Senate Unanimously Approves Gardner’s North Korea Sanctions Bill

Washington, DC: The U.S. Senate today unanimously 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, malicious cyberattacks, censorship of its citizens, and 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, representing a drastic new direction away from the current discretionary sanctions. 

“The Obama Administration’s policy of ‘strategic patience’ toward North Korea has been a strategic failure and has not stopped the Forgotten Maniac in Pyongyang. Following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test last month, the third such test during the Obama Administration, 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 toward 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.” 

“For too many years, the standard response of Republican and Democratic administrations alike -- whenever North Korea stages a provocation -- has been to dismiss the seriousness of the threat,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “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. With today’s 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 policy 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.” 


  • In April, Gardner urged the Obama Administration to act following reports that the regime is expanding its nuclear stockpile. 
  • In May, Gardner 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, Gardner 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. 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), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are cosponsors of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act.  
  • In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Gardner discussed the legislation he introduced and urged 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
  • Gardner reacted to North Korea’s satellite launch on February 6, 2016 by calling for mandatory sanctions.


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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