Chairman Ed Royce on New North Korea Sanctions: ‘We Need to Go Further’

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In response to new sanctions placed on North Korea by the United States Friday over its alleged involvement in a cyberattack against Sony Pictures, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a statement hailing the Obama administration for its action but questioning the effectiveness of the new sanctions.

“It’s good to see the Administration challenging North Korea’s latest aggression – cyber attacks that can do grave damage,” Rep. Royce said in the statement. “But many of the North Koreans blacklisted today have already been targeted by U.S. sanctions.”

The White House announced Friday that it would impose sanctions against three North Korean government agencies and 10 high-ranking government officials, for what it claims is the country’s involvement in a crippling November 24 cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. The President issued an Executive Order Friday authorizing the Treasury Department to implement a ban on the sanctioned entities and individuals from engaging with the U.S. financial system. North Korea has denied responsibility for the attack.

Rep. Royce said the sanctions announced today don’t go far enough.

“We need to go further to sanction those financial institutions in Asia and beyond that are supporting the brutal and dangerous North Korean regime, as was done in 2005,” Royce added in his statement. “My comprehensive legislation that the House passed last year would give the Administration the tools to do just that.”

The legislation referred to in the statement is H.R. 1771, the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support in July. The legislation would allow the United States “to sanction third-country persons and banks that facilitate North Korean proliferation, smuggling, money laundering, and human rights abuses,” as well as implement other, tighter restrictions.

The legislation “targets the regime where it is most vulnerable – its access to hard currency,” Royce said at the time of the bill’s passage. “By shutting down North Korea’s illicit activities, we deprive the Kim regime of the money he needs to pay his generals and to conduct nuclear weapons research.”

The hacking group Guardians of Peace have claimed responsibility for the cyberattack against Sony, which resulted in thousands of sensitive documents and five unreleased feature films being leaked online. While North Korea has denied involvement, the country previously called the hackers’ cyberattack “a righteous deed.”