Intel Committee Ranking Member Schiff Statement on North Korea

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:

“The summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un carried the hopes of people around the world that there might be a peaceful means of achieving denuclearization of one of the world’s most dangerous regimes. An objective assessment of the result reveals an unprecedented gain by the North Korean dictator that surely exceeded the North Korean regime’s expectations, and a troubling concession by the United States. 

“Whether the summit will end up being a victory for the American people and world peace remains a very open question. Open lines of communication are always preferable to the possibility of military conflict, particularly nuclear war. However, the more closely one examines the negotiations to this point, the more clear it becomes that President Trump has already provided a great deal to Kim with little to show for it.

“The joint communique issued by the two leaders contains only vague promises from North Korea which fall short of commitments the regime made in previous negotiations with the United States, with no agreement for even preliminary steps towards denuclearization such as admitting international inspectors, decommissioning warheads, or allowing a baseline assessment of their nuclear program.

“In return, Kim was lavished with praise by President Trump as if he was a prospective investor in a Trump real estate development on North Korea’s ‘great beaches,’ not one of the world’s worst human rights violators who was responsible for the death of American citizen Otto Warmbier. Coming on the heels of Trump’s attack on one of America’s closest allies, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the praise of a regime that has sent millions of its own citizens to the gulag is all the more jarring.

“Kim’s appearance as the equal to the U.S. President amounts to a propaganda coup of massive proportions, validating the regime’s headlong pursuit of nuclear weapons and ICBMs. Finally, Kim won a dangerous concession by President Trump to halt joint military exercises on the peninsula, meaning our military forces will be less prepared and ready to respond to a potential conflict. Disturbingly, this concession was made without consultation with our South Korean ally, which was apparently taken by surprise. It is also not clear that President Trump even views this as a concession, having complained that the exercises are too “expensive.”

“President Trump’s naive assertion that he could sum up the North Korean dictator in a matter of minutes, brings to mind all too painfully a like assertion made by President George W. Bush about looking into Putin’s eyes. But Trump undercut his own position that much further — and that of the United States — by acknowledging that if he is wrong about the North Korean regime ‘I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of excuse.’ What further assurance could Kim possibly want that he can refuse to follow through on any promised denuclearization and count on President Trump to excuse his lack of action.

“The history of negotiations with the North over its nuclear program is littered with hopeful beginnings that have subsequently come to grief – usually after Pyongyang has pocketed concessions and exploited fissures between Washington and Seoul. Despite the many red flags raised by the unilateral nature of the concessions made by the United States, we must hope that this negotiation will produce a different result and one that leads to a verifiable end to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.”