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GOP Rep: N Koreans Have Tried to ‘Access Our Energy Grid’

On Hugh Hewitt’s Wednesday broadcast, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented that this wasn’t the first time the North Korea regime has taken aim at the United States through the use of cyber attacks.

Royce told Hewitt the rogue nation has tried to “test our grid” and “access our energy grid and other crucial elements in the past.

Partial transcript as follows (courtesy of The Hugh Hewitt Show):

HEWITT: Mr. Chairman, it is being reported this evening that North Korea is behind the attack on Sony and the cyber threats, reliably by ABC News and others. What should the response of the United States be?

ROYCE: Well, in as much as they’ve also attempted to test our grid, and access our energy grid and other crucial infrastructure, I think at this point we need to respond as a country. We have the option of the types of sanctions that we once put on Banco Delta Asia, that walled off North Korea from the international banking system. If we do this, we know what the results were last time. We had caught them at that point counterfeiting hundred dollar U.S. bills. And so we sanctioned any financial institution that did business with the regime. And within a matter of six weeks, you know, Kim Jung Un could not pay his generals. That’s not a good position for a dictator to be in…

HEWITT: Exactly.

ROYCE: …because he didn’t have any hard currently. Most of the money that comes in to North Korea comes in through clandestine means, and they’re money laundered through these banks. So when you freeze the accounts at the banks, and you tell the institutions you’re either going to do business with the United States or you’re going to do business with North Korea, they all make the decision, okay, we’ll freeze the account. That’s what we should do. When that was done by the Treasury Department, we also know that it shut down the production line for their missile program, at least that’s back when I…

HEWITT: When did we did that, Mr. Chairman? When was that first done?

ROYCE: That was several years ago. It was during the Bush administration. And it was actually Treasury that took the lead in doing it. And I remember it was the State Department that convinced the Bush administration to lift those sanctions afterwards. And this was very vexing to our Treasury Department of the United States, because they had felt that they had such pressure on the regime, that the regime may have imploded. Now a lot of people don’t want to see the North Korea regime implode, because they don’t know what the consequences would be. But wouldn’t you sooner see it implode before they had the capability of delivery of their nuclear weapons program, especially when you consider that those three stage ICBM’s are intended to reach the United States? I think now would be the time. Now we have the rationale to go forward and put those sanctions in place. Now I passed that legislation, Hugh, over to the Senate. But my Senate colleagues haven’t taken it up. I would say now’s the time to have that leverage, pass it, put the sanctions on North Korea that would give him a choice between compromise on that nuclear program or economic collapse.

HEWITT: Do you expect that that will one of the very first matters taken up in the 114th Congress, Mr. Chairman?

ROYCE: I will definitely be taking that up and passing it over into the Senate again. And I suspect now with the Republican majority in the Senate, we will have much more enthusiasm, because leader Harry Reid, of course, was never enthusiastic about these approaches.

HEWITT: Now would your legislation mandate those sanctions? Or would they simply allow the President additional authority to impose them?

ROYCE: I would frankly suggest at this point that we make it a mandate. And the reason I think it’s necessary we respond to North Korea is because the attack on Sony, and you know, it demonstrates a vulnerability that the FBI has told us exists with 90% of American firms. So you know, it’s one thing to hack a film studio. But we also know that, you know, about their attitude about our energy grid and other crucial infrastructure, I just think at this point we’ve got to do two things. One is react by showing that there’s a cost of this kind of assault into the United States, show that anyone who’s going to attempt it is going to face a very real cost. And second, we’ve got to go forward with cyber infrastructure security. You know some of the debate about what an EMP attack could do. But the same is also true of some of this hacking. And so we did at the end of the session, finally, with this as leverage, to get some of our bills, four of our cyber security bills, through the Senate. But there’s much more we need to do on that front.

HEWITT: We have 30 seconds left, Ed Royce. Are you disappointed that the President hasn’t spoken out on the North Korean cyber terrorism and that he’s basically not suggested to our theaters that they stand up?

ROYCE: I think peace through strength was what Reagan said. You have to show resolve. The fact that we’re not showing any resolve only encourages further erosion of our national security.

HEWITT: Chairman Ed Royce, always a pleasure to talk with you or see you, and I hope I’ll see you during the Christmas break out in Southern California.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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