NK Sanctions Bill Passes the U.S. Senate 96 to 0

Great news has emerged that the U.S. Senate has passed the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 by a vote of 96 – 0. Below are press releases from the offices of Senator Bob Corker and Senators Cory Gardner and Bob Menendez. Thank you to all of you who wrote letters, signed petitions, and made phone calls.

 

Feb102016

Corker: Senate Passes North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016

“Today the U.S. Senate in strong bipartisan fashion gave our country a more robust set of tools to confront the growing North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile threat.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today said Senate passage of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 (Gardner-Menendez) will provide the U.S. with “a robust set of tools” to confront the increasingly dangerous nuclear and ballistic missile threat from North Korea. The Senate approved the legislation in a unanimous vote of 96 to 0. North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and launched a ballistic missile last week in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. Yesterday in testimony before Congress, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmed North Korea’s progress in expanding production of weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

“Today the U.S. Senate in strong bipartisan fashion gave our country a more robust set of tools to confront the growing North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile threat,” said Corker. “We can no longer afford to pursue a failing policy while North Korea advances its nuclear capabilities and continues to top lists of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, perpetrators of cyberattacks, and systemic violators of human rights. This legislation targets a wide range of the regime’s illicit activities as part of establishing a more effective and proactive policy to eliminate the danger from North Korea’s nuclear program and alleviate the suffering of the North Korea people. Achieving these objectives will require increased vigilance by the U.S. and the cooperation of the international community, especially from China, which must stop preventing the United Nations Security Council from taking further action against North Korea.”

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:

Sanctions:

  • 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.

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Gardner-Menendez North Korea Sanctions Legislation Passes Senate

Wednesday, February 10, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC – With overwhelming bipartisan support, the Gardner-Menendez North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016, passed the Senate unanimously. It now returns to the House and is expected to pass easily.

Four nuclear tests, three Kims, two violations of United Nations Security Council Resolutions and one attempt by North Korea to transfer nuclear technology to Syria later — it is clearly time for the United States to start taking the North Korea challenge seriously,” said Sen. Menendez, senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  “With today’s overwhelming bi-partisan vote, we have taken a major step forward in creating a new policy framework that combines effective sanctions and effective military countermeasures that can stop North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and bring some sanity back to the political calculus.  This new framework leaves no doubt about our determination to neutralize any threat North Korea may present – with robust, realistic diplomacy toward the clear goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.”

“Following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test last month and an illicit satellite launch several days ago, it is evident the regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities are growing, not slowing. At the same time, North Korea has bolstered its cyberattacks and continues to imprison and horrifically torture more than 200,000 of its own men, women, and children,” said Gardner, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy. “This legislation is the first step of building a new policy that will put pressure on Pyongyang to peacefully disarm and cease its violations of international norms. I was proud my colleagues came together to approve the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, legislation that mandates the United States vigorously pursue sanctions against individuals who contribute to the regime’s proliferation activities, cyberattacks, censorship, and human rights abuses. It’s far past time to counter the Forgotten Maniac.”

The Gardner-Menendez North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 would strengthen and expand sanctions against the regime in North Korea by:

  • Requiring the President to investigate any person who knowingly imports into North Korea (DPRK) any goods, technology, service, training, or advice regarding weapons of mass destruction and their delivery; knowingly imports luxury goods into North Korea; knowingly engages in serious human rights abuses or censorship by the Government of North Korea; knowingly engages in money laundering, counterfeiting, cash smuggling, or narcotics trafficking that supports the Government of North Korea or any senior official; knowingly sells significant amounts of precious metals, graphite, steel, coal or other materials in support of weapons programs and other proliferation activities; knowingly exports or imports arms to or from North Korea; or knowingly engages in cyber-terrorism or cyber-vandalism.
  • Requiring a report that identifies severe human rights abusers in North Korea and requiring the President to designate any person listed in the report.
  • Codifying and making mandatory cybersecurity sanctions on North Korea under Executive Orders 13687 and 13694, until the President submits to Congress a certification that the government of North Korea is no longer engaged in the illicit activities described in such executive orders. The legislation also requires a report on cybersecurity strategy.
  • Requiring the President to apply sanctions to those deemed to have undertaken prohibited activities, including blocking assets and transactions in property and interests.  The legislation also allows for the forfeiture of property.
  • Requiring a determination by the Treasury Secretary on whether North Korea is a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern and should be subject to banking-related sanctions.
  • Barring defense exports to North Korea; banning foreign assistance to any country that provides lethal military equipment to North Korea; and barring persons or entities designated for facilitating North Korea’s destructive policies from receiving U.S. government contracts.
  • Providing a carve-out/waiver for humanitarian organizations engaged in humanitarian assistance, and organizations engaged in the identification and recovery of U.S. military personnel.
  • Authorizing, for each fiscal year 2017 through 2021, $3,000,000 to carry out radio broadcasting to North Korea, $2,000,000 for humanitarian assistance, and $2,000,000 aimed at making unrestricted and unmonitored electronic mass communications available to the people of North Korea.
  • Allowing the President to waive any portion of the act, on a case by case basis, if it is in the national security interests of the U.S., or if it is for an important law enforcement purpose.

Despite Prisoner Release, Iran Lacks Religious Freedom

The news has been buzzing with the recent release of four US citizen prisoners who were held by Iran, including pastor Saeed Abedini. We at Jubilee Campaign are very thankful that the Lord has allowed the release of these four persons, who were wrongly imprisoned. Many of you prayed, signed petitions, and wrote letters asking for his release. We all rejoice that Pastor Abedini is finally able to reunite with his family.

Though this is encouraging news, there is still an appalling lack of religious freedom in Iran that cannot be ignored, as religious minorities continue to suffer beneath the strict Islamic theocracy.

Just earlier this month, the authorities of Tehran announced they are going to turn the Chaldean Catholic Church, which was illegally confiscated two years ago, into an Islamic prayer center. Though the community has made complaints about both the illegal confiscation of the church and its conversion to an Islamic prayer center, the special assistant of President Hassan Rouhani, Ali Younesi, has said that nothing can be done to change the situation.

The National Council of the Resistance of Iran reported that according to Ali Safavi of the Foreign Affairs Committee, “The brazen admission [regarding the seizure of the church] displays first and foremost the discriminatory and sectarian policies of the regime vis-a-vis Iran’s religious minorities. At the same time, it speaks to the failure of Western policy to accommodate the regime in the futile hope that it will promote moderation and tolerance on the domestic front.”

Various sources reported in 2015 about numerous arrests and detentions of converts to Christianity who had been caught meeting in house churches. In past years, Iran forcibly closed most Farsi language churches and had closed down the Bible Society in Tehran.

The Shiite Iranian regime is not only discriminatory toward Christians but also other religious minorities, including Sunni Muslims. Last July, a Sunni prayer hall in Tehran was destroyed by the government.

The religious oppression of the Iranian regime is far reaching and pervasive. However, like we saw through the release of Pastor Abedini, we know that the Lord is sovereign and faithful, so we ask for your fervent prayers for Iran, their government and their religious minorities.

To read more about the situation, visit:

http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/society/19736-iran-regime-plans-to-forcibly-turn-tehran-church-grounds-into-mosquehttp://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/society/19736-iran-regime-plans-to-forcibly-turn-tehran-church-grounds-into-mosque

http://us6.campaign-archive2.com/?u=7ec6d7eb2533a90581f839110&id=88a2fa029a&e=c95cc2072f

A Letter from Jubilee Campaign USA/Netherlands

This letter was written in response to the following articles:
http://www.aina.org/news/20160114194252.htm
http://www.aina.org/news/20160112034707.htm

 

To whom this may concern,

Our organisations have been defending Christians across the globe wherever they suffered under persecution. It is an incredibly sad development that so many Syriac-Assyrian and other Christians suffered and continue to suffer in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq. We have been on the forefront in drawing attention to that reality and raising awareness and support for these beleaguered communities. We have always taken the representatives of these communities with utmost seriousness and respect.

We share the grief over every Christian that dies due to the conflict in Syria.

We are however aware that this is not only a religious conflict but also a political one.

In that regard we regret that we need to note that some Assyrian interest organisations have framed a political clash as a religious one. By doing so they apply the religious dimension in such a manner that it contributes to conflict rather than solving it.

It is sad that on January 12th one Syriac Christian lost his life as a member of the Sootoro militia, also known as the Gozarto Protection Force (GPF), in a clash with the Asayish police forces (linked to the predominantly Kurdish YPG). This happened in the city of Qamishli in North-East Syria.

Various Assyrian interest organisations released a statement in which they frame this situation as a clash between Kurds and Syriac Christians. Furthermore they raise the suspicion (without presenting evidence) that the Kurdish YPG was behind the attacks at Christian restaurants in Qamishli on December 30th. Finally they imply that the Kurdish YPG is an Islamic organisation.

This position is misleading and inaccurate.  This statement fails to mention that the Sootoro are part of the Assad regime forces and that they protect regime interests and territory within Qamishli. In that city the Assad regime still controls some quarters, and there have been regularly skirmishes between regime forces and the YPG.

It is critical not to disparage the Kurdish YPG forces, who have served in a peacekeeping role with the support of many Christians in this region.  The YPG protects the areas of the Democratic Self-Administration (DSA) which now stretches across a large part of Northern Syria. To everyone’s benefit and often at great cost of their own lives, the YPG have defeated ISIS forces, who had been spread all along this area. Since 2013 the YPG co-operates with the Christian Syriac Military Council and its policing wing, the Sutoro (which should  not be confused with the Sootoro).  In other words, the YPG and the Sutoro are not in conflict with one another concerning the policing and protection of this region from ISIS.  Furthermore, they co-operate with Arab forces as well in the war against ISIS. The DSA tolerates that the Assad regime maintains some areas within DSA territorry.

These facts alone show that this situation on January 12th cannot be framed as an ethno-religious clash between Kurds and Syriac Christians. These facts make it clear that this was a clash between two different political sides with a sad result. We understand that the Sootoro blocked a road that was needed for and used by both parties. This road is essential for commerce, and its loss would create an unworkable travel routing for access for general purposes.  For this reason, the YPG opposed the blockage, which resulted in the clash.  It is our hope that such differences in opinions in the future would be resolved without escalation, and we call upon all parties to more effectively communicate.

We need to inform the public that many western media who investigated the situation there confirm that the DSA is a secular, multi-ethnic and multi-religious political entity that explicitely rejects ‘Islamism’ and fully implements freedom of religion and human rights. The YPG has been largely cooperative with the DSA, and it is our understanding that in no way is the YPG pursuing an imposition of Islam to the region.  Any implication by the statement that the YPG is seeking an Islamic rule is utterly unfounded.

By purposefully ignoring the context of all of these fundamental facts this political clash is framed as a religious one. We have noted that similar statements have been spread before by these Assyrian interest and allied organisations. We are concerned that the religious dimension here is used as a political instrument under the pretention of persecution of Christians.  Our Assyrian partners disagree with this narrative.

Using the serious persecution of Middle Eastern Christians and the global concern over this issue as a political instrument is a very worrying development. We are worried that through such incorrect and politicised statements the cause of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere is seriously harmed.

We ask therefore that these Assyrian interest organisations end their use of the issue of persecution of Christians in this politicised way. It is their freedom to have a different political view than the DSA but this political conflict should not be framed in religious terms. We also encourage them to consider the future of the Syriac people in that region who can only have a future in coexistence with their neighbours.

We encourage both Kurds and Syriac Christians to continue their current co-operation, and we urge Sootoro and YPG to find peaceful solutions for their differences.

Sincerely,

Jubilee Campaign USA

Jubilee Campaign Netherlands

House votes in favor of North Korea Sanctions; letter sent to Senate calling on similar actions

We are excited to announce that yesterday, January 12th, the United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act (H.R. 757) with a 418 – 2 vote. The press releases below were issued from Congressman Ed Royce’s office and include the Congressman’s floor statement.

Press Release
For Immediate Release
January 11, 2016

Chairman Royce Speaks in Support of North Korea Sanctions

Washington, D.C. – House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) spoke today on the House floor in support of his bipartisan legislation, H.R. 757 the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, to strengthen sanctions against North Korea following its latest reported nuclear test. In his opening remarks, Chairman Royce made clear that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal presents a direct threat to the U.S., and cannot be tolerated.

Below is the text of Chairman Royce’s remarks (as prepared for delivery):

I appreciate Leader McCarthy working with myself and Ranking Member Engel to schedule this legislation for floor consideration.

Last week, North Korea conducted its fourth known nuclear test. The Kim regime has developed increasingly destructive weapons: miniaturized nuclear warheads that fit onto its most reliable missiles, and submarines capable of launching those devices. We cannot stand by and allow North Korea to continue to build an arsenal capable of striking the U.S.

The legislation we consider today, HR 757, is the most comprehensive North Korea sanctions legislation to come before this body. Importantly, HR 757 uses targeted financial and economic pressure to isolate Kim Jong Un and his top officials from the assets they maintain in foreign banks, and from the hard currency that sustains their rule.

These assets are derived in part from illicit activities – like counterfeiting U.S. currency – and selling weapons around the world, and are used to advance Pyongyang’s nuclear program. They also pay for the luxurious lifestyle of the ruling elites, and the continued repression of the North Korean people.

A decade ago, we used financial pressure to target Macao-based Banco Delta Asia for its role in laundering money for North Korea. We cut it off from the U.S. financial system. This led other banks in the region to shun North Korean business, financially isolating the regime. At that time, according to one former top U.S. official, “every conversation [with the North Koreans] began and ended with the same question: ‘When do we get our money back?'”

But this pressure was lifted, prematurely, after Kim Jong il offered to make concessions on its nuclear program – concessions that, ultimately, he never followed through with. What a mistake.

Today, the Obama Administration’s policy of “strategic patience” has failed. A year ago, it promised a “proportional response” to the massive cyberterrorist attack against the United States. But to date, the Administration’s response has been dangerously weak. A mere 18 low-level arms dealers have been sanctioned. Failing to respond to North Korea’s belligerence only emboldens the Kim regime.

Disrupting North Korea’s illicit activities will place tremendous strain on that country’s ruling elite who have so brutalized the people of North Korea. We must go after Kim Jong Un’s illicit activities like we went after organized crime in the United States: identify the network, interdict shipments, and disrupt the flow of money. North Korea, after all, has been called a “Gangster Regime.” Well, this regime is a critical threat to our national security. Under this bill’s framework, anyone laundering money, counterfeiting goods, smuggling, or trafficking narcotics will be subject to significant sanctions.

It is also important to remember the deplorable state of human rights in North Korea. Two years ago, a U.N. “Commission of Inquiry” released the most comprehensive report on North Korea to date, finding that the Kim regime “has for decades pursued policies involving crimes that shock the conscience of humanity.” This bill requires the State Department to use this report’s findings to identify the individuals responsible for these abuses and to press for more ways in which to get information into North Korea.

Mr. Speaker, a return to the strategy of effective financial pressure on North Korea is our best bet to end North Korea’s threat to our South Korean allies, and ultimately, to the American people.

Press Release
For Immediate Release
January 12, 2016

House Votes to Toughen North Korea Sanctions
Washington, D.C. – Hours before President Obama’s last State of the Union address, the House overwhelmingly passed Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce’s (R-CA) North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act (H.R. 757). The bipartisan bill toughens sanctions against North Korea following its latest reported nuclear test.

On passage of his North Korea sanctions legislation, Chairman Royce said: “The Kim regime’s continued efforts to develop a nuclear arsenal is a direct threat to the United States. Now is not the time for more of the administration’s ‘strategic patience.’ It’s time for action. This bill will help cut off Kim Jong Un’s access to the cash he needs to fund his army, his weapons, and the continued repression of the North Korean people.”

NOTE: A section-by-section summary of the “North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act” is available HERE.

 

A letter has also been composed calling on the Senate to take similar action. The letter was sent to Senators Corker and Cardin and was signed by many NGO’s and individuals. Thank you to the Jubilee subscribers that signed this letter!

January 14, 2016

The Honorable Robert Corker, Chairman
The Honorable Benjamin Cardin, Ranking Member
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senators Corker and Cardin:

We are writing to urge you to find a prompt bipartisan consensus to pass tough and effective legislation to freeze the assets of Kim Jong-un’s regime, similar to H.R. 757, the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2016.
Nearly two years ago, a U.N. Commission of Inquiry reported that ongoing crimes against humanity in North Korea have no “parallel in the contemporary world.” These crimes include “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.” If Kim Jong-un acts with such disregard for the lives of his own people, we cannot expect him to show any greater regard for ours. Indeed, one year ago, North Korea’s terrorist threats against American moviegoers extended the long arm of its repression to our own towns and communities.

The U.N. Commission recommended that the United Nations impose targeted sanctions on the North Korean leaders responsible for these crimes. Unfortunately, China has blocked U.N. action. This obliges the United States, as a world leader and the steward of the world’s financial system, to act. In October, a U.N. Special Rapporteur “welcome[d] the steps that some Member States have begun to take on a bilateral basis” to impose targeted sanctions against those most responsible for crimes against humanity.

We understand your desire to give the President flexibility in the conduct of international relations, but Congress has an important leadership role in North Korea policy. Sanctions legislation can give the President new tools to bring positive change to the Korean peninsula, just as they were effective in forcing Kim Jong-il back to the bargaining table in 2005. To be effective, however, such legislation must impose mandatory sanctions on the perpetrators of the worst conduct – North Korea’s human rights abuses, censorship, arms and human trafficking, money laundering, and proliferation. To avoid increasing the suffering of the North Korean people, H.R. 757 carefully exempts food and medicine imports from the sanctions, and provides for humanitarian and national interest waivers.

The Senate has yet to act on similar legislation. Over 1,000 constituents representing every state, including Tennessee and Maryland, have signed in support of companion legislation to H.R. 757. In an election year, when members will soon disperse, this may be our last opportunity to act in this Congress. We urge you to meet this historic challenge.
Sincerely,

US- BASED NGO SIGNATORIES