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Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, announced today that he, Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) are introducing the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2015 (NKSPEA). NKSPEA includes broad new sanctions against individuals involved in North Korea’s nuclear program and proliferation activities, as well as officials involved in censoring the regime’s continued human rights abuses.
In addition to sanctions, NKSPEA contains several corrections to United States policy and strategy related to North Korea. The bill would state that it is the policy of the United States to vigorously pursue sanctions against the North Korean government in order to peacefully disarm the North Korean regime. It would require the President to submit a strategy to counter North Korean cyber-related attacks and impose U.S. sanctions on cybercriminals. It would also codify two executive orders released in 2015 authorizing sanctions against entities undermining U.S. national and economic security in cyberspace. Further, it would require a report by the State Department identifying human rights abusers in North Korea and a report on the North Korean regimes’ political prison camps.
“While much attention has rightfully been paid to developments in the Middle East, we must not forget the severe risk posed by the nuclear-armed and increasingly belligerent regime in North Korea,” Gardner said. “The regime is a menace to the region and to its own people, with a disturbing record of human rights violations. We need a stronger, more focused policy on North Korea, and if the Administration is unwilling to provide it, Congress must act. The new sanctions within this legislation would apply the pressure required to change North Korea’s behavior, and would mandate that the United States finally have a unified strategy for dealing with North Korean cyber attacks. We can’t go any longer without a serious plan to deal with this threat. It’s time to get serious.”
“North Korea remains one of the biggest nuclear threats to the United States and our allies around the world,” Risch said.  “The Obama Administration has failed to take this threat seriously and instead focused on a bad deal with Iran.  It is time for the United States to increase pressure on North Korea and require them to end their nuclear program, stop the cyber-attacks against us, and respect the human rights of their own citizens.  This legislation will help create a clear strategy and impose the same type of sanctions that drove Iran to the negotiating table.   
“While the world is distracted by other bad actors, the North Korean regime continues to flagrantly conduct  illegal arms sales, proliferate sensitive technology, expands its nuclear weapons program conduct cyber attacks, and repress the North Korean people,” Rubio said. “The North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2015 bolsters our current sanctions regime against North Korea. The United States must continue to stand against Kim Jong Un’s tyrannical regime and work to pressure North Korea's leadership to end the modern day gulags that should haunt our consciences.”
Gardner has taken the lead on North Korean policy throughout his first term in the Senate. He pressed for a full investigation into the regime’s role in an assault on an American ambassador. He has urged the Obama Administration to take action to stop North Korean nuclear development. He has secured adoption by the Foreign Relations committee of language calling for a new, stronger policy on North Korea. And in travels to the region, he has met with South Korea President Park Geun-hye to discuss the threat posed by North Korean aggression.
In policy speeches, Senator Gardner has further pressed for a new trilateral relationship between Japan, South Korea, and the United States to act as a regional check on both the influence of China as well as North Korean efforts to destabilize Asia. On Wednesday, Senator Gardner will chair a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing on the North Korea Threat.
A full copy of the sanctions legislation is available here.