Hoeven: Congress Passes Strong Sanctions on North Korea

Senator Spoke on Senate Floor Urging Colleagues to Support the Legislation and Also to Modernize the Nation's Nuclear Deterrent Forces

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to support pending legislation imposing sanctions on North Korea in the wake of that country’s recent nuclear bomb test and long-range missile launch. Following North Korea’s nuclear test last month, a Minot-based B-52 deployed to Guam conducted a low-altitude flight over the Korean peninsula with a squadron of South Korean F-16s in a show of force and unity with our allies.

The Senate approved the legislation this evening with broad bipartisan support, 96 to 0. The House passed the measure last month.

“I urge my colleagues to support the sanctions bill in front of us to put pressure on North Korea financially,” Hoeven said. “I also urge them to support critical investments in our nuclear bombers and cruise missile forces when we consider the annual defense bills later this year. Both sanctions and a modern military are critical to our national security and that of our allies, as well as to maintaining stability in this potentially volatile part of the world.”

The United Nations sanctioned North Korea nearly 10 years ago in response to its first nuclear tests. The U.N. sanctions ban the country’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile activity, blacklist a number of individuals and prohibit the importation of luxury goods by the country’s privileged leaders. Since 2006, however, North Korea has detonated three more nuclear bombs, including the one detonated last month described by the country’s officials as a hydrogen bomb. The totalitarian regime has also conducted numerous tests of ballistic missiles, signifying the U.N. sanctions are not working and stiffer penalties are called for.

The Senate’s North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enforcement Act requires the president to sanction any person, company or government that that trades with or assists North Korea in activities related to the following:

  • Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD);
  • Trade in arms-related materials or luxury goods;
  • Human rights abuses; and
  • Cyberattacks on the United States.

Sanctions may include the seizure of assets, visa bans and denial of government contracts. In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury must determine under the USA Patriot Act whether North Korea is laundering money.  Such a designation could lead to the secretary blocking all of North Korea from the U.S. banking system. Further, the president must withhold foreign assistance for any country providing lethal military equipment to North Korea.

The bill also requires the administration to report on a strategy to implement and enforce multilateral sanctions, as well as a report describing North Korean activities undermining U.S. cyber security and a strategy to combat them; and periodic reports on the human rights situation in North Korea and a strategy to encourage international engagement on human rights issues.