Congress to unveil new North Korea legislation

Congress to unveil new North Korea legislation

Not content to wait for the Obama administration or the United Nations to act, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is working on a new bill to punish North Korea for conducting yet another nuclear bomb test.

The Cable has obtained the latest draft of the "North Korea Nonproliferation and Accountability Act of 2013," a bill that was brought up in today’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting but not approved. One member of the committee, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), held up the bill Wednesday over fears it could "authorize force" so a new committee meeting is being scheduled for Thursday so the bill can be considered again, perhaps with minor language changes meant to mollify Paul.

"There has been extensive military cooperation between the Governments of North Korea and Iran that dates back to the 1980s," the draft reads. "The latest provocative and defiant action by the Government of North Korea represents a direct threat to the United States and to our regional allies and partners."

The latest North Korean test is a violation United Nations Security Council Resolutions 825 (1993), 1540 (2004), 1695 (2006), 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), and 2087 (2013), the bill declares, and the United States and its partners should impose sanctions provided for under those resolutions.

"The United States Government should seek a new round of United Nations Security Council sanctions, including the public identification of all North Korean and foreign banks, business, and government agencies suspected of violating United Nations Security Council resolutions, and implementing necessary measures to ensure enforcement of such sanctions," the bill reads.

It also calls on all U.N. member states to increase their efforts to prevent the export of military and dual-use technologies to North Korea and step up efforts to prevent financial transactions that benefit the North Korean government.

The U.S. government should explore ways to increase military cooperation with Asian allies and push the U.N. General Assembly and the U.N. Human Rights Council to adopt the recommendation in the recent report of Marzuki Darusman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, that an inquiry mechanism should be established to investigate North Korea’s "grave, widespread and systematic violations of human rights," the law states.

The law in its current form would also require Secretary of State John Kerry to report to Congress by May 15 on U.S. policy towards North Korea "based on a full and complete interagency review of current policy and possible alternatives, including North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and missile programs and human rights atrocities. The report shall include recommendations for such legislative or administrative action as the Secretary considers appropriate in light of the results of the review."

The committee also finalized new subcommittee leadership posts at the business meeting today.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) retains her chairmanship of the subcommittee on international operations and organizations, human rights, democracy, and global women’s issues, but she will now have to contend with Paul as the new ranking Republican on that panel.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) takes over the subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs following Jim Webb‘s retirement, and his new Republican is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who gave up his leadership post on the subcommittee on Western Hemisphere affairs, perhaps to bolster his non-Latin foreign policy bonafides ahead of a 2016 presidential run.

New SFRC member John McCain (R-AZ) replaces Rubio as ranking Republican on the Western Hemisphere panel, working now with subcommittee chairman Tom Udall (D-NM). Bob Casey (D-PA) remains chairman of the subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian affairs, with ranking Republican James Risch (R-ID).

Chris Coons (D-DE), the only Swahili-fluent member of Congress, will stay as African affairs subcommittee head and he will be paired with freshman senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Christopher Murphy (D-CT) takes over the European affairs subcommittee from Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Ron Johnson (R-WY) will be the ranking Republican for Europe. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and John Barasso (R-WY) will lead the subcommittee on international development and foreign assistance.