Markey: Trump Administration Must Talk with North Korea, But Keep Tightening Sanctions

Reports of initial North Korea-South Korea agreements suggest that North Korea is willing to talk with the United States, including about its nuclear weapons program 


Washington (March 6, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, welcomed reports that North Korea appears to be willing to talk with the United States, including about its rapidly developing and increasingly threatening nuclear program. Senator Markey, however, cautioned that the reported elements of these initial North-South agreements, while positive, represent the very beginning of a potentially long process, where denuclearization will be challenging. Senator Markey has been the chief Congressional voice calling for direct negotiations with North Korea alongside tough sanctions and rigorous sanctions enforcement.


“Direct negotiations between the United States and North Korea are the only feasible way to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula,” said Senator Markey. “However, there are many unanswered questions at this point. The devil is in the details and North Korea will use this time to perfect its weapons. Kim Jong Un must abide by any agreement to halt nuclear and missile tests while engaged in any U.S. talks. And the United States must continue to engage in joint military exercises with our allies in the region to improve our defenses, despite North Korea’s apparent pledge not to attack South Korea. And given the history of deals with North Korea over testing moratoriums, we must expect North Korea to find ways to circumvent any deal, so we need to maintain pressure, including by cutting off North Korea’s access to crude oil and remaining sources of revenue. The Trump administration also must take immediate steps to nominate or fill key State Department positions in support of its diplomatic efforts, including a Special Representative for North Korea, a U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, a Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, and a Sanctions Coordinator.” 


In October 2017, Senators Markey and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced legislation in recognition of the need to develop a coherent and multifaceted North Korea strategy combining diplomatic engagement, sanctions, and a stronger alliance between the United States and South Korea.


Earlier this month, Senator Markey called on the State Department to explain how it is able to implement North Korea-related diplomatic and sanctions enforcement efforts in light of drastic budget cuts, high-level position eliminations, and staffing reassignments.