Ryan, Portman Address North Korea Situation
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan criticized President Donald Trump for his recent rhetoric regarding North Korea’s recent actions. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman endorsed the Trump administration’s approach and called for increased international cooperation.
Trump’s “off-the-cuff remarks,” made during a photo opportunity Tuesday, “are a grave liability, and must end,” Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said in a statement yesterday. The threat North Korea represents is real, but won’t be solved by Trump “being baited into saber rattling from a rogue dictator,” he said.
“Over the past couple days, President Trump has taken one of this world’s gravest threats – nuclear conflict – and treated it in a way that is both reckless and needless,” the congressman said.
“While the United States must always remain resolute in the defense of our homeland, our allies, and our interests abroad – hostile talk often leads to hostile actions, and thrusting our nation and our world into a devastating conflict because of rash and ill-thought-out words is unacceptable,” he continued. “We must be smart and cool-headed.”
Despite Trump and his administration having received regular briefings regarding North Korean nuclear proliferation even before last year’s election, the administration “has hardly lifted a finger to fill key diplomatic posts here and around the globe,” including the appointment of an ambassador to South Korea.
“Any solution to this very real conflict will need to include diplomacy, but I am afraid that as of right now the Trump State Department is not equipped for this task,” Ryan said.
Portman, during an interview on Fox News Channel, discussed legislation he introduced to hold those who do business with North Korea accountable and the need to for the international community to step up and increase pressure on the North Korean regime.
“Ronald Reagan said famously ‘peace through strength,’ ” Portman, R-Ohio, said. Both the president and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have indicated that the United States “will respond and respond forcefully,” but also have opened the door to dialogue, he said.
“I think it’s the right message. The way we are going to solve this thing, in my view, is to get not just the countries in the region but the international community working as one to put pressure on North Korea,” he continued. That’s why the United Nations sanctions are so important, but they only stop about $1 billion of the $3 billion in trade.
During the eight years of the Obama administration “and, frankly, before that,” Portman said, the United States wasn’t effective at stopping North Korea, due partially to the lack of effective sanctions.
The North Korean Enablers Accountability Act focuses on China because China has about 80% of the trade with North Korea, he said.
“We need to really tighten up the noose and we need to be sure that the sanctions are put in place properly at the U.N. — that there is actual implementation by Russia and China — but we go even further and say that if you do business with North Korea, you can’t do business with us and you can’t do business with our financial institutions. That’s our most effective leverage.”
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