Senate leaders support approval of Russia, North Korea, Iran sanctions bill

The Senate’s vote last week to ramp up sanctions on Russia, North Korea and Iran was lauded by U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) as a necessary step to shore up national security.

The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which was approved on a bipartisan vote of 98-2, is comprised of three individual sanctions bills: the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, the Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017 and the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act.

“Iran, Russia and North Korea pose serious threats to the national security of the United States and our allies,” Capito said. “This bipartisan legislation sends a clear message that Congress intends to hold these bad actors accountable and is united in its resolve against the security threats posed by these nations. I urge President Trump to swiftly sign this bill into law.”

In supporting the bill, Ernst reiterated that “Russia is not our friend” and poses serious threats through its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its annexation of Crimea and its “malicious” cyber activity.

“Additionally, Iran continues its ballistic missile program and support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah,” Ernst said. “Meanwhile, North Korea, which Secretary of Defense James Mattis cited as the ‘most urgent and dangerous threat’, continues to defy the U.S. by expanding nuclear and ballistic missile programs. These sanctions are greatly needed to help protect the United States. I am glad Congress is taking a strong bipartisan and decisive stance against our adversaries, and urge the president to sign this legislation into law.”

Gardner said that Russia must be held accountable for its “influence campaign” during the 2016 election.

“The United States Congress sent a strong message to Vladimir Putin: the United States will not stand idly by as you undermine democracy and human rights around the globe,” Gardner said. “Iran and North Korea continue to defy international sanctions and their belligerence must also have consequences. It is important we enacted these sanctions today and showed the world the United States will not stand by as our adversaries threaten us and our allies.”

In terms of North Korea, Gardner said the sanctions bill was a “step in the right direction,” but more needs to be done.

“I have introduced bipartisan legislation that imposes an economic embargo on North Korea and punishes the regime’s enablers, most notably China,” Gardner, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, said. “I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to see this legislation become law and apply the necessary pressure to North Korea and its enablers.”