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Prelude to War: Congress Votes to Impose Sanctions on North Korea

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Published on: May 8, 2017

Imposing sanctions on countries is almost always a prelude to war with that country. If not, they very seldom do anything to the government that is opposed, but rather harm the people that government is supposed to serve. On Thursday, the US House of Representatives voted to impose new sanctions on North Korea in the midst of all the saber rattling taking place on both sides.

The bill was passed by the House with a vote of 419-1.  Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was the lone dissenter.

The Korea Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act amends the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 to modify and increase the President’s authority to impose sanctions on persons in violation of certain U.N. Security Council resolution regarding North Korea. Specifically, the bill expands sanctions to deter North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs, targets those individuals overseas who employ North Korean slave labor, cracks down on North Korean shipping and use of international ports, and requires the administration to determine whether North Korea is a state sponsor or terrorism.

The Hill reports:

Legislation approved handily on a 419-1 vote would target North Korea’s shipping industry and people who employ North Korean slave labor abroad.

It would also require the Trump administration to report to Congress within 90 days on whether North Korea should be reinstated onto the government’s state sponsors of terror list.

North Korea was removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism in 2008 as part of a nuclear agreement with President George W. Bush’s administration that since failed.

“This shows the world that Congress stands ready to help the administration work with our allies and others to counter North Korea’s belligerent behavior,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA).

“What this bill does that we did not do before is to cut off North Korea’s access to ports, to cut off any financial institutions with third-party sanctions, and to cut off slave labor that North Korea uses to get several billion dollars’ worth of hard currency every year,” Royce added.  “We found out in 2005 when we sanctioned North Korea and 11 Chinese banks at that time that we shut down their weapons program because they didn’t even have the money to pay their generals.”

Royce told Fox News’ The Five, “If we shut down their economy, they can’t move forward with their [nuclear weapons] program.”

“Kim Jong Un is exceedingly crafty,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY). “When we make sanctions tougher, they come up with new ways to get around them: phony bank accounts, fake companies overseas, shipments under foreign flags. So we need to go back to the well, to close the loopholes that the regime exploits. That’s what this measure does.”

The measure would target commerce on North Korea, as well as anyone who would enable the country to access international banking systems.

As the Trump administration works with China to stifle North Korea’s nuclear program, the State Department is calling for full enforcement of the UN resolution regarding sanctions.

“So it’s a pressure campaign that has a knob on it,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday during an address to State Department staff. “I’d say we’re at about dial setting 5 or 6 right now, with a strong call of countries all over the world to fully implement the UN Security Council resolutions regarding sanctions, because no one has ever fully implemented those. So we’re going to lean into people to fully implement them.”

Meanwhile, an armada has been sent to the North  Korean area by President Donald Trump, a US general has confirmed that Special Operations teams would be sent to take out North Korean nuke sites and Russia and China have assembled forces on their borders with North Korea.  This doesn’t look all that promising.

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