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Public Statements

The Imminent Threat Posed by North Korea

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. GABBARD. Madam Speaker, I rise today to address the recent developments and the growing instability on the Korean Peninsula.

Today we are seeing an increasingly belligerent hostile stance by the North Korean regime toward its perceived enemies. For some, this may sound like a far-off annoyance, saber rattling coming from the East; however, nothing could be farther from the truth for families in my home State of Hawaii and in Guam who sit as named threats by the increasingly aggressive and unpredictable regime led by Kim Jong Un.

He has demonstrated a pattern of belligerent threats and even unprovoked attacks on South Korea in recent years. This new leader has adopted many of the same destructive policies of the past in his pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities. He's revealed the willingness to sacrifice the safety and needs of the North Korean people in order to advance his hostile, unproductive agenda. Rather than caring for his people, Kim Jong Un remains singularly focused on making provocations and establishing a ``military first'' doctrine.

Along with Guam and Alaska, Hawaii has been placed in the crosshairs of this intensifying threat. It's crucial for the United States, and Hawaii in particular, to take these threats from North Korea seriously. We cannot be complacent. We cannot afford a mistake that puts the lives of our families at risk.

Intelligence and previous missile launches have shown that Hawaii, Guam, and Alaska are within range of North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities. New intelligence suggests that North Korea may be planning multiple missile launches in the coming days beyond the two Musudan mobile missiles it has fueled, raised, and positioned along its east coast.

Our Nation's focus and commitment to the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region now faces a serious test. As we rebalance and realign our presence in the region, it's vitally important that we get it right in terms of the strategy, as well as resourcing.

The United States has an important interest in maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula, as well as in the Asia-Pacific region. We must stand together with our allies in the region ready to respond to any contingency, and we must take a forward-leaning approach to address this imminent threat to prevent further provocations and to protect our families and our national assets.

The international community has clearly stated its opposition to his actions and threats, but we need to ask more of those influential nations that have remained quiet. China, in particular, should be playing a strong role as a deterrent of North Korea's military ambitions.

We're also seeing a destabilizing effect outside of the region as a result of the dangerous partnership between the two isolated rogue states of Iran and North Korea as regimes working together to develop more powerful weapons, missile delivery systems, and nuclear capabilities.

It would be safe to assume that by addressing the threat on our country by North Korea, we are also affecting Iran and their nuclear ambitions.

I commend our military commanders for their firm and confident resolve that they've shown in response to the endless posturing and provocative behavior of North Korea; however, from a U.S. policy standpoint, it's time to make a serious change. Such a change must be comprehensive, carving a new path forward using diplomatic and military means in order to break the cycle of threats that has existed for far too long.

The carrot-and-stick approach that we've taken in the past has not effectively deterred North Korea's nuclear ambitions. To the contrary, we continue to face escalated threats which now extend beyond the region.

Considering the serious threats we face today and the fact that the threat of missile attack on the U.S. is likely to grow, I'm deeply concerned about the President's proposed cuts to the missile defense budget in fiscal year 2014. This is a portion of the budget that should be increased, not decreased, to ensure the safety and security of our people.

In the coming days and months, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in pushing for action and resources to ensure that Hawaii and our country is protected and any potential attack is prevented.

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