Pursue A Dialogue With North Korea, And Missile Defense

As a proposed long-range missile test remains in the forefront of global headlines, I call your attention to my testimony before the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on National Security back in May 1996:


"This [Clinton] Administration has chosen to ignore the ballistic missile threat to Alaska and Hawaii. If a rogue nation attempts to nuclear blackmail the United States by threatening to attack one or both of these states, would the President simply dismiss these states as a lost cause? I doubt it. Any consideration of the threat to the United States must take into account the entire fifty states; especially since previous CIA testimony confirms that long-range missiles -- the Taepodong-2 -- now under development by North Korea may pose a threat to Alaska or Hawaii by the year 2000 or shortly thereafter."



North Korea's long-range ballistic missile threat to the United States has been known for some time, yet today the world acts surprised by the prospect of a long-range missile test. The North Koreans conducted a similar missile test in 1998 when it fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan.


Things are a little different today. A long-range missile test would violate the fragile trust the international community began to establish during the six-party talks. This saber rattling would be detrimental to the kind of framework necessary for a diplomatic resolution between North Korea and the United States. Their actions would force the hand of the six-party nations to respond accordingly.


A peaceful, nuclear-free Korean Peninsula rests largely on frank and open dialogue involving all interested parties, not test firing missiles or engaging in feckless rhetoric. The two bipartisan congressional delegations I led to North Korea were meant to foster such a dialogue. Each time our exchanges were constructive and promising, and these positive results were carried back to the Congress.


North Korea is squandering this progress through threats and by shoving its long-range missile capabilities in the face of the international community. This does not mirror the type of positive interaction I experienced during my visits to North Korea, and it certainly does not bode well for the credibility of the North Korean government or the future of the six-party talks.


I urge North Korea's allies, China and Russia, to urge the DPRK government to cease its launch and respond accordingly to this dangerous act. In the meantime, the United States must continue to pursue a peaceful diplomatic solution to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, while pursuing a robust anti-ballistic missile defense.