Entire U.S. Senate gets briefed on North Korea situation

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Busloads of all 100 senators pulled up to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House for a rare closed-door briefing on North Korea on Wednesday.

Addressed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the senators were given details regarding President Trump’s plans to deal with out-of-control communist dictator Kim Jong Un who has been testing missiles lately and could test his nuclear capabilities at any moment.

After the meeting, senators told reporters that they expect the administration to exert more pressure on North Korea, as well as nudging China and others in the region to take a tougher stance against the dangerous dictator.

“I don’t want to get into the details of the briefing itself, but I think it’s clear that they are going to take more steps, and steps to pressure China as well as others in the region, to get the results we need, which is peaceful denuclearization,” commented Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX.) expressed cautious optimism in early signs that “China is helping and cooperating and reining in North Korea. … Time will tell.”

More financial sanctions against North Korea are being looked at in the administration’s effort to force leaders to negotiate a plan.

Labeling North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism is another option which would spark a barrage of financial penalties on Pyongyang.

Trump faced the expected criticism from Democrats ahead of the meeting.

“[The solution] is not, frankly, going to be through a U.S.-led invasion of North Korea,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, who commented that Trump’s “escalation of rhetoric” isn’t helpful and is “making more enemies than friends.”

Murphy predicted, “It is going to be through a diplomatic effort led by the United States and perhaps China that applies tough sanctions on North Korea.”

“The president’s approach aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners,” said Tillerson and Coats in a joint statement.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, emphasized the need for a “credible military deterrent” and praised the briefing. “I think there is tremendous confidence in the administration officials in key positions. They knew what they were talking about. They were coordinated,” he said.

Democratic Senator Christopher Coons told reporters after the briefing, “It was a sobering briefing in which it was clear just how much thought and planning was going into preparing military options, if called for, and a diplomatic strategy that strikes me as clear-eyed and well proportioned.”

 

H/T: The Hill

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