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U.S. House Panel Leaders Take Different Views on N. Korean Missile Launch

Dec. 12, 2012 - 04:28PM   |  
By JOHN T. BENNETT   |   Comments
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The leaders of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee (HASC) have very different takes in the wake of a North Korean long-range missile launch.

The Obama administration, in the hours after the launch, condemned Pyongyang’s actions, with National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor issuing a statement late on Dec. 11, labeling it a “highly provocative act.

“This action is yet another example of North Korea’s pattern of irresponsible behavior,” Vietor said. “The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and fully committed to the security of our allies in the region.”

The next day, the leaders of the House Armed Services Committee also weighed in with separate statements that shone a light into their respective worldviews and priorities.

First out of the gate was HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash., who took a big-picture view that urged North Korea to abide by the wishes of the U.S. and other nations.

“North Korea, and its new young leadership, must understand that continuing this pattern of irresponsible behavior will only further isolate the country. Moreover, the new regime in Pyongyang has an opportunity to re-engage with the international community, abide by its obligations and chart a path towards a better future for the North Korean people,” Smith said. “It is disappointing to see that [new leader] Kim Jong-un has decided to use North Korea’s scarce resources to threaten regional stability.”

Smith also urged Beijing, the North’s lone true ally, to do more.

“It is my hope that China will join the chorus of condemnation and use its influence to rein in Kim Jong-un and prevent the regime from committing this sort of reckless act again,” Smith said.

Next was HASC Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., who used part of his statement to underscore what he and other GOP members see as a need to bolster America’s missile defenses.

“Yesterday, North Korea conducted a long-range missile launch that threatens the U.S. and its allies, undermines stability in the Pacific and violates multiple international accords,” McKeon said. “This provocative act is heightened by the regime’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons.

“The regime’s actions highlight the importance of the U.S. deploying a capable national missile defense program, which regrettably has been subject to severe and unwarranted cuts in recent years. As our Israeli allies have demonstrated, missile defenses are proven and vital to national security in the 21st century,” McKeon said. “As chairman, I have opposed reductions to missile defense in the past, and will continue to work for increased funding and more capable systems that help keep our nation safe.”

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