Dem pushes amendment to force Trump strategy on North Korea

Dem pushes amendment to force Trump strategy on North Korea
© Greg Nash

In the wake of Pyongyang's latest missile test, a Democratic senator is pushing to add an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would require the Trump administration to submit a North Korea strategy to Congress.

“As we confront the serious threat that North Korea poses to the security of our country, our service members, and our allies in the region, we must have a clear, comprehensive strategy,” Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDems search for winning playbook GOP anxious with Trump on trade Blue wave of 2018 stops in Indiana and Missouri MORE (D-Ind.) said in a statement Tuesday. “That plan must be realistic about our capabilities and the resources it would take to achieve our objectives.”

On Sunday, North Korea conducted its sixth missile test, its most powerful test to date. Pyongyang claimed the test was a successful one of a hydrogen bomb that could be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

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The nuclear test, which followed a slew of provocative missile launches including two ICBM tests and an intermediate-range missile test that flew over Japan, drew widespread global condemnation and alarm.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: GOP chair blames Dems for defense budget holdup | FDA, Pentagon to speed approval of battlefield drugs | Mattis calls North Korea situation 'sobering' Mattis: North Korea situation 'sobering' Trump administration withholds million from UN agency for Palestinians MORE warned of a “massive military response” if North Korea threatens the United States or its allies, and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyTrump administration withholds million from UN agency for Palestinians Trump’s first year in office was the year of the woman Palestinian president blasts Trump in defiant speech MORE warned that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “begging for war.”

President Trump, meanwhile, floated the idea on Twitter of cutting off all trade with countries that do business with North Korea. He also said he would allow allies South Korea and Japan to purchase more “sophisticated” military equipment.

Under Donnelly’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the administration would have 90 days to develop a North Korea strategy that covers the threats posed by the country, the economic and political relationships between North Korea, China and Russia, and a “detailed roadmap” to achieving specific objectives, among other elements.

The administration would also have to identify the resources needed to achieve those goals and any currently existing gaps in capabilities. The plan would need to be updated quarterly. 

Mattis, Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonDecline in US travel spurs business push for visitors Overnight Defense: GOP chair blames Dems for defense budget holdup | FDA, Pentagon to speed approval of battlefield drugs | Mattis calls North Korea situation 'sobering' Mattis: North Korea situation 'sobering' MORE, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsTrump urges House to reauthorize NSA surveillance after ripping it in a tweet Overnight Cybersecurity: Computer chip flaws present new security challenge | DOJ to offer House key documents in Russia probe | Vulnerability found in Google Apps Script Counterterrorism director: Current atmosphere makes job 'more difficult' MORE are set to brief both chambers of Congress on Wednesday on North Korea and other topics.

The Senate is expected to take up the NDAA as soon as this week, or later this month.