Today, the House will begin consideration of Chairman Royce’s Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act, H.R. 1644.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • In a dangerous and provocative move, North Korea test-fired another ballistic missile Saturday.

The regime has now launched at least 49 missiles since 2015 – and preparations for a sixth nuclear test have been underway for weeks.  With every test, North Korea’s program advances.  Many experts believe that the Kim regime will soon have the ability to target all 50 states with an intercontinental ballistic missile topped by a nuclear warhead. 

  • For years, the policies of successive administrations have failed to get North Korea to change its behavior. 

Diplomatic and financial pressure has been applied in spurts only to be lifted prematurely for North Korean promises that have never materialized.  That’s why, last year, Chairman Royce authored the first sweeping sanctions legislation on North Korea to force the Obama administration’s hand.  As Royce noted at the time, the answer to North Korean threats isn’t more “strategic patience,” it’s more pressure. 

  • Diplomacy can work.  But first we have to get leverage.  And leverage comes from real, sustained pressure.   

The Obama administration perpetuated the myth that North Korea is the “most sanctioned” country in the world.  “In fact, North Korea may not even have been in the top five, as Iran, Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe and Belarus faced tougher sanctions,” says the Wall Street Journal’s David Feith.  “That began to change only last year, after Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test, with the passage of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act pushed by Rep. Ed Royce.”

  • Existing sanctions must be better enforced, and new layers should be added.

The Associated Press reports “North Korea is flouting United Nations sanctions by trading in prohibited weapons and other goods using evasion techniques ‘that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication,’ U.N. experts say.” One key source of billions in hard currency for the regime is forced labor.  The New York Times reports “tens of thousands of North Koreans work long hours for little or no pay, toiling in Chinese factories or Russian logging camps, digging military tunnels in Myanmar, building monuments for African dictators, sweating at construction sites in the Middle East or aboard fishing boats off Fiji.”  “North Korean laborers… typically must give most of their earnings to the regime,” notes the Wall Street Journal

  • H.R. 1644 will build on Chairman Royce’s 2016 sanctions legislation, and give the administration important new tools to crack down on the Kim regime. 

It expands sanctions to deter North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile program and enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions – ratcheting up pressure on financial institutions that still do business with North Korea.  It targets those who employ North Korean slave labor overseas.  And it cracks down on North Korean shipping and use of international ports, which will cut down on the regime’s ability to ship weapons and other banned goods. 

You can read more about the bill and download a detailed section-by-section summary of the legislation HERE.