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.