Sanction North Korea’s Forgotten Maniac

Chaos in the Middle East has diverted Western eyes, but Kim Jong Un’s reign of terror in North Korea continues. Last month one high-ranking official was conspicuously absent from an important military funeral, leading to speculation of a new purge. On Oct. 10, North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party with a military parade. “Our party can confidently state,” Mr. Kim said in a speech, “that our revolutionary armament today can deal with any kind of war U.S. imperialists ask for.”

It is time for the U.S. to counter this forgotten maniac. North Korea is a proliferator that has tested nuclear weapons on three separate occasions in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. This past weekend it test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine. That attempt failed, but Mr. Kim will try again. “They have the weapons, and they have the ability to miniaturize those weapons, and they have the ability to put them on a rocket that can range the homelands,” Adm. William Gortney, head of the U.S. Northern Command, said in October.

North Korea is building cyberwar capabilities, as evidenced by its attack on South Korean financial systems in 2013 and the hack of Sony Pictures last year. It would be reckless to underestimate the regime’s ability to damage American national or economic security through a cyberattack.

Finally, Mr. Kim’s regime maintains a network of political prison camps that hold as many as 200,000 people. A 2014 United Nations inquiry found “widespread and gross human rights violations” that “entailed crimes against humanity.”

The Obama administration’s policy toward North Korea—once described by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “strategic patience”—has been a strategic failure. We cannot stand by as the Kim regime builds its arsenal, intensifies its cyberespionage and tortures its own people.

It is time to ratchet up the pressure. That is why I’ve introduced the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act. This bill would require the president to impose sanctions on people who have contributed to North Korea’s nuclear program, enabled its human rights abuses, and engaged in money laundering, counterfeiting or drug trafficking that benefits the regime.

North Korea skirts financial sanctions by setting up shell companies in countries like China. This bill would add pressure by asking the Treasury Department to designate North Korea “a country of primary money laundering concern” under the Patriot Act.

Similarly, North Korea evades U.N. embargoes on arms trafficking. This bill would authorize the Department of Homeland Security to seize any ships the regime uses for smuggling if they enter U.S. waters. It also asks the president to identify foreign ports that are not doing enough to prevent smuggling.

North Korea pledged to dismantle its nuclear program more than 20 years ago. But the regime has no respect for international agreements or norms. If the U.S. does not pursue increased sanctions, the threat will only grow. Now is the time to enact a strategy to quell North Korea’s aggression—to give our allies in the region a reason to trust us, and our enemies a reason to fear us.

Mr. Gardner, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Colorado.

By:  Senator Cory Gardner
Source: Wall Street Journal