Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee’s Ranking Member, introduced the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act (H.R. 757), legislation that 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 cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, the bipartisan legislation targets North Korea’s access to the hard currency and other goods that help keep the 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 recent U.N. report found that the regime’s abuses have no “parallel in the contemporary world.”
On the legislation’s introduction, Chairman Royce said: “North Korea continues to threaten the United States and our close allies with its nuclear, missile, and now cyber capabilities. I am pleased to join Ranking Member Engel in introducing legislation to step up the targeting of those financial institutions in Asia and beyond that are supporting this brutal and dangerous regime. By shutting down North Korea’s illicit activities, we deprive the Kim regime of the money it needs to pay the generals and to conduct nuclear weapons research. I appreciate that humanitarian groups around the world are strongly supporting this bipartisan legislation.”
On the legislation’s introduction, Ranking Member Engel said: “North Korea is one of the most isolated, cruel and unpredictable regimes in the world. The activities of the Kim Regime threaten regional security through reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons, irresponsibly deploying offensive cyber capabilities, and a range of other illicit activities. The vast majority of North Koreans endure systematic violations of their most basic human rights. Widespread malnutrition, torture, and fear have made North Korea one of the most egregious human rights violators in the post-WWII era. It is past time to hold Pyongyang’s elites responsible for their actions. This bipartisan legislation would strengthen U.S. sanctions and close loopholes used by the Kim Regime to profit from illicit activities. However, effectively enforcing sanctions against North Korea is not something that the United States can do alone—it requires our allies, our partners, and the rest of the global community to join in this effort.”
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;
• goes after individuals that facilitated the cyber attacks against the United States;
• 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;
• 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 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.
Note: Last year, the House passed similar legislation (H.R. 1771) that was introduced by Chairman Royce, with Ranking Member Engel as an original co-sponsor.