Hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - North Korea's Criminal Activities: Financing the Regime

Hearing

By:  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Date: March 6, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement at a Full Committee hearing titled "North Korea's Criminal Activities: Financing the Regime." Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

Our approach over the years in dealing with the North Korean regime has resulted in complete failure administration after administration.

North Korea has held America and the world hostage because Pyongyang continues to pursue its goal of nuclear armament, thumbing its nose at the world, while leaving its citizens malnourished, suffering from disease, and starving.

North Korea uses the same dangerous tactic time and time again: it dangles the idea that it is willing to de-nuclearize as a bargaining chip, and then it keeps reneging on us.

It was the Bush Administration's inability to see that evil trick that led to the erroneous and dangerous decision to remove North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST) list, despite the fact that illicit activities continued.

As we have seen in the last few months, North Korea has only further advanced its nuclear and ballistic weapons capabilities.

I was vehemently against the Bush Administration's decision to remove North Korea from the SST list and have continued to call on the current administration to place North Korea back on the list for the sake of our national security and the security of our allies in the region, including South Korea and Japan.

The fact that North Korea warned today that it would cancel the Korean cease-fire in retaliation for more sanctions only reaffirms the threat to our ally South Korea.

Kim Jong-un has made his priorities clear: North Korea is perfecting nuclear capabilities, supporting and equipping rogue regimes such as Iran and Syria.

Such support to other State Sponsors of Terrorism, because I believe North Korea belongs on that list, should be more than enough for the United States to re-designate North Korea on that list.

I have introduced a bipartisan bill, the North Korea Sanctions and Diplomatic Nonrecognition Act that would do just that.

* How extensive do you think the cooperation between these rogue regimes has been?

And if North Korea is allowed to keep its nuclear and ballistic missile program, and successfully shares this material and technology with Iran, the world is looking straight in the face of the most dangerous nuclear arms race that we could ever imagine.

We know that North Koreans need money, and one of the only ways it can get that money is through these illicit activities: counterfeiting, drug trafficking, proliferation of nuclear and ballistic missile technology, and expertise to other rogue regimes:

* If Iran is one of North Korea's main sources of hard currency, how effective have recent sanctions been in limiting Iran's access to cash, and what more needs to be done to ensure that it cannot continue to finance either its or North Korea's nuclear program?

Another main source of aid for Pyongyang is help from China and Russia.

Now we know the news that China has reportedly agreed to support new sanctions at the UN on North Korea, however there has been no final agreement on the language:

* Do you think China will agree to meaningful measures, or will the Chinese water down the sanctions to protect North Korea?

* How can the U.S. convince China and Russia to stop protecting North Korea both at the UN and domestically?

We must begin to have a comprehensive approach to our sanctions capability when attempting to cut off these regimes from their source of income.

And that is why I introduced the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Accountability Act which will:

- Prohibit assistance to any foreign government that has provided assistance to Iran, North Korea or Syria; and
- Will increase sanctions on any person or entity transferring goods, services, or technology for the chemical, biological, or advanced conventional weapons program of Iran, North Korea, and Syria.

Now, according to reports, it may be possible that Pyongyang's latest nuclear test was a test for Iran and North Korea.
* What are the possibilities that North Korea was testing an Iranian warhead?
* And would this be a game changer and what implications would this mean for U.S. policy toward Iran and North Korea?
* But I'm more interested in Dr. Lee's recommendations for legislation that we could file or pressure we could bring to bear on Treasury, Commerce, and other agencies to enforce stronger sanctions. Do you believe that those could be done through Executive Order, or should they be done by Congress? Do you believe that listing North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism would then include all of the sanctions legislation that you recommended, or action that you recommended?

Thank you.