Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, I rise to speak about the threat from
North Korea to U.S. national security and to our friends and allies in
On May 9, North Korea claimed it had test-fired a ballistic missile
from a submarine, raising concerns across the region. If these reports
are accurate, experts point out that North Korea may have succeeded for
the first time in installing a missile launcher of about 2,500 tons
onto a submarine.
If that is true, with this test, North Korea violated a series of
United Nations Security Council resolutions, including resolutions
1718, 1874, 2087, and 2094.
According to a more cautious assessment from South Korean officials,
it appears North Korea will be able to deploy a fully operational
submarine capable of launching a ballistic missile in only 4 to 5
years. This launch is the latest confirmation of Pyongyang's growing
nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities while the Obama
administration seems to have fallen asleep at the switch with regard to
our policy to deter the growing North Korea threat.
According to the Director of National Intelligence's 2015 Worldwide
Threat Assessment, ``North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs
pose a serious threat to the United States and to the security
environment in East Asia.''
We should remember North Korea has already tested nuclear weapons on
three separate occasions--2006, 2009, and in February of 2013. Most
recently, nuclear experts have reported that North Korea may have as
many as 20 nuclear warheads, a number that could double by next year,
and that Pyongyang has the potential to possess as many as 100 warheads
within the next 5 years.
We know North Korea is a nuclear proliferator. They cooperated with
the Syrian regime on their nuclear weapons program before Israeli jets
destroyed that facility in 2007. We know North Korea's conventional
arsenal is rapidly expanding and threatens not only our close allies in
South Korea and Japan but could also threaten the United States, our
homeland, in the near future.
According to the DNI, ``North Korea has also expanded the size and
sophistication of its ballistic missile forces, ranging from close-
range ballistic missiles to ICBMs, while continuing to conduct test
launches. In 2014, North Korea launched an unprecedented number of
The DNI report goes on to say that ``Pyongyang is committed to
developing a long-range, nuclear-armed missile that is capable of
posing a direct threat to the United States.'' We should not forget
that North Korea is an aggressive, ruthless regime that is not even
afraid to kill its own innocent people.
On March 26, 2010, North Korean missiles sank the South Korean ship
Cheonan, killing 46 of her crew, and several months later shelled a
South Korean island, killing four more South Korean citizens. It is
also quickly developing other tools of intimidation as well, such as
cyber capabilities, as demonstrated by the attack on the South Korean
financial and communication systems in March of 2013 and the infamous
Sony Pictures hacking incident in November of 2014.
We should also not forget that this regime remains one of the world's
foremost abusers of human rights. The North Korean regime maintains a
vast network of political prison camps where as many as 200,000 men,
women, and children are confined to atrocious living conditions and are
tortured, maimed, and killed.
On February 7, 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council released
a report detailing North Korea's horrendous record on human rights.
Here is a description of some of the torture methods common in North
Korea as described by former North Korean state security officials
interviewed for the report.
The room had wall shackles that were specially arranged to
hang people upside down. Various other torture instruments
were also provided, including long needles that would be
driven underneath the suspect's fingernails and a pot with a
water-hot chili pepper
concoction that would be poured into the victim's nose. As a
result of such severe torture, suspects would often admit to
crimes they did not commit.
This report makes for horrifying reading and gives us a glimpse of
the utter depravity of this regime. What then is the U.S. policy to
counter North Korea's belligerence and human rights abuses? The answer
is precious little.
The administration's policy of strategic patience has been a failure.
All that our so-called patience has done is allowed the regime to
significantly advance its military capabilities and to systematically
continue to torture its own people.
I call on the administration to immediately reverse course and begin
the process of applying more pressure to the North Korean regime
through additional financial sanctions, increased military engagement
with our allies in the region, and more assertive diplomacy with China,
which wields significant control over the fate of the regime.
We should never negotiate with Pyongyang without imposing strict
preconditions that North Korea take immediate steps to halt its nuclear
program, cease all military provocations, and make credible steps
toward respecting human rights of its people.
We should not forget that in a deal with the United States over 20
years ago, North Korea pledged to dismantle their nuclear program.
Today, we are reaping the harvest of failed policies of engagement with
a regime that has no respect for international agreements or
As it negotiates with other rogue states that seek to obtain nuclear
weapons to threaten the free world, I urge the administration to draw
the appropriate conclusions from our failed North Korea policy.
As we talk about human rights violations and violations of
international norms, there was a report printed yesterday with the
headline ``North Korea Said to Execute a Top Official, With an
Antiaircraft Gun.'' This is a country violating human rights, killing
its own people, and willing to watch as its own people starve to death.
Now there is a report that they are killing people with anti-aircraft
guns. This is a regime that doesn't deserve strategic patience but
deserves the full commitment of the United States in our efforts to
make sure we are bringing peace to the region and long-term peace to
I yield the floor.
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