| The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives said his goal is to get a bill on imposing tough sanctions on North Korea`s Kim Jong Un regime to pass the committee and then the main session.
In an exclusive interview with the Dong-A Ilbo in Washington on Wednesday, local time, Ed Royce, chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is strapped for cash. "This bill targets the regime where it is most vulnerable -- in the pocketbook -- and it will prevent Kim Jong Un from accessing the hard currency he needs in order to pay his generals," he said.
He stressed that the bill called North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2013, also known as H.R.1771, will put the Kim Jong Un regime on a long journey to bankruptcy.
In an opening statement at a hearing on North Korea`s human rights abuse earlier during the day, Royce officially confirmed that the House will handle the bill in May, saying that the HR1771 is receiving bipartisan support from some 130 lawmakers.
There were photos regarding South Korea hung on a wall in his office, including the torn-part Cheonan warship hit by a North Korean torpedo four years ago and his news conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. The following are questions and answers.
Q: Nearly one year has passed since the bill was proposed in April last year. Why are you trying to enact it now?
A: I have garnered support from House members from the Democratic Party and the Republic Party. Lately, North Korea has been making provocative rhetoric and acts again. It is important for Washington to send a strong signal. The United States must realize that North Korea is not interested in reform and denuclearization. We must make the days come true when North Koreans live without fear or abuse.
Q: The legislation seems to be more meaningful as it comes right after the release of a report by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea (North Korea).
A: Yes. The COI report has changed the way the world sees North Korea. I expect actions to follow such a new perception. The report will also likely help the bill`s passage. I was deeply involved in the birth of the COI and testified in person during the process of the report`s production.
Q: How possible would it be for Senate to pass the bill after the House`s passage?
A: Very possible. I had close dialogue with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez. Because of Kim Jong Un`s threatening rhetoric, Congress views that it is now the best timing for bill`s passage.
Q: What procedures will you take in the future?
A: The Asia-Pacific subcommittee will hold hearings to broaden congressmen`s understanding. They are well aware of this issue. Therefore, there will likely be no major revision of the original proposal. I expect the bill to be passed overwhelmingly.