January 31, 2017

Corker: U.S. Must Challenge Existing Assumptions in Addressing North Korean Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Threat

WASHINGTON – During a hearing to consider options for addressing the growing North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile threat, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today urged the U.S. to “challenge existing assumptions and explore policy alternatives”, noting that even as the U.S. ramped up sanctions targeting Pyongyang, the “current approach is not working” to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

“For nearly three decades, successive Republican and Democratic administrations have pursued the seemingly elusive goal of North Korean denuclearization with little to show for their efforts,” said Corker. “Pyongyang increasingly appears to be on a trajectory to have the capability to launch an ICBM capable of reaching the continental United States – a missile that could possibly carry a miniaturized nuclear device. Something’s obviously got to give.”

While acknowledging traditional mechanisms to incentivize a shift in North Korea’s behavior may continue to play a role, he insisted the U.S. must face tough questions about whether preemptive action and exploiting regime instability need to be considered.

“Of course, in spite of their shortcomings, diplomacy, deterrence and sanctions remain important tools. And we should redouble our efforts to enforce sanctions and work with our Japanese and South Korean allies to strengthen deterrence capabilities,” added Corker. “However, as we find ourselves staring down the barrel of a North Korean ICBM, we have an obligation to the American people to challenge existing assumptions and explore policy alternatives.”

Complete text of Corker’s opening statement is available here. Click here for testimony and archived video coverage of the hearing.