WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement:
“Today’s summit has reduced tensions on the Korean peninsula. Nearly a year ago, the President was threatening ‘fire and fury’ as the North expanded its nuclear weapons arsenal. While I’m relieved that President Trump has replaced threats with face-to-face diplomacy, I remain clear-eyed about the serious challenges ahead. North Korea has promised to end its nuclear program numerous times over the last three decades and has consistently broken those promises. The only major difference today is that President Trump has given the Kim Regime something it has long sought: standing before the world on the same stage as the President of the United States.
“The President says he trusts Kim Jong Un. That’s a mistake. Any potential agreement must be based not on trust, but on air-tight verification. Do the United States and North Korea agree on a common definition of ‘complete denuclearization?’ What commitment will Kim make to international verification of their denuclearization efforts? What is a timeline for ongoing negotiations? Will short-range and long-range ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction be decommissioned? When and in exchange for what action will the U.S. begin unwinding the sanctions regime? Today’s agreement doesn’t address any of these issues.
“Beyond what’s in the agreement, I’m frankly taken aback that the President would announce an end to U.S.-South Korea defensive military exercises with nothing in return other than the same recycled promises from North Korea. This rash decision has taken our allies and our own military by surprise.
“Regardless of what comes next, Congress must assert its oversight role. As a first step, we should pass my bill to establish a ‘baseline’ of North Korea’s current weapons of mass destruction capability. Going forward, the devil will be in the details, and Congress must have total visibility and a chance to weigh in before the Administration commits our country to any agreement.
“I hope that the President and his team are fully successful in carrying these diplomatic conversations forward. No matter how high the stakes, diplomatic engagement is vastly preferable to the United States and our allies than preparing for war. But we must remain sober about who Kim Jong Un is: a brutal dictator who has killed his family, overseen campaigns of mass murder and starvation, and masterfully manipulated his rivals on the global stage.”
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