Lawmakers representing Georgia on Capitol Hill had much to say following the summit held in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un. The two concluded the summit on Tuesday by signing a document reaffirming North Korea’s commitment to de-nuclearization and pledging “security guarantees” to North Korea by the US. WSB spoke with two Georgia lawmakers about their reactions from the historic summit.
“You know the old Chinese proverb—a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and it was a good first step,” said Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson (R).
Isakson said both he and his colleagues couldn’t have asked for more from President Trump’s meeting with the Korean dictator, and that much of the praise is owed to the president.
“I think President Trump deserves a lot of credit for initiating the meeting, being willing to go to the meeting—no American president has done that before in the past—and I think it is going to make a big difference for world peace in the future,” Isakson said.
Senator Isakson, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, highlighted one of the lesser-talked about victories of the Singapore summit: remains of US servicemen that died in the Korean conflict will finally be returning home.
“One of the biggest things that came out of this meeting was the North Korean’s willingness to let us return the corpses, and the bodies, and the graves back to the United States of America for the appropriate burial and that’s the least we could do for those who gave their life,” said Isakson.
According to Senator Isakson, a number of benchmarks are expected to be laid out to be met by North Korea in its path to de-nuclearization, and the senator said he expects President Trump to seek a Congressional vote on whatever final agreement is reached between the two heads-of-state.
“You can’t ask for more than total denuclearization with good verifiable reasons to verify it. That’s the piece de resistance—anything extra is just gravy on top of the dessert.”
Representative Hank Johnson (D), who represents Georgia’s 4th Congressional district, says this summit achieved far less than the promise of de-nuclearization and is a blow to US allies’ defense.
“We’re giving away all of our leverage in return for a photo op. And I think that is not the way we need to do foreign policy,” Johnson said.
Despite the agreement stating that North Korea is committed to denuclearize, Johnson argues that there simply isn’t enough written in the document to explain how that process is supposed to work or how the US plans to enforce de-nuclearization of the region.
“The agreement does nothing to identify facilities for nuclear weapons production or for storage. It doesn’t specify the number of nuclear weapons North Korea has in its arsenal. It doesn’t set up a verification process for the de-nuclearization that Kim Jong-Un promises,” Johnson said.
Additionally, Johnson noted the lack of human rights talks was a missed opportunity. For much of the nation’s history, North Koreans have been severely limited in human rights mostly relating to free speech.
“For us to meet with Kim Jong-Un and the issue of human rights is not fully addressed is a tactical error on our part,” Johnson said.
Johnson argues that the political imagery of elevating Kim Jong-Un to look like a statesman next to the American President does nothing but help Un, and all the US has to show for it is essentially stopping training exercises with a close ally in a an important geopolitical region in the world.
“It is a win-win for Kim Jong Un and overall is not favorable for the long-term US interests, especially as it relates to our relationship with our allies in that part of the world.”