New U.S. deal props up North Korean tyranny, again

By:  Sen. Jim Inhofe
Washington Examiner

The Washington Examiner

New U.S. deal props up North Korean tyranny, again

By: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Link to Op-Ed  

North Korea has concluded and broken six agreements to abandon their nuclear weapons program with the United States and world community since 1992. 

A recently reached new deal is history repeating itself with the United States offering food aid in exchange for promises about the North's nuclear program. 

Instead of negotiating from a position of strength, the Obama administration played the role of Charlie Brown with North Korea as Lucy, promising this time we will be able to kick that elusive football. 

Rather than following the same failed efforts of the past, the United States should have seen this as an opportunity to bring about meaningful change, taking a different tack. 

Despite nutritional assistance that has been provided in the past by the United States and world organizations, the malnourished North Korean population continues to starve because our assistance largely feeds the North Korean military and empowers the country's leaders. 

President Reagan famously said "a starving child knows no politics." Just as the passing last year of Kim Jong-il provided an opportunity and glimmer of hope for meaningful change, the recent food shortages also provide an opportunity that the United States and others should seize. 

Hard weather conditions and floods over the course of the past year have exacerbated North Korea's usual horrid food situation. Daily rations for the people have dropped to little more than a bowl of cereal each day. 

Despite these harsher-than-normal conditions, the North Korean government -- until recently -- had decided that government funds were best used to further fund its nuclear program rather than feed the starving people. 

The speed at which the North Korean government reached this new agreement should say something. It demonstrates the regime's desperate need to be propped up by U.S. assistance again. 

Food shortages worse than usual and a new regime likely means that the North Korean government has made a calculated decision that making this deal in the short term is what they need to do to maintain control. Controlling food is one way they control society, and using their nuclear program as a pawn is how they hold the world hostage. 

Unfortunately, rather than seeing this opportunity for what it is -- a chance to bring change that frees the people of North Korea -- President Obama blinked and played right into the North's hand. 

Under the new agreement, U.S. taxpayers will be the unwilling cash cow for the Kim family's Mafia-style dictatorship with virtually nothing to show for helping the people of North Korea or eliminating the threat of nuclear proliferation. 

In exchange for 240,000 metric tons of food provided by U.S. taxpayers, North Korea says it will allow inspectors and suspend its nuclear testing and uranium enrichment program at one facility.In reality, Obama has put the United States on the hook to help the brutal dictatorship stockpile food -- strengthening the very hand that is oppressing the people of North Korea. 

Some reports suggest the North's government is saving up food so that it can benevolently distribute it later this year during the centenary celebration of its founder Kim Il-sung. While Obama has gained quite a reputation for being the Partier-in-Chief, this is one shindig we shouldn't be helping supply. 

If Obama thinks this latest nonproliferation agreement will be honored, he is naive. And that endangers us all. When this deal falls apart, just like all the ones before it, hopefully it will not be too late to find a different approach that avoids propping up the dictatorial regime. 

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs and a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.