Ernst, Young voice North Korea concerns

Source: KMA Land

By Mike Peterson

(Washington) -- Provocative actions by North Korea have the attention of Iowa's congressional representatives.

Red Oak Republican Joni Ernst joined her U.S. Senate colleagues Wednesday in unanimously approving new sanctions against North Korea in light of its recent testing of a nuclear weapon and rocket launches. Among other things, the bipartisan North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act targets North Korea's ability to gain financing to construct long-range ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. Ernst says the latest North Korean developments were the subject of a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting earlier this week with National Security Director James Clapper.

"North Korea is always at the top of the list," said Ernst, "when it comes to very unstable governments that have access to powerful weapons. That was reiterated by a number of our members, as well as Director Clapper when he appeared in front of us."

Ernst says Congress is also considering a second round of sanctions against North Korea.

"Secondary sanctions, meaning that not only are we sanctioning the government of North Korea," she said, "but also those corporations or people outside of North Korea attempting to do business with North Korea. So, it's an important step forward. Anyone who is trying to provide raw materials to North Korea, which would enable their military and industrial base, and so forth."

Iowa Congressman David Young told KMA News that North Korea's launch of a satellite earlier this week had Washington's attention.

"Basically, they were testing their launching capabilities," said Young, "most likely for future missiles. Right away, the U.N. Security Council called for a special security meeting, condemning what North Korea did. Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives right away, because of some past North Korean, passed a bill to bring about sanctions against North Korea."

Young, a Republican from Van Meter, is also concerned about North Korea's future plans to develop a nuclear reactor, and the threat that country poses to South Korea.

"South Korea is sitting right there under North Korea," he said. "They've suspended their relationships, of course, working alongside North Korea. And the U.S. is talking about helping them place their missile defense system in South Korea. Of course, China opposes that. We need to do what we can do to help our allies and condemn, globally, what North Korea is doing."

Congressional leaders have also cited North Korea's human rights violations as another reason for tougher sanctions.