News / Asia

    US Senate Expected to Approve North Korea Sanctions

    FILE - A North Korean long-range rocket is launched into the air at the Sohae rocket launch site, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo, Feb. 7, 2016.
    FILE - A North Korean long-range rocket is launched into the air at the Sohae rocket launch site, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo, Feb. 7, 2016.
    Michael Bowman

    The U.S. Senate is expected to approve tougher sanctions against North Korea as early as Wednesday, just days after Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket capable of carrying a nuclear payload, and weeks after it conducted a nuclear test.

    “It’s going to pass overwhelmingly,” Republican Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told VOA.

    The Senate will pause extended deliberations on an energy bill to take up the North Korea sanctions legislation. At least seven hours of floor debate have been scheduled, followed by a vote.

    “Clearly what’s happened in North Korea is extremely serious,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, the Foreign Relations Committee’s ranking Democrat. “I would hope there would be no ambiguity at all in American policy on isolating North Korea.”

    Approved by the committee last month, the bill seeks to punish entities in China and elsewhere that help North Korea continue its nuclear program or finance its military complex.

    “We need to make sure the Chinese pay a price on this,” Republican Sen. John McCain told VOA. “They [North Korea] would collapse without Chinese support in a month.”

    ‘More pressure’ needed

    Several amendments could be considered, including one requiring the Obama administration to provide Congress with any information it has on nuclear and ballistic missile cooperation between North Korea and Iran.

    South Korean army soldiers close a gate in Paju, near the border with North Korea, Feb. 8, 2016. The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket Feb. 7, 2016, but U.S. lawmakers are skeptical. “The international community has got to apply more pressure on the North," said one U.S. official Feb. 9.
    South Korean army soldiers close a gate in Paju, near the border with North Korea, Feb. 8, 2016. The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket Feb. 7, 2016, but U.S. lawmakers are skeptical. “The international community has got to apply more pressure on the North," said one U.S. official Feb. 9.

    The administration is withholding direct comment until a final bill reaches the president’s desk.

    "I am not certainly going to get ahead of legislation pending or being discussed on Capitol Hill,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday. "Obviously, the United States has — as we always have had — the ability to unilaterally apply sanctions to meet certain ends.

    “We firmly believe that the international community has got to apply more pressure on the North," Kirby added.

    The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned North Korea’s long-range rocket launch, and said it stands ready to “develop significant new measures” to rein in Pyongyang’s behavior.

    Skepticism over U.N.

    On Capitol Hill, lawmakers of both parties expressed skepticism about new U.N. sanctions, and said the United States must speak with one voice.

    “I’m not hopeful that China will join in doing anything,” Corker said. “It’s pretty hard for the White House to push back against what we’re doing when it’s evident that the U.N. Security Council itself is not going to be effective in dealing with this.”

    Cardin agreed.

    “This is a congressional prerogative,” he said. “We are disappointed that the United Nations has not acted. They have had an opportunity to act. So we hope that what we do here [in Congress] will facilitate international action and isolate North Korea if they continue to go down this path.”

    China is under pressure to support tough new sanctions against Pyongyang, but is reported to be balancing the need for action with concerns about creating instability in North Korea.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: canadaabc from: canada
    February 09, 2016 7:21 PM
    For some reason, U.S. is living in a pipe dream. Diplomacy or sanctions to North Korea never works. As we've all learned from the past. The only way to stop their aggression is to eradicate their leader, pig Kim is use an assassin or by nuclear bomb before they do.
    In Response

    by: canadaabc from: canada
    February 11, 2016 7:45 PM
    This is a reply to the respondent Shazada. Rather than handing around in London. It's better off for you to moved back to your ancestral land, too. Definitely, it'll give you a peace of mind.
    In Response

    by: Shazada Zahid Malik-Loan from: London
    February 10, 2016 4:02 AM
    Well done great leader - the occupiers of the Native Red Indian lands cannot do anything and the world is with you. You have the right to have nuclear weapons (including the deliver y system) to protect you against their murderous designs - look what they did to Saddam and Ghadafi - they would have done the same thing to you. Again the whole world is with you. now it is also time to help the Red Indians to recover their lands occupied by the Europeans.
    In Response

    by: shazada zahid malik-loan from: london
    February 10, 2016 3:58 AM
    When will you guys leave the so called Senate and come back home to Europe and let the Native Indians run their own affairs. They are looking to all the White illegal occupiers of their land to go back home to Britain and France etc. so they can live a peaceful life.

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