GOP senator hits Obama for omitting North Korea from SOTU

Greg Nash

Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBehind the scenes on Day 2 of the Republican convention Lobbyists bolting Trump convention early The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Colo.) slammed President Obama on Wednesday for not talking about North Korea in a State of the Union address that came a week after the rogue state conducted its fourth nuclear test.

“During his final State of the Union address, President Obama acknowledged that ‘our foreign policy must be focused on the threat from ISIL and al Qaeda, but it can’t stop there,’” Gardner said in a written statement Wednesday. “I couldn’t agree with that statement more. That's why I was shocked that the president made no mention of North Korea’s recent nuclear test during his speech.”

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In the section of his address about defense, Obama talked mostly about the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) while giving brief mentions to China, Russia and other regions.

“For even without ISIL, instability will continue for decades in many parts of the world  —  in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in parts of Central America, Africa and Asia,” Obama said, using the administration's preferred acronym for the terrorist group.

Last week, North Korea said it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. World leaders and experts have cast doubt on the claim, but, if true, it would represent a significant step forward for North Korea’s nuclear program.

Shortly before Obama’s speech, the House voted to enhance sanctions against North Korea.

The Senate is expected to take up a sanctions bill introduced by Gardner “shortly,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday.

In his statement, Gardener urged Obama to focus more on North Korea.

“It's time for the United States to make good on its rhetorical promises and lead through action,” Gardner said. “During his final year, I urge President Obama to work with Congress to set an example and send a message to the rest of the world that America will not tolerate North Korea's pattern of belligerence."