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 CornynThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges MORE (Texas) and Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP strategist predicts Biden will win nomination, cites fundraising strength 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters MORE (Texas), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts Hickenlooper announces Senate bid Poll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado MORE (Colo.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (Utah), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeMcConnell, allies lean into Twitter, media 'war' Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid 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 MnuchinTrump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week Democrats push judge for quick action on Trump tax returns lawsuit Five key players in Trump's trade battles 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.