Sen. Gardner Says It’s “Unacceptable” To Allow North Korea To Maintain Nuclear Program

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NEW YORK (CBSNews) —  Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) said Sunday (Sept. 24) that “it’s unacceptable to allow North Korea to maintain and retain a nuclear program.”

“We have a long ways to go when it comes to the diplomatic runway toward North Korea,” Gardner said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

Gardner’s comments came days after North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters at the United Nations General Assembly that Pyongyang might consider testing a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean following widened economic sanctions against the rogue nation.

Gardner said, however, that as the number one goal for the U.S. will always be the “peaceful denuclearization” of the regime and the protection of U.S. allies and the homeland, there remains “a lot of work to do on the diplomatic and economic side before we think of any other option.”

The Colorado Republican also said “the last eight years of strategic patience led us to where we are today with nuclear tests, and multiple missile launches, and advancement in ballistic missile capability.”

He also called on China to do more in its efforts to “avoid proliferation.”

“China needs to do a better job of taking responsibility to work toward denuclearization of North Korea,” said Gardner.

“China’s responsible for 90% of the economy in North Korea. It’s time they do more,” he added.

In a fiery speech at the United Nations General Assembly meeting, Ri said in response to President Trump’s address to the international body that Mr. Trump is the only person “on a suicide mission,” one that is making “our rocket’s visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more.”

Earlier in the week, Mr. Trump issued a stern warning to “totally destroy” North Korea if the U.S. is “forced to defend itself or its allies.” Mr. Trump has said “rocket man” Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, is on a “suicide mission,” but Ri said “none other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission.”