I have heard from many of you with questions about the situation in North Korea.
As the Chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I have unique access to information and the key decision makers regarding our national security issues. On Wednesday, I met with Admiral Samuel Locklear, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, for a two-hour discussion on the situation in North Korea. While the briefing’s specifics are classified, what is unclassified is that the United States and our allies are ready to defend our homeland if North Korea wages an attack.
As many of you know, the Korean peninsula was divided at the end of World War II with the Soviet Union governing the northern half while we were given jurisdiction over the southern portion. By 1948, new governments were established: the democratic South Korea and communist North Korea.
The unresolved tensions of the division surfaced in the Korean War of 1950 in which thousands of our brave men and women fought and sacrificed. Although there was a cease-fire in 1953, North Korea and South Korea officially remain at war because a peace treaty was never signed. 28,500 U.S. troops still remain in South Korea.
Over the course of the last few months, North Korea has begun walking an extremely dangerous line. Since December, the country has put an intelligence satellite in orbit, tested a nuclear bomb, and claimed to be ready for pre-emptive nuclear attacks on the U.S. In recent weeks, Kim Jong Un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, has escalated his provocative rhetoric to an especially alarming level.
I have heard, understand and share the concerns many of you have about this serious situation. Here’s some information that I think will interest you.
Very little is known about Kim Jong Un and how he will operate as a leader. He is young and inexperienced and has already taken more aggressive actions than either his father or grandfather. What is clear is that he wants to prove his strength, and he’s been embarrassed by failures of his military and weaponry in the past.
There is no specific information about the timing of a potential attack or certainty that an attack will occur. There has been some speculation, however, that an attack or missile launch could take place on Monday, April 15, which is the birthday of North Korea’s founder and historically a time when the country puts on dramatic displays of military power to draw the world’s attention.
The United States is ready. In a panel before the U.S. Senate last week, Admiral Locklear stated: “I believe we have the ability to defend the homeland, Guam, Hawaii and defend our allies… We’re ready.”
This is a very serious situation. I will continue to monitor it closely and share any information I can with you. As always, please continue to reach out to my office with your questions and concerns.
Member of Congress