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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Passes Gardner-Menendez North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), today announced Senate Foreign Relations Committee passage of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016. As part of a more effective U.S. policy to achieve the peaceful disarmament of North Korea and advance human rights, the bipartisan Gardner-Menendez bill will expand and tighten enforcement of sanctions for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development and other destructive activities of the Kim regime. The legislation was offered as a substitute amendment to North Korea legislation (H.R.757) approved by the House of Representatives earlier this year.

“The latest nuclear test is a reminder of the failure of current U.S. and international policy to eliminate the threat of North Korea’s nuclear program,” said Corker. “We need a proactive approach that will more effectively isolate the regime instead of continuing to respond to mounting threats and provocation. Complementing legislation in the House, this bipartisan bill will tighten the web of sanctions as part of an overall policy to denuclearize North Korea and promote human rights within the country. I appreciate the hard work of all involved in this effort and the majority leader’s intention to take the bill up on the floor very soon." 

“I remain very concerned by the threat North Korea poses to the United States, and to our allies and friends in the region,” said Cardin. “North Korea continues to develop their nuclear and missile programs, poses a threat to our allies South Korea and Japan, maintains an atrocious human rights record, and was responsible for the cyber hack of Sony over a year ago. These examples highlight the need for the Senate to act in a unified and bipartisan basis to stand up against this dangerous and oppressive regime. This legislation acknowledges that sanctions and diplomacy are most effective when integrated into a comprehensive strategy that engages all of our instruments of national power, while creating a multilateral effort to achieve this effort. This bill reflects the continued bipartisan effort put forward by Senator Menendez and Senator Gardner and is vital as we consider how best to approach the continue danger that North Korea presents.” 

“The Obama Administration’s policy of ‘strategic patience’ toward North Korea has been a strategic failure. Despite North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests and long record of gross human rights atrocities, which represent a grave threat to global security, North Korea’s Forgotten Maniac has been met with indifference instead of strength. North Korea’s fourth nuclear test earlier this month marks the third nuclear test to take place during the Obama Administration, providing further evidence that Pyongyang’s capabilities are growing and reaffirming that we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the North Korean threat,” said Gardner. “The North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act imposes broad, mandatory sanctions on the North Korean regime in order to apply the pressure required to change North Korea’s pattern of illicit activities that have gone unchecked for too long. I thank Chairman Corker for his leadership, and look forward to this bill moving through the legislative process.”

“Whether it is nuclear proliferation, cyber-attacks or human rights violations committed against its own people, North Korea’s regime -- and now its trading partners -- will know that the United States will not stand for it,” said Menendez. “We’ve taken an important step today, but the enactment of this bipartisan legislation would represent the most meaningful and comprehensive response toward addressing the threat that North Korea presents to our national security interests and the security interests of our friends and allies. I thank Senator Gardner, Chairman Corker and Ranking Member Cardin for helping broker compromise language that builds upon the good work in the House version to target not only banned and illicit activities but also Pyongyang's trade in key industrial commodities, sending an unambiguous signal that any regime that oppresses its people, threatens its neighbors, and violates international will, is going to pay a high price.” 

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.