NORTH KOREA MISSILE TEST (Senate - September 25, 1998)

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Mr. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I would like to address one more issue, with the agreement of my colleagues. I see a number of them on the floor--Senator Byrd--so I will try to be very brief. But I want to talk a little bit about our national security interests and what is occurring in North Korea. It does not just affect my State of Alaska, although this recent three-stage rocket did generate a little interest in my State because on August 31, 1998, the North Koreans fired a rocket which we now believe is a three-stage rocket carrying a satellite over the sovereign territory of Japan and it evidently came down very close to my home State of Alaska.

Although initial reports indicated that this was a two-stage rocket with a range of approximately 1,200 miles, now there is acknowledgment in the U.S. intelligence community that it was likely a three-stage rocket carrying a satellite. The third stage malfunctioned, consequently the satellite was not launched. But the point is that it has been identified that, indeed, the North Koreans have the rocket capability to carry some type of armament to the shores of the United States.

The Asian press reported that the rocket traveled 3,700 miles, or 6,000 kilometers, and landed in the ocean near Alaska. On September 17, the U.S. Department of Defense spokesman Kenneth Bacon responded to this report by saying:

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The only way to track this is by radar tapes and there's considerable disagreement among experts on how to interpret this.

Let's think about what this really means. The only way we have to track this is by radar tapes; in other words, after the fact. But intelligence sources have been quoted as acknowledging that a three-stage rocket could have a range three times that of the two-stage Taepo Dong I rocket. Particularly concerned about this latest missile test, a number of us have recognized that there seems to be a breakdown on whether the administration was either caught off guard by the sophistication of the North Korean technology, or was reluctant to share this information with lawmakers.

I am reminded of President Clinton's comments last year, when he said `[t]he possibility of a long-range missile attack on U.S. soil by a rogue state is more than a decade away.'

That does not appear to be the case--as a consequence of the occurrence in August, the last day of August, relative to the North Korean missile which did land within shouting distance of my State of Alaska.

This would ignore the testimony in 1994 by John Deutch, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense:

If North Koreans field the Taepo Dong 2 missile, Guam, Alaska and parts of Hawaii would potentially be at risk.

It appears the North Koreans have gone beyond even what Mr. Deutch envisioned by launching a three-stage rocket carrying a satellite.

There is truly an immediate need for missile defense, Mr. President. MIT professor Daniel Fine has an interesting take on why we need immediate action on a National Missile Defense System which protects all of the United States, including Hawaii, Alaska and our territories. He conclusion is that:

If the $32 billion infrastructure [associated with oil production in my State] in Prudhoe Bay--which produces 1.6 million barrels of oil . . . is subjected to a credible missile threat . . . then the cost to the American economy of a missile threat as economic blackmail would reach $4 billion--$6 billion in the first ten days.

Well Mr. President, I for one do not think it is far fetched to think of Prudhoe Bay as a potential target. After all, it accounts for approximately 20 percent of the total domestic production of crude oil in the United States. While I have not reviewed how the professor reaches the $4 to 6 billion figure, I think it should serve as a wake-up call to those who continue to oppose a National Missile Defense System. It is not just Alaskans, Hawaiians and those in Guam who should be concerned about the launch. Monday's test was the first of a multistage missile. According to experts, the ability to build rockets in stages opens the doors to intercontinental missiles that would have virtually unlimited range and which would carry payloads capable of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Such missiles, and the threat of them, certainly puts U.S. citizens at risk as a consequence of any attack coming from North Korea or any other area with a missile that carries weapons of mass destruction.

I think we have to reflect a little bit on the North Koreans. Some would dismiss the threat from North Korea because that country is on the verge of an economic collapse. But I remind my colleagues that North Korea has a history.

Mr. President, we have seen in the past, irrational actions by the North Koreans. You recall this is a country that in 1950 launched an invasion on South Korea, resulting in the deaths of 3 million of her countrymen and 54,000 American troops.

Recall the detonation of a bomb in Rangoon killing 16 South Korean officials; a country whose agents blew up a Korean Airlines flight killing 115 passengers and crew; and a country whose military hacked U.S. personnel to death in the DMZ.

I think we have to recognize there is still a great deal of uncertainty relative to the objectives of North Korea.

Furthermore, as we look at the crisis on the Korean peninsula, the United States has given over $250 million in combined food aid and support for KEDO. The North Koreans have received 1.3 million metric tons of heavy fuel oil.

While the United States has provided humanitarian assistance from time to time, as well as technical assistance, we have also promised large contributions to the $5 billion light water reactor program and also have given food and aid and contributed over $50 million to KEDO.

What have the North Koreans done in return for this assistance? They launched a missile in August. Intelligence photos show work on vast underground construction complexes.

In July of 1998, GAO reported that North Korea has taken actions to hinder work of international inspectors sent to monitor North Korea's nuclear program.

It goes on and on.

As a consequence, I think it is fair to say the administration has treated each of these incidents as if North Korea is merely an innocent child throwing a harmless tantrum, not a terrorist nation home to the world's fourth largest army, just miles away from the 37,000 American troops.

Incident after incident is dismissed by this administration as `not intentional' or not `serious' enough to derail U.S. assistance under the Agreed Framework.

The administration called latest missile launch ` a matter of deep concern to the U.S. because of its destabilizing impact in Northeast Asia and beyond,' but reiterated its commitment to provide funds under the Agreed Framework.

The administration refuses to say that newly disclosed evidence of underground facility would violate the 1994 accord because `concrete has not been poured.'

When a sub full of North Korean commandos landed in South Korea, the administration asked both sides to `show restraint'--as if South Korea was in the wrong.

The administration responded to violations of the Military Armistice Agreement by asking that the issue not be `blown out of proportion.'

Issuing polite reprimands from the State Department, while the Administration continues to seek increased funds for activities that benefit North Korea, only encourages bad behavior.

Mr. President, enough is enough. Congress should block further funding for KEDO until the President can certify that North Korea's nuclear program is, indeed, frozen and not simply an ongoing clandestine operation. The United States is a global power with vested interests both politically and commercially all over the world. We simply cannot allow policy to be determined by those who practice missile blackmail.

Mr. President, I yield the floor, and wish the President a good day and a good weekend.

Mr. GRAMM addressed the Chair.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.

Mr. GRAMM. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to proceed as in morning business for 25 minutes.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, reserving the right to object.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. A reservation of the right to object is heard.

Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, I will not object. I have been waiting here and am very happy to wait longer. I understood the Chair wanted to be recognized for 2 or 3 minutes, also.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair did, but it has gotten too late and he has abandoned that desire.

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Mr. GRAMM. Is the Senator from West Virginia waiting to speak? I will be glad to withhold and let him speak and then I will speak.

Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, the Senator is very kind and considerate. I was waiting to speak, but the Senator from Texas may have to go farther, a greater distance than I would have to go if I were going to West Virginia today. I ask unanimous consent that I may be recognized at the completion of the remarks by the distinguished Senator from Texas, Mr. Gramm.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. BYRD. I am delighted to listen to what the distinguished Senator from Texas has to say.

Mr. GRAMM. Mr. President, let me reiterate, in fact, when the Senator from Alaska finished his speech, Senator Byrd and I were having a conversation. I had thought as I left my office that he had spoken. I assumed that he was simply here listening to the Senator from Alaska.

Again, I reiterate, if the Senator from West Virginia had come over to speak, he was on the floor before I was, and I believe he should be recognized.

Mr. BYRD. No, no, Mr. President, I hope he will not be under the burden of thinking that I have a feeling about this. I am perfectly agreeable to wait a little longer, just so I can get in line immediately after the Senator from Texas.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas has the floor.

Mr. GRAMM. Mr. President, this reminds me of the time when I was on the elevator for the first time with Senator Thurmond, and Senator Thurmond insisted that I get off the elevator before he did. I determined when I was on the elevator with Senator Thurmond again that I would not get off the elevator before Senator Thurmond did. But I was wrong. I stood there for almost 2 minutes insisting that Senator Thurmond get off the elevator before I did. In the end, Senator Thurmond had more patience. I got off the elevator first.

Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, will the Senator yield?

Mr. GRAMM. I will be happy to.

Mr. BYRD. I like to try to live according to the Scriptures, which say that the first should be last and the last should be first. I thank the Senator.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sessions). The Senator from Texas.