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Cardin Praises Bipartisan Passage of Sanctions to Counter North Korean Belligerence

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lauded Senate passage of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016, legislation drafted by Senators Gardner (R-CO) and Menendez (D-N.J.). The bill, which now goes back to the House of Representatives for final passage, will expand and tighten sanctions on people and businesses anywhere in the world that are found to be supporting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  

“North Korea represents a grave and growing threat to global peace and security in its pursuit of nuclear and missile technology that can strike American cities, along with Seoul and Tokyo.  With this overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, Congress has responded to North Korea’s belligerence and provocations and mandated sanctions that will further isolate North Korea and penalize anyone providing assistance to its illicit weapons program.”

“North Korea’s actions demand an international response that supports our shared goal of peace and security. The Congress’ action are the first critical step, but sanctions and diplomacy are most effective when integrated into a comprehensive multilateral strategy, which we are simultaneously pursing at the United Nations Security Council.”  

The North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 includes the following key provisions:


  • The bill requires the president to investigate sanctionable conduct, including proliferation of WMD, arms-related materials, luxury goods, human rights abuses, activities undermining cyber security and the provision of industrial inputs such as precious metals or coal for use in a tailored set of activities, including WMD, proliferation activities and prison and labor camps.
  • The President is mandated to sanction any person found to have materially contributed to or engaged in or facilitated the above activities.
  • Penalties for sanctionable activities include the seizure of assets, visa bans and denial of government contracts. 
  • The President retains the discretionary authority to sanction those transferring or facilitating the transfer of financial assets and property of the North Korean regime. 
  • The President may waive sanctions, but only on a case-by-case basis.
  • The bill requires the Secretary of Treasury to determine whether North Korea is a primary money laundering concern.  If such a determination is made, assets must be blocked and special measures applied against those designated persons.

Strategies and Policies

  • The bill requires a strategy to promote improved implementation and enforcement of multilateral sanctions; a strategy to combat North Korean cyber activities; and a strategy to promote and encourage international engagement on North Korean human rights-related issues, including forced labor and repatriation.  There are reporting requirements related to the above strategies as well as a report on political prison camps and a feasibility study on providing communications equipment to the people of North Korea.
  • The State Department is required to expand the scope and frequency of travel warnings for North Korea.