Sen. Robert Menendez on Sunday called President Barack Obama’s latest round of sanctions on North Korea a good first step, but said the United States should hit harder.
The New Jersey Democrat told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” that the Obama administration should add North Korea to its list of state sponsors of terrorism after U.S. investigators pinned blame on the country for hacking into Sony’s computer system.
He also took issue with Obama calling the hack an act of “cybervandalism.”
“Vandalism is when you break a window. Terrorism is when you destroy a building. And what happened here is that North Korea landed a virtual bomb on Sony’s parking lot, and ultimately had real consequences to it as a company and to many individuals who work there,” Menendez said.
“So I think there has to be a real consequence to this,” he said. “Otherwise, you will see it happen again and again.”
Menendez, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and still the panel’s top-ranking Democrat, was also sharply critical of the Obama administration’s deal to thaw the decades-old economic and diplomatic freeze with Cuba.
He said it will be “difficult” for the Obama administration get an ambassador to Cuba confirmed by the Senate – complicating one of the key components of the deal, as Obama seeks to convert its diplomatic mission in Havana into an official embassy.
Menendez also complained that negotiations for the deal, which spanned for more than a year, all took place without his knowledge.
“What it really is, is about the 10 million people in Cuba who got a bad deal, because what we did here is, we exchanged one innocent American for three convicted Cuban spies, including one that was convicted for conspiracy to commit murder against U.S. citizens, who were murdered by the Castro regime, and, secondly, we got nothing in terms of democracy and human rights,” Menendez said. “We got nothing about political freedoms.”