Mr. Speaker, North Korea continues to be one of the great menaces of our time. Its relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them onto American shores, threatens the lives of millions and needlessly risks a major war.
However, this evil regime has not only looked to develop nuclear arms to hold the world hostage and murder countless innocent people. It is expanding its arsenal to introduce some of the most horrific weapons of war this world has ever seen.
Based on what evidence is available, North Korea has built or continues to research a broad range of chemical and biological weapons that could unleash untold savagery on its neighbors and Americans in the region. Furthermore, the regime has amassed the conventional military forces needed to rain down destruction on its southern neighbor on a scale approaching the level of carnage that a nuclear weapon can produce.
Millions of people living in Seoul are within range of thousands of North Korean rockets and artillery. On immediate order from the supreme leader, these guns can bombard the South Korean capital and dozens of communities along the demilitarize zone with high explosive shells and chemical warheads, killing tens of thousands of civilians in the first hour of a conflict.
The urgency of the North Korean threat cannot be understated and must be understood in full context. The regime has shown us its brutality and willingness to use globally condemned weapons.
Just last year, Kim Jong Un’s half-brother was assassinated using VX nerve agent in a busy Malaysian airport. VX is banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention and is more potent than any other chemical weapon devised by man.
Its ability to virtually kill on contact, gives little time to treat individuals exposed. And unlike other chemical weapons, it has the ability to sit for long periods of time where it was dispersed, creating a deadly obstacle for medical professionals trying to respond to a VX attack.
The recklessness of Little Kim’s decision to use it in public place shows how little regard he has for innocent human life. With the availability of drone technology, the North Korean regime could easily spray the nerve agent across heavily populated areas.
It is unclear how we should respond to such an incident. With nuclear weapons, we have a clearly stated policy: if you use yours, we will respond with ours.
We must develop and communicate a clear strategy to how we will respond if Little Kim were to use chemical or biological weapons in his next clash with the U.S. and South Korea. When the Syrian regime conducted a chemical attack on its own people in 2013, then-President Obama did not have a clearly held ’red- line.’
The Obama administration displayed little resolve and did not respond with force—instead it made a deal with the Russians so supposedly destroy the Assad regime’s chemical weapons stockpiles. But last spring we saw the Syrians use chemical weapons again.
Fortunately the Trump administration did not waver, and respond with sufficient force to deter further use of the deadly weapons. This example demonstrates that if we show weakness in the face of these horrific weapons, it will only invite continued use of them.
We should also consider where the Assad regime acquired these weapons of mass destruction. Available evidence points to the Kim regime.
And despite the Obama administrations deal with Putin, reports suggest Assad may be trying to acquire more chemical weapons from North Korea. Last August, the United Nations revealed that two North Korean shipments destined for Syria were intercepted.
While it is unclear what the cargo was, we know they were intended for the Syrian agency responsible for Assad’s chemical weapons program. So while Little Kim may not have ordered an attack with his chemical weapons arsenal yet, he is actively assisting those rogue actors who are using chemical weapons.
Recent reports also indicate that North Korea is developing the means to produce biological weapons on a massive scale. We do not know if he has deployed these new bioweapons, but given the example he has shown with his nuclear and chemical programs, it is not unreasonable to believe they will be soon.
This evil regime has repeated demonstrated that it rarely hesitates when pushing the limits of international resolve. To prevent North Korea from expanding its arsenal of deadly weapons and proliferating them to the world’s worst actors, we must continue to apply all pressure available.
Our sanctions should block all sources of funding and material for this regime. Only when Little Kim feels the pain and sees that his dangerous pursuit weapons of mass murder will result in his own demise, will he be tempted to back down.
America must lead the way, and show that any use of these deadly weapons will be met with a harsh response.
And that’s just the way it is.