Articles Some GOP Lawmakers Asking Questions Re: US Announcement of North Korean Food Aid

February 29, 2012 11:02 PM
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U.S. offers 240 TMT food aid

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

The announcement Wednesday morning of a breakthrough in US-North Korea negotiations brought some questions from some Republican lawmakers who warned it could violate US law and policy.

Some criticism of agreement. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade criticized the agreement, in which North Korea has pledged to halt nuclear activities at its Yongbyon nuclear facility and allow United Nations inspectors to access it. In return, the United States has offered to move forward with its proposed delivery of 240,000 metric tons of food aid, with monthly deliveries of corn-soy blend, vegetable oil and therapeutic foods such as nutritionally enhanced peanut paste intended primarily for young children and pregnant women.

“Years of getting duped by North Korea should tell us that verification on their turf is extremely difficult, if not impossible,” Royce said in a statement. “That applies to food aid distribution, where the military has stolen food aid, or nuclear disarmament.” Royce detailed that the Congress last year included a provision he sponsored in the Fiscal Year 2012 spending bill (PL 112-74) “prohibiting food aid to any country that may divert it for unauthorized use,” adding that lawmakers “must ensure that the administration is not skirting this law.”

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) also denounced the move, accusing the Obama administration of “effectively violating long-standing U.S. policy not to link North Korean denuclearization commitments to food aid.” He recalled that the State Department in February stated in a letter to him that ‘the administration has no intention of rewarding North Korea for actions it has already agreed to take.’”Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing said that the State Department is committed to ensuring “that the food is reaching the people that it is intended for...That will be our responsibility to set up those mechanisms” to verify its delivery in North Korea, she said.

Comments: In 2003, President George W. Bush said he might consider food and fuel aid if North Korea gave up its nuclear weapons program. In the winter of 2007, the Bush administration agreed to a nuclear deal under which North Korea said it would begin disabling nuclear facilities in exchange for about $400 million in energy assistance and other incentives. The new deal was reportedly discussed during two days of talks last week in Beijing between US negotiator Glyn Davies and North Korea’s vice foreign minister, Kim Kye Gwan.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


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