Sen. Donnelly Calls On President Trump For North Korea Strategy Within 90 Days
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) has called on the Trump Administration to give Congress a strategy within the next 90 days to deal with the threat from North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Sen. Donnelly announced earlier this week that he will push for passage of his amendment requiring the Trump Administration to develop and deliver a plan on handling North Korea within a three-month time period when the Senate debates the annual national defense bill.
Below is the full text of Sen. Donnelly’s speech on the U.S. Senate floor Thursday morning:
I am here today to urge the White House and the National Security Council to develop and deliver to Congress a clear, comprehensive U.S. strategy to address the urgent threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear missile program.
I have introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual national defense bill that we will consider soon, requiring that strategy within 90 days, and I hope all of my colleagues will support it when the time comes.
I am honored to co-lead two Senate panels that have been focused on this threat for years – the Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, where I work with my colleague Senator Fischer to oversee our nation’s nuclear arsenal, missile defense systems and nuclear non-proliferation programs – and the Banking Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance, where I work with Senator Sasse to oversee the development and enforcement of U.S. sanctions laws.
In my role on these two panels, I have traveled to South Korea, the DMZ, and China.
I have met with U.S. forces and foreign leaders to discuss our challenges and our options for overcoming them.
I have worked with colleagues both Republican and Democratic to shape legislation to improve our homeland defenses, strengthen our military, and expand our sanctions in response to Kim Jong Un’s dangerous behavior.
And I have sat in dozens of meetings, hearings, and classified briefings on the subject of North Korea’s nuclear program and what we can do about it.
Just yesterday, every member of the Senate had the opportunity to attend one of these briefings and hear from the leaders of the Pentagon, the State Department, and the intelligence community about our various efforts against Kim Jong Un.
I’m sorry to say, I walked away from yesterday’s briefing with the same concern I have had after every briefing on this subject in the past eight months. We have operational plans for our military and scattered talks among our diplomats – but need an effective strategy.
With each passing week – at times with each passing day – North Korea is making its intentions clear and its progress toward a nuclear capable ICBM known to the entire world.
We see missile tests with growing ranges. Warhead tests with growing yields. Test shots that fly over the territory of our allies, and threats that target our territories. Kim Jong Un says that he wants to shoot a nuclear-armed missile into the United States. I take him at his word, as we all should.
In times like these, it is critical that every move we make be a deliberate one that moves the ball forward toward the outcome we want – the outcome we need to achieve.
We should be doing everything in our power to do that in a way that will not put America’s sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers who make up our nation’s military in harm’s way unnecessarily.
There are more than 20,000 U.S. servicemembers in South Korea. At last count, more than three hundred of them were Hoosiers. Another 40,000 U.S. troops are in Japan and nearly 4,000 on Guam. Not to mention the thousands of Sailors and Marines aboard our vessels at sea in the region.
I have every confidence in the ability of these men and women to defend us. But we owe it to them to make every appropriate effort to end this conflict in a way that doesn't unnecessarily put their lives at risk.
We talk a lot about a “whole of government effort.” But that is not what I am seeing when it comes to our response to North Korea.
I see a Treasury Department that needs to dramatically step up its sanctions enforcement to not just induce pain, but to cripple North Korea’s ability to progress further on its nuclear program.
I see a diplomatic corps grappling with the top national security priority in the Pacific – bar none – lacking the resources, guidance and backing they need from Washington to do their jobs.
I see a U.S. embassy in Seoul with no ambassador.
I see a State Department without key positions filled in areas including arms control, non-proliferation, and Asian affairs.
I see a Defense Department without an Assistant Secretary for Strategy, Plans and Capabilities – or for that matter an Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.
We can do better. We must do better.
This is not a partisan critique. It is not fearmongering. It is not a call to arms.
This is my effort to speak on this floor, before my colleagues and the country, a request we have all made to the White House many, many times.
Give us a strategy on North Korea, and let our county unite behind it.
The country is looking for leadership. The world is looking for leadership. Let’s define our objectives based on the best interest and safety of our country and our allies and develop a strategy to achieve it. And let us work together across departments and agencies, across branches of government, and across party lines to get there.
No more mixed messages. No more bluster. We have to act. And we cannot afford to waste our efforts in chaos and disarray.
We have to continue improving our missile defenses and be prepared to use them to protect our territory and that of our allies.
We have to sanction Chinese banks that do business with North Korea. We have to cut off the lifelines of the Kim regime including oil supplies and foreign currency – not to topple the government but to eliminate their ability to continue down this murderous path.
We have to be doing far, far more to get our partners in the region to do more – allies and competitors alike – in service of a goal we all share.
There is ample support for all of these efforts in Congress.
Senator Fischer and I worked together to provide even more funding for missile defense than the president requested.
Senator Sasse and I have worked together to gather options from some of the nation’s best and brightest minds on how to shape sanctions that could actually impact North Korea’s ability to continue their nuclear program – whether Kim Jong Un agrees to it or not.
And I believe there will be ample support among our allies – and even our adversaries – around the world if we provide the kind of clear, forceful, and effective leadership America has been known for in the past.
There is not a nation on earth that is safer with the existence of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program – and that includes North Korea itself.
However hard the path forward may be, I think we can all agree that the status quo is not enough. It’s not even close.
But we cannot fix that without a strategy.
So I am here today, asking the administration once again, to take that first essential step forward, and asking my colleagues to support my amendment to the national defense bill to require the administration to submit a North Korea strategy to Congress within 90 days.
Photo: Facebook / Sen. Joe Donnelly