Gardner, Thornberry, Hill react to reports of North Korea’s fifth nuclear weapon test

Legislative leaders reacted on Friday to news that North Korea had conducted its fifth nuclear weapons test and second such test this year.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity, said that North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles poses a major threat to the United States and its allies.

“North Korea’s belligerent behavior must be stopped; it’s imperative we drastically increase sanctions enforcement that my North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act called for, including secondary sanctions against Chinese entities, additional sanctions on the regime’s human rights abuses and cyber sanctions that the Obama administration has still not imposed,” Gardner said.

The North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, which was signed into law in February, would impose sanctions on individuals that contribute to North Korea’s nuclear program, proliferation activities, cyberattacks and human rights abuses.

“President Obama should immediately convene a trilateral summit to discuss the urgency of the North Korean threat and agree on policies that will protect our nations and together effectively deter Pyongyang’s aggression,” Gardner said. “While the administration has finally recognized its policy of ‘strategic patience’ has failed, we must continue to ratchet up pressure on Kim Jong Un’s regime and pursue all available options to counter this growing aggression.”

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said that North Korea’s fifth nuclear test served as a “stark reminder” of the threat posed by Kim Jong Un’s “lawless regime.”

“Furthermore, North Korea has also conducted a record level of ballistic missile tests this year, including an apparently successful test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile,” Thornberry said. “Now is the time for the Obama administration to robustly enforce all sanctions tools at its disposal and to redouble its efforts to strengthen security guarantees and defense relationships with unshakable allies like South Korea and Japan. The wisdom and foresight of President Park’s decision to accept the deployment of a U.S. Army THAAD battery is on display today.” 

U.S. Rep. French Hill (R-AR) noted that North Korea’s nuclear tests proceeded despite sanctions and negotiations in the 1990s that resembled the Iran nuclear deal last year.

“The Obama administration needs to commit to stopping this activity by working with the economic powers in Asia to force the North Koreans to abandon their nuclear program,” Hill said. “(Friday’s) nuke test serves as a canary in the Iranian uranium mine, and it should be treated as such. The president must change our passive approach in dealing with Iran to avoid a similar situation with them down the road.”

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