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National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2010--Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2010--Continued -- (Senate - July 22, 2009)


Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, in addition to Senator Lugar and Senator Levin, I believe Senator Webb is also an original cosponsor of this amendment. I believe this amendment is a responsible alternative to the amendment offered by Senator Brownback. This amendment appropriately takes note of and condemns North Korea's recent behavior as a threat to the northeast Asian region and to international peace and security. But in contrast to the Brownback amendment, which expresses the sense of the Senate that North Korea should immediately be relisted as a state sponsor of terrorism, the Kerry-Lugar-Levin-Webb amendment requires something to happen, not just a sense of the Senate that there might be a relisting. It mandates a report, a formal report, to be completed within 30 days, examining North Korea's conduct since it was removed from the terrorism list last June, including the evaluation of any evidence that North Korea has engaged in acts of terrorism or provided support for acts of terrorism or terrorist organizations.

One of the reasons for requiring that is that in the Brownback amendment on page 3, section 9, line 21, it says:

There have been recent credible reports that North Korea has provided support to the terrorist group Hezbollah, including providing ballistic missile components and personnel to train members of Hezbollah .....

Let me state unequivocally to my colleagues in the Senate: The most recent intelligence assessments of our intelligence community simply do not sustain this charge. In fact, President Bush specifically refuted that charge because it was an old one, and he refuted it last year. It would be the height of irresponsibility for the Senate to pass an amendment based on a finding that is false. It is important to have a report to the Senate that requires us to evaluate, that would have the administration submit to us precisely what the situation is.

The report will also assess the effectiveness of relisting North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism for achieving our national security objectives; namely, completely eliminating North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, preventing North Korean proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and encouraging North Korea to abide by international norms with respect to human rights.

Our amendment then expresses the sense of the Senate that if the United States finds that North Korea has, in fact--that we would know this within these 30 days--provided support for terrorism, then the Secretary of State should immediately relist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.

It also expresses the sense of the Senate that the United States should vigorously enforce all existing unilateral and multilateral sanctions and consider the imposition of additional sanctions if necessary to achieve the policy goals with respect to North Korea.

I believe it is an important, realistic amendment. I think it is tougher because it mandates some things specific, and it rightly condemns North Korea, as we have.

Let me emphasize, the United States, this administration, has fully and rightly condemned North Korea's launch of ballistic missiles and its test of a nuclear weapon on May 25, 2009. We have led a strong international response to those provocations, and we succeeded in winning unanimous support from the United Nations for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874, imposing sweeping new sanctions against North Korea. The sanctions mandated under the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874 include not only a comprehensive arms embargo but also robust new financial sanctions on North Korean trading companies, and visa restrictions on North Korean officials engaged in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

These sanctions have teeth. They are multilateral. And they are having an impact. A North Korean cargo ship suspected of carrying arms to Burma turned around after it was denied bunkering services in Singapore. The Government of Burma joined with us, and the government itself warned that the ship would have to be inspected on arrival in order to ensure that it did not have munitions onboard. The sanctions have had a bite. They are working.

As strong as those measures have been, additional measures may be necessary, and this report will help us to evaluate that. But additional steps, including the relisting of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, ought to be based on a careful examination of the facts--that is how we ought to do things in the Senate--and an assessment of whether those sanctions are going to advance our interests. That is precisely what the Kerry-Lugar-Levin-Webb amendment mandates, and that is why it is actually a better sanctions policy than the alternative Brownback amendment.

Let me add one last word. We are currently deeply concerned about the fate of two American journalists currently under detention in North Korea. The administration is engaged right now in sensitive discussions with the North Korean Government attempting to secure the immediate release of these two American citizens. For the Senate to suggest--on something we already know is factually incorrect but out of emotion and otherwise--that North Korea ought to be returned to the list of state sponsors of terrorism without regard to whether they have, in fact, engaged in acts of terrorism or provided support to terrorist organizations would be irresponsible with respect to those particular efforts and otherwise at this time.

We ought to proceed according to facts. We ought to proceed in ways that best advance the interests of our country.

Mr. President, I reserve the remainder of our time.


Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I yield myself such time as I will use, and I will be very brief.

The Senator from Kansas just cited the Congressional Research Service report in his statement about Hezbollah. I am reading from a memorandum from the President of the United States. This is the Presidential report, certification, when he lifted the designation of North Korea. And he wrote--this is from the President--

Our review of intelligence community assessments indicates there is no credible or sustained reporting at this time that supports allegations (including as cited in recent reports by the Congressional Research Service) that the DPRK has provided direct or witting support for Hezbollah, Tamil Tigers, or the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Should we obtain credible evidence of current DPRK support for international terrorism at any time in the future, the Secretary could again designate the DPRK a state sponsor of terrorism.

We have not received that evidence. We specifically request it. And contrary to what the Senator just said, this does not delay the report. It says: not later than 30 days after the passage. The report can come next week. The report can come in answer to the Senator's request. We would ask for that.

Let's be accurate in this designation. The President of the United States said there is no credible evidence. And there is none to this date. Our report asks for whether any currently exists. That is the way the Senate ought to behave with respect to serious matters such as this.

Mr. President, I yield the remainder of the time to the distinguished chairman of the committee.


Mr. KERRY. Would the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. BROWNBACK. I am happy to yield for a question.

Mr. KERRY. Is the Senator suggesting that the President of the United States in his letter of certification misinformed the American people and the Senate?

Mr. BROWNBACK. What I am suggesting is that this was part of a negotiation and that they have wide latitude. In fact, if I may continue my answer for my colleague who has asked a very pertinent question on this issue and who is very familiar with the six-party talks, as I am partially, somewhat familiar with the six-party talks, these have been talks going on for a long period of time. The North Koreans hate being listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. Their big push was to be delisted. The administration has broad authority. It has broad abilities to be able to interpret this, and they said: OK, we are going to be able to do this, and we will find some room in here to interpret it this way, in exchange for you guys stopping your weapons of mass destruction, which did not happen.

I am saying that what we should do now is not continue with that mistake. What I am saying we should do now is, let's call a spade a spade in this situation. This is a terrorist nation. The Senator from Massachusetts knows that. He knows what is taking place and what they are doing. They are one of the lead sponsors of terrorist activities in arming, bad, rogue regimes around the world, and the Senator knows that. What we should do is call that what it is in this Senate and not call for just a report.

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, if the Senator will further yield, does the Senator from Kansas believe this language:

Our review of intelligence community assessments indicates there is no credible or sustained reporting at this time that supports allegations they have provided direct support--et cetera--and should we have credible evidence of international terrorism at any time in the future--

The President clearly----

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.

All time has expired.

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays on amendment No. 1761.


Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, it would be both inconsistent and inappropriate to vote aye on both amendments for a couple of reasons. First of all, the amendment we just passed with 66 votes mandates that no later than 30 days after this is passed--it could happen next week, in 3 weeks--we are mandating the report from the administration with respect to whether there is evidence at this time of North Korea actually aiding or abetting or being a terrorist state.

The most recent finding of the intelligence community says no. The President of the United States, George Bush, certified to us when he decertified them as a terrorist state that they were not engaged in any activities of aiding and abetting terrorism at that time in the world. There is no evidence within the intelligence community at this moment in time that says so.

The Brownback amendment states that there is. So it is wrong, and it would be inappropriate for the Senate to base designating North Korea as a terrorist state on findings that do not exist, as well as doing so at a time when we are negotiating to get the release of two young journalists. This would be a completely inappropriate measure by the Senate at this time.


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