Washington, D.C. –  Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, today re-introduced the Leverage to Enhance Effective Diplomacy Act (LEED), comprehensive bipartisan legislation to economically and diplomatically pressure North Korea and its enablers through the imposition of sanctions; to authorize efforts to combat Pyongyang’s widespread human rights and labor trafficking abuses; and to support the Administration’s efforts to find a diplomatic solution to achieve the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the North Korea regime.  


The legislation also calls on North Korea to immediately return the U.S.S. Pueblo, which was illegally seized in international waters in January 1968. 


“This legislation provides additional diplomatic tools to support the current Administration’s maximum pressure campaign, which replaced the previous Administration’s failed strategic patience policy and puts real teeth behind the global effort to achieve the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the North Korean regime,” said Senator Gardner. “Pyongyang must know that the Kim family playbook of nuclear mendacity and human rights abuses will only continue to make North Korea a neo-Stalinist relic and a global outcast. The intention of this bipartisan effort is to finally bring Kim Jong-Un to his senses, and I hope our message is heard loud and clear in Pyongyang and around the world.”


“The Trump administration is failing to regularly maintain our sanctions against North Korea, leading China and Russia – the Kim regime’s primary enablers – to believe it is business as usual. The LEED Act would reinforce UN limits on transfers of crude oil and other restricted goods, encourage responsible implementation of existing U.S. sanctions, and provide new resources for detecting sanctions evasion. Fully empowering American diplomats should be our top priority to denuclearize North Korea,” said Senator Markey.

In the 115th Congress, the Gardner-Markey LEED Act unanimously passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in December 2017. Gardner is also the author of the landmark North Korea Sanctions Policy and Enhancement Act (NKSPEA), which was signed into law in February 2016 and marked the first time Congress imposed stand-alone mandatory sanctions against North Korea.  

The Leverage to Enhance Effective Diplomacy Act of 2019



  • Expands U.S. sanctions and criminal penalties against North Korea and its enablers, including those violating the United Nation’s cap on crude oil transfers to North Korea.
  • Enhances Department of Homeland Security authorities to screen U.S-bound cargo to prevent North Korean sanctions evasion.
  • Requires the President to provide certifications to Congress before lifting certain sanctions against North Korea and its enablers. 
  • Authorizes additional funds for U.S. efforts detect North Korean sanctions evasions, including calling for additional U.S. maritime and reconnaissance aircraft to be assigned.


Global Pressure:

  • Requires a global strategy to induce other nations to diplomatically and economically pressure North Korea to comply with international law. 
  • Authorizes downgrading U.S. relations with any country that fails to take appropriate measures with regard to North Korea.  
  • Authorizes reducing or terminating U.S. assistance to any country that fails to take appropriate measures with regard to North Korea.


Policy Review:

  • Requires regular briefings by the Director on National Intelligence on evolving North Korean capabilities and by the State Department regarding official U.S. diplomatic engagements with North Korea.
  • Requires report regarding the use and strategy to end the procurement of certain rocket fuels by North Korea.
  • Requires briefings by the Secretary of State to address Russia’s efforts to undercut United Nations sanctions against North Korea.


Human Rights:

  • Requires a briefing by the Secretary of State regarding U.S. strategy to convince countries that import North Korean laborers to end that practice.
  • Requires additional information on countries that have not repatriated North Korean workers, entities employing those workers, and officials approving their presence.