A Republican senator for Colorado introduced a resolution this week to put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism and increase sanctions on Pyongyang, saying Kim Jong Un’s regime “has a long history of belligerence toward the free world and brutal repression of its own people.” The bill from freshman U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., came as North Korea claimed Wednesday to have the capacity to miniaturize nuclear weapons, which could bring Pyongyang closer to placing a weapon on a ballistic missile.
“The North Korean regime has a long history of belligerence toward the free world and brutal repression of its own people,” Gardner said in a statement issued Tuesday. “It’s clear that the Administration’s current policy of so-called ‘strategic patience’ with regard to North Korea has been a failure, and it’s time to change course. This resolution sends a strong message to the Administration that we must act quickly to address this major threat to the security of the United States and our allies in East Asia.”
The resolution points out North Korea’s “history of military threats, human rights abuses, and violations of international laws and agreements,” according to Gardner’s office. The bill also calls for the Obama administration not to restart negotiations over Pyongyang’s nuclear program “without strict pre-conditions, “including a complete halt of Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, proliferation activities, military provocations, and a significant and verifiable improvement in the regime’s human rights record.”
North Korea was taken off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, which includes Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria, in 2008 after the George W. Bush administration brokered an agreement with Pyongyang to take steps to dismantle its nuclear program, according to the Congressional Research Service. President Barack Obama recently urged for a review of Cuba’s status on the list as the U.S. seeks to normalize relations with its island neighbor.
North Korea claimed on Wednesday it is able to miniaturize nuclear weapons, but the U.S. was skeptical, according to CNN. "Our assessment of North Korea's nuclear capabilities has not changed," said Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “We do not think that they have that capacity.”