Senate unanimously approves Gardner’s North Korea sanctions bills

The Senate approved legislation on Wednesday that was introduced by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) to impose sanctions on individuals who assist North Korea in nuclear proliferation, cyber crimes or human rights abuses.

If signed into law, the North Korea Sanctions Policy and Enhancement Act, S. 2144, would become the first law to impose mandatory sanctions on cybercriminals. It would take similar steps to curb censorship and human rights abuses in North Korea.

Gardner, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy, said North Korea’s multiple nuclear tests and recent illicit satellite launch signal that its ballistic missile capabilities are growing.

“North Korea has bolstered its cyberattacks and continues to imprison and horrifically torture more than 200,000 of its own men, women and children,” Gardner said. “This legislation is the first step toward building a new policy that will put pressure on Pyongyang to peacefully disarm and cease its violations of international norms. I was proud my colleagues came together to approve the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, legislation that mandates the United States vigorously pursue sanctions against individuals who contribute to the regime’s proliferation activities, cyberattacks, censorship and human rights abuses. It’s far past time to counter the Forgotten Maniac.” 

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the policy framework outlined in Gardner’s bill would leave “no doubt about our determination to neutralize any threat North Korea may prevent.”

The Senate unanimously approved the North Korea Sanctions Policy and Enforcement Act by a vote of 96-0.

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