By U.S. Rep. Ted Poe

In the Houston Chronicle:


North Korea threatened last week to pre-emptively strike the United States with a nuclear missile.

This may seem like a scene out of some Hollywood thriller, but it’s just another day in the twisted world of the tyrannical regime in Pyongyang. Despite what Dennis Rodman, our newest U.S. basketball-player-turned-diplomat, claims the regime of Kim Jong-Un to be, it is even more reckless than his father’s.

And, unfortunately for the world, at the young age of 30, this dictator isn’t going anywhere. Junior’s threats are backed by extensive propaganda, such as an amateur YouTube video showing the United States under attack. This looks like a kid’s video game to any normal person, but this is the kind of world this maniac dreams of.

Though the young tyrant may not have the capability to follow through on his threats now, in just a short time, this deadly scenario he dreams of may not seem so far from reality.

Last week, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing examining North Korea’s unrelenting pursuit of nuclear weapons and its illicit sale of lethal weapons technology to outlaw regimes, such as Iran and Syria. We must never forget that this dangerous alliance of dictatorships shares a common wish: destruction of the United States.

North Korea’s saber-rattling is not a new phenomenon. Pyongyang has threatened nuclear war for years, without any real repercussions. America’s policy with North Korea must change. North Korea must fear the consequences of even threatening the most powerful nation in the world.

The international community’s policy of non-response has only emboldened the already irrational Kim Jong-Un. Just last month, North Korea exploded its third and most powerful nuclear device in flagrant violation of international sanctions. Why is the regime becoming more reckless with its actions and words? Their tyrannical leader does not fear the response. Historically, after years of no response, why should he?

On numerous occasions since 1994, the United States and ally South Korea have tried to seek North Korea’s voluntary abandonment of its nuclear program. We have offered approximately $1 billion in assistance, and we have received nothing in return. Instead, the Kim regime sold nuclear reactor technology to Syria and advanced its own long-range ballistic missile technology. The Obama administration’s strategy of outsourcing American policy on North Korea to the United Nations is an abysmal failure. To be fair, successive administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have failed to affect North Korea’s behavior. The United States has been played by North Korea. It’s time to recognize the regime for what they are: terrorists. We target and cut off funding for terrorists all the time; North Korea should not be any different.

North Korea’s illicit threats go beyond weapons proliferation. North Korea manufacturers and traffics methamphetamines and heroin, it counterfeits pharmaceuticals and produces the world’s finest fake $100 dollar bills. This is a regime that systematically exports pain and misery on a grand scale. At home, the citizens of North Korea suffer unspeakable hardships simply because the Kim regime is more interested in nuclear bombs than the welfare of its own people. We must disrupt North Korea’s shadowy network of illicit activities the same way we did with organized crime here in the U.S.

So what can we do? We know that North Korea depends significantly on income from its criminal activities to fund not only its weapons program but also the lavish lifestyle of its ruling elite. If we squeeze this revenue stream, then we will put pressure on the regime in a way that no negotiation can achieve. America’s best leverage is this challenge to the Kim dynasty’s grip on power.

In the coming weeks, I intend to work closely with my colleagues on Capitol Hill to identify new policy approaches to put an end to North Korea’s illicit activities. It is time for the U.S. to adopt a bold policy toward the radical government in North Korea. Its continued nuclear proliferation, coupled with its constant inflammatory threats, make the regime a threat not only to its immediate neighbors but the rest of the world.


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