Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Trump and Kim should talk after false alarm

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, said the false ballistic missile warning her constituents received Saturday underscores the importance of the United States and North Korea entering into negotiations toward denuclearization.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Gabbard said calling the experience “traumatic” understates what Hawaiians and visitors went through when the incorrect alert of an incoming missile, urging people to take shelter, went out to over a million cellphones throughout the state.

Gabbard said “there’s no question” that another accident or misunderstanding could actually lead to an accidental nuclear war. She expressed anger at the false alarm, but said it only further demonstrates that President Trump needs to address the underlying reasons that the people of Hawaii and Americans in general are facing this threat from Kim Jong Un’s regime.

“I’ve been talking about the seriousness of this threat for years, since I came here to Congress,” she said. “And I have been calling on President Trump to directly negotiate with North Korea — to sit across the table from Kim Jong Un, work out the differences, so that we can build a pathway towards denuclearization to remove this threat.”

North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapon development last year spread tension throughout the Pacific. The United States has been helping allies in the region, such as Japan, with increased defense capabilities.

Gabbard, a veteran and member of the House Armed Services Committee, said two things have to happen for any negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea to be successful: They have to happen without preconditions, and Americans need to understand why North Korea covets nuclear weapons in the first place.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

She said Hawaiians are paying the price for decades of leaders who demanded unrealistic preconditions for negotiations. She suggested that requiring North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons first would constitute such a demand.

“What would be the point of having a conversation if they get rid of their nuclear weapons?” she said. “There would be nothing to talk about at that point.”

Gabbard pointed out that North Korea has been developing nuclear weapons because it sees them as the only deterrent against the U.S. invading and trying to topple their government. She said this is the result of the United States’ military history of changing regimes around the world.

“North Korea is now in a position where Kim Jong Un is saying, ‘No way, I’m not going to give up these nuclear weapons,’ because he doesn’t see that credible message coming from the United States that we don’t — we’re not interested in overthrowing your government. We’re interested in removing this nuclear threat from our country and the world,” she said.

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