intend to do that, and why are we not moving more aggressively with respect to that threat where it is more real in terms of longer-term threat of nuclearization than the current threat in Iraq, which I agree is a threat and is one we have to deal with, but it's a different kind of threat?


No options have been taken off the table, the option of sanctions, the option of additional political moves. No military option's been taken off the table, although we have no intention of attacking North Korea as a nation, the president said that, or invading North Korea. But the president has retained all of his options.

And yes, we are concerned about the step of reprocessing. In fact that was the subject of the bulk of my discussions yesterday with my Russian, and the night before with my Chinese, colleagues, because I recognize the
importance of that step.

But at the same time we have to take note of the simple fact that even if you had the plutonium facility still bottled up with cameras and seals and everything else, the reality is that long before we came into office they had already decided to try to find another way to develop the very materials that are of concern to us, in this case through the enrichment of uranium.

And so they had not abandoned—even though we were keeping an eye on Yongbyon, they had not abandoned their basic intention to develop fissile material that could be used in nuclear weapons.

And as we solve this problem—it is not just a problem of Yongbyon—it has to be solved in a way that we see to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

And the very fact that Yongbyon was left in a manner that seals could be removed and it could be restarted, because the agreed framework did not provide for the elimination and removal of all of the cells until long after the light water reactors were up and running and, you know, it was a future, a future arrangement, left this danger there all along.

And so I still think it is possible to find a diplomatic solution working with our friends. The South Koreans, the ones I have spoken to and my assessment of the new president-elect and my conversations with one of his principal advisers the day before yesterday, suggest that they realize it is not just a problem between the United States and North Korea. They want us to do more, as you said, publicly, and we are prepared to do more.

But at the same time we have to find a complete solution to this problem that involves Yongbyon, enriched uranium and not leaving in place those elements that could be right back into operation and presenting us a problem three, four, five years from now.

And what we are communicating to the North Koreans in every way that we can, through all manner of channels, both public and private channels and direct conversations, is that we want to find a political solution, we want to talk to you, but we believe that the best way to talk is in a multilateral forum so that the other parties who have an interest in this can be involved. And the other parties, frankly, have expressed an interest in participating in a multilateral arrangement that would lead to bilateral discussions.


Well, Mr. Secretary, I think there's a...


Senator Kerry...


I know, my time is up. Could I just have an answer to the first part of the question about what specifically, in your mind, Saddam Hussein might or might not be able to do?


If Saddam Hussein really was interested in avoiding the serious consequences contemplated by 1441, and if he truly had abandoned his goal of having these weapons of mass destruction, and was really committed to changing the nature of his regime and his policies, he would be pushing out scientists and experts and engineers and everyone else who knew anything about these programs there over the last 12 years and saying, "Here they are, take them anywhere you want, sit down, talk to them. They're the ones with the knowledge of what we have been doing, here they are, talk to them." He would not be giving them classes in how to, you know, keep secrets.
If he was really serious about it, he would be telling us what happened to the bombs, what's going on at this facility, what did you cover up? "Turn it all over. Turn over all your cards, all your hold cards, and let's get this resolved." That's not what he's done.

And the United Nations, the international community, must not ignore its responsibility.

Yes, I have been in the forefront of diplomatic efforts, because I don't like war. Nobody likes war. The president doesn't like war, doesn't want a war. But this is a problem we cannot walk away from.

And when we fought for seven weeks to get U.N. Resolution 1441 -- and I might point out, Senator, that the president decided in early August of last year to go down to the U.N. route. Notwithstanding all of the speculation as to what he did or didn't do, it was early August that we all spoke about this and the president decided to go the U.N. route, and that decision was agreed to by all of his principal advisers in one morning meeting that we had in person and by video.


And when we structured 1441, to make sure it wasn't like all other resolutions, it said, "You are guilty. You're in material breach now. By the way, you can get out of material breach, but only if you come clean. And by the way, we are going to empower the inspection teams to do a better job than they've ever done in the past. And oh, by the way, if you flunk it this time, you cannot just walk away from the serious consequences involved in your further misbehavior."

Everyone who voted for that resolution—and I made this point yesterday—knew exactly what we were talking about, because the day the president spoke, that very afternoon, December 12th, I sat down with a number of my Security Council colleagues, many of whom were pushing for the opportunity to have a second resolution. I said,
"OK, it may come to that." And the president said the other day he welcomes a second resolution. But I said to them at that time, "Do not vote for this first resolution, 1441, if you are also saying at this time you will not vote for a second resolution when serious consequences are called for. Don't play that double game."

Everybody knew what we were getting into with 1441. And we all hoped it would work. We all hoped Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime or other leaders within Iraq would recognize that this is the time to stop this kind of behavior, end these kinds of programs, live in peace with its neighbors and let the inspectors come in and verify the destruction of this material and find out the truth.

So far the Iraqi regime led by Saddam Hussein has chosen not to do that. And we will see what happens when the inspectors visit this weekend. And we will all be looking with great interest at what the inspectors report next Friday.


Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

And thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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