Gardner Reacts to Reports of North Korea Nuclear Test

Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity, today released the below statement following reports that North Korea test fired a nuclear weapon.


“News reports indicate that North Korea tested a nuclear weapon, its fifth nuclear weapons test overall and fourth since President Obama took office,” said Gardner. “North Korea’s reckless leader, Kim Jong Un, continues to test nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, which poses a major threat to the United States and our allies around the world. 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.


“As North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and ballistic missile capabilities rapidly develop, we must work closely with our allies to counter this aggression by expediting the timeframe for the stationing of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea, and also enhance the trilateral alliance between the United States, Japan, and South Korea. 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. 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.”


Gardner introduced the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act (NKSPEA), legislation that imposes mandatory sanctions on individuals who contribute to North Korea’s nuclear program, proliferation activities, malicious cyberattacks, and human rights abuses. The NKSPEA was signed into law by President Obama in February of 2016, and the Administration began implementing the legislation in March with the enactment of additional sanctions. In June, Treasury designated North Korea as a “primary money laundering concern,” a move that further isolates North Korea from the international financial system by prohibiting all direct and indirect contact of North Korea-linked entities with the U.S. financial system. Most recently, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, top North Korean officials, and 10 individuals and several entities tied to the regime were designated as notorious human rights abusers as required by Gardner’s bill. The designation marks the first ever human rights sanctions imposed on North Korea and corresponds with the release of the State Department’s report identifying severe human rights abusers, which was also required by the NKSPEA.


Gardner was an outspoken advocate of strengthening missile defense capabilities in South Korea to protect the 28,500 American servicemen and women stationed in South Korea, our allies, and Americans abroad. In May, Gardner introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that expressed support for the deployment of THAAD to complement and significantly bolster existing missile defense technology. In June, Gardner visited South Korea and met with Defense Minister Han Min Koo, National Security Advisor Kim Kwan-jin, and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Lim as well as Commander of United States Forces Korea (USFK), General Vincent Brooks. They discussed a mutual concern for North Korea’s ballistic missile tests and the important role of THAAD in strengthening defense against the regime’s aggression. Additionally, Gardner met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and discussed security challenges last year.  


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.

354 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20515

(202) 224-5941