Gardner Statement on THAAD Deployment in South Korea

Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) released the below statement after the United States and South Korea agreed to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system to protect against the North Korean threat. 


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. 


“The deployment of THAAD is recognition of North Korea’s increasingly belligerent behavior and will intensify our defense capabilities in South Korea to protect the tens of thousands of Americans who serve in the region as well as our allies,” said Gardner. “It’s reassuring that the Obama Administration is finally taking steps to move away from its failed policy of strategic patience toward Pyongyang. I call on the Administration to further implement my North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act and pursue additional military and missile defense cooperation with our allies South Korea and Japan to deter the threat from Pyongyang.”


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.




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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