Key senators warn Trump of North Korea effort on Syria

Key senators warn Trump of North Korea effort on Syria
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Top GOP senators are pressing the Trump administration to respond to and stop North Korea from providing Syria with chemical weapons supplies.

Experts from the United Nations in February found that North Korea has been shipping Syria supplies that could be used to make chemical weapons, with at least 40 unreported shipments from Pyongyang to Damascus between 2012 and 2017.

In a letter, the senators “express our deep concern” regarding the U.N. report, which “exposes North Korean sanctions evasion involving Russia and China.” The letter is signed by Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSuccession at DHS up in the air as Trump set to nominate new head Trying to kick tobacco again This week: Congress returns to chaotic Washington MORE (Texas) and Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem debate contenders take aim at Warren The Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Turkey controversy This week: Congress returns to chaotic Washington MORE (Texas), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerGOP warns Graham letter to Pelosi on impeachment could 'backfire' The Hill's Morning Report - Dem debate contenders take aim at Warren Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (Colo.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals Trump to award Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese Trump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom MORE (Utah), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets Republican lawmaker proposes transferring drone authority to local governments A decade of policymaking failures is to blame for new Syria crisis MORE (Utah), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (Pa.) and David Perdue (Ga.).

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The U.N. report found that North Korea supplied Syrian President Bashar Assad with known elements used in building chemical weapons factories, and North Korean technicians have been seen working at Syrian chemical weapons and missile facilities.

The lawmakers assert that the findings “demonstrate an elaborate and alarming military-venture between rogue, tyrannical states to avoid United States and international sanctions and inflict terror and death upon thousands of innocent people.”

“It is imperative that the United States provides a swift and appropriate response to the continued use of chemical weapons used by President Assad and his forces, and works to address the shortcomings in sanctions enforcement,” the senators add.

The lawmakers ask acting Secretary of State John Sullivan and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinSchumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever The Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Turkey controversy Trump hypes China trade deal as new doubts emerge MORE about further sanctions being considered against Pyongyang, Damascus or countries that act as accomplices “to increase pressure and halt the use of chemical weapons.”

They also want answers on the steps the State and Treasury departments are taking, along with the international community to prevent the two countries from continuing to sidestep current sanctions.

The letter also takes a swipe at the previous administration’s Syrian policy, calling former President Obama’s tough talk an “utter failure” and his actions “hollow.”

The letter comes after last week’s chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma. The attack, reported to be chlorine gas and a nerve agent, killed at least 70, injured hundreds and has been blamed on Assad’s government.

President Trump is now weighing a response to the chemical attack. He and British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed in a phone call Thursday to deter further use of chemical weapons by Assad, but no decision has yet been made on how to do so.