Foreign Relations Committee Approves Gardner’s North Korea Sanctions Bill

Washington, DC – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today approved Senator Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) North Korea Sanctions Policy and Enhancement Act. The legislation would impose mandatory sanctions on individuals who contribute to North Korea’s nuclear program and proliferation activities, its malicious cyberattacks, as well as individuals involved in censorship and who have contributed to the regime’s continued human rights abuses. This legislation, if enacted and signed into law, would be the first passed by Congress to impose mandatory sanctions on cybercriminals, providing a drastic new direction away from the current discretionary sanctions. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jim Risch (R-ID), David Perdue (R-GA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Mike Rounds (R-SD) are cosponsors of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act.  

“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.”

As Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, Gardner has long advocated to address the North Korean threat through legislative action. In April, he urged the Obama Administration to act following reports that the regime is expanding its nuclear stockpile. In May, he introduced a resolution urging new sanctions on North Korea in reaction to the regime’s long history of human rights abuses, military threats, and international law violations. In August, he met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and discussed the threat the regime poses to South Korea and the region.

In October, Gardner chaired a Foreign Relations Committee hearing on North Korea and the Obama Administration’s failed policies, and reacted to the Obama Administration’s announcement of limited new sanctions, calling them “not nearly enough.” Later that month, Gardner along with Senators Rubio and Risch introduced the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Gardner discusses the legislation he introduced and urges action against the “Forgotten Maniac.” After the regime’s nuclear test in early January, Gardner responded by calling for immediate action and was disappointed the President failed to mention North Korea or its most recent test during his final State of the Union address. On January 12, 2016, the House of Representatives passed legislation that imposes sanctions on North Korea, and the Senate is expected to act in the coming weeks.


Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy. 

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