Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is the result of both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama making deals with Pyongyang that gave North Korea significant ransom money but failed to secure the hostage in either case. Their focus was on a “deal” rather than a solution. Their foreign policy playbook was to condemn the tests, talk about sanctions and negotiations, then do nothing. As a result of taking the path of least resistance, we now find ourselves in an extremely untenable situation: a nuclear-armed North Korea rapidly increasing their nuclear technology and their delivery capabilities, even as their conventional military assets ensure that any military action could very easily cause apocalyptic death and destruction. The Kim Dynasty is able to flatten Seoul, threatening our 28,000 troops and their families, in addition to millions of South Korean civilians. It is vital that we make it crystal clear, as President Donald Trump has done thus far, that any missile attack upon American civilians will be met with a devastating response from the United States of America. It is further vital that we make it clear to the world, including China, that Nations must now choose between trading with America and North Korea. Our economy is some one thousand times the size of North Korea’s, and this is an asymmetric advantage we must capitalize upon immediately.

Simultaneously, we must ratchet up our missile defense capability and technology at flank speed.

The House-passed NDAA includes an amendment I introduced to begin the development of a space-based missile defense layer; it passed with bipartisan support and it is my hope the Senate accedes to the House-passed language. A space-based missile defense layer would provide us with the ultimate high ground and ensure we could shoot down an enemy missile as it ascends — when it is most vulnerable. This “boost-phase defense” is a capability we currently do not have. Furthermore, we must increase our Ground-Based Interceptor inventory to 100. These GBIs are currently the first and last line of defense against any nuclear missile attack against the American Homeland. Thus, ramping up our missile defense capability, crushing sanctions, along with absolute clarity as to our response to any attack against our citizens will give the Trump administration maximum ability to exert diplomatic pressure on China and North Korea.

It is imperative that we do what is necessary to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear capability. This dangerous and escalating situation cannot be allowed to continue on its present path under any circumstances.

Rep. Trent Franks, Arizona Republican, serves on the House Armed Services and Judiciary Committees.

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