May 10, 2017

VIDEO: Cortez Masto Discusses Trump Administration’s Insufficient Response to North Korean Nuclear Threat Strategy

At a Banking Committee hearing, Cortez Masto pressed witnesses on whether President Trump has a strategy to halt North Korea’s nuclear program

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, highlighted her concerns with the Trump Administration’s lack of clear strategy or plan to address North Korea’s rapidly growing nuclear program. At the “Secondary Sanctions Against Chinese Institutions: Assessing Their Utility for Constraining North Korea,” hearing, Senator Cortez Masto spoke with expert witnesses, two former employees of the Treasury Department’s Terrorist Financing Division, to highlight her concern about the lack of an apparent strategy to date from the Administration on stopping the nuclear program. She also asked them to articulate the role that secondary sanctions might play, which the Administration is rumored to be considering. The witnesses also agreed with Senator Cortez Masto that the State Department’s current under-staffing is hurting the U.S.’s efforts to succeed in diplomatic solutions to the North Korean nuclear threat.

“What do you both understand to be the Trump Administration's strategy to halt North Korea's missile program, and the role that the secondary sanctions should play?” asked Cortez Masto.

“Typically, there's a focus on how do we turn the pressure up to a level where North Korea is forced to the table in a way they haven't yet been to date—to engage in multilateral negotiations over their nuclear program,” responded Mr. Adam Szubin, former Acting Secretary of the Treasury, and Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Crimes.

Juan Zarate, Former Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism; and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing, spoke on the administration’s current attempts to place “the onus squarely on China to try to resolve these issues [of North Korea].” Mr. Zarate explained that “the overarching theme is can you persuade China, in a cooperative way, to influence North Korea in a way they haven’t to date. How [the Administration] go about doing that, whether or not secondary sanctions should be a part of it, I think, is yet to be seen. I haven’t seen an articulation of this from the Administration.”

Neither Mr. Szubin nor Chairman Zarate were able to speak directly on President Trump’s strategy regarding North Korea.

Watch video of the exchange here.