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ICC NOTE: The United States Senate has voted by a margin of 96-0 in approving the latest string of sanctions on the North Korean regime. The most recent sanctions were predicated by North Korea’s defiance toward international sanctions against missile testing as the regime launched a satellite into space last Saturday. Normally increased sanctions would not be unusual however, the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 is the first to address human rights violations within the text. ICC supported the recent sanctions on North Korea as we along with other NGOs signed on to a congressional letter calling for human rights abuses to be acknowledged within the resolution. NK has been listed as the worst place to live as a Christian for the 14th straight year. 

2/11/2016 Washington D.C. (Senator Bob Corker)  – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today said Senate passage of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 (Gardner-Menendez) will provide the U.S. with “a robust set of tools” to confront the increasingly dangerous nuclear and ballistic missile threat from North Korea. The Senate approved the legislation in a unanimous vote of 96 to 0. North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and launched a ballistic missile last week in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. Yesterday in testimony before Congress, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmedNorth Korea’s progress in expanding production of weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

“Today the U.S. Senate in strong bipartisan fashion gave our country a more robust set of tools to confront the growing North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile threat,” said Corker. “We can no longer afford to pursue a failing policy while North Korea advances its nuclear capabilities and continues to top lists of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, perpetrators of cyberattacks, and systemic violators of human rights. This legislation targets a wide range of the regime’s illicit activities as part of establishing a more effective and proactive policy to eliminate the danger from North Korea’s nuclear program and alleviate the suffering of the North Korea people. Achieving these objectives will require increased vigilance by the U.S. and the cooperation of the international community, especially from China, which must stop preventing the United Nations Security Council from taking further action against North Korea.”

The North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016, which was approved unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, includes the following key provisions:


  • The bill requires the president to investigate sanctionable conduct, including proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), arms-related materials, luxury goods, human rights abuses, activities undermining cyber security and the provision of industrial inputs such as precious metals or coal for use in a tailored set of activities, including WMD, proliferation activities and prison and labor camps.
  • The president is mandated to sanction any person found to have materially contributed to, engaged in or facilitated the above activities.
  • Penalties for sanctionable activities include the seizure of assets, visa bans and denial of government contracts.
  • The president retains the discretionary authority to sanction those transferring or facilitating the transfer of financial assets and property of the North Korean regime.
  • The president may waive sanctions, but only on a case-by-case basis.
  • The bill requires the Secretary of Treasury to determine whether North Korea is a primary money laundering concern. If such a determination is made, assets must be blocked and special measures applied against those designated persons.

Strategies and Policies:

  • The bill requires a strategy to promote improved implementation and enforcement of multilateral sanctions; a strategy to combat North Korean cyber activities; and a strategy to promote and encourage international engagement on North Korean human rights-related issues. There are reporting requirements related to the above strategies as well as a report on political prison camps and a feasibility study on providing communications equipment to the people of North Korea.
  • The State Department is required to expand the scope and frequency of travel warnings for North Korea.

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