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- As Delivered -

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following statement in support of the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2016 (H.R. 757) on the House floor:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this measure, and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

“Thank you.  I want to first thank our Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, for authoring this very good, bipartisan bill.  I am very pleased to be the lead Democratic cosponsor.  I think this is an important bill.  And it ties in with what we’ve tried to do for these past years on the Foreign Affairs Committee.  Being bipartisan and letting politics stop at the water’s edge when we’re talking about international affairs.

“Mr. Speaker, last week’s nuclear test in North Korea was a stark reminder of just how dangerous the Kim regime is.  A nuclear weapon in the hands of a rogue power is a threat to peace and stability around the world.  North Korea continues to have a destabilizing influence on the peninsula and across the region.  And the potential for nuclear fuel from North Korea to end up on the black market and in the hands of violent extremists only compounds the threat.

“Yet despite the burden of some of the toughest sanctions imaginable.  Despite constant pressure from the global community.  Despite the increasing isolation of North Korea from the rest of the world.  Leaders in Pyongyang persist on this dangerous and destabilizing course.

“The latest test demands a response.  We need to work with our allies, particularly South Korea and Japan.  We need to make sure this issue is at the top of the agenda in our engagement with China.  China can have a lot of influence and does have a lot of influence over North Korea.  And we need to act unilaterally to make clear to the North Koreans that their actions have consequences.

“This bill would broaden our sanctions, and strengthen enforcement.  And let me say, I am very proud again—in a bipartisan way—this bill passed unanimously out of the Foreign Affairs Committee. 

“North Korea has become more and more savvy at evading sanctions, and that’s why this bill broadens our sanctions.  The country’s elites do business with shell companies and cover up the money trail.  This allows hard currency to flow into North Korea.  This bill would crack down on this practice and go after anyone helping to prop up the Kim regime through these illegal activities. 

“I must say that I have been to North Korea twice.  To Pyongyang twice.  And we watched in the morning when people were going to work.  The elites do very well there.  It’s just the rest of the country that’s starving.

“And of course, this bill would include the important exceptions for the humanitarian aid that benefits the North Korean people.  We help them with food aid.  We are the most generous country with feeding North Korea.  It’s important to point this out because our quarrel is not with the North Korean people.  It’s with the despot and his aides that run North Korea. 

“We know that the people of North Korea endure deplorable treatment at the hands of a corrupt regime.  I can tell you the country’s citizens deserve much, much better.  That’s why we’ll keep up the pressure on North Korea’s leaders.  And that’s why we need to pass this legislation.  So I urge a yes vote, and I reserve the balance of my time.”