Foreign Affairs Committee Votes to Sanction Growing North Korea Threat
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed H.R. 757, the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act. The legislation, authored by the Committee’s Chairman, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), and Ranking Member, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), strengthens U.S. sanctions against North Korea. Similar legislation passed the House last year, but was not acted on by the Senate.
In the wake of the state-sponsored cyberattack on Sony Pictures, the bipartisan legislation targets North Korea’s access to the hard currency and other goods that bolsters the Kim regime in power. Additionally, it presses the Administration to use all available tools to impose sanctions against North Korea and on countries and companies that assist North Korea in bolstering its nuclear weapons program. The legislation also has an important human rights focus, as a United Nations report found that the regime’s abuses have no “parallel in the contemporary world.”
Upon passage of the legislation, Chairman Royce said: “Last November, with its cyberattack on Sony Pictures, North Korea once again reminded the world that behind its belligerent rhetoric is a country that poses a very real and serious threat to our security. The legislation we passed today is a direct response to North Korea’s continued aggression. At a time when North Korea is closer than ever to miniaturizing a nuclear warhead, this legislation applies tough sanctions against the regime and its enablers. The legislation also shines a light on the gross human rights abuses Kim Jong Un and his top officials inflict on North Koreans.”
Specifically, H.R. 757:
- denies sanctioned North Koreans and those facilitating their weapons programs, access to the United States-- including access to the U.S. financial system—by blocking their property that comes within the jurisdiction of the United States;
- calls for a determination as to whether North Korea is a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concerns--requiring that banks meet strict monitoring and reporting rules when dealing with North Korean banks and other entities – a step that has been used against Iran;
- targets banks that facilitate North Korean proliferation, smuggling, money laundering, and human rights abuses;
- targets individuals who facilitated the cyberattacks against the United States;
- authorizes the President to sanction banks and foreign governments that facilitate the violation of the financial restrictions of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2094, passed in the wake of North Korea’s last nuclear test;
- requires enhanced inspection requirements of ships and aircraft arriving from ports and airports that fail to meet their international obligation to inspect North Korean cargo carefully. This provision is critical as it protects the US homeland from ports that deliberately fail to sufficiently inspect North Korean cargo;
- holds North Korean officials accountable for human rights abuses.
A section-by-section summary of the “North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act,” as introduced, is available HERE. Amendments adopted during today’s Committee consideration will be available HERE.
The text of the “North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act,” as introduced, is available HERE.
Also, the Committee today passed:
- H.R. 400, the Trafficking Prevention in Foreign Affairs Contracting Act (introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)), which ensures U.S. tax dollars do not support human trafficking among the thousands of foreign workers the U.S. government employs overseas.
- H. Res. 53, (introduced by Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL)), which condemns the cowardly attack on innocent men, women and children in the northeastern Nigerian town of Baga.
A summary of the Committee action, including adopted amendments, will be available HERE.