March 2, 2001
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As you prepare to meet with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, we urge you to be mindful of the concerns that many of us have expressed regarding the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea.
We recognize that South Korea and our other friends in the region have developed policies that rest in part on the Agreed Framework. As demonstrated by the delays that already have been encountered, however, it may prove impossible to implement the Agreed Framework in precisely the manner envisioned in 1994. With regard to the construction of plutonium-producing light water nuclear reactors in North Korea, serious questions have emerged about safety, liability, licensing, the condition of North Korea’s electric power grid, and the suitability of alternate sources of electric power, to say nothing of the need to ensure that North Korea fulfills its obligations under the Agreed Framework and other pertinent international agreements.
These concerns led the Clinton Administration last year to explore alternatives to light water nuclear reactor construction in North Korea, but reportedly this effort was not pursued, at least in part, out of a reluctance to disrupt existing contractual arrangements. We can think of no worse reason than financial gain for proceeding with nuclear power plant construction in North Korea.
We believe that your Administration has an opportunity to forge a bipartisan policy toward North Korea that can command the full support of Congress. To do this, however, will require extensive consultations between the new officials of your Administration and interested Members of Congress. Obviously there has not yet been time to conduct such consultations. Pending further discussions between Congress and your Administration in this regard, we urge you to avoid making any commitments to foreign governments that would prejudice your ability to refine U.S. policy toward North Korea. Certainly your Administration will be in a much stronger position to address other looming issues, such as North Korea’s proliferation and deployment of missiles, once we have achieved a political consensus at home.
Committee on International Relations
Republican Policy Committee
Ranking Democratic Member
Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet