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 RoyceThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade Mystery 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 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 ConnollyTrump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers Democrats 'utterly unpersuaded' by evidence behind Soleimani strike MORE (D-Va.) and Dina TitusAlice (Dina) Costandina TitusBiden picks up first endorsement from Iowa congressional delegation The US needs to lead again on disability rights Krystal Ball: New Biden ad is everything that's wrong with Democrats 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 rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' 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 PompeoCountries reach agreement in Berlin on Libya cease-fire push, arms embargo Trump Jr.: If 'weaker' Republicans only call for certain witnesses, 'they don't deserve to be in office' House Democrats may call new impeachment witnesses if Senate doesn't 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.