U.S. House lines up to introduce North resolution

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U.S. House lines up to introduce North resolution

A bipartisan resolution condemning North Korea’s development of multiple intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and urging the prompt deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system to South Korea was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday.

The resolution, sponsored by Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, was introduced by a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers in light of North Korea’s two nuclear tests and numerous ballistic missile launches last year.

The resolution urged the prompt deployment of the U.S.-led Thaad system to counter Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threat, which it said “supports an alliance security decision.”

It also reaffirmed that Washington will support “a layered, interoperable, multi-tier missile defense system to protect Americans and allies on the Korean Peninsula.”

The resolution called on China to pressure North Korean leaders “to cease their provocative behavior” and “abandon and dismantle their nuclear and missile programs through the curtailing of vital economic support and trade” that supports the regime.

It also urged additional sanctions on Pyongyang as well as the implementation of current measures penalizing the regime for its nuclear and missile provocations.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, a Republican from California, said in an opening statement during a hearing Tuesday, “The quick speed with which North Korea’s missile program is advancing is a real ‘game changer’ for our national security.”

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee convened a hearing on countering the North Korean threat and new steps in U.S. policy that invited experts who testified on the current status of Pyongyang’s nuclear program and its ability to deliver its nuclear arsenal.

Referring to the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, Royce said that the Donald Trump administration can “put this law to much greater use” than the previous government.

He also encouraged other ways to crack down on the Kim Jong-un regime, such as targeting North Korean labor abroad, which is a source of up to $2 billion in hard currency annually, as well as loopholes in existing sanctions on North Korea’s shipping and financial sectors. He added that foreign banks, including in China, that help the North Korean regime evade sanctions should be forced to choose between doing business with the United States or Kim Jong-un.

Royce said that U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ visit to Korea last week demonstrates that the “ironclad” relationship between Seoul and Washington “continues through political transitions, both here at home and in South Korea.”

Experts speaking at the hearing were in agreement that the policy to denuclearize North Korea has failed.

Robert L. Gallucci, a chief U.S. negotiator during the North Korean nuclear crisis in 1994 and professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, warned against Washington relying on China to rein in Pyongyang.

“The Chinese have overlapping interests with us but not congruent interests,” Gallucci said. “Subcontracting this issue to our principle competitor in the Asia-Pacific region is not a brilliant strategy for us to follow.” He added that imposing sanctions is not “a winning strategy” either.

While favoring negotiations, Gallucci said that Washington should not settle for a freeze in North Korea’s nuclear program, which he said “legitimizes” the regime’s actions.

He proposed that Washington should adhere to its demands of nonproliferation but also insist that North Korea improves its human rights record “so that there is a plausible outcome in which the United States and North Korea can move out of the situation of an adversarial relationship.”

He said that “the carrot for the North Koreans” might be some form of assistance, or related to halting of joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea.

“Fundamentally, the thing they want is a normalized relationship with us, and we have to give them a roadmap, a path to that, which meets our needs.”

This has to happen in close consultation with South Korea and other allies, he said.

“We will be well off if we could avoid ourselves making the first provocation to the North in the relationship with the new administration,” said Gallucci.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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