U.S. Congress votes in support of an end to the Korean War

U.S. Congress supports Amendment 217 to the National Defense Authorization Act, supporting diplomacy and an end to the 69-year long Korean War. Also adopted was an amendment to prevent Saudi Arabia from developing a nuclear weapon.

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday adopted a number of amendments to the  National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.

The Act, which is still under consideration, authorizes FY2020 appropriations and sets forth policies for Department of Defense (DOD) programs and activities, including military personnel strengths. It does not provide budget authority, which is provided in subsequent appropriations legislation.

One of the amendments adopted yesterday number 217, submitted by Congress Members Ro Khanna and Brad Sherman which holds that :

  • diplomacy is essential to address the illegal nuclear program of North Korea;
  • every effort should be made to avoid a military confrontation with North Korea,
  • the United States should pursue a sustained and credible diplomatic process to  achieve the denuclearization of North Korea and an end to the 69-year-long Korean War;

U.S. peace, arms control and disarmament organisations had worked hard since the submission of the amendment to encourage legislators from around the U.S. to support, and this effort  paid off yesterday.

“A peace agreement to end the Korean War offers a clear path, if not the only path, for real progress towards the goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula,” said Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action which coordinates the Korea Peace Network. “With this administration’s tendency to stray from the path of patient, reciprocal diplomacy, Congress is wise to shine some light in the right direction.

“Diplomacy is the only way to achieve peace on the Korean peninsula and begin the process of phasing out North Korea’s nuclear weapons program,” said Win Without War Advocacy Director Erica Fein. “Formally declaring an end to the Korean war is long past due and represents a no-cost, tangible, good faith effort that is essential in these aims.

'The U.S. government's approach has oscillated between diplomacy and threats, between a practical phased, reciprocal approach and unrealistic demands,' said Alyn Ware, PNND Global Coordinator. 'Action by U.S. legislators to support diplomacy and an end to the Korean war is vital to ensure that the U.S. Administration maintains a diplomatic approach, gives more support to the Inter-Korean peace process and achieves sustainable peace and denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula.'

Mr Khanna has also submitted a separate piece of legislation, H.R. 152, calling for a formal end to the Korean War. The draft legislation currently has 34 co-sponsors.

'Historic engagement between South and North Korea has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to formally end this war,' said Rep. Ro Khanna, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “

'President Trump must not squander this rare chance for peace. He should work hand in hand with our ally, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, to bring the war to a close and advance toward the denuclearization of the peninsula.'

Korean legislators' delegations to Washington DC

This vote of support from the U.S. Congress  for peace and diplomacy comes following a number of visits to Washington DC of delegations of South Korean parliamentarians, including members of PNND Korea, to meet with U.S. legislators, policy analysts and arms control organisations.

''Korean legislators are playing a key role to inform U.S. legislators and the U.S. arms control community of practical and realistic approaches to achieve peace and denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,' said Mr Ware.

One of the recent events in Washington DC featuring Korean legislators was the Atlantic Council  Strategic Dialogue on East Asia on June 19. PNND Council Member H.E. Ihk-pyo Hong, who also serves as as Vice Chairman of the National Assembly's Public Administration and Security Committee and Chief Spokesman of the Democratic Party of Korea, was a keynote speaker. (Click here to see the webcast).

Saudi Arabia and a nuclear bomb

The House of Representatives yesterday also adopted an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act, submitted by Congress Member Sherman to prevent Saudi Arabia from developing a nuclear weapon.

The amendment blocks the United States from selling nuclear power equipment to Saudi Arabia unless the Saudi Arabian government adopts the Additional Safeguards Protocol,  a strong agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency that allows  inspections and other mechanisms to prevent diversion of nuclear materials to a potential bomb-making program.

'The only reason for not signing the Additional Protocol is if a country wants to secretly develop nuclear weapons,' said Congressman Sherman. 'If you can’t trust Saudi Arabia with a bone saw, you shouldn’t trust them with a nuclear weapon, and this amendment would help ensure Saudi Arabia never gets one.'