Candidate Reaction: North Korea Removed from Terrorism Blacklist
Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama issued statements last night and this morning, respectively, on the Bush administration decision to remove North Korea from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Their statements follow:
McCain: "Reports indicate that the administration may soon remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. I have previously said that I would not support the easing of sanctions North Korea unless the United States is able to fully verify the nuclear declaration Pyongyang submitted on June 26. It is not clear that the latest verification arrangement will enable us to do so.
"I am also concerned that this latest agreement appears to have been reached between Washington and Pyongyang and only then discussed with our Asian allies in an effort to garner their support. Diplomacy is a critical tool in ending the North Korean nuclear weapons program, and it must involve our closest partners in Northeast Asia. While we conduct this diplomacy, we must keep our goal in sight -- the verifiable denuclearization of North Korea -- and avoid reaching for agreement for its own sake, particularly if it leaves critical verification issues unaddressed. I am also concerned that recent negotiations appear not to have addressed the issue of North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens, a serious omission and directly relevant to any decision about North Korea's support for terrorist activities.
"As this process moves forward, I expect the administration to explain exactly how this new verification agreement advances American interests and those of our allies before I will be able to support any decision to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism."
Obama: "North Korea's agreement to these verification measures is a modest step forward in dismantling its nuclear weapons programs. President Bush's decision to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism is an appropriate response, as long as there is a clear understanding that if North Korea fails to follow through there will be immediate consequences. It is now essential that North Korea halt all efforts to reassemble its nuclear facilities, place them back under IAEA supervision, and cooperate fully with the international community to complete the disablement of the Yongbyon facilities and to implement a robust verification mechanism to confirm the accuracy of its nuclear declaration.
"The last eight years have demonstrated the necessity of confronting the threat from North Korea through aggressive, sustained, and direct bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. Too often, there has been a failure to effectively engage our partners throughout this effort. We must dramatically improve coordination with our allies Japan and South Korea, as well as with China and Russia, particularly as we ensure that any agreement reached on verification is fully implemented.
"If North Korea refuses to permit robust verification, we should lead all members of the Six Party talks in suspending energy assistance, re-imposing sanctions that have recently been waived, and considering new restrictions. Our objective remains the complete and verifiable elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. This must include getting clarity on North Korea's efforts to enrich uranium and its proliferation of nuclear technology abroad
"Looking ahead, North Korea must also resolve all questions about the abduction of Japanese and South Korean citizens, and of the Reverend Kim Dong-Shik. I urge the Bush Administration to continue to use our diplomatic and economic leverage to press North Korea to cooperate fully with Tokyo, Seoul and Washington on these matters.
"The Six Party Talks offer North Korea a clear choice. If North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons programs, there will be meaningful incentives. If it refuses, it faces a future of political and economic isolation."
Posted at 1:52 PM ET on Oct 11, 2008
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