Connolly Statement in Support of North Korea Sanctions Bill

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Washington, May 2, 2017 | comments

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Korea, delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of H.R. 1644, the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act. Connolly recently returned from visiting the Korean Demilitarized Zone.  


“I rise today in support of H.R. 1644, the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act.

I am pleased to cosponsor this bill, which updates and expands the North Korea Sanctions Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 that was enacted last year.

It is undeniable that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs have accelerated in recent years. In 2016 alone, the regime conducted two nuclear tests and more than 20 missile tests. In response to this threat, the United States helped negotiate the passage of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions 2270 and 2231, to strengthen U.N. sanctions against the regime.

H.R. 1644 builds on these Security Council resolutions by expanding mandatory and discretionary sanctions and authorizing new sanctions provisions related to sanctions evasion, the use of North Korean exported labor, correspondent banking, and trade in oil, textiles, food and agriculture products.

For example, if someone knowingly transfers significant amounts of jet fuel to North Korea, then the President could freeze that person’s assets that come within the jurisdiction of the United States. Vessels that use North Korean ports will be banned from entering U.S waters or using U.S. ports. The bill also establishes restrictions on the use of foreign assistance to any country that violates these provisions.

I want to thank the Chairman and Ranking Member for their leadership and for including my amendment, which will ensure that U.S. sanctions against North Korea do not impede the provision of vital U.S. assistance to developing countries for maternal and child health, disease prevention and response.

U.S. sanctions are necessary but they are not a complete tool to address the threat of North Korea’s impending nuclear development program. The United States must undertake a rigorous diplomatic effort to urge the global community, and China in particular, to use their goodwill, their leverage, to enforce international sanctions and to get North Korea back to the negotiating table.

The Korean Peninsula remains one of the most dangerous flashpoints in the world. President Trump, sadly, has escalated regional tensions by sending mixed messages about the location of U.S. military assets, about his views about Kum Jong-un and how best the United States ought to respond.  That we are going to disabuse ourselves of the previous policy which seems to mean the only policy left is kinetic, a military option. I don’t think that makes anything better in the Korean Peninsula. I thank the leaders for this effort, I think it’s the right way to go, and I support it fully.”


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