Barely six months ago, the bills introduced in Congress on North Korea were generally of two kinds — those that wanted tougher economic sanctions on Pyongyang, or those that sought to curb President Donald Trump from launching an attack on the North without congressional input.
But with the Trump-Kim Jong Un summit more than two weeks old, and few details emerging on the exact nature of the deal reached in Singapore, the mood has shifted in Congress.
Two senators, one Democrat and one Republican, have introduced a bill that seeks more congressional oversight over any deal Trump ultimately makes with the North Korean leader about denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is concerned that the Trump administration has neither taken full advantage of the summit with the North Korean leader earlier this month nor executed “strategic, rigorous, and thoughtful diplomacy” in the weeks since the meeting, according to his statement Wednesday.
“But after the Administration signed a vague joint statement in Singapore without any details on a pathway forward on denuclearization, the need for congressional oversight is more evident than ever,” said Menendez. The bill’s cosponsor is Republican Cory Gardner of Colorado.
Their bill, recalls the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which gave Congress some leverage over the agreement reached among five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany with the goal of dismantling Iran’s nuclear research program.
This new bill, dubbed the North Korea Policy Oversight Act of 2018, requires written updates on diplomatic negotiations every 30 days from the president, and separate reports from the secretary of Defense on the negotiation’s effects on the U.S. military. But it does not stipulate that a congressional vote must be taken to approve any potential deals with North Korea.
Menendez and Gardner wrote in the bill that the United States should continue to exert economic and military pressure on North Korea, and pursue diplomatic maneuvers to reach “complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.”
The bill also underscores the importance of U.S. military forces on the Korean peninsula and expresses the sense of Congress that the status of those forces is not subject to negotiations with North Korea.
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