The 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea: A Case of Congressional Opposition to an Executive Agreement and Presidential Foreign Policy

April 2017

American Presidents have increasingly used executive agreements to negotiate deals with other countries instead of formal treaties. Executive agreements conveniently require much less congressional approval than a formal treaty, but also may not be as binding for future administrations. President Clinton made such an agreement in the form of the Agreed Framework with North Korea in 1994 to halt a potential North Korean nuclear weapons program in exchange for the US providing aid and light water reactors to North Korea. As an executive agreement, Congress could not directly block the deal, but opponents of the deal in Congress still found ways to create problems for the agreement throughout Clinton’s presidency. This paper examines the relationship between Congress and the Presidency regarding executive agreements and Congress’ ability to disrupt the agreement through the case of congressional opposition to the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea.