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 RoyceMystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp House panel advances bill to protect elections from foreign interference 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 ConnollyPerry won't comply with subpoena in impeachment inquiry Trump confirms Rick Perry to step down as Energy secretary Overnight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule MORE (D-Va.) and Dina TitusAlice (Dina) Costandina TitusThe PREPARED Act will protect vulnerable animals when disaster strikes Marijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis House Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment MORE (D-Nev.).

Several reports over the last couple weeks have called into question North Korea’s pledge to denuclearize following President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' 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 PompeoGOP lawmaker: Trump administration 'playing checkers' in Syria while others are 'playing chess' Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring White House officials work to tamp down controversies after a tumultuous week 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.