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Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), passed important and bipartisan foreign affairs legislation to strengthen sanctions against North Korea, combat international human trafficking, and urge Afghanistan to pursue a transparent, credible, and inclusive run-off presidential election next month.
 
A summary of the Committee action, including adopted amendments, will be available HERE.
 
The Committee passed H.R. 1771, the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, as amended, which was introduced by Chairman Royce.  The legislation, with more than 135 co-sponsors and support from humanitarian groups, strengthens existing sanctions against North Korea by prohibiting North Korea’s access to critical resources — such as hard currency and other goods — that keep the Kim regime in power.  Importantly, the legislation holds North Korean officials accountable for gross human rights abuses, which were highlighted in the recent United Nations Commission of Inquiry.  In strengthening sanctions against North Korea, the legislation in no way affects humanitarian aid.   
 
Chairman Royce said:  “North Korea remains one of the biggest threats to the United States and our allies in northeast Asia.  The North Korean regime has repeatedly defied the international community’s efforts to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, repeatedly dangling the “promise” of nuclear dismantlement in order to get existing sanctions eased.  Now, six years since North Korea walked away from the negotiating table, the only thing that has changed since 2008 is that North Korea is closer to miniaturizing a nuclear warhead.  Our North Korea policy has been a bipartisan failure.  Today, reports indicate that North Korea may soon conduct a fourth nuclear test.  And yet, we are told by the Administration that its North Korea policy remains one of ‘strategic patience.’  
 
“It is time for Congress to lead by providing a clear legislative framework for sanctions to deprive Kim Jong Un of his ability to build nuclear weapons and to repress and abuse the North Korean people.  The ‘North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act’ seeks to apply the same type of pressure the Treasury Department successfully applied in 2005, when it targeted a small bank in Macao that was complicit in Pyongyang’s counterfeiting.  This sent waves throughout the international financial system, seriously crimping North Korea’s finances.  This was one of the most effective steps we have taken against North Korea – until it was lifted after a push from the State Department interested in what proved to be fruitless negotiations.   
 
“This legislation enables our government to go after Kim Jong Un’s illicit activities, just like we went after organized crime in our own county – by interdicting shipments and disrupting the flow of money.  These sanctions target North Korea’s money laundering, counterfeiting, smuggling, and narcotics trafficking.  The legislation places an important focus on North Korea’s deplorable human rights violations, by targeting those officials responsible for the torture, gulags, and extrajudicial killings that are sadly a fact of life in North Korea.”    
 
H.R. 1771:
 
·         denies sanctioned North Koreans and their enablers’ access to the United States, blocking all property, including access to the U.S. financial system;

·         calls for a determination as to whether North Korean banks and government entities are primary money laundering concerns, requiring that banks meet strict monitoring and reporting rules when dealing with those banks and entities;

·         provides the Administration the tools necessary to sanction third-country persons and banks that facilitate North Korean proliferation, smuggling, money laundering, and human rights abuses;

·         authorizes the President to sanction banks and foreign governments that facilitate the financial restrictions of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2094, passed in the wake of North Korea’s last nuclear test;
 
·         blocks and seizes any assets connected with North Korea’s proliferation, illicit activities, and human rights violations;
 
·         requires enhanced inspection requirements to ships and aircraft arriving from ports and airports that fail to meet their international obligation to inspect North Korean cargo carefully (This provision is protects the US homeland from ports that deliberately fail to sufficiently inspect North Korean cargo.);

·         holds North Korean officials accountable for human rights abuses.
 
The Committee also passed legislation to combat the growing problem of international human trafficking.  H.R. 4449, introduced by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), requires that certain State Department personnel undergo training to identify victims of human trafficking around the world.
 
The Committee also passed H. Res. 600, introduced by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), which urges the Government of Afghanistan to pursue a transparent, credible, and inclusive run-off presidential election on June 14, 2014, while ensuring the safety of voters, candidates, poll workers, and election observers.
 
A summary of the Committee action, including adopted amendments, will be available HERE.