Dealing With North Korea

Dealing With North Korea
AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File

Editor's Note:  This is an opinion article written by Representative Paul Cook, serving California's 8th District.

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So far this year, North Korea has conducted multiple nuclear weapon tests, a series of intercontinental ballistic missile tests, and has continued to prioritize the development of nuclear weapons over the well-being of its own citizens. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un assumes that provoking the U.S., threatening our allies, and developing nuclear weapons will secure the future of his regime. He is wrong in this assumption. This threat is critical to the national security of the United States and for the safety of the world.

North Korea has disregarded almost every agreement and commitment it has made to the U.S. and our allies. The regime has also demonstrated a proclivity for breaking international law and undermining international oversight of nuclear development. It is imperative that as North Korea’s nuclear capability increases, we continue to put pressure on Kim Jong Un and his regime. 

In response to North Korea’s continued violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions and inflammatory rhetoric, the U.S. has worked with its allies to collectively implement stricter sanctions on North Korea. In August, the President signed into law a sanctions bill that expanded the tools at his disposal to punish North Korea. Additionally, the law required the President to determine whether North Korea should be classified as a state sponsor of terrorism. This designation would give us even more tools to pressure the North Korean regime, and I have urged the President to make this determination quickly. These sanctions are an attempt to bring North Korea to the negotiating table through peaceful means, which is my preference and that of nearly everyone outside of the North Korean regime.

Kim Jong Un’s most recent actions have underscored the seriousness of the danger North Korea poses to Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.. To counter this threat, the U.S. has taken steps to reaffirm our commitment to our allies while also enhancing our own military capabilities. Japan and South Korea are in the most danger of a missile attack due to their proximity to North Korea. Although the U.S. has developed systems capable of stopping an intercontinental ballistic missile attack, our allies are not as well equipped and face different types of threats due to closer proximity to North Korea. That is why we have increased the sales of sophisticated missile defense systems to South Korea and Japan. In the face of an erratic North Korea, it is vital that we take these steps to support our allies.

As the threat from North Korea continues to grow, so does the urgency to defend ourselves and support other democratic nations. First and foremost, our military must be ready and prepared. This ensures that we can enter into negotiations from a position of strength, and should a conflict start, we will be able to defend against North Korean aggression. We must also continue to increase the pressure on this rogue state with sanctions. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to develop new sanctions against North Korea and bring them to the negotiating table. However, if negotiations fail, our military and those of our allies must be equipped to respond to the threat.

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