Congressman: New North Korea ICBM Test 'Probably Put U.S. West Coast in Range'

Congressman: New North Korea ICBM Test 'Probably Put U.S. West Coast in Range'
Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, speaks during a news conference, Thursday, June 15, 2017, at Wyoming High School in Cincinnati. Otto Warmbier, serving a 15-year prison term for alleged anti-state acts, was released to his home state of Ohio in a coma and medically evacuated Tuesday. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

WASHINGTON — North Korea tested a missile today that “probably” demonstrated their capability to strike America’s Pacific Coast, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee warned.

Defense Department spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement today that the Pentagon “tracked a single North Korea missile launch today at about 10:41 a.m. EDT.”

“We assess that this missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile, as had been expected,” Davis said. “The missile was launched from Mupyong-ni and traveled about 1,000 km before splashing down in the Sea of Japan. We are working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment.”

“The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.”

Davis added that America’s “commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats, remains ironclad,” and “we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation.”

Capt. Greg Hicks, spokesman for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, said the chairman and Adm. Harry Harris of U.S. Pacific Command called South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Lee Sun Jin today and “discussed military response options.”

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the missile traveled for about 45 minutes, exceeding Pyongyang’s Fourth of July launch of a Hwasong 14 capable of reaching Alaska or Hawaii by about five minutes. Today’s ICBM splashed down within 200 miles west of Hokkaido.

“The missile North Korea just tested probably put U.S. West Coast in range,” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Foreign Affairs Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee, tweeted. “Now is the time to ramp up sanctions. China cannot have it both ways; it cannot do business as usual with both the U.S. and while subsidizing North Korea.”

“But we need to be ready to talk too, and ready to accept a freeze, something far less than denuclearization for the foreseeable future,” Sherman added.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific, authored the North Korean sanctions signed into law last year and this month introduced a bipartisan bill to block off access to the U.S. financial system from any entity that does business with North Korea. His legislation would also impose new sanctions related to North Korean labor trafficking. Russia, for example, has been using North Korean slave labor to build a World Cup stadium.

“As North Korea’s Kim Jong-un continues to defy international sanctions and threaten the United States and our allies with another ballistic missile launch, our response is clear: we will not tolerate this belligerent behavior,” Gardner said today.

“China is responsible for ninety percent of trade with North Korea and my legislation targets entities involved in these activities,” he added. “I will continue to urge the administration to fully implement a maximum pressure approach and take meaningful steps to stop the madman in Pyongyang.”

North Korea sanctions were added to a Russia-Iran sanctions package that Congress sent to President Trump’s desk this week by a veto-proof margin. The administration has objected to a provision requiring congressional review and approval before Trump rolls back sanctions on Moscow.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said he hopes Trump will now sign the sanctions bill “without delay.”

“I hope that the United Nations Security Council also will take additional measures to address Pyongyang’s wanton disregard for the will of the international community, and the threat that its nuclear and missile programs pose to regional peace and stability,” Cardin said, adding that the latest test “also makes clear that the president’s approach to North Korea is not working, and I call on the president and his national security team to rethink how the United States can best combine pressure, sanctions, our alliances and our military might with agile and forward-leaning diplomacy to seek to effectively address North Korea’s malign ambitions.”

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