WASHINGTON (CN) – Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, the U.S. envoy to North Korea reported the recent Chinese turn in support of western nations attempting to control a country that within the last two months has rejected a half-century-old armistice, fired a ballistic missile and exploded a nuclear bomb.
China is “deeply concerned” about North Korea’s recent aggression, said the U.S. Special Representative to North Korea, Ambassador Stephen Bosworth. “They recognize, perhaps more than anyone else, that these moves by North Korea can have very deleterious effects.”
In the ornate Senate hearing room, American, Chinese, and South Korean journalists filled the seats and lined the wood-paneled walls.
There appears to be international unanimity towards North Korea, he said. “I’m impressed by the degree of focus that the Permanent Five,” he said.
The United States, China, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom compose the permanent members of the UN.
The United States is determined to resolve the problem through diplomacy, he said.
Just last month, North Korea rejected the half-century-old armistice between the two Koreas, and exploded a nuclear bomb, the second after an initial test in 2006. It also fired a ballistic missile in April in violation of a United Nations Security Counsel resolution.
“It’s not welcome news, obviously,” Bosworth remarked on North Korea’s decision to withdraw from the armistice, but said President Barack Obama hopes to find a permanent replacement to the old agreement.
An armistice is just a cease-fire agreement. The two Koreas never negotiated an end to the Korean War. “It is concerning that a state of war technically still exists,” Bosworth said.
Before asking her questions, New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen said she was proud that Bosworth had gone to school at Dartmouth, which is in her state.
“Can’t steal him. He still lives with us,” Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry joked with a charisma the nation found lacking five years ago.
Efforts to halt North Korea’s nuclear program have a bumpy history. In 1994, a framework was signed that froze the North’s production of plutonium for eight years, a necessary component of nuclear bombs.
In 2002, the George W. Bush administration alleged that North Korea cheated on the framework, “but the Bush administration ruled out direct talks to resolve the issues,” said Kerry who is committee chair.
“The result was the second nuclear crisis,” he said, “the demise of the agreed framework, North Korea’s withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and the quadrupling of North Korea’s stockpile of fissile material.”
Maryland Democrat Benjamin Cardin expressed his concern that North Korea will export nuclear technology “to terrorist organizations or non-state actors.” The country has already exported such technology to Syria, which tends to align itself with Iran.
To deal with this more dangerous North Korea, the United Nations is considering a new resolution that would place a total ban on arms exports from North Korea, further restrict arms imports, freeze North Korean finances involved in ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, and inspect all cargo to and from the country.
When Kerry asked what the United States would do if North Korea were undeterred by the new sanctions, Bosworth said the United States is prepared to do what is needed. He refused to clarify.
But he was clear in saying that the United States does not intend to change the North Korean regime through force.
Bosworth was previously a U.S. ambassador to Tunisia, the Philippines, and South Korea.
He said, “The choices for the future are North Korea’s.”