Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.
965 Clover Court, Blue Bell, PA 19422
Tel : (610) 277-9989; (610) 277-0149
Fax: (610) 277-3289
[Editor's note: We gratefully acknowledge Sara Roth, ICAS Intern, for having produced this transcript. sjk]
A Ten-Point Plan
Most of you know my background, but before I give you the overview, I want to reintroduce you to my daughter because Upper Darby has embarked upon a brand new exciting venture just two months ago. They put the funding in place to establish a welcome center for new people who come to America for the first time. And the goal of this welcome center is to take people from all countries and welcome them into the community, to show them the resources and services available and to identify services that aren't available. If there are problems with people who are new to America living in and around Upper Darby and the other areas, then the welcome center tries to find ways to help ease those problems, whether its language barriers, jobs, economic opportunity or problems with harassment or other things that might occur. So I hope my daughter becomes a person who is involved with ICAS and Korean-Americans. So please spread the word that if they have any needs, and Kim [Weldon] I'm sure you'll provide some information, her offices are up on Walnut street in the old Upper Darby senior center. They have adequate classroom space there, and she's available five days a week and obviously she also has instant access to me because she knows where to get me all the time. So you get two for one with my daughter Kim. She, before taking this job, was a social worker in Chester, working with the poorest people in our county, so she's fit for this position.
Let me talk about why I went to Korea. My job in Congress for the past 17 years has been to work on our national security. Some would call me a hawk that means that I believe in a strong security, I believe in a strong military. I have been the chairman of the [House] Defense Research Committee for six years; I now am Vice-chairman of the House Armed Services Committee where I help to oversee the entire defense budget. I'm also the Chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the bulk of the systems that our military wants to purchase. In addition I'm on the Homeland Security Committee which has focused on issues involving the security of our homeland and I'm a member of the Science Committee and work on technology issues.
But as a member of the Armed Services Committee and vice-chairman, you might think that that connotates that I am somehow some kind of a person that wants to encourage confrontation or conflict, and that is just not the case. In fact, I've spent the bulk of my 17 years, while working for our military to be fully equipped and prepared, to try to find ways to reduce tension between the US and those countries that had been our adversaries in the past. My first undergraduate degree is in Russian area studies and so for the past twenty years I've been involved in relations with the former Soviet states. I've been to that country, Russia and the other Soviet states 32 times. Ten years ago I organized inter-parliamentary dialogue with their country, which is called the Duma and the Federation Council. Two years ago I wrote the document that was referred to, a 48-page document with 108 recommendations for Presidents Bush and Putin to bring our two peoples closer together in the areas of environment, education, healthcare, science and technology, energy, and those areas that effect the quality of life in both nations. When I completed that document, I spent two days going around the selected members of the House and Senate to endorse it with me. And on the front page of the letter that I delivered with that document, personally, to Presidents Bush and Putin and [National Security Advisor] Condoleezza Rice, signed alongside with my name were the signatures of Joe Biden, Carl Levin, and Dick Luger, who at that time were the chairmen of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the ranking republican, Dick Luger, who is now the chair of that committee in the Senate. And on the House side, the most liberal Democrats, Bernie Sanders from Vermont, (inaudible) and other liberal democrats to the conservative Republicans, Roscoe Bartlett, Dick Army, Joe Pitts. In fact, a third of the House endorsed my 48-page document of the changing nature of our relationship with Russia. And so I work at our Russia relations on a continual basis. In August I will lead my 33rd delegation there and what will be significant with that trip is that I'm going to break new ground, new territory. Because our biggest dilemma with Russia has been getting access to the weapons of mass destruction that they produced during the Soviet era. As effective as the cooperative threat reduction has been, I want to take that one-step further. In fact, over the past year, I wrote new legislation, which was introduced in the Congress by myself and Democrat Chet Edwards of Texas in April that was actually on the day that I announced it, endorsed by some groups that are not always in the same room on the same wavelength together. In fact, standing alongside of me at the announcement of that new legislation was the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, the Heritage foundation, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and (inaudible) Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Threat Reduction Initiative as well as the Vietnam veterans. To get those five groups to come together tells you that it is, in fact, possible to forge a new direction. And in August when I travel to Moscow we will start off with meeting with Putin on the 25th, and then the Russians are going to do something historic, they're taking me to three closed cities that have never been made available to Americans or Westerners before. And that's to prove a point, that based upon this new approach of transparency, of openness, and transparencies existing on both sides, that we in fact, can find a new way to come together to secure and eventually dismantle the weapons of mass destruction that still exist in Russia. I call myself Russia's best friend, and I call myself Russia's toughest critic. I think that's what a good friend has to be. When there are things that they do that are wrong, things that are not right, things that they're not being totally honest about, I am the first one to go after them and publicly challenge them. But they also understand that in the long run, I desperately want a new set of relationships between our country and their country.
I've done the same thing with China. I've led five delegations to China, to both Beijing and Shanghai. I've given lectures at Fudan University, major universities throughout the country. I think I'm the only elected official from American that was twice invited to speak at the National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army in Beijing, most recently last May, where I gave a lecture in front of 400 of the senior leaders of the Peoples Liberation Army. But again, the posture is the same, to try to find new ways to create transparency, to create new dialogue between China and the US so that we avoid confrontation and conflict.
During the Yugoslavian war, the Kosovo War, I was the one who led the delegation of eleven members of Congress to Vienna that met with five top Russian leaders and very quietly, over two days, laid out a framework that eventually became the basis of the G8 agreement that ended that war on our terms. And so I try to use my influence both as a member of Congress and as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee to avoid the use of our military, which, in my opinion, is always the last option for us in any situation.
Now I am a supporter of President Bush, and I want you to know that up front. I campaigned hard for him, and as much as I do not like war, I did support him fully in the efforts in Afghanistan and most recently in Iraq because I felt that we'd used every possible means through the UN and directly as well as through other nations and allies of ours to convince Saddam Hussein that the actions that he was taking had to be ended and that he had to be held accountable for the past actions, not just in terms of the weapons of mass destruction, which I am convinced that are there and have been there. In fact, so was the UN when the documentation of his use of them against his own people and the Kurds, but also the terrible human rights abuses that he put forth on his own people during his reign.
But I am definitely concerned about the situation with North Korea, because, as you know, over the last several years, it's been gradually getting worse and right now, I would say, it's potentially on the brink of a major confrontation that I don't want and I don't think anyone in the Congress wants, and that I don't think any of you want. And part of my problem with North Korea is that I really don't understand the country because I've never been there. I've never had a chance to interact personally and to see. And to understand a country I think you have to visit with the people.
About two years ago, a member of the National Security Council, Dr. Garrett Gong, asked me to travel to North Korea and I was extended an invitation. But the time period for the trip was one where I had a conflict and I could not make that trip. So last year, when I was planning to take a delegation of my colleagues to Moscow, Tashkent, Beijing, and Seoul, I asked the North Koreans if I, in fact, could get visas to visit their country. They led me to believe that they would, in fact, extend an invitation. So all throughout the trip we were prepared at any point in time to leave the country we were in and fly directly to Pyongyang, if we in fact, received the invitation. Well, we ended up spending two days in Moscow, a day in Tashkent, two days in Beijing where we met with Jiang Zemin for ninety minutes and I gave my lecture, and two days in Seoul where we met with the top leaders of South Korea. I made my 2nd visit to the DMZ at Panmunjom, once again, to get a sense of the tension between the North and the South and West and understand more fully that it's all the more important that we find a peaceful solution on the peninsula. But the invitation never came. In fact, the final word came at a dinner that was being hosted in my honor by Chairman Chung of the Hyundai Motor Corporation at their headquarters on the last night of our trip. At about eight o'clock at night we were interrupted by one of my staff people who attended the trip with me and is a good friend and is in charge of the R&R desk at the state department for Korea affairs, his name is John Merrill, and he came over and he whispered in my ear and said, "Congressman, we've just gotten the word. They're not going to let your delegation in."
Now that was a big disappointment because I felt it was actually more important for North Korea to allow a group of elected officials in than perhaps it even was for us. Because we had no dialogue with elected officials in that country for five years. There had been no direct contract. But instead of coming out and blasting North Korea publicly and the DPRK leadership, I quietly expressed my sadness, my frustration, and came back to Washington. But I began to renew the effort that I thought would eventually allow me to get into the country. I went up the UN as I do frequently, and on two occasions where I was asked to give speeches to groups of diplomats, I made appointments with Ambassador Han over at the DPRK mission. When I went to see Ambassador Han the first time, he was amazed, he said, "Congressman, no one ever comes to see me, I'm kind of isolated. We have no dialogue with anyone from your country, certainly not anyone within Congress."
I said, "Ambassador Han, I want to try to understand your perspectives. I want to try to understand your goals, and I want to try to understand how I can try to act as a bridge to let you understand and let the people back in your country understand that we cannot allow this crisis to fester and become even more serious than what it is."
And each of the times that I visited Ambassador Han I received a very positive response and an openness. And he, I think, honestly understood that I was there for an honest dialogue, that it was not some whim. I explained to him what I was doing with Russia and China and that, in fact, I thought that the situation with North Korea was perhaps more severe than perhaps had been talked about publicly in the media. Ambassador Han kept encouraging me. In fact, it was in a trip last November to New York that he asked me if I could get him an invitation to attend the national prayer breakfast in Washington. And I said, "certainly, I'd be happy to invite you down."
The national prayer breakfast is a breakfast attended 2000 people, most of the Congress attends, the President attends, and [a representative] of every nation on the face of the earth attend. People representing China, Taiwan, any country can come, it's open for anyone. So I said, "sure, you can come down as my guest and sit with me," because I thought it would be appropriate to have the representative of DPRK praying with members of congress in an open forum. And since he had asked me I thought for sure it was certainly something that I should extend the invite to. That was in November, the prayer breakfast was scheduled for February. In January, I was asked to give the keynote speech at the Korean Economic Institute conference on energy in Washington, which I accepted. And so knowing I was going to give this speech, I called Ambassador Han and said, "why don't you come to Washington and sit through this speech? You'll get to interact with leaders from South Korea. You won't have a chance to speak, but it will be a chance for me to introduce you."
He said, "I would love to come, Congressman."
But unfortunately, the administration did not agree with that and they denied him the ability to travel to Washington, which was extremely frustrating. Now I could have embarrassed the administration publicly, but I didn't think that was the right course to take. To come out and say, here was our government denying the opportunity for the representative of North Korea to come to Washington simply to attend a conference.
I said, "no I won't do that. He's coming down for the prayer breakfast, why cause further problems publicly between our country and North Korea."
Well the date for the prayer breakfast came. It was on a Tuesday. The Friday before that event, I got a frantic call from my secretary in my Upper Darby office who said Ambassador Han just emailed me and he's very upset because he's been told he cannot attend the prayer breakfast next week with you in Washington. I talked to Secretary Powell. I called him because I have a good relationship with him, and he was not aware that he [Ambassador Han] had been denied the ability to travel. And I was told by the state department that, actually, they thought it was a good idea. But unfortunately, the folks at the National Security Council (and as you know, there's been some distance in the agencies) did not think that it would be appropriate. The bottom line was that Ambassador Han and Ambassador [Gil Yon] Pak were not given the opportunity to come to the prayer breakfast. I thought that was shortsighted, I thought that sent the wrong signal, but again, I did not want to embarrass publicly our own government. But I kept persevering. In fact, I had eight different individuals and groups working on my efforts to get into North Korea. Everyone from people who had been former ambassadors, people like (inaudible) and Clark to the reverend Moon and all of his followers to the folks involved with academic institutions. In fact, the CEO of a university that has offices in both China and Korea, to Mory Strong, who is Kofi Anan's special envoy to North Korea who brought up my trip on at least two occasions while he visited Pyongyang. To most recently Ambassador Song. Ambassador Song is a 75 year old former 2-star general in the South Korean military who fought on the ground against the North and who was involved in South Korean intelligence before he retired. Most recently he was an ambassador for South Korea and now that he has retired, he is the chair of an inter-country dialogue between the North and the South to try to get conversation moving forward. When I met Ambassador Song he said, "Congressman, I want to help you as well as the work that's being done by these other individuals. So when I'm in Pyongyang I will mention your delegation and attempt to get you the approval you desire. He called me from Pyongyang, as did three other people, and said, "it looks good." But no word came. Finally, in the second week of May, or the third week of May, (inaudible) after I had brought Ambassador Song up to Philadelphia to have dinner with him and then took him to Washington to meet the other members of my delegation, I got a call from Ambassador Han from the DPRK embassy, or mission, at the UN and he said, "Congressman Weldon, Pyongyang has called me and they want to extend to you an invitation, but they want me to clarify two things first."
I said, "fine, what are they?"
He said, "well, number one: they want to know if, in fact, the State Department is aware of your trip."
I said, "well Ambassador, you know they are aware of it. Every time I meet with you I talk to Jack Pritchard, I talk to Secretary Kelly, I talk to John Merrill, in fact, you know I had John Merrill on my last trip and he's the State Department's Korean desk leader. So you know the State Department is fully aware of the trip."
He said, "well I know that, but I had to ask you that question."
He said, "there's a second question: they want to know if you'll be bringing a note or a message from the President."
I said, "Ambassador, no I will not."
I said, "I am a member of Congress. I am not a representative of the President, I am not a representative of our country, and I'm not a representative of the Secretary of State. We only have one spokesman for America and that's our President, and in his absence, the Secretary of State. I don't represent either of them. I am simply a member of Congress, a separate and equal branch of our government, but I'm not coming over to represent our leaders and I'm not coming over to negotiate on their behalf or on behalf of our country. So if that's a prerequisite, the answer is no. I am not bringing any notice or any message from President Bush or from Secretary Powell. Now I will tell you this, Ambassador, I am sure and I am confident that once you extend an invitation that they'll want to talk to me and they'll want to understand what I'm going to be doing and what I'm going to be saying and perhaps they'll then want to say something, but there is no precondition here that I'm bringing over a message from the President."
He said, "fine."
Now I had a delegation ready to go. We were going to stop in Moscow first. In fact, I had three members of the Russian Duma that were going to board the plane and go with me into Pyongyang so it would have been a delegation of both Russian and American members of Congress.
The call never came. And so we were getting ready to break for the Memorial Day recess and members were either going to go on the trip or go back to their districts. I told them I had not received confirmation, therefore I had to cancel the trip, because we could go to Russia later on in the summer and the real purpose was to go to North Korea. And so the members went back home. So the ten members of Congress I had originally lined up for the trip went back to their Congressional districts.
Over the weekend before Memorial Day, when the members were back in their districts, I got a call at my home from Ambassador Han, saying, "Congressman, I am now officially extending an invitation for you to bring a delegation in. You cannot bring any media in, and you must limit your delegation to ten people. And you must provide SARS certificates."
I said, "Ambassador, what the heck is a SARS certificate?"
He said, "Congressman, I don't know, but you'd better get them."
So because there is a paranoia in North about SARS, I went to the attending physician in the Capital, who's a good friend of mine, Dr. Eisol, the Navy doctor. I said, "make me up some certificates Doctor that say that we're SARS free." So he did, and they were the certificates we handed to them when we landed in Pyongyang when they boarded our plane, and actually put electronic thermometers in our ears to see whether or not we had elevated temperatures. I don't know what they would've done if any of us had a temperature. I guess he'd be confined to the airplane for the time we were there. But these were the only conditions placed upon us. No media, ten people, and interesting, no Korean-American. I had told them that perhaps I was going to bring Dr. Kim with me or someone else, and they made the point "no Korean- Americans," just a Congressional delegation.
I said, "ok, fine."
Then I couldn't get a plane. All the military planes were being used in the theater. So I spent the entire weekend trying to get a plane. I finally found one. All over the world I searched, and because I'm the vice-chairman of the Armed Services Committee I have access to military assets. I found one in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. In Willow Grove we have a reserve unit that flies our troops and material. That's what they do, they're one of six units around the country. I called the Commander there and he said, "Congressman, well actually Ed [Cashman] helped because Ed is retired Navy. Ed made the first contact for me. Ed said, "Congressman they want to help you, they're going to make a plane available for you, a DC-9." Now a DC-9 is not the best plane to fly to North Korea in because it's range is only about 3000 miles at most. So we had to take off and land eleven times over and back to North Korea. From Philadelphia, to Willow Grove, to San Francisco (all military bases), to Hawaii, to Wick Island, to Matsugi, Japan, into Pyongyang, back out to Seoul, to Matsugi, back to Wick Island, to Hawaii, to San Francisco, and back to Washington. So it was a lot of up and downs. But the fact is, I had a plane.
But then something interesting happened, after fighting for a year to get permission to go into North Korea, and all during that year briefing the National Security Council (Steve Hadley is a good friend of mine, he's Condoleezza Rice's top deputy), briefing Ambassador Jack Pritchard, and the State Department, and the crew was at the airport ready to board a separate plane to Hawaii because we had to change crews in Hawaii because the crew could only fly for so many hours. So they were sending an advance crew over to Hawaii so that when we arrived there, they would get on the plane and the other crew would stay in Hawaii, and they would take us the last half of the trip. As they were at the airport, they were called and told the trip's off, it's cancelled. We're calling the approval for the use of the plane. This is over Memorial Day weekend. So after I had worked for a year to get the North Korean's to let us in, my own government said we're not going to supply a plane. Well, those of you who know me know that I'm what I would call a pit-bull. I don't take no for an answer. And as the vice-chairman of the Armed Services Committee, I was extremely upset. So I started making calls, in fact, in that weekend I probably talked to Colin Powell personally three times. I talked to the Defense Department; I talked through the operation centers. This is over Memorial Day weekend; all of our top leaders and finally to Andy Card, the President's chief of staff. And it was Andy Card who said, "Congressman, we're going to make this trip happen, don't worry, I'll get it straightened out." About two hours later I got a call from the top general who works directly for secretary of defense, and he said, "Congressman Weldon, it was all a big misunderstanding, a miscommunication. We're going to fully support your trip." I'm convinced that if I wasn't in the position I'm in, as the vice-chairman of the Armed Services Committee, I would not have made the trip. If any other member had been attempting to lead the delegation, they would not have been given access to a military plan. That's sad, but that's in fact, in my opinion, the way that it would have worked. But because of the position I'm in and because of my support for the military, secretary Rumsfield, who obviously wants to help me, was in fact, inclined to go the distance.
Now who was against me going, I'm not going to say publicly, you can figure it out for yourselves based upon the stories you read in the media. You can see which people would not want to have the kind of dialogue that we are providing. In fact, right before I got the call from Andy Card, actually from Rumfield's chief defense person, his military general who works directly for him, his attaché, I was told, "well you know they'll use you, they'll put you up and they'll portray this as the bi-lateral discussions between the US and [North] Korea. They'll try to make your trip out to be something it's not."
I said, "look, I traveled to Russia over thirty times. Many of those times were during the communist era. I've been to China five times. I've led over sixty codels over the world, to some of the most difficult spots. I was down there with Noriega in Nicaragua during that problem. I was in Georgia right before Prince Accordia was murdered. I've had dinner with the president, Lukashenko of Belarus, who's an absolute lunatic."
I said, "I think I know how to handle myself in a situation like this, I'm not going to be made a fool of, and they're not going to use our delegation, I guarantee you that." And in fact, none of that happened, just as I had said it wouldn't.
So finally we got the approval, and I then had to get the members back on the trip. I could only muster up six, three Democrats and three Republicans and an interpreter. The interpreter we took is the senior Korean interpreter for the State Department, Tom Kim, an outstanding interpreter. He, in fact, was the interpreter for Madeline Albright's trip, he was the interpreter for Secretary Perry's trip, and he was the interpreter for Secretary Kelly's trip last November when he went to Pyongyang. This trip for him was his seventeenth to North Korea. So as much as anyone in our country he knows the leaders, he knows the country, and he knows the territory. Because both in the Clinton administration and in the current administration he's been there, and he's been the chief translator for all of our top leaders in our discussions. I also had a military escort and my staffers from the Armed Services Committee. Ten total.
I would say this to you of my expectations. I expected the worst. Based upon what I had been told and what I'd read, I expected that we would be visiting a country much like what I encountered when I went to the Soviet Union under communism or what I encountered when I went first to Communist China, when it was not open and we didn't have dialogue. In fact, I told the delegation, bring snacks, bring your own food, because you might not be able to get anything that you might want to eat. And one of my colleagues said, "yeah, we'd better bring toilet paper also." So we really thought this was going to be a crude visit.
Well, when we arrived in Pyongyang I can tell you that was not the case. We were greeted at the airport by the individual in charge of the American desk, the American section, of the ministry of foreign affairs, Mr. Paek, and he was my personal escort during the entire stay. He had me in a special vehicle, a Land Rover, we had a police escort, and the rest of the delegation was in a bus behind us wherever we went. Now for those who would say, "well you were where they wanted you to go," obviously that's a part of the problem anytime you go into a closed society. But actually, I had requested ten sites before I actually left Washington, because Ambassador Han had said, "where do you want to go when you're there?" So in talking to State Department officials and my own knowledge of the country I gave him ten sites. Naturally the number one thing on the list was the Yongbyon nuclear facility. The second was a military facility, to meet with their military. The third was to visit a school, I'm a teacher by profession, I'd like to see a school. The fourth was to visit the Pyongyang computer center, which was a personal priority project of King Jong Il. I wanted to see what they were doing in the area of IT. The fifth was a shopping area, the sixth was a manufacturing area. Then I asked to see something that would sound kind of unusual, but in reading about DPRK and how it is such a closed society and how there really is no external media allowed into the country, and how Kim Jong Il established his own personal movie complex to rival that of America's movie complexes, and knowing that they produced these movies that reinforced their propaganda, I said "I want to visit the DPRK movie complex." So that was one of the ten sites.
Well, we got to the airport and arrived, and they took us into the terminal, and we were the only airplane arriving, I think, the entire week. In fact, they'd cancelled all flights from Beijing, and the only flight up on the board in the airport terminal was from Khabarovsk in Russia, the Russian Far East. And they told us that there were no foreigners allowed in. In fact, any foreigners coming into the country had to be quarantined for ten days. They made an exception in our case so that we could immediately go into our meetings and our discussions. They gave me five of the sites that I had asked to see. Now for those who would say, "well they took you where they wanted you to go," I'm sure that's the case, but they gave me five sites that I asked for. The Pyongyang computer center is where it is, you couldn't move it because I asked to go there. It is where it is, and it's always been. It's a cluster of three buildings at the base of this monstrous 105-story white elephant that they've started to build, which was supposed to be a hotel, and which evidently has severe structural problems and now sits there, basically bare concrete. My understanding is that Kim Jong Il wanted to build this because they had a 95-story complex in Seoul and he wanted to, as always, go one better than Seoul. So he ordered the construction of this 105-story complex. It's not finished, it's a big white elephant in the middle of the city, and the Pyongyang computer center is right at the base of that center. They took me there, all through the back streets to get to it. So we saw what we saw to get to it.
When we went to the movie center, again, it was on the outskirts of Pyongyang. So as we drove back in our vehicles through the streets and the roads eventually outside of Pyongyang, we saw what was there. We saw people working in rice paddies, we saw people walking in the streets, we saw public transit system (trolley's and busses) that were filled with people, we saw a metro system, very deep but very beautiful and very operational, we saw people walking on the streets, ordinary citizens, people doing exercises at the children's center. We saw a brand new basketball stadium funded by Hyundai corporation, modeled after the stadium out in Ohio, in Cleveland. So as we went to these sites, we really got a glimpse of the city beyond what they would want us to see. And we saw some good and some bad. But by and large the city of Pyongyang was extremely impressive. Not a lot of commerce, not a lot of activity, no vehicles on the roads except for public transit, so you can't compare it to a Western city, and you certainly can't compare it to Seoul. But clean, absolutely clean, with roses all over the place, roses in the parks, roses in the window boxes of the high rise buildings where the people were obviously living. And we went to Juche tower and they took us up to the top of the tower and we were free to take photographs of anything we wanted.
There were no limitations placed on us in terms of what we could photographs or where we could photograph. In fact, if you want, I'll provide a set of the photographs for you of the entire complex including the cities, militaries, and anything we saw that we decided we wanted to take photographs of. Interesting, at the Pyongyang movie complex, where there are 2000 people employed in this massive complex where each year they produce twenty to twenty-five feature length films. They took us on a bus ride through the back lot. Now maybe some of you have been down to Universal Studios and you've done the back lot tour. Well if you have, this is equal to Universal [Studio's] back lot tour, and we saw it with our own eyes. As we drove through thousands of acres, there was an entire mock-up of a Chinese city, an entire mock-up of a Korean city, an entire mock-up of a Japanese city, an entire mock-up of a European city, of an American city, of a mountainous area, of a river area, hundreds of sites where they film all of these feature length movies, which Kim Jong Il takes a personal interest in, which is every possible instance, underscore this philosophy of Juche, of independence, self determination, and the system which Kim Jong Il and his father, Kim Il Sung, laid down for the Korean people. So for that reason I felt visiting that site was important to see the way that this society is kept, in my opinion, the most closed society I've ever seen in the world. Compared to the Soviet Union, there's no comparison. They're totally closed. Total, almost like a vacuum around it. Where there is no allowance of media or contact, no TV, no radio, nothing coming in for the people except that which is provided by the DPRK government.
The computer center was impressive. We went through the classrooms. We saw young North Koreans being trained in the use of computers. In one class of fifty students they had been brought in from factories and plants from all over the country for a special training program, learning how computers could help them better manage their work. In another classroom, they were actually doing computer design. In fact, the students showed us their software, where they're actually using computer-assisted design to design buildings and bridges and tunnels and roads. And actually showed us how they're using this software to help build new infrastructure in their country. In fact, they gave us brochures about the Pyongyang computer center, with information and objectives. And the director of the center said to me, "you know, Congressman, we'd really like to have more contact with American IT companies." And I said, "well, I'd like you to have that too." But the thing that I reinforced through every meeting is: you can't have any of that contact unless and until your leadership comes back in the family of nations. You get rid of your nuclear weapons program, you make peace with the South, and you finally come back in a situation where your country is accepted by the countries around you.
We went to a school, now we went to the school that was a beautiful building in Pyongyang. All marble with a beautiful entranceway with a huge mural in the front entrance foyer of Kim Il Sung as a child up in the mountains. No other pictures, just this beautiful artwork. The headmaster of the school met us, along with a woman who was a teacher, and they took us, the school had 1800 students, to as many classrooms as we wanted to visit. Being a teacher, I wanted to see. So we went to a classroom of two and three year olds who were learning Korean. We watched these young children as their teacher taught them the Korean alphabet. We went to another classroom of five and six year olds where they were learning English and the English language was being generally spoken to the children (inaudible). We went to a classroom of ten and twelve year olds who were learning computers. Now the CRTs weren't equal to anything we have in America, they were old, but they were learning how to operate computers. Now this wasn't a case where the North Koreans said to us "this is the way all of our schools are." They did not try to portray things that weren't what they are. They said, "this is not our typical school. This is our one magnet school in the country where we bring in our best students from all over North Korea. They come here, they live here, and they go to school here." So they were very up front about that. But let me say this to you. That school is equal to any school in my congressional district. Any school, and I'm a teacher. The quality of the education, the cleanliness, the materials that we saw. They took us to the arts wing of the school, and we went into classrooms where young children were playing accordions. In another classroom they were playing guitars. Another classroom of teenage girls who were doing songs for us, including some American folk ballads. Another classroom of young girls, singing. Another classroom where they were doing ballet and traditional Korean dances. Out the window we saw boys in the schoolyard playing basketball. So we got a complete glimpse of the school and it was impressive. Now again, it is not typical of what North Korea has, but it is certainly an example, at least in Pyongyang, of a school that is training the 1800 students there in an excellent manner. And they have every possible resources that I can think of that you would want to have in a school of that type.
When we left the school we went to visit the birthplace (they wanted us to go, I said "okay, we'll go see it") of Kim Il Sung. They gave us the history of the family, they told us about his parents, about his grandparents, they told us, interestingly, about the ties to Christianity of the family and that that was a part of the culture and the history of their country and their people. And the part where Kim Il Sung birthplace is located is absolutely as good as Long Wood Gardens, absolutely beautiful, meticulous. I mean, if anything, I was impressed with the city, and what was so frustrating was to think that less than two hours from this city are people dying because of starvation. There are people who have nothing and who are looking around, scraping for the basic food to eat from day to day. But in Pyongyang, things are working, maybe not normally, but they are certainly working in a way that would give one the impression that this city is not on the verge of economic collapse. Now that doesn't speak for the rest of the country, but I'm talking about what we saw in Pyongyang.
Our hotel was a three-star hotel by our standards, the Potigong, built with western money, I believe it may have been built by the Reverend Moon and his people years ago. They have four levels of quality of rooms. They said, "what level do you want?" They gave us the price ranges, and I said, "we'll take the second, not the cheapest, but the one up." (inaudible) The rooms that we were assigned each had small living rooms, separate bedrooms with two beds, and the bathrooms, compared to the soviet union, no comparison. Fully tiles, hot and cold running water, electricity, we had no power problems, no shortages the entire time we were there, fresh towels, fresh linens, and in fact, our TV, we were told, ours was the only hotel in Pyongyang where we actually get CNN in our room. So all of us had CNN in our room even though the rest of the 5 or 6 channels were either North Korean or were Chinese. So the hotel was very comfortable. We had a significant number of meals in the hotel. The food was outstanding. For breakfast: fresh eggs, bacon, sausage, milk, and juices. For dinner: the meals, you had a selection, the service was outstanding, the quality of the food, I just, we couldn't say enough about it. It was outstanding. Now we were the only people in the hotel, because the hotel was designed to cater to westerners and because of the SARS epidemic there were no westerners in Pyongyang. So in the restaurant each day, it would be our table and one or two other people in this huge restaurant. They had storage in the hotel, gift shops where you could buy pottery, artwork, beautiful artwork and beautiful pottery, you could buy things at a little mini- supermarket where you could buy drinks, and in fact, I brought my sons back the bottle of the health elixir with the 1 foot long viper snake in it. Which I thought, well you probably know the tradition of that, but I thought it was unusual to see it on a supermarket shelf, a bottle of liquid with a viper snake inside of it. So we all brought those back with us for ten dollars a bottle. And, by the way, we could not use wons. Any place you went we used our dollars. Our dollars were taken everyplace. They took credit cards only in the hotel.
I had asked that they let us go shopping. I wanted to go to a typical marketplace and they didn't take us there, but they took us to the art center. Which actually, Bill Winterson had talked to one of my Democrat colleagues about. The art center was beautiful. Absolutely unbelievable art on two floors, excellent quality, pottery, mother of pearl, lacquer boxes, outstanding quality. Every member of Congress purchased some things and the dialogue with the people there was extremely positive. Most of them spoke some English. We felt no negative feelings anyplace we went, either from our official hosts or unofficial hosts.
On the second night of our stay there we were having a dinner and on the third day we were supposed to go to a meeting, would be Sunday, with the minister of trade and economy. I could tell my colleagues weren't really interested in that meeting because we weren't there for trade, we were there to open some dialogue, but not necessarily to talk about trade, that was premature. So I said to the host that we had, and we usually had six to eight people from the foreign ministry with us, I said, "we don't want to do the meeting tomorrow." Did they get upset? No, they said, "okay, what do you want to do?"
I said, "we want to go to church."
He said, "you want to go to church?"
I said, "yes," -note this was nine o'clock at night on a Saturday night- "we want to go to a church service, do you have any?"
"Oh yes, we have churches."
"We want to go, take us to a church."
So he made some calls, then came back in the room when we were having dinner and said, "Be in the lobby at 9:45 tomorrow morning, and we'll take you to a Protestant church."
So we got in the bus, and drove through the back streets of Pyongyang, along the river, and up a hill through these residential areas, and there up on top of a hill is this beautiful church. Kind of plain, but nice, with a cross on the front of it. Out in front of the church was the assistant pastor, waiting for us. It was five after ten, so the people were already in the church and no one was on the outside except for us, and he welcomed us and was very happy we were there. And he said he'd like to take us in, so they took us up in the center aisle, the church was filled with people, probably 300 people- all the seats were full, to the front, and put us in the front three pews on the left-hand side. I had our official translator with me, and they provided translators from, I guess, the congregation who did not speak very good English, but were able to translate the service to my other colleagues that were with me. The service was identical to the service you'd have in a Korean-Protestant church here. They sang songs, and I recognized the hymns. In fact, the hymnbooks that they had were in English and Korean so we sang the hymn in English while they sang in Korean, because they're very familiar to us. The bible they read from, they had a copy in English and Korean, was identical, I went through and checked some verses, identical to bibles we use in the West. There were no pictures of Kim Jong Il or Kim Il Sung in the church, no pictures, only a cross on inside at the top. The church had a fairly new piano and a fairly new organ, a young woman played them. They had a choir in beautiful robes. The choir sang songs. They had a man sing a solo, three women sang a trio of hymns, they had responsive reading, they prayed repeatedly, and the sermon was about children and the need for people to focus on their children. At the end of the service they had a collection and we all put our money in. At the end of the service, the minister came down off of the podium and introduced the delegation to the entire congregation and they gave us a standing ovation. He told them we were there to try discussions to find a way to achieve peace. We talked to the minister, who presented to me a copy of the bible and the hymnal in Korean. We walked outside and we took photos on the front steps with the pastor. I found out later that this was the same church that Billy Graham had visited when he spent some time in North Korea. So the experience there was equal to what I would have found when I was in Moscow at the height of communism, only, in my opinion, it was all more open than what it was in Moscow. In fact, what was interesting is, when we came out of the church, Mr. Paek, the head of the American division of the foreign ministry, came up to me and said, "you know, Congressman Weldon, that's the first time in my 48 years I've ever been in a church in this country."
I said, "well you ought to go some more, you know, you might learn something." Because I had achieved a level of kind of friendship with him, because the ultimate purpose in going there, I told the delegation, it's one overall purpose: we're not going to represent the President or the Secretary of state, we're not going there to negotiate. The ultimate purpose is to have them see the human face of America, to see us as people, as fathers, as husbands, as leaders, as people involved in our communities, and to have a dialogue at that level. Not that we're going to gloss over any of our difficulties, and we didn't, but to see us, and not have us look down at them and somehow convince them that they are less than what we are as human beings and believe me, we accomplished that.
Our formal meetings were with the foreign minister, Nam Sun Paek, the speaker of the supreme people's assembly Thae Bok Choe, and most of the meetings I had were with the vice-foreign minister, Kim Gye Gwan. The vice-foreign minister, we learned, has been elevated to the position of being the lead negotiator for North Korea in the current crisis. He's been given additional authority. So he was our host for our first dinner the first night we were there. Members of congress have a way of being like average people. We joke, we laugh, in fact, he was amazed we sat there while our liberal Democrat, Elliot Engle, was having a dispute with one of our conservative Republicans, Jeff Miller, right in front of the vice-foreign minister, arguing over policy. He looked at me and said, "I can't believe this. You're actually disagreeing with each other in front of us!"
I said, "well, that's the way we do it in America. We don't always agree on everything. We are allowed to openly disagree, and in fact, there are disagreements about the way to deal with your country. But we also have some common concerns."
We went through all of our concerns and we listed them in detail. We went through the fact of the launch of the Taepo Dong missile in August of '98 over Japan's territory. And we said, that's unacceptable, it's an act of provocation to the Japanese. We talked about the abduction of the Japanese, which has not been accounted for yet. We talked about the starvation of their people, this military first policy where all their resources are going into this million-men army, while people are being starved. We talked about the alleged involvement of the government in drug trafficking, most recently the case brought forward by the Australians with the shipload of heroin coming out of North Korea. We talked about the nuclear program, the violation of the agreed upon framework, the efforts to do the highly enriched uranium program, while convincing the rest of the world they had no nuclear program. We went through all of that, over and over again, but we did it in a way that wasn't offensive to them. We said, "look, we want to help you, we come as friends. We want to do for you what we did for the Russians. We want to do a 48 page document of how our churches can work with your churches, how our universities can work with your universities, how we can help you solve your environmental problems, bring economic investment in. But we can't do any of these things, none of them, unless and until you understand your nuclear program has got to end. You've got to understand that."
I said, "this is not just America talking."
I said, "May 28th, Hu Jintao, leader of China, and Putin were together in Moscow and they came out with a joint statement saying the North must give up its nuclear program. So it's not just America, your friends are now saying the same thing we're saying, that you must give up your weapons of mass destruction."
And so what they said, over and over again in our formal meetings was, "Congressman, all of this has changed. Under President Clinton we had good relations. All of this changed under President Bush."
And what was interesting was, the most liberal democrat on the trip, Elliot Engle, said to me, "Chairman, would you mind if I answered that?"
I said, "sure Elliot, go ahead."
He said, "wait a minute. I'm a liberal democrat, I supported Bill Clinton, and supported the way he dealt with you. But I'm not going to sit here and let you blame George Bush on the current relationship between your country and ours. The problem is not with President Bush, the problem is, as Congressman Weldon has outlined, for the past twelve years, you've lied. You've not been honest with your weapons program. You've launched that missile over Japan, you've starved your people. The problem is the actions of your government have caused these feelings in the west, not one president taking office."
Now what was also interesting was in the meeting with the Speaker of the Supreme People's Assembly, he read his document in the entirety. He was very polite, and he read it, and during the reading of it, he looked up at me towards the end, and he said, "Congressman Weldon, tell me, do I look like I'm a part of the Axis of Evil? Do I look like I'm an evil man?"
And when he finished, I said, "you know, no you don't."
But the comment of President Bush about the Axis of Evil wasn't about individual people, it was about the actions of developing technology of nuclear weapons and firing missiles over your neighbor and getting involved in drug trafficking.
I said, "now let me ask you a question Mr. Speaker. Do I look like the kind of person that you want to put a bayonet into my gut?"
He said, "well, no."
I said, "well why then, when I drove in from the airport, I went through your largest intersection, was there a huge billboard with three panels on it and the panels on the right had a picture of a North Korean military person sticking a bayonet through the gut of an American, with USA on the hat and right behind that American was a very small person with South Korea on his hat and the bayonet extended through his stomach as well? Do I look like that kind of person?"
He put his head down.
I said, "but even more than that, in our country, we don't have textbooks that say nasty things about the people of South Korea. In our country, some of our best citizens are Korean- American. They're the leaders in our schools, our academics, our business, our elected officials. Korean-Americans are a part of what makes America good. We don't criticize and call your people names so that our people hate Koreans. We don't do that. You do, I've seen your textbooks. In our hotel, there are photographs where you make nasty comments about America. So we don't do those things that you do. Do you really want to stab me in the stomach?"
He said, "no Congressman, I don't want to do that."
And I said, "well, that's the point Mr. Speaker. We've got to stop the rhetoric and find a way to work together, to live together."
He said, "we want that."
They're convinced, without a doubt, that our goal is to attack them as we did Saddam Hussein. They're convinced they're the next target for America and that we want to go in and change the regime; overriding their number one concern. Because of that, when, on the first night, the Vice-Foreign Minister admitted to me that they have nuclear weapons right now, he said, "we have them, what do we do now?"
He said, "we're willing to put those weapons on the table in negotiations."
The next day the Foreign Minister told me they had finished the reprocessing of 8000 nuclear rods, which means, according to the CIA, that amount of material will allow them to build six to eight more nuclear weapons over the next twelve months.
So that first night we were there, after we had our dinner, it was probably ten o'clock at night when we finished it, we went back to the room and tried to sleep. You know, that time difference of thirteen hours and the flight over, and all the discussions, and everything I'd seen, I couldn't sleep. So I tossed and turned a bit, and finally at three o'clock in the morning I said, "I am here, there's too many things, but there's got to be a way to resolve this. So I got out of bed, put the light on and went over to the desk and sat down with some paper that I had brought and I scribbled out ten points that I felt, I was not there to negotiate, but I felt, that if these ten things could be done would end the conflict once and for all. In fact, Kofi Anan told me later, last Monday when he called me at my home, and Mory Strong, who's his representative, told me that if we in fact, can follow through on these ten things, it will finally end the Korean War of fifty years ago.
Now I haven't gone public with these yet because I want to share them with the administration. I met with Colin Powell for an hour last Thursday and went over them. I said, "I didn't negotiate, Mr. Secretary, I made these up at three o'clock in the morning while I was there, but I wanted to get their reaction to them. You can do with them what you want, but I'll tell you what their response was." So I went through them with him.
I then sent them to the South Korean President. We met with him for ninety minutes on our way out, we had a very positive breakfast with him. And you'll see these ten points, probably in USA Today or one of our national newspapers where they'll be unveiled. Monday I'll unveil them at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. They're very simple, in fact, it's all common sense. But most of our problems can be solved with a little bit of common sense, that we just realize that, doesn't matter where the problem is or what it's about.
I say, what if five things happen at one time?
The first would be that the US would agree to publicly sign a nonaggression pact to your country for one year. That we would not attack you for one year, unless you invaded your neighbor or unless you attacked Japan or did something really stupid. But we give you a nonaggression pact for one year.
[The second] And you would immediately, at that same time come out and you would publicly renounce your entire nuclear weapons program. And you would say that you're going to give it up. And that you're going to give an American appointed group, whether it's the UN, the IAEA, or the US and other countries, the ability to inspect every facility in your country where you do nuclear work. Not just Yongbyon, but underground complexes, and a full accounting for your existing nuclear weapons. Your ETU program, all of it and that would be done within a year, but if it took longer, such time as it would take to our satisfaction.
[The third] And at the same time, you would rejoin the [nuclear] nonproliferation treaty as a signatory.
[The Fourth] At the same time, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China, and the US would organize, negotiate, and announce a Korean economic and security initiative that would provide economic support, financial support, primarily from Japan and South Korea, but with some investment from the Chinese, Russians, and US, for ten years at a level of approximately three billion dollars a year to be used, not for your military, but for improving your economy.
And the fifth thing that would happen is that the same time would be, the US would for that one year, put a mission in Pyongyang so that we inside could have dialogue with you.
At the end of that one year, all went to our satisfaction, we'd completed the inventory of all your nuclear capabilities to our satisfaction, the following five things would occur
[The sixth] The non aggression pact with North Korea would become permanent and say to you that as long as you don't attack your neighbor or didn't attack Japan or cause other problems, we would not preemptively strike you.
[The seventh] Number two: you would join the missile technology control regime, which, if you follow arms control agreements, is the arms control agreements that nations sign and when they sign it they say they will not sell missile parts to other nations, one of our biggest concerns with North Korea.
[The eighth] Then the third thing is that we would put into place a cooperative threat reduction program, working together with the five other nations, to go into your country and remove all of your nuclear capabilities within two years or as long as it would take. And that would include your existing nuclear weapons. And the requirement would be that we have access to any site that we'd inventory. There could be no secret hiding places.
[The ninth] The fourth thing would be, and I never thought, well, I thought they'd jump down my throat if I even mentioned this, the DPRK would become an observer to the Helsinki commission. Now if you know what the Helsinki final act is, it's the international agreement that guarantees human rights for all the signatory countries. Now North Korea could never become a signatory, that's simply just impossible, but they could become an observer. And by becoming an observer, they send the signal that over time, they would begin to loosen up and begin to allow human rights, much like China has begun to do. Moving towards the goals of the Helsinki final act.
[The tenth] And the fifth thing was that would occur, members of [U S] Congress with myself, would join with the Supreme People's Assembly and we'd produce a document like we did for Russia. A 48 page document of ideas of how to bring ties closer together. Sponsoring conferences in America and Pyongyang on our relations, working on energy deals like a pipeline I've been working on for a year with John Fetter and others to bring energy from the Russian far east down through North Korea into South Korea, financed by the Russians and the South Koreans. Hyundai corporation is ready to fund it, so are the energy giants from Russia. Projects linking up our healthcare institutions, most of which could be done without government money, much like we're doing with Russia. We have scores of projects that occur between Russia and the US with no government money involved, rather the work of non-profits, NGOs, and foundations.
And so I said, "what if those ten things occurred?"
The vice-foreign minister, Kang Suk Ju, now the lead negotiator for North Korea after taking intense notes, looked up at me -this is a private meeting with only our interpreter, him, and his guy from the administration, the other members of Congress weren't there- he looked at me and he said, "Congressman, this is exactly what we're looking for." He said, "if this could be put together, this will allow us to give up the nuclear weapons that you want off the peninsula. These are the concerns."
There's a battle right now. There are some within the administration, I think, who want regime change. My own gut feeling is, if that's our goal, it's going to lead to war. Now I don't think necessarily the direction we should go. I think we have one more opportunity that we've got to take advantage of. Is their economy on the verge of collapse as Paul Wolfowitz is saying? I don't see that. Their economy is not doing well. People are starving, I'll grant you that. Pyongyang is doing ok. The people there are not rioting in the streets, there are not people starving, looking for food. What we saw in Pyongyang was a population that is going about its business.
Let me give you one anecdote. My chief of staff, the week that I was in Pyongyang, was invited to Switzerland for a meeting between Swiss leaders and American leaders. And while he was there, they took him on trips to Swiss corporations. One of the Swiss corporations they took him to was the Schindler Elevator Company, one of the largest elevator companies in the world. And they pointed out to this delegation of Americans their pride in their three newest elevators, which were gold-plated, marble, the three most expensive elevators the Schindler elevator company has ever built. Guess where all three are being shipped: North Korea. Now as bad as things are said to be, as bad as things probably are, they still have the resources to continue that regime. So if we move in the term of economic sanctions, they didn't work with Castro, he's still in power, they didn't work with Saddam Hussein after ten years, they may work over a period of time with North Korea, but my gut feeling is the instant response by the North Koreans will be to do something stupid. And with 42 million people, I think that's how many are in Seoul, within an hour flight time of the demilitarized zone, the 43rd parallel where North Korea has 2000 missile tubes lined up, ready to fire No Dongs and SCUD missiles and could obliterate Seoul in a matter of hours, I don't want that kind of a chance to take place that could lead to a war. We've got 37,000 troops there. The North Koreans told us over and over again that during the Cold War, you used your nuclear weapons as a deterrent against the Soviet Union. And it worked, you admit that. Our deterrent against you today, is our nuclear program and we're not going to give it up until we're sure that you're not going to attack us. And if you do attack us, which we think is your ultimate plan, you'll beat us, because you're the only superpower left in the world, but you'll have devastation in the process.
So it comes down to where to we go. As the vice-chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Duncan Hunter, who's the chairman, and I had a briefing from the Army about two months ago on what would be the scenario if the North attacked the South. Obviously with American troops there and with our treaty we'd immediately take action. The army estimate is that we'd win the war, there's no doubt about that, but the casualties would be massive. The loss of innocent lives would be massive, the loss of military personal would be massive, and that's even without the use of nuclear weapons. So what it comes down to for me, is whether or not its worth risking tens of thousands of lives and billions and billions of dollars when in fact, I think we have an opportunity. Now these ten points are very simple. The North Koreans said are exactly what they're looking for. It requires complete and total transparency, and if they won't provide that then the deal's off. But what's stopping this right now? What's stopping us is that the two sides need to sit down. The North said they won't sit down unless it's the US alone, the US said it won't sit down unless it involves the other five nations. I fully support President Bush and Colin Powell's position that this can only be resolved multilaterally. It's not just a US problem here, it's the problem of China, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and the US, as well as the rest of the world. But we can't let this hang-up over the arrangement of the table stop a possibility of coming to a solution. And so what I'm proposing is, and I'll be going up to meet with Ambassador Han next week to give him some guidance, if the North should agree, because it's going to have to agree eventually, that all six nations should come together, and as Colin Powell told me in my meeting, the North should sit directly across from America, and while the other five nations are around it, the North can talk all it wants directly to our state department rep[resentative] and have their bilateral talk within the room with the other nations as well. If we do that, I think there's a possibility we can avoid confrontation and achieve the objective we want, realizing full well that the track record of the DPRK has not been good. But I can tell you the response from the South Koreans (privately, they're not going to come out publicly) has been very positive. The Japanese have been very positive, except they want something included regarding the abduction of the Japanese, which I think obviously has to be a part of any final settlement. The Russians and the Chinese have been given the information, though [there's been] no response to me yet, but it will come. And the response by the UN, I met with Mory Strong in my office on Tuesday of this week, and he said, "Congressman, I think this has the basis to not just end the conflict, but to finally be the truce for the Korean War." So that was the result of my trip. Since I came back I've been meeting with everyone that I can. I spent two hours at the CIA and gave them all the update to fifteen of their analysts. Met with Colin Powell, talked to John Merrill, talked to Defense people, the Speaker of the House, part of the national security advisor to the president of South Korea, President Roh, and continued to extend the information out, and this week the plan will go public. So I thank you for giving me the opportunity to come here. On Monday I'll give a similar speech in Philadelphia, which you're all invited to come to, at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. On Wednesday, I'll be with the Heritage Foundation in Washington, and I'll continue to talk about this until we can find a way to get the countries to come together and solve the crisis.
Question 1: (inaudible)
Actually, some of my best friends in Congress are actually Democrats. Thank you Buck and I appreciate your comments. And I respect the fact that you're a democrat. As you know in our system, I took three democrats with me and two of them are my best friends. They travel with me frequently, they've been to Russia with me seven times, and what really helped make my trip successful. And let me give you this other little anecdote, which I think highlights what Buck said. Tom Kim was on his seventeenth trip to Pyongyang, now this guy is the senior state department interpreter, he interprets for the President, he was the interpreter for Madeline Albright, interpreter for Secretary Perry, interpreter for Secretary Kelly, so he's the guy with us. He said, "Congressman Weldon, I'm amazed. I have never seen the North guys so animated, I've never seen them so happy, I've never seen them joke." He said, "Kang Suk Ju never laughs. You know, he's always very formal in the way his sits and the way he talks, but you had him openly laughing."
I said, "because we treated him as a human being."
You know, diplomats have a job to do, and I don't ever want to be one, but diplomats can only say certain things, they have to watch how they respond, how they drink their toast. I don't have to do that. What we try to do is to reach these people and say, "look, there's a lot of people in America ready to help you, but we can't give you any of that help unless and until you rejoin the family of nations. And when you do that, then everybody's going to come in to help you out. But until that occurs, you're gong to be isolated. And there are some people in our country who want to totally isolate you, even more, which your side and your leaders said would result in an act of war."
So I think we have an opportunity, and if it fails, then we will have given the best effort that we can give. But I think to move forward with any kind of military action short of that is wrong and I won't support it and I've said that publicly.
Question 2: Since the pullback of the second infantry division establishes the necessary conditions for a first strike, do you think that the United States military is preparing for such a contingency? Second question is do you think that having a stick in addition to a carrot is the appropriate policy, or does the possession of a stick make a confrontation more not less, likely?
And that's what they're thinking also. I'm still trying to assess why we're doing what we're doing. I can tell you, as you all know, there's been friction over the past couple of years between the Korean people in the South and our military. In fact, [this week was the] one year anniversary of the killing of the two young Korean women by one of our armored vehicles, which was a terrible disaster and caused terrible uprisings all over Korea. And as you know, the Korean elections last year had a heavy anti-American flavor to them, in fact President Roh admitted that even he put some of that rhetoric out because it was the popular thing to do in the country. As a result of the actions, and as you know, the city is so huge and so heavily populated, and yet so small, that everyone is crammed in, and out military base is right in the center of that. In fact, they took the golf course of what used to be our main military base and they've now built a brand new, I think, it's a science and technology museum or center that's just about done. So there's been a legitimate need before this crisis to get our troops out of direct involvement with the Korean people. Now I know that's what the military has been wanting to do, to move South towards Osan or places where they're not directly [in contact]. That's being misread as though it's an action by the US not to put our troops up in the front of any action that would occur. So far I've been supportive of our military and I asked this question of the national security advisor to the president of South Korea and they seemed to be comfortable with the decisions that are being made, that its not preemptive or unilateral on our part. But I'm still looking at that, but you're right in saying that it certainly appears as though that it would leave the door open to some kind of an action where our troops would not be up on the front line. A lot of Koreans are looking at it that way.
Question 3: President Bush repeatedly stated that he will not be blackmailed by N Koreans. How is your plan can be seen as not giving into North Korea's nuclear blackmail? Do you think that President Bush will view your plan as giving into the nuclear blackmail?
I think they already have that message. They are paranoid to the extreme over what happened with Saddam and they repeat over and over again, "we saw what happened in Iraq and you're not going to do that to us. We're going to use those nuclear weapons if we have to and we're building more quickly just for that purpose." I think the motivation for them now; people say, "well, why all of the sudden do they want to be honest?" because they're backed into a corner. They think, militarily, that we're on the verge of coming into Pyongyang, so they're willing to do things now. Their main goal is keeping the regime in power, and if that means giving up their nuclear capabilities, if they get the legitimization from the US by our recognition and by a nonaggression pact, they'll give it up. I'm convinced of that right now. Now obviously, you've got to be able to verify. You can't have another Akita agreement where they say they're going to do something and then we find out five years later that in fact, they've been in total violation of it all along. So we can't have another one of those. There's got to be a complete and total transparency on their part for this to work. And I told them, I said, "you keep talking about President Clinton, but I can tell you, I was there when the Clinton administration was in place, and they were preparing the plans for a military attack on your nuclear site. That was under president Clinton. I'm aware of the plans, I saw them, I was briefed on them. So don't think this is something new." And I said, "the added problem you have today is that the leader of China and the leader of Russia have joined together and said the same thing: we will not tolerate a nuclearized Korean peninsula. So why not benefit now when the opportune time is here." And they responded very positively. So I think we have a possibility. I'm not going to say it's a slam dunk, because it's not, but I think we have a possibility.
Question 4: (inaudible)
Well, Colin Powell and the President both mentioned that to me. We are not going to reward bad behavior and we are not going to be backed into a situation because of them threatening us. We cannot reward, in effect, a spoiled child who thinks they're going to get something for our actions. And that's why I told the North Koreans, "you've got to take action up front, and that one year window is where you've got to demonstrate that you're willing to rejoin the family of nations. There are always going to be those who will try to phrase this and say that it's blackmail. Probably the same people who said that the Camp David Peace Accord was financial bailing out of both Egypt and Israel, which it did. I mean, Camp David was great, but what was it basically? It was a long term commitment of billions of dollars to two countries, Israel and Egypt to keep them from going to war with each other. You can use the same argument with Russia, the billions of dollars we put into Russia for cooperative threat reduction. We have put in annually 1.3 billion dollars a year into Russia to take apart their weapons. You can make case there. I think the point we would make is in the Korean economic insecurity initiative, the Japanese are already convinced they're going to have to put some money in to North Korea once it becomes a stable partner. They've already said that publicly. In fact, they've even talked about what they're referring to as reparations for the devastation that Japan caused of Korea. I think they realize that's legitimate. The key thing is that it not goes into the North Korea military program that it be used for economic development and for the people: food, healthcare, schools, for the kinds of things that can benefit the people directly. And that will have to be a part of the negotiation of that piece of it.
So there will be some that will say we're rewarding them for bad behavior. My own opinion is that we can take that position and go down the path to war, but for those people I would rather have us come to a negotiated agreement than end up in a conflict that cost millions of people their lives, and ends up costing the US a hundred billion dollars. So I just got the bill for what we're going to be spending in South Korea for the military, the US, it's going to be over ten billion dollars over the next several years, for the South Korean military. So we're spending money either way. Now is there a better way to do that so eventually the Korean people, who in most cases don't care whether South or North they're family, they want to get together, they want to go back to their homelands. The problem is the regime. So how to do you change that regime? Well you can do it by war overnight, or you can do it the way we're doing it with China. And that is you engage them, you control what money goes in, and eventually to move them towards an opening up so that they begin to become an acceptable member of the family of nations, which is the direction China is heading into. China is not perfect today, they still have human rights violations, we deal with them all the time, China still has oppression (inaudible) still common in society, but America is investing tens of billions of dollars into the Chinese economy right now, hundreds of billions. In fact, I remember doing an economic summit in Moscow in 1997. It was kind of interesting sitting next to the chamber of commerce person. He gave me some facts: in the period of time from the end of Communism in the soviet union, which would be 1991, through 1997, there was a total of ten billion dollars of US investment in Russia. During that same period, there was 400 billion dollars of investment in China. What kind of signal is that sending to the Russians? Throw off communism and they don't invest in you. Keep communist society and they'll put the money in society. But there are other reasons for that. Obviously we have the corruption in Russia [which] is a problem, and the lack of a stable tax code, the lack of the ability to own land, those were all reasons why our companies haven't put money in. But the fact is, that we're investing in China heavily and it's having an impact in opening up that society. It's not where we want it to be, but hopefully we'll get there one day and hopefully the same thing can happen in North Korea.
Now the other downside is what if we totally wiped out the North Korean regime today? South Korea would be devastated. You'd have 22 million people with no leadership and no place to go. What would they do? They'd all flow into South Korea. So there's a practical implication of what you do if the current regime collapses, as bad as it is? I think it'd be much worse ... well they've done some pretty unstable things in the past. I mean, launching that missile over Japan was a pretty unstable thing to do. Acquiring the Pueblo, one of our Navy ships, was a provocative thing to do. So they've done some things that are pretty illogical and the concern is that they do something like that and it starts a war, then it's out of everybody's hands. Then it becomes a nightmare, so we've got to avoid that.
Question 5: (inaudible)
Well, our press likes to stir things up and they don't want to hear the good stories, they want to hear the things that are provocative or that may lead to confrontation. In fact, when I first wrote my op-ed, the newspaper said it's not nasty enough. I said, "what do you mean?
"Well, you've got to have something that's nasty."
I said, "you mean that's the prerogative to get something in the paper to help solve a crisis?"
"Well yeah." This is the editor if USA Today telling my staff it's not nasty enough.
So that's unfortunate the way the media operates. That's why, what I've been doing for the past two weeks is quietly networking through all the various countries without coming out publicly. But now that I've briefed Colin Powell, now that I've given the information, it's time to let the people know and let the people weigh in. My hope is that the people in these various countries will stand up and say there is a chance here, there is a chance for us to come together and lets demand that our countries sit down. Stop arguing over the shape of the table and rather sit down and have some discussions and talk and see if we can't maybe take the basics, I'm not saying they have to use my outline, but take those ideas and work them into something that can become constructive process to end this. Because it can't go on the way it is. The longer we go on, the more North Korea continues to produce weapons of mass destruction. And I can tell you, I worked the issues of proliferation. I had a source, I've been giving the CIA information on for two months from Paris, who's a former Iranian official. I went over and met with him in Paris six weeks ago and one of the things that I'll tell you he told me was that there were three teams of Iranians who traveled through China three times, up into North Korea, and offered three billion dollars for one nuclear weapon. Now I haven't been able to verify that, but I think it would be illogical to think that the North Korean regime, after seeing Iraq and Afghanistan would not want to be able to acquire nuclear weapons. Well, North Korea has nuclear weapons, so if they [Iran] have the money and the desire, and North Korea has the weapons and the desire for money, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out eventually that the two are going to come together. So how long do we let that kind of thing risk? I don't think we can let it anytime, I think we've got to move on this immediately. Because the possibility of what they're building. They've already sold theirs, I mean, their missiles are all over the world. The SCUD missile, the North Koreans have sold, they've sold them to Iran, they've admitted that, and they're now selling Ro Dongs, the next generation of medium range missiles and they have a long-range missile, the Taepo Dong, and eventually there will be countries that'll be willing to buy that. So they have this technology and so the question is do we let them and then have a confrontation by facing them down militarily? That's what it could lead to. Hopefully that will not occur and we'll find a way to do this along the lines of what I've said.
Question 6: (inaudible)
I think two things: I think one is face, they want to save some face and just agree to what the US demanded would, in their opinion, lower their own perception around the world. But I think more significantly, their overriding goal is that they want acceptance, that their regime wants acceptance and they know that means it can only come by the recognition from the US, not from China, not from Russia, not from South Korea, not from Japan, but by the US. That the US has got to say to them, we're willing to live with your regime, and I think that's what they feel only can come from a direct dialogue. Now what I'm saying to them is, "look, you can have that dialogue. First of all, come together with the six nations in a room. You sit across from the Americans and forget the other countries are in the room. Tell the Americans what you want to tell them and have your bilateral discussion right there and then following that multilateral session, I think our administration has said they would leave the door open for individual discussions, so there is a way out of this that I think accomplishes what they want and what we want. And I think the president is right that we should not just have the US go in and do this alone. That's what happened in 1994 and we ended up getting suckered with the Aikido project and they're beginning their highly enriched uranium program. And the president says no, this is in the region: Japan, Russia, China, and South Korea have to be part of this. And I think those other countries, I think South Korea probably wants to be a major player because they've got to live with North Korea for the long term. So I think you can have both. And what I'm going to tell Ambassador Han when I go up there, not this week but next week when I go to New York, is that this is the way to accomplish what you want and to do it quickly.
Question 7: (inaudible)
Well, I can [tell] you the overall position of our government is to try to reduce regional conflicts so that they don't escalate into major world wars. That's not always easy because some of these conflicts have been going on for centuries, like in the Middle East. It's not just something that's sprung up. These are long-term hatreds, many of them based on the religions of the people in these regions. I would say, part of our problem, in my own opinion as one member of Congress, is that we haven't taken the time to understand fully other cultures. I'm a strong supporter of Israel and work with them very aggressively on their defense systems. But I don't think we've taken the time to understand the Islamic perspective. We've not given equal consideration to the concerns of these people in the Middle East that perhaps have thought that America has abandoned them. And that signal, everything from supporting the Shah of Iran long after he was really a legitimate leader of that country sent a bad signal to the people of Iran. And so our foreign policy itself, I think, from time to time, has been in need of perhaps a better approach. And I consider myself a part of the problem because most members of congress don't take the time to get involved in foreign policy. I can tell you that in my district, I don't get any positive praise for going over to North Korea and Russia, maybe in this room, most people criticize me. They write letters or call in and say, "there goes Weldon again, going to Russia, why doesn't he go over there and live?" I mean, the system itself doesn't encourage our elected officials to want to understand the problems around the world, and so our own constituents sometimes, because they don't want their member of Congress to focus on these kinds of issues really causes a lack of understanding. Then we make decisions that in the end are short-sighted, haven't been thought through, and we haven't even understood the people that we're dealing with.
Most of my colleagues don't travel. They don't want to know about, they don't care. They want to get re-elected and to get re-elected. You worry about the jobs back home, you take care of the local bridges, you go out to the town meetings, you visit the fire-halls, veterans groups, the church, and that's all that counts. Well, I think part of our problem in America is that you've got to understand that foreign policy is important and every member of congress has a role they can play. My goal when I spoke at the UN two months ago, I challenged them. My goal is to have every member of Congress when they come in take on their own, an assignment, to become an expert on one country: one democrat and one republican. We start up an inter- parliamentary dialogue with that country. If we did that with 435 members of the house and 100 senators we could have a new level of relationship and understanding with every problem country in the world. Now we have countries that members of congress couldn't even identify on a map. Ask them where Tajikistan is or Turkmenistan or Kyrgyzstan, they have no idea. And so part of it is we've got to get the Congress more involved in helping America understand these problems thousands of miles away could one day be problems we have to face with our sons and daughters having to go off to war.
The other thing we have to do is look for a new way to use our defense systems, and this is a big project of mine right now. In fact, I have a guy who was in my office from London on Wednesday who's got a top defense advisor to Rumsfield on London next week. I want to take our military assets and use them to understand the conditions that can lead to conflict. Now what do I mean? Well, if you look at conflict around the world, much of it occurs because of a lack of food and often times that's either caused politically or it's caused by floods, or it's caused by droughts, or it's caused by climatic conditions that then lead to a lack of production, which leads to war between countries and people. Well we have a capability to take assets like our satellites that were built to detect rocket launches and our systems the Navy uses to watch the oceans to be able to predict weather patterns like El Nino, where you can predict a year in advance where the next drought is going to occur, where the next tornado is going to occur, the next flooding is going to occur, and then you go in and work with those leaders of those countries so that they are prepared for what's going to happen and you avoid then the potential conflict that might occur that will lead to war in Africa or in the Middle East. And so hopefully, one of the things I'll be able to do, it's one of my personal goals, is to use our military assets in that kind of a way to better understand the causes that lead to conflict among nations around the world.
Now religious differences are always very difficult. There we just have to be able to be more sensitive. If I asked the average American politician if they're sensitive to the Asian culture, the answer's no. How can you deal with people in Korea, China or Japan if you don't understand the way that Asian people think, and each country is different. I still don't know, but I'm beginning to appreciate it. Face is really important. Embarrassing somebody publicly, we do that over in America all the time. In cultures of the Far East, that's not acceptable. And so America's got to learn that. We can't just go in as a belligerent, big country and think we're going to dominate the world, and sometimes we've done it. The other thing is, we've got a double standard and we've got to admit that. I remember chairing a hearing ten years ago on oceans, where one of our Navy officials was criticizing the Russian navy because they had a nuclear submarine that had an accident, it was called the Komsomolets, and it sank off the coast of Scandinavia with the crew on board and with the nuclear weapons on board. So this Navy official at my hearing was publicly criticizing Russia for not allowing our scientists to get near the submarine to see whether or not it was polluting the environment, very important. When he finished, I said, "Admiral, I agree with you. Russia needs to be more transparent, but let me ask you a question. Will you talk about the Dresher and the Scorpion?
He said, "wait a minute Congressman, I can't talk about that, this is an open hearing."
I said, "oh, so you're going to criticize the Russians publicly for not letting us have access to two of their nuclear subs that had accidents, but you don't want to talk about two of our own nuclear accidents where our subs went down with the crews still on board, with the nuclear weapons on board, and with nuclear technology on board. You don't want to talk about that. Isn't that a double standard?"
So sometimes America, our foreign policy, wants to have it both ways. We want to tell other people how to behave, but not ourselves. I'll give you another example. The biggest problem with threats in the world today has been caused by proliferation. The development of technology that was supposed to be controlled by arms control agreements. And there are a number of arms control agreements. But those arms control agreements require you to enforce them. During the nineties, when the Soviet Union became Russia, their military were not being paid, so as General Alexander Levitt told me on a trip I took there in '97,
I said, "how's your military?"
He said, "Congressman, it's in total disarray. Our best war fighters have left the service of the country because they've not been paid. They don't have decent housing, so they're selling off the technology that we built to use against you and they're selling it to your enemies."
Now we knew that. I did a floor speech in 1998 where I documented 38 times, we had evidence of Russian and Chinese enemies illegally transferring technology to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and North Korea. Every time we caught them, we should have imposed sanctions. The total number of times we imposed sanctions were 8 out of 38. Now why would we do that? Well, because our policy in the nineties, was to keep Yeltsin in power. Even when Yeltsin became a corrupt drunk, we kept supporting him. And it was Yeltsin's friends who were selling off the technology that today we're worried is in the hands of the terrorists. The fact is, you have an arms control agreement, it doesn't matter who the president is. I look at the people who say, "you can't trust those Russians." Well, maybe you can't, but it was our fault for not enforcing the treaties. And let me say, at the same time we blamed the Russians, what did we do with the Chinese? We gave them all the technology [they] wanted in the nineties. I was a member of the Cox Committee, nine of us, five republicans and four democrats, we sat for seven months behind closed doors to find out whether or not our security was harmed by transferring technology to China. When we got done the answer was unanimous, nine-to-zero, our security was harmed. China didn't steal the technology. American CEOs from some of our biggest defense companies greased the skids and got the thresholds lowered so they could send technology to China to make a buck. Orwell corporation, Boeing corporation, so how can we expect another country to play the game fairly when sometimes we don't play it fairly.
You know we criticize the Russians for working with the Iranians on the Bushehr nuclear power plant, it's a big issue today. My Russian friends are always saying to me, "well Congressman, didn't you sign an agreement in '94 to help North Korea build nuclear plants?" And the answer is yes
. So the problem is that our foreign policy has not been consistent and that's been a problem of both parties and we've got to work to change that. And that's where all of you come in. Be involved, speak out, do what you're doing through ICAS and hold your officials accountable. Now if more of you speak out, if every Korean-American in the region spoke out, and said, "I want my representative more involved in helping solve the Korean crisis," they would do it. But if you sit back and don't say anything except once in a while, you're not going to get a response. People think our system is broken. It's not broken, but elected officials respond to those people who demand a response. If you don't demand a response, we've got a thousand other people who want our attention, and we'll focus our attention elsewhere. So what ethnic groups have to do is they have to get up and speak out and that's what Kim [Weldon] is doing here. She's empowering them. They're new citizens. Doesn't matter whether they're Greeks or Italians, or Koreans, or Vietnamese, or Chinese. They're a part of America and they deserve to have a chance to play a role.
No more questions?
Well, I have a presentation to make. In honor of our Korean American friends at ICAS, we flew the symbol of our country over the capital this past week, so we'd like to present the flag of the United States with the appropriate citations. This flag was flown over the United states capital in honor of the Korean American community of southeastern Pennsylvania.
Sang Joo Kim:
We have a gift for you. It is a small Liberty Bell in appreciation of your commitment to work with us and of sharing your views with us this evening. Thank you.