Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes in Favor of Strong Sanctions Against North Korea
January 12, 2016
Washington, DC—Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, voted in favor of H.R.757, the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, of which she is a co-sponsor. Yesterday, the congresswoman joined a bipartisan group of Members of Congress to urge the passing of the legislation on the House floor.
Full text of the congresswoman’s speech is below
Mr. Speaker, I’m rising today in strong support of H.R. 757, the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, which I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of.
North Korea continues to pose a serious and dangerous threat to my constituents in Hawaiʻi , the Pacific, and the West Coast of the United States. Our communities and our families lie within range of North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. North Korea's nuclear tests just a week ago, and their continued pursuit of developing more nuclear weapons and miniaturizing those weapons, serve as a reminder of the threat that North Korea poses to our country, which my constituents in Hawai'i know all too well.
There are some necessary steps that the United States must take to deal with this threat. We need to increase the strength and capabilities of our Pacific fleet and forces. We need to stop the downward trend in investment of ballistic missile defense development and capabilities, and strengthen our ballistic missile defense capabilities, specifically in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific, to counter this threat. We need to re-examine our strategy of so-called “strategic patience” with North Korea, recognizing that North Korea has continued to grow in their nuclear and missile capabilities, which tells us that the status quo is not working.
This bill, however, deals with another important area where we need to act—sanctions. It gives us the tools to respond to North Korea’s provocations. One provision would apply sanctions that prohibit the export of munitions to North Korea and severely restrict export licenses for controlled goods and technologies. It would prohibit financial transactions between U.S. persons and the government of North Korea, and sanction those who send or receive lethal military equipment to North Korea.
This bill will give us the tools to re-apply some of the most effective sanctions that we’ve ever had against hard currency for those who do business with North Korea. We saw how these sanctions were effective before. Following U.S. action against the Banco Delta Asia based in Macau in 2005, the assets of North Korean banks and leaders were frozen and completely blocked from the international financial system. This directly affected the money being used to develop these nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities and it also supported the regime's leadership, and its elites and their lifestyle. This severely increased the pressure on North Korea, causing them to engage with the international community, coming to an agreement to lift the sanctions in 2007—prematurely, in my view—in exchange for shutting down and sealing the Yongbyon nuclear facilities and to discussing a list of its nuclear-related activities with the U.S. and other parties in the region. The agreement was violated by North Korea in 2009 when they tested a missile. But the sanctions on Banco Delta showed us, earlier on, a way to impact North Korean leadership and business directly.
Now, those sanctions should have been immediately reinstated upon North Korea breaking that agreement, but that's why we're here today to act.
While sanctions alone are not enough, this bill could provide some very important tools to countering North Korea's aggression and ultimately achieving our objective of a denuclearized North Korea.
Lastly, this bill recognizes the terrible human rights abuses inflicted on the people of North Korea. For many years, State Department human rights reports, as well as private organizations’ reports, have depicted a pattern of extreme human rights abuses by the tyrannical North Korean regime, including the denial of basic human freedoms, withheld access to food, deplorable prison camps, and extrajudicial killings, enslavement, torture and sexual abuse are widespread.
I’d like to thank our Chairman Royce, our Ranking Member Engel, for their steadfast bipartisan dedication and leadership to taking action on this global and domestic security issue. This bill provides a critical step forward.
H.R. 757 passed with a vote of 418-2. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a co-sponsor of H.R.757 and has long supported sanctions against North Korea. The congresswoman has continually advocated for the protection of Hawai‘i and American territories in the Pacific from the growing threat posed by North Korea, and is a strong advocate for U.S. investment in missile defense.