Sanders Supports Strengthened Sanctions on North Korea

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 – Sen. Bernie Sanders submitted the following statement in support of the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 to the Congressional record today:

“The totalitarian state of North Korea is becoming more belligerent by the day. In January, the country detonated its fourth nuclear bomb since 2006 – which the North Korean military claims was a small hydrogen bomb. Just last week, the country launched a rocket carrying a satellite into space, foreshadowing the possible development of a long-range ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear payload.  According to National Intelligence Director James Clapper, North Korea recently expanded a uranium enrichment facility and restarted a plutonium reactor that could start recovering material for nuclear weapons within months, or even weeks. I am deeply concerned by these actions.  

“We must exhaust every diplomatic option we have to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program, halt its aggressive military posturing with South Korea and adhere to the tenets of international human rights law. That is why I strongly support the bipartisan effort to strengthen sanctions on the rogue North Korean regime.

“These sanctions are an important tool in resolving the growing threat from Pyongyang.  The legislation before the Senate would help prevent North Korea from obtaining goods or technology related to nuclear weapons, ban foreign assistance to any country that provides lethal military equipment to North Korea, and target the country's trade in key industrial commodities. These steps are absolutely essential if we are to achieve our longstanding mission to end the North’s nuclear weapons program. Certainly, sanctions are far preferable to pre-emptive military force, which I strongly oppose. 

“In addition to sanctions, the U.S. must work with the few nations that have diplomatic and economic relationships with North Korea – namely China – to pressure Kim Jong-un to stop threatening the stability of the region and join the community of nations.  While China may have been a steadfast ally of North Korea’s in the past, China now has far more shared interests with the U.S. than with Pyongyang. It is time to make resolving the Korean peninsula conflict a top diplomatic goal in terms of our own relationship with China.   

“I am pleased to see that the sanctions bill includes a waiver to allow humanitarian organizations to deliver much needed relief to ordinary North Korean citizens, and authorizes $2 million for humanitarian assistance. Sanctions come at a cost, and we must do everything possible to make sure the North Korean people – who already suffer so much under Kim Jong-un – do not pay an even greater price. While I will be necessarily absent for the expected bipartisan passage of the bill, I strongly support the North Korea sanctions legislation.”