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Ros-Lehtinen Criticizes U.S. Decision to Remove North Korean Regime From List of State Sponsors of Terrorism

October 11, 2008

To: POLITICAL EDITORS

Contact: Sam Stratman of House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, +1-202-226-7875, sam.stratman@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, strongly criticized today’s decision by the U.S. Government to remove North Korea from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism without first requiring full verification of the dismantlement of all nuclear facilities. In June, Congress received notification that such a decision was possible, following an understanding between the regime and other members of the “Six Party Talks.” In recent weeks, North Korea has denied international inspectors access to suspected nuclear sites. Earlier this year, Ros- Lehtinen successfully included an amendment in the Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Reform Act (H.R. 5916) requiring North Korea to take verifiable action to end its proliferation activities, such as ceasing to provide nuclear assistance to Syria and Iran, before it can be considered for removal from the list. Statement of Ros-Lehtinen:

While I am not surprised by today’s decision, I am profoundly disappointed. Given the regime’s decision to restart its plutonium reactor at Yongbyon and actions barring access to the site by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is clear that North Korea has no intention of meeting its commitment to end its nuclear program.

North Korea should not be rewarded with removal from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism when it continues to engage in activities that threaten critical U.S. interests, including proliferation of nuclear material, technology, and expertise to extremist regimes. We know that it provided crucial assistance to Syria’s illicit nuclear program which was revealed by an Israeli air strike last year on a clandestine facility. This assistance was flowing even as the regime was assuring our negotiators that all such efforts had stopped and was demanding that it be removed from the list.

The plutonium reactor at Yongbyon is only one part of the problem. The regime’s continued denial of its secret uranium program and its refusal to allow inspectors to adequately verify that claim have been central issues in the impasse.

With today’s action, the Administration has given up a critical instrument of leverage. By rewarding North Korea before the regime has carried out its commitments, we are encouraging this regime to continue its illicit nuclear program and violate its pledge to no longer provide nuclear assistance to extremist regimes. We are also sending a strong message to other rogue nations, such as Iran and Syria, that we will not hold them to their commitments, even as we give in to their demands.

SOURCE House Committee on Foreign Affairs (Republican Office)

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