Foreign Affairs Dems request North Korea hearing

Foreign Affairs Dems request North Korea hearing
© Greg Nash

A trio of Democrats is asking the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to hold a hearing on reports North Korea is increasing its weapons production even as denuclearization talks with the United State proceed.

“We are extremely concerned by this active, cumulative deception on the part of the North Korean regime and the corollary impact on our bilateral denuclearization talks,” the committee members wrote to Chairman Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoycePoll: House GOP candidate leads in California swing district Overnight Defense: Congress reaches deal preventing shutdown | Pentagon poised to be funded on time for first time in years | House GOP rejects effort to get Putin summit documents GOP rejects effort to force release of documents about private Trump-Putin meeting MORE (R-Calif.)

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“As the committee of jurisdiction, we would be responsible for a potential winding down of sanctions on North Korea and for approving any other ‘sweeteners’ agreed to as part of a comprehensive deal. It is vital to our continued oversight that the committee hear from the administration on these concerning revelations and their assessment of ongoing discussions.”

The letter was signed by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyDem on Puerto Rico and Trump: ‘God only knows’ what he'd consider a failure Congress losing faith in Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi Virginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence MORE (D-Va.) and Dina TitusAlice (Dina) Costandina TitusOvernight Defense: Uproar over report Army discharging some immigrants | Latest on Pompeo in Pyongyang | Trump hits NATO ahead of summit Foreign Affairs Dems request North Korea hearing Overnight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases MORE (D-Nev.).

Several reports over the last couple weeks have called into question North Korea’s pledge to denuclearize following President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE's summit with and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month.

First was an analysis of commercial satellite imagery by U.S.-based North Korea monitor 38 North that showed infrastructure improvements at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center are continuing at a “rapid pace.”

Still, the analysis said that “continued work at the Yongbyon facility should not be seen as having any relationship to North Korea’s pledge to denuclearize. The North’s nuclear cadre can be expected to proceed with business as usual until specific orders are issued from Pyongyang.”

Then came an NBC News report that said U.S. intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has in recent months increased production of fuel for nuclear weapons at several secret sites and that it may try to hide those facilities during talks.

In their letter, the lawmakers wrote that the report appears to confirm warnings from experts ahead of Trump and Kim’s meeting.

“In the lead-up to the president’s discussions with Kim Jong Un, arms control experts expressed repeated concerns that North Korea was likely operating undisclosed enrichment facilities aside from the disclosed facility at Yongbyon,” the lawmakers said. “The classified defense assessment not only confirms these assessments, but indicates that enrichment activity has ramped up.”

And this week, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies said satellite imagery shows North Korea continued to expand a major missile manufacturing facility around the same time that Trump and Kim met.

The reports come after Trump and Kim’s joint summit statement committed the United States to unspecified security guarantees in exchange for the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGrassley to administration: You must consult Congress on refugee cap Graham knocks South Korea over summit with North Shrapnel in Yemen strikes links US-made bombs to 63 civilian deaths: report MORE is in Pyongyang until Saturday to try to nail down details that the summit statement lacked.

In their letter, the lawmakers asked Royce for a hearing before the August recess, saying that “proper oversight” requires it.

“We look forward to working with you to address this critical threat to the United States,” they concluded.