(BIVN) – One day before the latest North Korean missile-launch provocation, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was grilling administration officials on diplomatic efforts, involving China, that she suggests do not seem to be working.
On Friday morning, the Defense Department detected and tracked a single North Korea missile launch, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement. The department believes the missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile, as had been expected, Davis said, adding that the missile was launched from Mupyong-ni, and traveled about 620 miles before splashing down in the Sea of Japan.
Rep. Gabbard questioned the effectiveness of U.S. efforts to deter the DPRK actions hours earlier in Washington, during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on U.S interests in the Asia-Pacific.
“The administration has come before our committee and spoken publicly about their focus and efforts on a diplomatic solution and resolution to the North Korea threat and crisis,” Rep. Gabbard said. “With China mobilizing its military along a North Korean border, stepping up its surveillance, it does not appear that serious diplomatic efforts are either working or continue to be underway, beyond saying ‘we think Russia and China need to comply with sanctions’.”
“Can you talk about how this budget actually supports a serious diplomatic strategy in resolving the threat from North Korea,” the Congresswoman asked Susan Thornton the State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. “If so what is it?” Gabbard asked.
Thornton responded that the state department is “trying to build up a pressure campaign so that (DPRK) can change the calculation that they’ve made surrounding the cost-benefit analysis of their weapons programs, and their missile programs.”
This is the transcript from the exchange:
GABBARD: So what happens? What happens next beyond that? What happens next after you started building the global pressure campaign?
THORNTON: We just started building the global pressure campaign, basically in April. We’ve been talking – of course – to the Chinese and the Russians, and other major players. The third change from previous practices is that we have really put the onus on China to do a lot more than they’ve ever done.
GABBARD: Are they?
THORNTON: And they are doing more than they’ve ever done before.
GABBARD: It seems like they’re preparing for something other than a diplomatic solution at this point.
THORNTON: I would not necessarily go quite that far. I think they are very much focused on a peaceful resolution. They do agree that there needs to be an increase in pressure on the North Korean regime. And they want that to happen in a way that brings the north back to the negotiating table as quickly as possible. The problem is that right now the North doesn’t seem to be very inclined to come back to the negotiating table with any kind of serious attitude or proposal. So what we’re doing is continuing to sort of squeeze and close the vice and hope that that brings about a reckoning in that that they’re paying too much for their weapons programs
Meanwhile, in response to today’s North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch, U.S. Eighth Army and South Korean army personnel conducted a second combined training event to exercise assets, including the Army Tactical Missile System and South Korea’s Hyunmoo Missile II, which previously fired missiles into territorial waters of South Korea along the country’s eastern coast July 5.
“The ATACMS can be rapidly deployed and engaged and provides deep-strike precision capability, enabling the U.S.-South Korean alliance to engage a full array of time-critical targets under all weather conditions,” defense department officials said.