SEN. STEVENS 4/11 ON NORTH KOREA TRIP
Washington -- Military tensions between North and South Korea must be
reduced to facilitate progress on food, energy and other concerns,
according to Senator Ted Stevens (Republican of Alaska).
Stevens led a congressional delegation including Senators Thad Cochran
(Republican of Mississippi), Daniel Inouye (Democrat of Hawaii), Pete
Domenici (Republican of New Mexico) and Pat Roberts (Republican of
Kansas) on a recent visit to North Korea "to try to understand the
views of the government in Pyongyang on the preliminary talks for the
"We carried with us a simple message; we want to improve relationships
with North Korea based upon the four-party talks," he said. "We stated
to our North Korean hosts that there is complete unanimity between the
United States and the Republic of Korea on our shared objectives --
promote confidence-building measures, reduce tensions, and eliminate
the possibility of a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula."
Stevens added that his delegation urged North Korea to commence the
four-party talks as soon as possible, but stressed that U.S. food aid
would not be used to get North Korea to the talks.
"We should participate in the international movement to supply food to
North Korea to meet their problems regarding starvation, particularly
of children, but not as a precondition to North Korea's coming to the
table and continuing the four-party talks," Stevens said.
Regarding a possible North Korean military attack on South Korea,
Stevens said: "I told the North Koreans that if they attacked the
South, they would be committing national suicide. I think we are
prepared to meet any possible contingency there. The loss of life in
connection with such an action would be overwhelming. And I see no
reason for it to take place, frankly. The world is changing and North
Korea has not changed. We were there to try to urge them to start the
process of change, and offer our help in the legislative process, to
try and assure that that would take place."
Reinforcing Stevens' point on U.S. resolve to defend South Korea, Sen.
Domenici said, "I want to make sure that everybody understands that
the leaders of the United States military say that same thing openly
On the question of North Korea's light-water reactor and its energy
situation, Sen. Cochran said that the delegation emphasized to the
North Koreans "that they have to continue to make those facilities
accessible to the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, to
verify that they're not using plutonium or generating weapons-grade
material that they could use to make nuclear weapons."
Stevens' delegation was the first to go to North Korea from the Senate
Following is an unofficial transcript of the news conference from the
Federal News Service:
(begin unofficial transcript)
NEWS CONFERENCE WITH SENATORS TED STEVENS (R-AK),
THAD COCHRAN (R-MS), DANIEL K. INOUYE (D-HI),
PETE V. DOMENICI (R-NM) AND SENATOR PAT ROBERTS (R-KS)
SUBJECT: REPORT ON THEIR RECENT TRIP TO NORTH KOREA
AND PROPOSED FOUR-PARTY TALKS
SENATE RADIO AND TELEVISION GALLERY
THE U.S. CAPITOL
9:45 A.M. EDT
FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 1997
SEN. STEVENS: The five of us -- Senator Inouye, Senator Cochran,
Senator Domenici and Senator Roberts and I -- went to North Korea to
try to understand the views of the government in Pyongyang on the
preliminary talks for the four-party process. Our delegation was the
first to go to North Korea from the Appropriations Committee of the
Let me begin by reporting that we were received with great courtesy
and had the opportunity to engage in genuine dialogue with our hosts.
All topics were open for discussion, and we received thoughtful and
serious responses to the issues raised by our delegation. We met with
senior officials of their government, led by first -- Vice Foreign
Minister Kang Sok Gu and Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan.
We carried with us a simple message; we want to improve relationships
with North Korea based upon the four-party talks. We stated to our
North Korean hosts that there is complete unanimity between the United
States and the Republic of Korea on our shared objectives. Before
going to Pyongyang, our delegation first went to Seoul for
consultations with their president, Kim Yong-sam, and the foreign
minister, Yu Chong-ha. We told Vice Minister Kang that our mutual
priority is to promote confidence-building measures, to reduce
tensions, and eliminate the possibility of a military conflict on the
We stressed to the North Koreans that military tensions must be
reduced to facilitate progress on food, energy and other concerns. We
left no doubt that the four-party talks must proceed without
preconditions, that any topic can be brought to the table, and
progress can move forward on all fronts. We regret that we did not
meet with officials of the Korean People's Army. We had hoped to learn
of the military views on the four-party talks.
By the way, they did use the sort of "good guy, bad guy" routine with
us in saying that we had to work with them because the military was
opposed to what they were doing with us. Failure by the North Korean
military to support and participate in the negotiations sought by the
United States and the Republic of Korea, in our judgment, could pose
an insurmountable obstacle to progress in our relationships.
Since our visit, there has been some movement. North Korea has agreed
to set no preconditions on the talks, and South Korea announced it
will resume food assistance to North Korea. We all urged North Korea
to commence the four-party talks as soon as possible. That's the only
means by which real progress can be achieved.
In summary, our visit was brief, but it provided us with a firsthand
view of the conditions in Pyongyang and the priorities for North
Korea. We did not go to negotiate; we went to listen and to learn. And
we think we brought back a great deal of knowledge concerning their
Now, I'll turn to my colleagues and see if they have any comments.
SEN. : No.
SEN. STEVENS: Senator -- no? (Cross talk.)
SEN. : We'll answer questions.
SEN. STEVENS: I'm going to get it now, I'm sure. (Laughter.)
SEN. : In our delegation, the great leader speaks.
SEN. STEVENS: Senator Inouye presented our -- our group with a T-shirt
that says "We survived Codel Stevens," so that's the attitude of this
crowd right now.
If any of you have any questions, I note this morning that Secretary
Cohen has been at the DMZ and has had reactions similar to ours.
Q: How much food aid should the United States give North Korea now?
SEN. STEVENS: We should participate in the international movement to
supply food to North Korea to meet their problems regarding
starvation, particularly of children, but not as a precondition to
North Korea's coming to the table and continuing the four-party talks.
Q: But what should be the magnitude of the U.S. contribution? I mean,
should it be another $10 million? Should it be half of the $95
SEN. STEVENS: That depends on the circumstance of the international
situation with regard to the supply of food. As I said, South Korea
has moved unilaterally now since our visit to provide some
humanitarian assistance type food immediately. So I think that's a
good result of our visit.
But I do not think we have a figure. They mentioned a series of
amounts. My two agricultural experts can tell you about that --
Senator Cochran and Senator Roberts.
SEN. (): Well, the North Koreans indicated they were somewhere short
about a million five or two million metric tons of grain and/or rice.
And the situation is very serious. I would like to report, however,
that they have entered into a commercial transaction with Cargill --
the grain company -- for 20,000 metric tons. we tried to make them
understand that if Cargill had a license to export -- i.e., in regards
to the sanctions, that it was a separate situation -- a commercial
transaction. They had some difficulty understanding the difference,
but it's my understanding, in meeting with Cargill as of just this
morning, that that transaction has taken place. It is a third country
barter kind of situation.
The more they enter into normal trade relations, I think the better
off they're going to be. In regards to their agriculture situation, it
is rather primitive as compared to the high-yield agriculture that we
now have in developed countries.
They're going to need a lot of assistance to become self- sufficient.
But the more they enter the trade route, I am sure the international
community, with the U.S.'s strong participation, will help on a
But my goodness, they need ag chemicals. They need fertilizer. They
need modern farm machinery. They need computers. They need a whole
several-decade reawakening in regards to their agriculture plan.
Once again I think we're seeing agriculture used as a tool for peace
-- I'm very pleased about that -- as opposed to a foreign policy
weapon. And I think there is some progress being made. And I want to
commend Chairman Stevens and the delegation for being very calm. And
we've persevered and we've tried to explain the difference between
humanitarian aid and a commercial transaction, which they must live up
to. So think we made some progress.
SEN. STEVENS (?): Thad, any comments?
SEN. COCHRAN: Well, let me just add one aspect to that. The World Food
Program director, Catherine Bertini (sp), had just been to North Korea
shortly before we arrived. And she had tried to explain the situation
in terms of a humanitarian emergency and was calling upon the world
community to donate food and supply them with funds to buy food so
that they could keep children from starving.
We were only in the Pyongyang area. We didn't get to go up into some
of the areas of the country where the situation is supposed to be a
lot more severe. There have been others who visited there, but we did
not do that. But even in Pyongyang you could see the gloomy and sad
state of affairs.
We went to one small communal farm right on the outskirts of town, and
there was just no activity there, even though this was supposed to be
a prize-winning farm and even though -- and it's a little early to be
getting the rice paddies ready for planting when we were there. But
still, it seemed like nobody was home. I mean, there was nothing going
on out there. There weren't any people moving around the fields. There
was no livestock, no ducks or geese or chickens or pigs or anything
like that in sight.
And so I came away with the impression that they do have a very, very
serious food shortage problem. And the international community is
going to be called upon to try to deal with that in a humanitarian
way. And I'm sure we will participate with others, but not as a
condition to reducing tensions, to living up to commitments that North
Korea has already made to engage in talks that involve China, South
Korea, and the United States, to deal with a wide range of problems.
But we're hopeful that what we were able to do was to show that we're
very concerned about the state of affairs on the Korean peninsula and
we would like to see changes made and a more peaceful relationship
developed between North Korea and the rest of the world community. And
I think our trip served that purpose. I think we sensed a change in
attitude while we were there, as a matter of fact.
The first discussion of food assistance we heard was a demand, in
effect, for 2.5 million metric tons of food as a condition to
proceeding with the talks which had already been agreed upon. Then a
little while later that came down to 1.5. And then later we heard
that, well, the real emergency could probably be dealt with with a
500,000 metric ton donation. But these are indications to me that our
visit was productive and that we tried to get the facts and let them
know that we're going to be engaged and involved in trying to be an
influence for peace and stability in that region.
SEN. STEVENS: Any other questions? Go ahead.
Q: Do you have any thoughts on KEDO -- (inaudible) -- any change in
funding -- (off mike)?
SEN. STEVENS: No, we didn't get into that. My colleague, Senator
Murkowski, has been dealing with that. I did not -- we didn't -- did
any of you get into that? No. We were dealing primarily with the
problem of the four-party talks and the confidence-building measures.
Q: This is Chung-Soo Lee of Korean Broadcasting System. Do you believe
or do you assess that North Korea would be -- (inaudible) -- without
the foreign -- (negotiation talks ?)? And do you predict any military
provocation by the North Koreans?
SEN. STEVENS: Do you want to take that, Dan?
SEN. INOUYE: As my colleagues have indicated, we were not able to
visit all of North Korea. And frankly, we did not see anyone with
distended bellies or starving. But intelligence reports indicate and
the general atmosphere suggested that North Korea was in a crisis. If
the world community does not respond to this present crisis, I think
we may be in for trouble. When one considers that North Korea has the
fourth largest army in the world and over 1,000 artillery pieces aimed
at Seoul, we cannot take this lightly.
I was impressed by the fact that this proud country would openly
suggest to us that they're in a crisis and that they were seeking our
help to resolve this matter. Usually, proud countries don't want to
admit that their system has failed in meeting this -- and addressing
So I suppose that the starvation is real and that the pressures are
real. And taking that into consideration, and the fact that the
military has under its control massive amounts of destructive power, I
would say that we should join the international community and make
certain that things are stabilized.
SEN. STEVENS: Questions?
Q: On the -- could you discuss what the status is of U.S. troops in
the region there, and if you see any need for either equipment or
extended troop involvement over there?
SEN. STEVENS: Well, we did visit our military, and -- and saw some
firing exercises, some tank movements. And we've been on the DMZ
before. I do think I -- our feeling was -- mine was -- that we have
more than sufficient forces there to meet the emergency, should it
develop. The South Koreans are very well prepared. I believe that if
And I told them that -- the North Koreans -- that if they attacked the
South, they would be committing national suicide. I think we are
prepared to meet any, any possible contingency there.
The problem is, is the loss of life in connection with such an action
would be overwhelming. And I see no reason for it to take place,
frankly. The world is changing and North Korea has not changed. And we
were there to try to urge them to start the process of change, and
offer our help in the legislative process, to try and assure that that
would take place.
Let me just, for instance, mention: they objected to our listing them
under the Trading With The Enemy Act. And I said, "you know, we've
just seen down -- seen the situation at the DMZ. We know what it is.
You are an enemy. And until you recognize that you cannot come in
under the special laws of the United States and ask for our assistance
while you are classified as an enemy, then you're just not going to
get any assistance. You must reduce the tensions that exist in the
military sector in order for us to be able to take some action to try
and help them."
Senator Domenici, do you want to comment on that?
SEN. DOMENICI: Yes. I would want to comment on that and make a couple
of other observations. First of all, what our chairman said with
reference to what we told the North Koreans as to what would happen if
they were foolish enough to attack South Korea. I want to make sure
that everybody understands that the leaders of the United States
military say that same thing openly and publicly.
We had a hearing at the end of this trip with the leaders of the
United States military forces in the Pacific. And Admiral Prueher, who
is one of the most distinguished men in the military and one in whom
I'm very, very impressed, answered a question and just said, "If they
attack, there is no question; North Korea will be destroyed."
The problem is that with the proximity of all their weaponry, if they
are so foolish, there will be huge damage inflicted on South Korea.
And obviously, our men and women are right up on the front lines with
all of our equipment. And so it is probably the world's most serious
point in terms of the possibility of war.
I don't think you should take from our discussions here today that any
of us believe the condition of North Korea is very good. As a matter
of fact, they are not only short of grain, they are desperately short
of energy. Their buildings are only half lit. We can't -- we couldn't
find where they were occupied; we didn't know where the people were.
But we can tell you, when you view their town at night, a town with
very large buildings, you just sort of wonder, "When are the lights
coming on?" Except they're on. There are no street lights. There are
no automobiles to speak of on the roads. The people, in my opinion,
are more like members of a gigantic cult than they are people governed
by some kind of ordinary government that all of us would look to and
say, "Can we negotiate?"
My last point is: If you wonder -- the state of mind of their leaders,
then just put in perspective that in the midst of all of this crisis,
human crisis, while we were there -- and I'm sure it's a coincidence
-- but nonetheless, while we were there, they were in a state of total
mobilization. They told us about it. It meant that they were preparing
totally for a state of military emergency. If you can imagine, in
their capital city that meant that every moving vehicle had to have
camouflage on it.
They're full tilt in terms of their military exercises. In fact, we
were told the day before they had their own airplanes come over at low
levels so as to give their people the right feel for what war and what
attack is all about.
Now all of that, to me, coupled with the civilian leadership
constantly reminding us that they weren't sure they had the support of
the military to negotiate under the four-party agreement unless
certain things happened, leads me to believe that they're having some
very serious internal problems, and how they preserve the regime --
that is, this communist regime that is beyond most of the communist
countries that have had this regime in the past -- how they preserve
it is a very, very -- creates a very dangerous situation for
SEN. STEVENS: Sir?
Q: Yes. Please expand on the -- what you just said about no support
from the military unless certain things happen. What things --
SEN. DOMENICI: Well, in our discussions, the first thing was they
started with the condition that we had to get them food aid. And the
way they described it -- "If you don't do this for us, we are not sure
the military will let us go to the four-party agreement sessions."
SEN. STEVENS: That's the "good guy, bad guy" routine I was saying.
Q: Senator, did you -- when you were there, did you get any feeling
that there was fear of civil, national unrest? Did you get --
SEN. STEVENS: It's a very controlled country, an economy. We got the
-- we got a feeling of sadness, really.
They have a 105-story building. I'm sure you've heard of it before.
It's built like a mountain. It's poured concrete. And at the top of it
is a giant crane about one story high. It's been there for three and a
half years. When it was being built, there was just not proper
consideration how to get the crane down when they were finished, and
when they were finished, they found that the elevator shaft was
crooked and they couldn't build an elevator that was big enough to
bring the crane down. Beyond that, they just ran out of energy.
So when you see conditions like that and realize that the feeling, a
sense of futility that must exist from anybody who tries to do
something to improve it, it's, on the other hand -- you know, it's
On the other hand, we saw 25,000 young people getting ready to
celebrate their great leader's birthday this month. And they were out
at their big sports stadium. They were all sort of gaily dressed and
doing everything from hoops to poles to jumping rope, and they were
getting ready to be -- put on an exercise -- I'm sure you'll see some
releases on it -- of celebrating his birthday. And we were told that
he would assume the full leadership of the country on the third
anniversary of his father's death and meanwhile would not see any
Q: Senator Stevens, when you told them that if they made war on the
South, they'd be committing suicide, did they react? Did they -- were
there blank stares? What did they say?
SEN. STEVENS: Well, I think that was one of the uncomfortable portions
of the dialogue. I'm not sure they liked it too well. We were very
direct, though, said we weren't negotiating; we were just reporting to
them the circumstances that existed in our country with regard to
taking any measures to assist them at this time of their crisis unless
they changed their attitude.
Q: But what -- how did they receive this?
SEN. STEVENS: Oh, we were dealing with civilians, not with the
military. They heard it and listened and we went back to talking an
hour later and started off on another subject, and it did not get any
reaction. Do you remember any reaction?
SEN. ROBERTS (?): Well, we had several discussions. And I think when
you're dealing with North Koreans, you have to understand you have to
go through the 30-minute obligatory bluster and the "good cop and the
bad cop" situation, then finally you get settled down around a table
and you get to the meat of the situation. And in my case, I was very
interested in the possibility of a commercial transaction with
Cargill. I think that that is a first step, a modest step, and that is
certainly progress. Having said that, we discussed it at length on
what, you know, I thought had to take place. Senator Cochran did as
well. They listed more farm programs than I was even aware of, and I'm
the former chairman of the House Ag Committee. They knew every farm
program. But because of the sanctions, we cannot participate.
And so we said, well, if you want to participate, you have to behave
yourself. I didn't quite say it that way. I mean, after all, if Thad
and I only saw one tractor at this showplace collective farm, the
tractor can't run but it's got camouflage net on it. We told them they
can't eat their camouflage nets, with all due respect, and that we
stand ready to provide the humanitarian assistance with the
international community but they need to behave themselves, sit down
at the four-party peace talks and we would explore that. We did
explore that. And through the leadership of Chairman Stevens and our
efforts, I think that the -- in part, at least, I think the
transaction has taken place.
Now, it's for 20,000 metric tons of grain, that's a good first step,
but you have to go through that -- what, the preliminary show of force
or the ideology. This nation is a theocracy. We've heard a lot of
press in this country about a cult. This is a national cult. I don't
see any way that there is going to be any civil uprising with the
control that they have. Youngsters marching out in the country about
12, 13, 14 years old, waving banners and working in the fields and
planting trees on their off time. They don't have any off time. Little
tiny kids or tykes in a kindergarten, and the only thing we saw was a
concrete, you know, bunker kind of thing with two pictures of the dear
leader and the great leader. That's all you know. But after you get
past this, I think their conditions with energy and food are such that
we have an opening, we have a window of opportunity. We seized that
opportunity with Senator Stevens' Codel. I think it's paid off.
SEN. STEVENS: Let me tell you, they did give us a dinner. It was a
grand dinner and it was sort of like -- they presented us sort of a
Las Vegas review. We didn't eat much, as a matter of fact. You can't
hardly sit down and eat a big 11-course dinner after people have been
telling you about how the children are starving. And when we finished,
our host said it was too bad we didn't have time to talk. So I said,
well, let's go back to where you're letting us stay, at the guest
house, and let's talk. And we went back and resumed our talks another
four hours. As a matter of fact, we were there about 25 hours; I think
we talked to 19 of them. But it's one of those serious things, I
think, in our lives, to understand that this crisis has come to this
Someone else had a question. Yes, sir?
Q: Yes. Can you tell us, technically, what has to happen if the U.S.
is going to provide food aid? Can the Clinton administration do this?
Do they have to seek approval from Congress? What's the -- where do we
stand on that?
SEN. STEVENS: Well, humanitarian aid, we go through the U.N. That
would be through a contribution base there. Any direct aid -- I'll
again turn to my expert here -- I don't know of any that we've been
requested from, so far. So I can't answer the question.
If it was an emergency foreign-assistance operation, they'd either
have to reprogram some funds from existing appropriations or ask for a
special one. And we have not received such a special request, to my
Q: But the Clinton administration would have to ask you for this. They
can't -- the State Department or AID can't just decide to do it
without (word inaudible) approval?
SEN. STEVENS: They do have some emergency funds that they could use --
yes, they could -- but not to the extent of a million tons, I am sure
Q: Is there any prospect of follow-up on this in terms of the Congress
SEN. STEVENS: Well, I am hopeful that we may be asked to go back, as a
matter of fact. I think we developed a rapport with them. And I would
like to meet with the military leaders. Senator Inouye and I and
Senator Cochran have been on the Defense subcommittee for many years.
We wanted to talk to them and try to open a dialogue as to why they
insist upon maintaining the tempo of activity that they do on the DMZ
on their side. But we would hope to go back, yes.
SEN. STEVENS: Yes, ma'am?
Q: I think you mentioned international -- joining the international
community (and support ?). In Japan, I think there is a feeling of
reluctance because there are some (prospective ?) cases of kidnapping
done towards Japanese citizens before, and there's wide interest in
that. What are your thoughts?
SEN. STEVENS: Well, let me tell you. We heard about that. But there's
a lot of other irritants. The idea that they're selling Nodong
missiles to Iran and the fact that they're proceeding now with the
Nodong-2, which has the range of reaching Senator Inouye's home in
Hawaii and mine in Alaska, are not easy obstacles to overcome. We're
not saying we're going to just automatically recommend a relaxation of
any sanctions against this regime until it makes some changes. But as
far as this -- the problem of dealing with mass starvation, I don't
think we should countenance, and I don't think the world should
countenance, the complete collapse of a system to the extent that
there is mass starvation, particularly among children. Although we
heard stories about how some of the people would -- would keep their
rations back in order to feed their children, which would be a natural
for parents to do. It's really a sad thing.
The kindergarten we saw, children go there after they're nine months
and stay there, we understand, until they're six years old. And
families can see them once out of seven days. So it's -- this -- the
family situation there is very strained.
But I can't tell you all the -- I don't have a checklist of what would
happen before we would resumed normal relations. But clearly, taking
action to find a way to deal with the starvation, as far as the
average citizen and the children there is I think the number one
priority, as far as we're concerned.
Q: Have you found out any indications that if the Kim Jong Il regime
fails to control the mass starvation, will the military forces stage a
SEN. STEVENS: No. We set no conditions on our continuing talks,
either. Now this -- we're trying to open up a dialogue and tell them
not to set conditions upon their participation in the four-party
talks. We did not set down any conditions, as far as our continuing to
talk, or upon any -- you know -- anything in terms of our
We have little, if any, relationship now. You know, we had lunch with
this Swiss charge there -- Swedish charge --
SEN. COCHRAN (?): Swedish.
SEN. STEVENS: -- who represents our interests there, and his wife.
They were very hospitable. She goes to Beijing every two weeks to buy
food, because there is none for her to buy for her and her staff
there. I mean, when you think of --
And the Germans -- their embassy had been closed. He shares a bedroom
with the Swedish people. It is obvious that -- you know --
circumstances are just folding in on this country. And someone's got
to really keep up an initiative to maintain a dialogue and maintain
some attempt to meet their worst problem, which is starvation, or --
or I'm convinced there will be just an overwhelming reaction
militarily as the last gasp of this regime.
Anyone else have any questions? Is that enough from us?
Q: Do you think that any future commercial deals between North Korea
and the United States would be dependent on provisional humanitarian
SEN. STEVENS: From their side?
Q: And from our side.
SEN. STEVENS: Well, from our side, it depends on how you view the
Trading With The Enemy Act. From their side, it's obviously -- obvious
they would like to open up some commercial relationships and have
tried. And as Senator Roberts says, they've started one now, and it's
been completed, with Cargill. We did discuss that while we were there.
And it would be my inclination that as long as it's making available
food through commercial channels to that country and their people,
that we ought to do our best to see that that takes place and provide
the exceptions from our laws that might impede such traffic into their
country. I think that we should encourage commercial provision of food
into their area if they can pay for it. And as Senator Roberts says,
this is a barter arrangement that can be worked out, as we understand
Q: Did the Cargill contract require congressional action for it to go
SEN. ROBERTS (?): No. The license came from the State Department, and
then it was a commercial transaction completely separate from the
government. However, I would point out that it took a lot of
convincing on the part of Senator Cochran and myself and the rest of
the delegation to convince the North Koreans that we did not have the
ability to simply say, "Here is a show of good faith, we will provide
you the grain." It doesn't work that way in this country, and I don't
think they have a full understanding of the commercial transaction
process. That's one of the problems. But once they consummate the
situation -- it's still pending, it's dependent on the barter
situation -- if they come through, at least that's a first step. Then
they understand it. So from that standpoint, I think it is very
On the agriculture situation, a real paradox of enormous irony. They
are now allowing farm markets, but farm markets are illegal. They have
a collective farm system. The person from the German -- I guess,
embassy -- they don't have an embassy there, but their attache had
only been there several weeks. He took a picture of a farm market in
operation, and he was confined and went through a very, very bad
experience only to find out that he can't take a picture of an illegal
activity which is now taking place. That's the irony that we are
facing there. But the fact that they have allowed their agriculture to
get into some kind of a commercial private ownership situation here
with farm markets I think is a good step.
Q: Any idea what Cargill was able to barter?
SEN. : You'll have to ask Cargill about that.
Q: Senator Domenici, before you go, after these other questions, would
you take a question on the court's ruling of yesterday on the
Q: He's gone.
SEN. STEVENS (?): Domenici's gone, but I anticipated you might have
that. I do have a summary of that. You may not know I was the chairman
of the Senate side of the conference committee on the line- item veto.
The court has ruled that the presentment clause of the Constitution,
which requires the presenting of a bill passed by both houses to the
president, forbids the president's being able to change that bill
after he has signed it. And that was one of the basic provisions of
the line-item veto bill as we passed it. You remember that we did pass
this bill as a temporary extension of the line-item veto to the
president to try to assist in the process of trying to achieve a
balanced budget. That was the thing that convinced many of us, who had
previously voted against the line-item veto, to support the effort.
But the court has said we cannot do that.
Q: My question is what do you think this is going to do to the process
of trying to achieve a balanced budget? Will it make it more difficult
or less difficult, or what?
SEN. STEVENS: I think it will make it more difficult. As chairman of
the Appropriations Committee this last week, I have used the
possibility that we'd have the threat of a line-item veto several
times to deter people thinking about pressing issues that I think that
would further unbalance the budget. It's going to be the loss of a
tool for both the presidency and the Congress to try and comply with
-- or take the measures we have to take to prevent a further increase
in our deficit.
Yes, I think it's a sad loss. And I don't know whether it will be
appealed or not. But clearly, it indicates that - I am sure the
president could not attempt to use this (delegation along ?) -- it
will be during the period -- until it will be -- this decision will be
reversed by the Supreme Court. There is an ability -- under this bill,
if any portion of the bill was declared unconstitutional, there is a
right of the administration to appeal that decision directly to the
Supreme Court. But that is not something we mandate; it's something we
authorize. It's up to the administration to make that decision.
Q: And given the Supreme Court practice, it's not likely, is it, that
any such action would come in time to -- the appeal couldn't be
handled in time to affect this year's budget?
SEN. STEVENS: Oh, no. This is a very clean-cut decision, based on the
law, not upon any factual circumstance. This is the kind of case that
could be argued before the Supreme Court in a very short period (and
so ?) the court decided to do it if the administration decides to
appeal it. I really do not anticipate that decision is going to be
made quickly, however; it's going to take some time to review that.
Q: Any progress on the Defense supplemental -- on the Appropriations
Committee or where that's going or --
SEN. STEVENS: We anticipate that the House will take up the
supplemental on the 29th, and we will do our best to finish it over
here before the end of the month, if it's at all possible.
Q: If we could return to North Korea for a moment --
SEN. STEVENS: Yes, sir?
Q: Senator Stevens, you said you thought that the United States should
do more to encourage development of commercial food trade with North
Korea. Do the other members of the delegation agree with that?
You all nod your heads.
SEN. STEVENS: Sure. (Laughter.)
It's only limited to food, you understand. If there's going to be a
massive effort of the world to meet a million tons of deficit -- and
they said it could go as high as 2 (million) -- if they had the
ability to start some commercial relationships with the world to meet
a part of that deficit, I think we should take action to assure that
SEN. ROBERTS: Sell them anything they can't shoot back either here or
over the DMZ.
SEN. STEVENS: But don't forget -- as I said, we saw no farm animals,
not even a water buffalo. Now, you know, even with a military
exercise, they don't hide water buffaloes. Our conclusion was that
they have all been eaten. And you just have to think that over again,
in terms of their basic stock to continue breeding farm animals. We
saw no farm animals -- none.
Q: Well, what -- what could they use, as far as commercial
transactions? I mean, the reports were that the Cargill deal was for
some type of mineral. Is -- are there mineral supplies --
SEN. STEVENS: Oh, they --
Q: -- oil supplies, some type of --
SEN. STEVENS: -- they have a diamond mine. They've got several of the
world's short -- minerals that are in short supply. And they have the
ability to get them out very quickly. I don't think they have to file
an environmental impact statement to open up a new mine. (Scattering
of laughter.) They could enter into barter with us very quickly, and
they have some very valuable resources. And it would be good to have
them start learning.
You remember, this government has not had any true commercial
relationships with the world, on a truly -- you know -- private sector
concept basis, private enterprise basis. And we would encourage
initiation of that.
Q: Senator Roberts, the two of you all this morning mentioned the word
"cult." Now this is -- you know -- quite a word, given what just
happens. And it goes to the question of the likelihood of a military
adventure. Would you mind -- I mean, you know, we're talking cult,
we're talking mass suicide here.
SEN. ROBERTS: Well, I think, as Senator Stevens has pointed out, if
they lash out under the banner of regime preservation, which they
could do, it would be national suicide for them, in terms of their
military. I don't see any -- any evidence, however, of a civil
uprising or for that matter an expression that you have mentioned.
But this is a theocracy. Everywhere you go, you see pictures of the
great leader and the dear leader. When we went to the collective farm,
Senator Cochran and I were anxious to get out in the field and we had
to stand there and listen to about a ten-minute or fifteen- minute
lecture on what the great leader who had visited that farm 16 times --
I think they have a shrine every place he stepped -- and then you have
to listen to that for, you know, 15 minutes before you can proceed to
actually learn something. And so, consequently, you have to figure out
that if you're in a theocracy, it doesn't operate according to the
rationale that perhaps maybe you and I would think.
Basically, you have a badger in a hole, and he's hungry. And if you
want to put your hand in there with food, fine. But if you put your
hand in there otherwise, he could lash out.
I don't know what's going to happen. They're very difficult to try to
anticipate. So we tried to, as I've indicated, use agriculture as a
tool for peace. I think we made progress. I think we made great
I would hope that nationally -- I know the vice president was over
there and indicated that North Korea will fall. I'm not too sure
statements like that really help, as opposed to being patient and
persevering. Let's see what the Cargill situation brings. It is a
third-party agreement. In the next 30 days we'll learn if in fact it
actually transpires. I think that's very educational on their part.
With the thousand experts that would come over from South Korea in the
light-water reactor KEDO arrangement, that's going to be helpful. This
regime cannot survive -- the more we get into trade and normal
commercial transactions and assistance, more especially with South
Korea, it can't survive in this kind of an atmosphere with modern
communications. But the problem is, there hasn't been any.
We had a map; I wish we'd have had that picture, Mr. Chairman. But
there's a satellite photo -- (here ?), everybody see the map?
(Laughter.) It was taken in 1986.
Q: We can see it on the radio beautifully.
SEN. ROBERTS: Right. And lower -- or below the 38th Parallel, you have
a lot of lights. And then you go to 1996 and South Korea is ablaze
with private enterprise. And then you look up at North Korea, and the
country's entirely dark, except for one tiny little spot, the one
light bulb. It's the top of that hotel in the national capital. I made
the comment that in America we have an expression, you know: The last
one to leave will turn out the lights. Well, they've turned out the
lights, but they haven't left yet.
So I think, without question, we've made some progress. And I think
we've started a dialogue.
Q: Sir --
SEN. COCHRAN: Let me add one other thing. He mentioned the light-water
reactor and the energy situation. One thing that we did impress upon
the North Koreans in our discussions was that they have to continue to
make those facilities accessible to the International Atomic Energy
Agency inspectors, to verify that they're not using plutonium or
generating weapons-grade material that they could use to make nuclear
weapons. This is a very serious problem, and we had to emphasize that
on a couple of occasions.
There is an agreed framework under which they're developing
alternative energy resources. And we are involved with others to try
to help achieve that. So that's another area of cooperation, but it's
also an area where we're seeing change take place and an opening up of
their nuclear energy system.
SEN. STEVENS (?): We went there with the understanding and cooperation
of the State Department. We visited with Ambassador Richardson, our
ambassador to the U.N., before we went. And we took Mr. Eric John, who
has the North Korea desk at the State Department, with us.
We hope to find some way -- it's not a pleasant trip, I got to tell
you -- but we hope to find some way to continue this dialogue between
the Senate and those in charge of North Korea, to see if we can find
some way to help reduce these tensions.
Thank you very much.
(end unofficial transcript)