Defense

GOP senator calls on China, 20 other countries to cut ties with North Korea

A Republican senator is calling on 21 countries, including China, to cut off diplomatic and economic ties with North Korea as Pyongyang continues to push forward on its nuclear and missile programs.

"I write to respectfully urge your government to immediately cease all official diplomatic and economic relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), including immediately closing all of your diplomatic facilities in the DPRK," Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) wrote in a letter Monday.

"Now is the time to diplomatically and economically isolate this regime, until it fully and irreversibly commits to peaceful denuclearization. Maintaining official diplomatic relations with a regime that continues to defy international law and threaten nations across the globe only serves to reward nefarious behavior."

Gardner sent the letter to Cui Tiankai, China's ambassador to the United States. He also plans to send it to ambassadors from Brazil, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Sweden and Vietnam, according to a press release.

The letter comes after North Korea's most recent missile test last week, which was the second to fly over Japanese territory. On Friday, North Korea fired what U.S. officials said was an intermediate range ballistic missile.

The missile is said to have flown about 2,300 miles and reached a maximum altitude of 480 miles. That trajectory puts the U.S. territory of Guam, 2,100 miles from North Korea, squarely in Pyongyang's range.

Last week's missile test followed North Korea's Sept. 3 nuclear test. The test was the country's most powerful to date, and U.S. officials are not disputing Pyongyang's claim it was a hydrogen bomb.

In his letter, Gardner also called on the countries to expel North Korea from the United Nations.

"Article 6 of the United Nations Charter states: 'A member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the principles contained in the present charter may be expelled from the organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.' There is no nation on Earth that deserves this dishonor more than the DPRK," wrote Gardner, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy.

The U.N. Security Council last week passed its toughest sanctions yet on North Korea. The sanctions banned North Korean textile exports and capped its imports of crude oil.

Still, they were watered down in order to get the support of Russia and China, which have veto power in the council. The Trump administration originally pushed the Security Council to ban all oil imports and freeze international assets of the North Korean government and its leader, Kim Jong Un.

The U.N. General Assembly kicks off its annual meeting in New York this week, where North Korea is expected to be a major topic.

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