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Monday, February 6th, 2023

U.S. Sens. Menendez, Hagerty push Congressional oversight of North Korea

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With much of the world’s attention turned to Russia and its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) introduced the North Korea Policy Act of 2022 last week in order to return greater scrutiny to North Korea.

A bipartisan effort, the bill would mandate increased congressional oversight of any diplomacy between the U.S. and North Korea, while maintaining sanctions on the Asian nation aimed at disrupting its nuclear, cruise, and ballistic missile programs. Under its leader, Kim Jong Un, the nation has conducted numerous ballistic missile tests in direct violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

It and the U.S. have long been at odds, and those tensions seemed only set to increase when, earlier this month, North Korea declared itself an irreversible nuclear weapons state and established the conditions under which such weapons not only could, but automatically would, be used.

“As the international community continues to rally around a common cause in support of the people of Ukraine and against violent dictators writ large, the continuing danger of further conventional military provocation from North Korea that could reignite a serious military clash between North and South remains high, as does the potential for unintended escalation that could draw in the United States in a deadly and dangerous confrontation on the Peninsula,” Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said.

“Adding insult to injury, we now know Vladimir Putin is so isolated that he is turning to pariah states like North Korea and Iran to try to continue his campaign of killing Ukrainians. But Russia’s desperation and lawlessness should not provide fertile ground to embolden Kim Jong Un by filling his coffers for nuclear weapons and missile programs,” Menendez added. “This bipartisan bill will go a long way in advancing peace and security in the Indo-Pacific by expanding and tightening enforcement of sanctions for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development and other destructive activities of the Kim regime.”

Earlier this month, U.S. intelligence determined that Russia had turned to North Korea for rockets and artillery shells to bolster its invasion of Ukraine, highlighting the impacts of sanctions and export controls on its efforts. In addition to cracking down further on North Korea, the North Korea Policy Act would also further restrict those undertaking transactions with it, effectively cutting them off from U.S. and global financial systems, as well as deploying a mix of interdictions and sanctions.