Corker Calls for New Approach to Counter North Korean Threat, Emphasizes Continued Importance of China’s Role and Maintaining Robust U.S. Nuclear Deterrent
WASHINGTON – In today’s hearing to examine U.S. policy toward North Korea, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted the failure of decades of U.S. attempts to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear program and urged the U.S. to consider a new approach to counter the North Korean threat, while still emphasizing the importance of China’s role and maintaining a robust U.S. nuclear deterrent to protect our allies in the region.
“U.S. officials have used diplomacy, energy assistance, financial sanctions, and counter-proliferation tools, including proactive interdiction activities, but despite the varying combinations of tools, we have failed to persuade the North Korean regime to abandon its nuclear weapons program. After nearly 20 years of unsuccessful policies by several administrations, we need a comprehensive review of our North Korea strategy, including harnessing new tools to try to crack the North Korea policy nut. That is why I worked with the chairman and other members of this committee to move forward the North Korea Nonproliferation and Accountability Act which would require the administration to review our approach to North Korea. Undertaking such a review does not require us to abandon diplomatic efforts or terminate sanctions, but it does require us to redouble our efforts to think ‘outside the box,’” said Corker. “It has become increasingly clear that U.S. policymakers ought to pay closer attention to the non-military aspects of deterrence, including efforts to weaken and debilitate the North Korean regime. However, do not mistake my interest in the non-military aspects of deterrence as a call to abandon the military and security aspects of our overall North Korea policy. I firmly believe that a robust U.S. nuclear deterrent is essential to U.S. security and remains critical to maintaining our security commitments to allies in the Asia-Pacific, including Japan and South Korea.”
Noting that China remains North Korea’s primary means of support, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all North Korean trade, Corker also urged the U.S. to “redouble our efforts” to persuade China that the costs of its “continued support for Pyongyang far outweigh the perceived benefits.”
Witnesses at today’s hearing included: Glyn Davies, Special Representative for North Korea Policy, U.S. Department of State; Stephen W. Bosworth, Dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University; Robert G. Joseph, Senior Scholar, National Institute for Public Policy; and Joseph DeTrani, President, Intelligence and National Security Alliance.
The North Korea Nonproliferation and Accountability Act (S.298), cosponsored by Corker, passed the Senate on February 25 and calls for implementation of new sanctions against the dictatorship in Pyongyang, including additional steps by the U.S. and the international community to confront North Korea’s proliferation of nuclear and other dangerous technology.
For more information about today’s hearing, including complete witness testimony and archived footage, visit: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/us-policy-toward-north-korea.