Gardner Reacts to National Intelligence Assessment on North Korea
WASHINGTON – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) today released the following statement after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper announced in his annual Worldwide Threat Assessment that North Korea has restarted its plutonium reactor in Yongbyon. Clapper spoke at a Senate Armed Services Committee and warned North Korea “could begin to recover plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel within a matter of weeks to months.” Clapper also stated that “North Korea has also expanded the size and sophistication of its ballistic missile forces—from close-range ballistic missiles to intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)—and continues to conduct test launches… Pyongyang is also committed to developing a long-range, nuclear-armed missile that is capable of posing a direct threat to the United States.”
“Today’s news comes at the heels of North Korea’s missile launch, providing further confirmation that the Obama Administration’s policy of ‘strategic patience’ has been a strategic failure,” said Gardner. “North Korea announced its intentions to restart this reactor back in 2013, and the Administration has done nothing to stop it. That’s why I introduced the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act to increase pressure on the regime. We can no longer ignore the Forgotten Maniac, and we must do more to deter North Korean aggression.”
As Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, Gardner has long advocated for tougher sanctions on the North Korean regime. He introduced legislation, the North Korea Sanctions Policy and Enhancement Act, which was approved unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 28, 2016, and will be voted on tomorrow, February 10, 2016. The bill imposes mandatory sanctions on individuals who contribute to North Korea’s nuclear program and proliferation activities, malicious cyberattacks, censorship of its citizens, and the regime’s continued human rights abuses. This legislation, if enacted and signed into law, would be the first passed by Congress to impose mandatory sanctions on cybercriminals, providing a drastic new direction away from the current discretionary sanctions.
- In April, Gardner urged the Obama Administration to act following reports that the regime is expanding its nuclear stockpile.
- In May, Gardner introduced a resolution urging new sanctions on North Korea in reaction to the regime’s long history of human rights abuses, military threats, and international law violations.
- In August, Gardner met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and discussed the threat the regime poses to South Korea and the region.
- In October, Gardner chaired a Foreign Relations Committee hearing on North Korea and the Obama Administration’s failed policies, and reacted to the Obama Administration’s announcement of limited new sanctions, calling them “not nearly enough.” Later that month, Gardner along with Senators Rubio and Risch introduced the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act.
- In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Gardner discusses the legislation he introduced and urges action against the “Forgotten Maniac.”
- After the regime’s nuclear test in early January, Gardner responded by calling for immediate action and was disappointed the President failed to mention North Korea or its most recent test during his final State of the Union address.
- Gardner reacted to North Korea’s February missile launch by calling for mandatory sanctions.
Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.
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