Every time the North Korean regime makes news for the wrong reasons, the same old myths tend to bubble up. But as with all myths, they simply don’t hold up to the facts. Here are a few we’ve seen on TV, social media and elsewhere over the past 36 hours:

Myth: “North Korea is the most sanctioned country in the world.”

Fact: Serious pressure on North Korea has been applied unevenly, only to be lifted prematurely for promises that never materialized. And as the Wall Street Journal’s David Feith noted, North Korea may not even be in the top five most-sanctioned countries, with Iran, Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe and Belarus facing tougher sanctions. “That began to change only last year,” Feith continued, “…with the passage of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act pushed by Rep. Ed Royce.”

Myth: “We’ve tried to put pressure, through China, on North Korea in the past and it just hasn’t done anything.”

Fact: After implementation of sanctions in 2005 against China-based Banco Delta Asia – which was doing business with the North Korean government – the Kim regime saw its flows of hard currency greatly restricted, reducing its ability to fund its illicit weapons programs. But the sanctions were lifted prematurely for more empty promises from the regime. Third-party sanctions against international banks currently doing business with the regime would have the same effect now.

Myth: “The U.S. has limited options” to address North Korean threats.

Fact: There is plenty of room to ratchet up pressure on Kim Jong Un and North Korea’s ruling class.  One of the best options the United States has is Chairman Ed Royce’s Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act, which passed the House last month by an overwhelming vote of 419-1. Specifically, the bill:

  • Expands sanctions to deter North Korea’s nuclear weapons program;
  • Targets those overseas who employ North Korean slave labor, a source of billions of dollars in annual revenue for the regime;
  • Cracks down on North Korean shipping and use of international ports; and
  • Requires the administration to determine whether North Korea is a state sponsor of terrorism.

It’s time for the Senate to act on Chairman Royce’s bill. Doing so will give the United States powerful new tools to address North Korean threats.