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Corker Statement on President Signing North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 into Law

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the following statement after President Obama signed the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 into law. 

“We can no longer afford to allow North Korea’s rogue regime to enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities without tougher consequences,” said Corker. “This legislation provides a robust set of tools for the U.S. to deter North Korea’s illicit behavior in a more effective manner and promote human rights for the North Korean people. I hope the administration will use this opportunity to take a more proactive approach against the North Korean nuclear threat.” 

On February 10, the Senate passed the legislation in a unanimous vote of 96 to 0 following a day of legislative floor action led by Sen. Corker. North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and launched a ballistic missile last week in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. In recent testimony before Congress, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmed North Korea’s progress in expanding production of weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

The North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016, which was approved unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, includes the following key provisions:


  • The bill requires the president to investigate sanctionable conduct, including proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (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, 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. 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.