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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 46, May 2000

Congress Seeks Greater Involvement in US Policy Toward North Korea

On May 15, the US House of Representatives adopted, by 374 votes to 6, legislation requiring Congressional consent for the transfer of US nuclear equipment or technology to North Korea. The measure (the Congressional Oversight of Nuclear Transfers to North Korea Act of 2000, H.R. 4251), which will now be considered in the Senate, is designed to give lawmakers an effective veto over US involvement in providing North Korea with new nuclear reactors - the centrepiece of the October 1994 Agreed Framework between the two countries. The Clinton Administration vehemently denies the need for the legislation, which was co-sponsored by Edward Markey (Democrat - Massachusetts) and Benjamin Gilman (Republican - New York), the Chair of the International Relations Committee. According to Markey: "The reason we are here today is that North Korea's record on nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation is nothing short of abysmal." On May 16, Gilman issued a statement noting: "North Korea is one of the most dangerous, unpredictable nations in the world today. We have an obligation to ensure that any nuclear equipment or technology provided to that nation [takes place]…only with the most careful scrutiny."

Also on May 15, the US announced it would be conducted a second inspection of the Kumchang-ri site in North Korea on May 23. An inspection in May 1999 led the US to provisionally conclude that the site was not, as it had feared, a clandestine nuclear weapons facility. The second test is being described as purely precautionary and not due to fresh doubts.

Reports: House wants say on N. Korea nukes, Associated Press, May 15; US to check underground N. Korean site again, Reuters, May 15; Experts glad US trip to North Korea is still on, Reuters, May 15; Text - House International Relations Committee on North Korea oversight, US State Department (Washington File), May 16.

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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