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Cory Gardner Is Front And Center On North Korea Threat

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) - The U.S. military flexed its military muscle for North Korea overnight by launching an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile from Southern California.

The demonstration comes after North Korea launched its own ballistic missile on Friday. The Pentagon says it's the biggest potential threat yet, perhaps capable of reaching Denver. The Secretary of State and Defense Secretary met with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about authorization for the use of military of force.

As the tension escalates, one Colorado Senator sits front and center.

Colorado's U.S. Senator Cory Gardner has been sounding the alarm on North Korea for months.

(credit: CBS)

"To have a significant portion of the United States in North Korea's nuclear shadow is unacceptable," Gardner says.

The chair of the Southeast Asia Subcommittee, Gardner stopped short of calling for military action but he says all options need to be on the table, starting with increased pressure on China. As North Korea's biggest importer, he says, it controls 90% of the country's economy.

"The road to peaceful denuclearization runs through Beijing. I think every point of pressure we can bring to bare, whether that's diplomatic pressure, whether that's economic pressure, whether that's continuing to use our show of force exercises deploying missile defense systems in South Korea. We must show China that we are serious and we must demand responsible actions from China," Gardner says.

Gardner has introduced legislation calling for a global embargo of North Korea. It would bar the regime and anyone who does business with it from using the U.S. financial system, including North Korea's top ten Chinese importers. He's also targeting human rights abuses.

"One of the main ways that North Korea gets dollars to prop up its nuclear program is by sending, in essence, slave labor around the globe where they are paid to work in a restaurant in Russia and those wages go back into the Kim Jong Un regime. This is a mad man who's willing to launch ballistic missiles at his allies, he's aimed them at Japan, he's launched them into Japanese waters. Unacceptable what's happening," Gardner says.

nk missile
(credit: CBS)

While Gardner didn't rule out an all-out war with North Korea, he said the consequences would be horrific. Twenty million people live in the Seoul area including tens of thousands of Americans.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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