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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


House International

Relations Committee

Benjamin A. Gilman, Chairman

DATE: October 27, 1999
FOR RELEASE: Immediate

Contact: Lester Munson, Communications Director (202)225-5021


WASHINGTON (October 27) - U.S. Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman (20th-NY), Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, released the following statement today at a committee hearing on "The Misuse of U.S. Aid to North Korea":

"Today, the Committee will hold the second in a series of hearings this month on U.S. policy towards North Korea. Today's hearing will focus on U.S. assistance to the DPRK, the missile threat, and North Korea's future. We are pleased to have gathered a distinguished group of witnesses to discuss these matters.

"Five years ago, our nation embarked on a massive assistance program for North Korea. Today, the DPRK stands as the number one recipient of our nation's assistance in East Asia. Total aid, including food assistance, is valued at over $645 million since 1995. That figure is expected to exceed $1 billion by next year.

"The American people may not be fully aware of the true scale of this massive aid program. Today, our nation and our partners in the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) provide at least 45% of North Korea's heavy fuel oil needs.

"Our nation also provides over 80% of the internationally donated food aid to North Korea. In sum, we feed one out of every three North Koreans.

"There is growing concern in Congress about our policy towards North Korea. As U.S. assistance has grown, so has the range of their missiles. It is now believed that two types of North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles can strike the continental United States with weapons of mass destruction. For the first time in our history, we are within missile range of an arguably irrational rogue regime. Regrettably, we cannot defend against that threat.

"We are also concerned about the use of our aid. According to the non-partisan General Accounting Office (GAO), at least $11 million of fuel aid has been diverted by the North Korean government. Fuel monitoring is dependent on the North Korean power system which is often out of service.

"We have also learned that despite assurances from the administration that U.S. aid will not go where food cannot be monitored, at least 14,000 tons of food aid, valued at $5 million, was diverted to military counties where monitors are denied access.

"One question looms large in any discussion of aid for North Korea. We know that the government of North Korea is primarily responsible for its own economic collapse and food shortage due to its misguided policies. If this were any other country, they would be moving ahead on agricultural and economic reform that would lead North Korea back to food security.

"For instance, Ethiopia went from famine to grain exporter in just five years. No such reforms are presently underway in North Korea. North Korea continues to hold out one hand for aid, while in the other hand it holds a gun. This has resulted in a very successful cycle of political blackmail and extortion with the international community.

"Finally, I am concerned about the human rights situation in the DPRK. This pressing issue receives far too little attention. North Korea classifies its people into 51 groups, with over seven million people regarded as members of the 'hostile class.'

"These people are starving and our aid is stolen from their mouths. North Korea has hit a new low in human rights, establishing prisons where hungry children are incarcerated. To my knowledge, the administration has yet to ask the North Koreans for international access to these prisons even though they were identified over a year ago by a Committee staff delegation which visited North Korea.

"We are calling upon the administration to request that the International Red Cross be granted access to these prisons to monitor the health of the hundreds of thousands of children who are trapped inside."

Testifying at the hearing were: the Honorable Tony P. Hall, Member of Congress; Mr. Benjamin Nelson, Director, International Relations and Trade Issues, General Accounting Office; Ms. Gary L. Jones, Associate Director for Energy, Resources and Science Issues, Community and Economic Development Division, General Accounting Office; Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, Visiting Scholar, American Enterprise Institute; Mr. Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., Senior Analyst, Jane's Intelligence Review; and Ms. Nancy Lindborg, Executive Vice President, Mercy Corps International.

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