Trump seeks billions to counter N. Korea

The Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is seeking nearly $6 billion to pay for urgent missile defense improvements to counter the threat from North Korea, increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan and fast repairs to Navy ships in the Asia-Pacific theater.

The budget request delivered to Capitol Hill on Monday coincided with tough words for Pyongyang from President Donald Trump during the first stop of his lengthy Asia trip.

Trump sought to ratchet up pressure on North Korea by refusing to rule out eventual military action and declaring that the United States “will not stand” for North Korea menacing America or its Asian allies.

Trump denounced North Korea as “a threat to the civilized” for pursuing nuclear weapons and the development of the long-range ballistic missiles to deliver them.

The spending request designates $4 billion of the total to support “additional efforts to detect, defeat, and defend against any North Korean use of ballistic missiles against the United States, its deployed forces, allies, or partners,” according to the document.

That includes current and projected threats to the U.S. homeland, Guam, South Korea and Japan.

A large chunk of the money would be used for the construction of an additional ground-based interceptor field at Fort Greely, Alaska; the initial procurement of 20 new ground-based interceptors; ship-based missiles; and interceptors for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, a U.S. mobile anti-missile system.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Monday that “all the name calling and all the chest beating” by Trump isn’t helpful and may actually be increasing the risks of confrontation with North Korea.

Van Hollen said Trump’s rhetoric also serves the interests of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by elevating his status “in an international yelling match” with the U.S. president.

Van Hollen is co-sponsoring bipartisan sanctions legislation that would target Chinese banks and other financial institutions found to be assisting North Korea in evading existing financial penalties.

The sanctions bill, which the Senate Banking Committee was to consider on Tuesday, also would punish companies that knowingly import coal, iron, lead and seafood products from North Korea.Speech

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