Congressional candidate and former Intelligence Community North Korea expert welcomes diplomacy but cautions this approach could compromise U.S. interests and increase the chance of conflict with North Korea.
Haverhill, Mass. - Alexandra Chandler, candidate for the U.S. House (MA-3) issued the following statement today regarding President Trump’s acceptance of an invitation to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un by May.
“Though I welcome diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula, I am extremely concerned by the news that President Trump has accepted an offer from Kim Jong-Un for direct talks on “denuclearization”. As someone who worked for over 10 years in the Intelligence Community to help to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction and missile technology from North Korea, I have seen close up how the North Korean government tried to manipulate earlier rounds of lower level talks under both the Bush and the Obama Administrations.”
“When North Korea offers talks on “denuclearization”, they have previously stated this to mean the U.S. should first cancel all joint exercises with the South Korean military, withdraw all troops from South Korea, abandon the pledge to defend South Korea and Japan from North Korean attack, and then — North Korea could consider giving up its nuclear weapons. North Korea has also previously committed not to seek nuclear weapons— in 1992, 1994, and 2005, and then having broken those commitments, not to test nuclear weapons in 2012. America can’t afford another deal like those.”
“I wish President Trump success, for the sake of America’s security and the security of our allies— but I am not optimistic he is setting himself or America up for success. If President Trump and Kim Jong-Un meet and their objective is a deal on denuclearization, and there is no deal or North Korea makes and breaks new commitments at the highest level, either leader may believe that diplomatic options have been exhausted and war is the alternative. Both President Trump and Kim Jong-Un personally thrive in an atmosphere of conflict, but America’s security interests do not thrive— they suffer.”
“The most promising way to keep America safe from the North Korean threat and to protect our allies is through a less dramatic approach. We must keep up the economic pressure on North Korea that is inflicting real damage on the North Korean elite. We must do this in parallel with enhancing our regional missile defense capabilities, and most importantly with multiple tracks of diplomacy between South Korea and North Korea, between the U.S. and North Korea, between North Korea and other parties, including China, and a renewed global effort of nuclear weapons states toward reducing the numbers of nuclear weapons. The combination of these efforts will create a dynamic where time improves our negotiating position and leverage over North Korea. A shared aim of these talks should be to reduce tensions and achieve a verifiable freeze on future expansion of the North Korean nuclear program and its ability to strike the U.S. with nuclear weapons. Only once progress has been made toward that end should President Trump meet with Kim Jong-Un.”
“I urge the Administration to take specific steps to improve President Trump’s chances of success. President Trump must finally nominate an Ambassador to South Korea with unimpeachable expertise and diplomatic acumen. Secretary of State Tillerson must also reverse the drain of experts and leaders — some of whom I know personally — from the State Department’s arms control and nonproliferation bureaus, so as to reinvigorate the bipartisan tradition of U.S. leadership in global nuclear disarmament once embraced by Presidents as diverse as Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.”
Alexandra Chandler is running to succeed U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas in the U.S. House (MA-3).