North Korea continues to pose a threat to its own people and the international community. In recent Congressional testimony U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim said, North Korea "continues to violate its commitments and international obligations, and continues to pursue nuclear weapons and their means of delivery as a strategic national priority – all at the cost of the well-being of its own people and while perpetrating horrific human rights abuses against them."
In response, the United States has made clear to North Korea that it stands ready to defend its interests and its allies from the North Korean threat. To that end, the U.S. has strengthened and modernized its military alliances with South Korea and Japan.
Even as the U.S. maintains its deterrence capabilities, it continues to apply sanctions pressure on the North Korean regime. In July, the U.S. Treasury Department announced new sanctions and updated its listing for previous North Koreans sanctions targets to make it harder for them to hide behind aliases and front companies.
Moreover, last year, the U.S. led efforts at the United Nations to sanction North Korea’s major global shipping firm. Since then, this designated firm’s ships have been denied port entry, scrapped, impounded, or confined to their home ports in North Korea, and the shipping firm has lost its contracts with many foreign-owned ships.
Equally, important is North Korea's political isolation. This is driven by the consensus that North Korea cannot fully participate in the international community until it abides by its obligations and commitments. The United States, and its diplomatic partners, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia have all underscored the imperative of denuclearization. Together, said Special Representative Kim, "we call on North Korea to refrain from any actions that would raise tensions in the region or threaten international peace and security."
Through deterrence, pressure, and diplomacy the U.S. and its partners are sending a strong, clear message to North Korea that is must cease threatening its neighbors and respect the human rights of its people.