Tipton says US should demand return of USS Pueblo.
It’s certain North Korea will try to retaliate against the US for seizing one of its coal ships, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said Thursday.
“The truth is I don’t think they’ve ever stop trying to undermine our security,” the Republican senator said. “Despite previous negotiations, they’ve resumed launching missiles again.”
Gardner is the chairman of the Senate subcommittee on East Asia and he’s been the lead sponsor of tougher US trade sanctions against North Korea.
US officials seized a North Korean coal freighter Thursday reportedly for violating US bans on exports. Gardner said he didn’t know about the seizure in advance but wasn’t completely surprised.
“I knew the Defense Department intended to ramp up its monitoring of the problem,” he said. “I’m pleased the (Trump) administration is serious about enforcement.”
China is another offender in that it offloads North Korean ships at sea to avoid international monitoring, he said.
Gardner expects the US to demand concessions from North Korea in order to recover the 17,000-ton freighter. What those would include, he didn’t speculate.
Cyberattacks on US companies, computer networks and even electric utilities have been traced back to North Korean computer hackers in recent years.
Gardner said that whatever demands the US makes, getting the USS Pueblo returned should be on the list. The Navy spy ship was seized by North Korea in January 1968 and it has held the ship ever since.
Rep. Scott Tipton, the Republican who represents Pueblo and the 3rd Congressional District, said North Korea should be treated with great skepticism. It has repeatedly shown disdain for any long-term commitments.
“The US should do everything possible to avoid any escalation of military tensions while also holding Kim Jong-Un accountable for his hostile actions,” Tipton said in a statement. “Perhaps the return of the USS Pueblo and the remains of US servicemembers and the return of the North Korean ship could be a first step for North Korea to show their commitment to progress.”