February 11, 2016

Hirono Supports Additional North Korea Sanctions

Advocates For Continued U.S. Focus On Asia-Pacific Rebalance

Senator Mazie K. Hirono voted to support H.R.757, the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, which passed the Senate 96-0. Before the vote, Senator Hirono took to the Senate floor to speak in support of additional sanctions on North Korea in the wake of the North Korean regime’s recent missile tests, and called for continued support for the Asia-Pacific rebalance.

From Senator Hirono’s remarks:

“My support of this bill is grounded in my belief that the United States must stand with our allies and lead an international response that condemns North Korea’s actions and reassures our allies Japan and South Korea. Strengthening and expanding sanctions demonstrate that North Korea’s behavior is unacceptable and that there will be consequences.”

H.R.757 requires the investigation and application of sanctions to supporters of North Korea’s weapons program and human rights abusers, codifies and makes mandatory cybersecurity sanctions that were previously undertaken as executive orders, and investigates concerns over money laundering by the regime.

Watch Senator Hirono’s floor speech here.

Read Senator Hirono’s full remarks below, as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I rise to speak in strong support of the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act.

This legislation serves as a critical component of the U.S. response to the North Korean regime’s dangerous and destabilizing acts. These acts are just the latest in a series of flagrant violations of the UN Security Council Resolutions against North Korea’s use of ballistic missile and nuclear technology.

North Korea’s unpredictable behavior, combined with their commitment to advancing their nuclear and missile capability present a serious threat to our country and our allies.

My support of this bill is grounded in my belief that the United States must stand with our allies and lead an international response that condemns North Korea’s actions and reassures our allies Japan and South Korea. Strengthening and expanding sanctions demonstrate that North Korea’s behavior is unacceptable and that there will be consequences.

The Gardner-Menendez substitute amendment codifies and makes mandatory important cybersecurity sanctions on North Korea that were enacted as executive orders in the wake of the Sony Pictures hacking incident. The amendment also requires the President to target Pyongyang's trade in key industrial commodities that are used to fund its weapons program.

The bill requires a strategy to promote improved implementation and enforcement of multilateral sanctions; a strategy to combat North Korean cyber activities; and a strategy to promote and encourage international engagement on North Korean human rights-related issues, including forced labor and repatriation. 

While passing this legislation is a critical part of the U.S. response, we also must work with our allies to stand as a united international community. Today, our allies Japan and South Korea took additional measures against Pyongyang. Japan declared all North Korean ships, including those for humanitarian purposes would be banned from coming to Japanese ports. Third-country ships that visited North Korea would be also banned from entering. South Korea announced it would pull out of a joint industrial complex it ran with the North at Kaesong.

I agree with Secretary Kerry that the UN Security Council must act swiftly to impose penalties for North Korea’s violations of its resolutions.

China needs to join the international community in supporting UN sanctions against Pyongyang, and should use its leverage as North Korean’s largest trading partner to expand U.N. sanctions. This is an opportunity where the U.S. and China can work together towards a common goal: a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

While our country is engaged in the campaign to destroy ISIL, North Korea’s serious provocations demonstrate that we cannot take our attention away from the Asia-Pacific region. The United States has longstanding strategic interests and commitments to the security of the Asia Pacific.  It is a priority to maintain stability in the region where the U.S. has five treaty allies and many security partnerships.

We must ensure that our solid commitment to defend South Korea and Japan remains firm.  While passing this sanctions bill is important to demonstrate our resolve and leadership, clearly this is not enough in the face of North Korea’s provocations.

We need to cooperate with our allies on missile defense. As the North continues its provocative missile launches, our alliance with South Korea means that we must enhance our defenses against those threats. Pyongyang’s missile capabilities threaten not only our allies and our service members stationed in South Korea and Japan, but also the U.S. territory of Guam, my home state of Hawaii, Alaska, and much of the West Coast. South Korea’s decision yesterday to begin formal talks with the United States to deploy the Terminal High - Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system is a major step toward this kind of missile defense cooperation. THAAD can target short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles in flight.

Again, stability in the Asia-Pacific area, with key allies, largest and fastest growing economies, and provocative actors like North Korean and China, is critical to our national security. We must continue our commitment to an all-of-government Asia-Pacific Rebalance with military, economic, and diplomatic attention and resource priorities to this part of the world

Since my election to the Senate, I have made it a priority to visit the region every year, most recently this past summer in Japan and Guam. I traveled to South Korea in 2013, and I know that our allies are counting on us to keep our focus on the Asia-Pacific and work with them to maintain stability and prosperity. I urge my colleagues to send a strong message to North Korea and our allies by not only supporting the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, but also by supporting the Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific.