CAPITOL HILL— The approval of new U.N. sanctions is being welcomed by the Obama administration’s point man on North Korea, Glyn Davies. The State Department special representative for North Korea policy testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Glyn Davies applauded the tightening of international sanctions against North Korea, saying Pyongyang’s belligerence cannot be ignored. He said “the DPRK leadership must choose between provocation or peace, isolation or integration."
North Korea will not achieve security, economic prosperity, and integration into the international community while it pursues nuclear weapons, while it threatens its neighbors, while it tramples on international norms, abuses its own people, and refuses to fulfill its longstanding obligations and commitments,” he added.
The special representative noted the critical role played by China at the Security Council and in its direct dealings with Pyongyang. He said, “I think there are signs that China is beginning to step up even more robustly to play a role [in dealing with North Korea]. They [Chinese officials] say they enforce these sanctions. We take them at their word.”
Earlier, North Korea threatened a nuclear strike against the United States, something that did not go unnoticed by the committee’s chairman, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez.
He said, "There should be no doubt about our determination, willingness and capability to neutralize and counter any threat that North Korea may present. I do not think the regime in Pyongyang wants to commit suicide, but that, as they must surely know, that would be the result of any attack on the United States.”
Davies said lines of communication should remain open with Pyongyang, but international pressure must be sustained, even if North Korea were to adopt a more conciliatory posture. He said, "We will not reward the DPRK for the absence of bad behavior. We will not compensate the DPRK merely for returning to dialogue.”
One lawmaker questioned whether any amount of pressure will convince North Korea to change its ways. Republican Senator Marco Rubio said the North Korean regime wants the world to affirm its legitimacy and accept it as a nuclear power. "That is their goal," he said.
“And I am not sure how we can negotiate them out of that position at this point," he added. "They sit there and decide, ‘Do we want to be Moammar Gadhafi or Saddam Hussein? Or do we want to be here forever and be able to hold on to this thing [stay in power]? Once we have a nuclear weapon and, particularly, once we have the capability of striking the U.S. homeland, they [the United States] will have no choice but to accept us.’”
Davies conceded North Korea is among America’s biggest foreign policy challenges, and has been so for several decades. But he cited the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall as proof that positive and sudden change can come about.