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Engel Floor Remarks on North Korea Sanctions

ENGEL FLOOR REMARKS ON NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS

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WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following statement in support of the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2016 (Senate Amendment to H.R. 757) on the House floor:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I rise in support of this measure, and I yield myself as much time as I may consume. 

“First of all, let me thank Chairman Royce for authoring the bill.  I’m proud to be the lead Democratic cosponsor.  And I’m glad that we’re almost to the finish line.  Just over a month ago, we passed this bill and sent it to the Senate.  The Senate acted quickly to make minor adjustments.  And today we’ll pass this bipartisan legislation and send it to the President’s desk.  This process is a great example of what we can accomplish when we work in a bipartisan way to advance American security.

“And as I’ve said many times before, I am proud of the members on both sides of the aisle of the Foreign Affairs Committee because we have worked in a bipartisan manner.  I would caution all members about leveling political charges when it comes to North Korea.  I’m reminded of the old adage that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. 

“We all know North Korea is a problem.  But let’s not kid itself, kid ourselves: this problem has grown under many Administrations, both parties, and Congresses of both parties.  So when we talk about how we got here, we need to really focus in a bipartisan manner.  That’s what we’re trying to do.

“Because the Kim regime is dangerous.  North Korea’s nuclear program threatens regional stability and global security.  It worries me to think what North Korea’s leaders plan to do with their nuclear arsenal—or who they might be willing to sell nuclear material to.

“And while it’s bad enough on its own, North Korea’s nuclear program is just the top item on a long list of dangerous and illegal activity by that regime.  From cyberattacks to money laundering and counterfeiting.  From human rights abuses, as Chairman Royce has pointed out, to the regular attacks on South Korea, the Kim regime runs roughshod over the rules and norms that guide the global order.

“And yet, they haven’t been deterred by some of the toughest sanctions imaginable.  Or the near universal condemnation of the global community.  Or the deepening isolation of North Korea from the rest of the world.  So we’re left to tighten the screws even further.  That’s what we’re trying to do today.

“We need to work with South Korea and Japan on a tough, coordinated response.  We need to take every opportunity to collaborate on this issue with the Chinese, who wield considerable influence over North Korea.  And we need to dial up our own sanctions and toughen sanctions enforcement.  And that’s exactly what this bill does.

“North Korea is always looking for ways to get around our sanctions.  The sanctions in this bill would focus especially on North Korean elites who conduct shady transactions with shell corporations, then cover up the money trail.  In Pyongyang, the capital, these cronies of the Kim regime pocket the cash while the rest of the North Korean people suffer.

“I’ve been to North Korea twice.  And it’s just sickening that the regime and its friends profit from these crimes while the rest of the country is literally starving.  On that point, this bill includes important exceptions for the humanitarian aid that benefits the North Korean people. 

“Our anger is not with the people of North Korea.  In fact, the United States does a great deal to provide aid to this oppressed population.  But they deserve better from their leaders.  That’s why we should send this bill to the President, and that’s why we should continue to make North Korea a top foreign policy priority.

“You know, the Kim family has ruled North Korea for many, many, many years.   And Kim JongUn seems to be the worst of the lot.  The repressions, the assassinations, the political stranglehold that he keeps the whole country into, in.  And the fact that many people get caught, as Chairman Royce pointed out, in the Gulag.  Families are oppressed; it’s just a nightmare of horrors.

“So the North Korean people deserve better from their leaders.  And that’s why we should send this bill to the President, and why we should continue to make North Korea a top foreign policy priority.  So I’m proud to support this bill.  I’m proud to be the lead Democrat on the bill.  And I urge my colleagues to do the same.  I reserve the balance of my time.”