AAP staff report
Washington, D.C. (March 1, 2011) – Kurt M. Campbell, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. State Department, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday on the evolving U.S. policy toward the Peoples Democratic Republic of North Korea to the Committee chaired by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.
Campbell called North Korea one of the nation’s most enduring foreign policy challenges, and strong leadership would expand the discussion on the crisis in a broader regional context to present other opportunities for American engagement in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The goal of the United States and our allies and partners remains a stable, peaceful Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons,” stated Campbell. “To achieve this goal, the United States intends to maintain strong solidarity with South Korea, Japan, and other states with a vested interest in the future of the Korean Peninsula and the stability and prosperity of Northeast Asia.
Campbell said the U.S. would continue to encourage the DPRK to engage in meaningful negotiations on denuclearization and to honor its commitments and international obligations. At the same time, he said the U.S. would work to ensure the implementation of U.S. and international sanctions against North Korea’s nuclear, missile, and proliferation networks and its involvement in other illicit activities.
“We will also carefully watch internal political and economic developments in North Korea, particularly as they relate to succession and the promotion of heir apparent Kim Jong-un, the third son of Kim Jong-il,” he added.
Campbell said that the Obama Administration has repeatedly stressed that there remains a positive approach to open North Korea, and allowing the nation the path toward security and economic opportunity or to continue its pattern of confrontation and isolation.
“The United States remains committed to meaningful dialogue, but we will not reward North Korea for shattering the peace or defying the international community,” he said.
North Korean overtures to improve relations with South Korea would demonstrate a change in behavior, but he said such actions must include irreversible steps to denuclearize, comply with international law, and to cease provocative behavior.
“The United States will stand ready to move toward normalization of our relationship,” he added. “However, if it maintains its path of defiance and provocative behavior and fails to comply with its obligations and commitments, it stands no chance of becoming a strong and prosperous nation.”
Campbell noted that U.S. concerns with North Korea are not limited to the threat it poses to regional stability and global security. He said human rights violations also harm the North Korea people and violate international norms for the rule of law and respect for individual rights.
“Respect for human rights by North Korea will also be necessary for it to fully participate in the international community,” said Campbell. “Human rights are a top U.S. priority and an addressing of human rights issues by the DPRK will have a significant impact on the prospect for closer U.S.-DPRK ties.”
The primary strategic objective for U.S. engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, he said is to promote a peaceful and stable security environment that advances the interests of the United States, our allies, and partners in the region.
This approach to security and stability requires a continued alliance with Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Australia, Thailand and the Philippines. It also requires cooperation, largely through the six-nation talks, with China, Russia, and strengthening partnerships with South East Asian and Pacific Islander nations.
“China is also a key U.S. partner in promoting peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region and globally, and the Joint Statement issued during President Hu’s January 2011 to Washington underscored that ‘in coordination with other parties, the United States and China will endeavor to increase cooperation to address common concerns and promote shared interests’,” he added.
Campbell said North Korea stands out as the impediment during a time of tremendous opportunities discourse and opportunity in the region. The recent military attacks on South Korea, along with its surprising progress on a uranium enrichment program have not only turned back the clock on progress but present a heightened realm of danger.
“Our Northeast Asian alliances play an essential role in maintaining regional security, deterring North Korean provocations, providing a reliable and robust strategic deterrent posture, and bringing maximum leverage to bear on the DPRK to change its current course and become a member of the community of nations,” he said.