During the Korean War, the United States came to the defense of our allies in South Korea who were being invaded by the oppressive government in North Korea. Over six decades later, North Korea remains a great threat to the entire region.
It is no secret that North Korea has been working to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Since their first test in October 2006, they have been making progress in advancing nuclear and missile technology – both above ground and from submarines – despite widespread concern and pressure from the international community. Recently, North Korea successfully tested its fifth nuclear weapon, and potentially it’s most powerful. While it does not appear North Korea can successfully mount a bomb on a ballistic missile, their leader, Kim Jong-Un, is determined to establish North Korea as a nuclear power.
In addition to the nuclear threat, North Korea has demonstrated a record of human rights abuses on its own people and, in some cases, even members of the government who disagree with Kim Jong-Un. There have also been cases of visiting tourists being imprisoned by the North Korean government.
Hostile behavior like this from North Korea is a direct threat to South Korea, Japan and our other allies in the region. If we continue to allow North Korea to advance their technology and continue their human rights abuses, the threat will continuing expanding, and possibly reach our shores.
In a demonstration of strength after the nuclear weapons test, our military conducted fly-over exercises near the border of North and South Korea. While I support our increased military presence, combining these efforts with sanctions could further deter their development of nuclear weapons. Last year, Congress passed legislation to strengthen economic sanctions against North Korea. Even though this was signed into law by President Obama, the Administration has failed to fully implement sanctions and cut off North Korea. This represents another example of America leading from behind rather than being at the forefront of defending freedom around the world.
That is why I believe we need to develop a complete strategy to address our national security threats. This strategy should include building up our military, while also utilizing diplomatic and economic influence. America also needs to engage our allies to help hold tyrannical regimes accountable for their actions. Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republicans have released the “Better Way” plan to improve our national security, which includes some of these ideas to better address the threats we face. Read more about our strategy to keep our country safe and defend freedom at better.gop.
Please be assured that I remain committed to the safety and security of our country. It is my honor to serve you, and I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to call my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-2015, Hilliard office at (614) 771-4968, Lancaster office at (740) 654-2654 or Wilmington office at (937) 283-7049 with any questions or comments you have about issues facing the federal government.
Steve Stivers is a member of Congress from Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.