June 26, 2008 - Markey: North Korea

Rep. Markey welcomes Pyongyang’s declaration of nuclear activities, urges continued monitoring
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Bush Administration announces its removal of North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list in return for Pyongyang turning over its long-awaited declaration of nuclear activities, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Co-Chairman on the House Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation, stated that these developments would not remove the many existing legal barriers to transferring new nuclear reactors to North Korea. Some reports detailing the Six-Party talks over North Korea’s nuclear program have suggested that such a “delisting” would permit resumption of the construction of Light Water Reactors offered to North Korea in 1994. However, as a letter to Rep. Markey from the Department of State makes clear, even with the removal of the terror designation, many other provisions of U.S. law bar further nuclear transfers to Pyongyang.

"I am very pleased that the North Koreans are providing, at long last, this declaration of their previous nuclear activities.  This declaration will not provide every detail, but it is a very positive step nonetheless that our government needs to monitor to ensure that North Korea follows through on its promises.  Notwithstanding today's announcement, the Bush administration has made clear that even removal of North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list will not allow North Korea to resurrect the failed light water reactors deal from 1994. Any plan to transfer nuclear technology or material to North Korea ought to be completely off the table during the current negotiations," said Rep. Markey.

"North Korea has a proven track record as a nuclear weapons proliferator, and it simply cannot be trusted with such technologies and materials."

On November 6, 2007, Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey T. Bergner wrote Rep. Markey in response to detailed questions the lawmaker had submitted to the agency. The response states, "Such nuclear cooperation is not the goal or intent of the Six-Party process. In addition, even if the designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism were removed, significant legal barriers to nuclear cooperation with North Korea would remain, including several sanctions laws."

Rep. Markey and then-Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA) authored two provisions of the 2005 Energy Policy Act to restrict nuclear exports to countries listed as Sponsors of Terrorism. Section 632 of that law bars all nuclear transfers to countries currently on the list, and Section 635 prohibits U.S. indemnification of the design, construction, or operation of nuclear facilities for any country that was on the list as of September 11, 2001. Removing North Korea from the list would lift the Markey-Cox Section 632 ban on nuclear transfers; however, the Section 635 prohibition on U.S. indemnification would remain in full effect.  In addition, all of the other legal restrictions and conditions on nuclear cooperation with foreign nations set forth in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 would also still apply.

"When it was being debated in 1994, I believed that the Agreed Framework's promise of new reactors for North Korea was a bad idea, and everything that has occurred since then has only strengthened my conviction that North Korea cannot be trusted with nuclear technology. We should not disable North Korea's existing nuclear bomb factory only to build another one, and I am glad that the Bush Administration has acknowledged that the legal barriers to doing so extend far beyond North Korea's listing as a State Sponsor of Terrorism," Rep. Markey concluded.

Rep. Markey's letter to the State Department

State Department response


June 26, 2008

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