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KEI Spotlight

North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp Speaks at KEI Event Regarding North Korea and KORUS FTA

December 6, 2017

Dec. 5, 2017 | Washington, DC

Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota spoke today at a KEI event on Capitol Hill. In her speech, Senator Heitkamp addressed issues of importance to her constituents and to the American public, including how to tackle the threat of North Korea as well as the importance of maintaining the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA).

Please find below some quotes from Senator Heitkamp. You can view the full video of her remarks here. You can also read KEI President Manzullo’s opening remarks for this event by clicking here.

Please contact KEI Communications Director Jenna Gibson at for more information.

On North Korea:

  • “I fundamentally believe that America’s greatest assets in fighting this [North Korea] are our allies. And that anything we can do to continue that dialogue with our allies, build that faith, build that relationship, but also make sure that our rhetoric and our message are cohesive and consistent."


  • “I do not believe [Kim Jong Un] is an irrational actor. So where you will hear that he’s crazy, that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s provocative, all of those things are rational acts that work to his benefit.”


  • “We have to begin that process of really accepting that we’re dealing with a nation-state, a dictator, a horrible dictator, whose sole motivation is to maintain power and maintain the North Korean government as it is.”


  • “I’m always amazed that North Korea isn’t the top story of the day. When you look right now at our foreign affairs, when you look at things that are threatening, in a very very aggressive way, our national security, you have to put North Korea at the top of that list. Not only because they can threaten us, but because their capabilities are destabilizing in a region where a lot of people live, and a lot of our allies live.”


  • “We need to beef up our military presence. But equally important, we need to beef up our diplomatic presence and we need a consistency in our message.”


  • “People in my state don’t want to go to war in North Korea. They’ve been there before.”


  • “I believe we need to be realistic about our goals, but we also need to do everything we can diplomatically and economically to curtail this threat. And threatening the South Korean trade agreement is not the thing that I think is helpful in meeting those goals.”


On the KORUS FTA:   
  • “I do not segregate our trade policy from our foreign policy.”


  • “In all candor, the South Korean agreement is good for North Dakota.”


  • “NAFTA informs us on what we think is going to be the trajectory going to the future. And if that is in fact symbolic of what we can expect in terms of trade renegotiations, the current status is not good in terms of multilateral trade or even bilateral trade.”


  • “Do not believe that these trade discussions are not trickling down to the lowest level of economics in states like mine, and in states that want to market products to countries like South Korea.”


  •  “We cannot economically be successful without trading.”


  • “We need to continue having those discussions. I talk to Wilbur Ross, I talk to anyone that I can to try and defend North Dakota’s markets.”


  • “I am deeply concerned and pushing almost daily, that we do not take action that is irrevocable in terms of our trade relationships.”