Washington (March 31, 2017) – In light of today’s report that the Trump Administration has imposed new sanctions on North Korea, Senators Edward J. Markey, Ranking Member, and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity, sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin praising the action and calling for full enforcement of United States and United Nations sanctions on North Korea.


Full text of the letter is below.


Dear Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mnuchin:


We write to highlight the urgency of the threat posed by North Korea and to call on you to prioritize resources within your respective agencies to conduct the full enforcement of United States and United Nations sanctions against North Korea. We are encouraged by the action taken by the Department of Treasury today to impose sanctions on North Korean entities involved in weapons proliferation.


On February 10, 2016, the Senate passed the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act (NKSPEA, P.L. 114-122) by a vote of 96-0. This landmark legislation is the first standalone bill regarding North Korea to mandate the imposition of U.S. sanctions on entities contributing to North Korean proliferation activities, human rights abuses, and malicious cyber activities.


In particular, rather than simply providing sanctions authority, Section 102 (a) of NKSPEA mandates the President to investigate sanctionable North Korea-related conduct upon receipt of credible information. Section 102 (b) then asks the President to “direct the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the heads of other Federal departments and agencies as may be necessary to assign sufficient experienced and qualified investigators, attorneys, and technical personnel” to investigate all sanctionable conduct and to coordinate sanctions enforcement.


In conjunction with unilateral sanctions, the United States also led the international community to pass sanctions under the authority of the United Nations Security Council, which are universally binding on all U.N. member states. Most recently, the Security Council imposed mandatory sanctions on North Korea in Resolution 2270 of March 2, 2016 and Resolution 2321 of November 30, 2016. However, the recent report of the U.N. Panel of Experts on North Korea documents Pyongyang’s success in evading many of these sanctions, and highlights the troubling failure of a number of countries to effectively stem the flow of illicit North Korean commercial and financial activity.


We are grateful for your public commitment to full enforcement of United States and United Nations sanctions against North Korea during your respective confirmation hearings.  However, we recognize that effective enforcement requires not only leadership and dedication, but also sufficient resources and skilled personnel to implement these policies throughout your agencies.  


With this in mind, we respectfully ask you the following:


1)      What are the current budgetary and work force resources at the Department of State and the Department of Treasury that are dedicated to the enforcement of P.L. 114-222 and other North Korea-related sanctions?  Do you believe these resources are sufficient to fully enforce U.S. law?

2)      How many investigations pursuant to Sec. 102 of P.L. 114-122 are currently ongoing?

3)      Please provide the details of the Fiscal Year 2018 request for the Office of Economic Sanctions and Policy at the Department of State and the Office of Foreign Assets Control at Department of Treasury and how this request compares to the last five fiscal years.

4)      Please describe the resources your respective departments have dedicated to strengthening enforcement of U.N. Security Council sanctions, and particularly to addressing shortfalls in the capacity and will of third countries to comply with their sanctions enforcement obligations.  

5)      Would you support the establishment of special U.S. government interagency taskforce to implement U.S. and U.N. sanctions against North Korea?  If not, why not?


Please provide a written response and a member-level and staff briefing, in classified form if necessary, no later than April 28, 2017.