North Korea should be hit with severe economic sanctions following the tragic death of Otto Warmbier, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., a member of the House Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, told Newsmax TV.
"We operate under the 'DIME' principle: Diplomacy, information, military, economics," Zeldin told Newsmax TV's Steve Malzberg. "We have to use whatever leverage is available and create new leverage to be able to push back against North Korea's bad activities."
That includes convincing China to exert more pressure on North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un, including access to its shipping and fishing routes and pushback against its ongoing nuclear-attack threats so "this isn't the United States going at it alone," according to Zeldin.
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Warmbier, a University of Virginia student visiting North Korea, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in prison after being convicted of subversion after he tearfully confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner.
He was held for more than 17 months and medically evacuated in a coma from North Korea last week, with American doctors saying he suffered from severe brain damage, although what caused it was unclear. He died Monday at the age of 22.
"I see this as just further confirmation that North Korea is a really bad actor, and we just need to continue to ramp up as effectively as possible our execution of the DIME principle to put North Korea further back on their heels," Zeldin said.
He also spoke about Russia's threat to target U.S. jets flying over Syria.
"It's important to understand that the enemies of our country, they don't respect weakness they only respect strength," Zeldin told Malzberg. "They were used to a foreign policy in Syria where the United States put red lines down and then as they got crossed there was no consequences.
"So with a new president . . . it's important that we take it seriously, we stand our ground, we let everyone know we're not going to get messed with. And as we lay out what our red lines . . . that we enforce them effectively and consistently.
"As far as how serious it is, I really hope that this doesn't get escalated beyond where it is because there are obviously huge consequences and massive capabilities on both sides."
He also said the U.S. cannot be "naive at all in our approach to Russia."
"[Russian President] Vladimir Putin doesn't even think one or two steps at a time," Zeldin said. "He's a type of guy who's clever and thinks five, 10, 15 steps ahead.
"And we need to be thinking even further ahead [for him to] understand that we have the greater country, we have the greater leverage and capability, and there's no reason for us to be outplayed on this complex chessboard that is foreign affairs across the globe."
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