UPDATE : 2019.1.18 FRI 17:40
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Senator says sanctions are only option to rein in N. Korea

Applying economic sanctions is the only option available to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, a United States senator has said, stressing the importance of China's increased role in the process.

"There is really no other option than to continue sanctions. The other option is military conflicts and we must avoid military conflicts," Cory Gardner, Republican senator from Colorado, told a group of South Korean journalists in his office in Washington, D.C. last week.

"It's important that we increase diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea while we prepare for the protection of South Korea and our allies," the senator said. "At the forefront of what we do and the strengthening of our Korea-U.S. alliance are all for the purpose of the peaceful denuclearization (of North Korea)."

Gardner highlighted the importance of China playing a bigger role in pressuring North Korea, saying, "There's much much more that China could be doing as a responsible global power and neighbor of North Korea."

"Ninety percent of North Korea's economy is dependent on China. They get their petroleum from China so we know there are sanctions that have more effect than we are doing today," according to the senator.

He also referred to a bill he has recently introduced, "The Leverage to Enhance Effective Diplomacy," that targets Chinese companies doing business with North Korea, including 10 companies that are responsible for 30 percent of North Korean imports to China.

"We've already had success just by introducing the legislation because the number of those businesses we've identified have already told us they no longer do business with North Korea," he said.

The U.S. and its allies also need to deliver outside information to North Korean people so that "someday people in North Korea will realize that the regime murders its own people and it is not something they have to be destined with," the senator also noted.

Hwi Won  edt@koreapost.com

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