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Ernst supports sanctioning North Korea for nuclear test, rocket launch

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DES MOINES — Sen. Joni Ernst is supporting additional sanction on North Korea in response to the rogue nation’s recent tests of a hydrogen bomb and a long-range rocket potentially capable of delivering ballistic missiles.

“North Korea is always at the top of the list when it comes to very unstable governments that have access to very powerful weapons,” Ernst said Tuesday.

The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act that includes secondary sanctions of the type the Obama administration used to get a nuclear agreement with Iran.

James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, told Ernst and other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that the details of North Korea’s “nuclear doctrine or employment concepts” are not known.

“We have long assessed that Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities are intended for deterrence, international prestige and coercive diplomacy,” he said.

The Senate legislation scheduled for a vote Feb. 10 would include broad sanctions as well as crack down on communist party officials accused of covering up human rights violations.

The legislation also includes what Ernst called secondary sanctions that would be in addition to sanctions on the no government. They would apply “to those corporations or people outside of North Korea who are attempting to do business with North Korea,” she said.

Secondary sanctions would apply to “anyone trying to supply the North Korea military-industrial base,” Ernst said.

China, by far North Korea’s closest trading partner, has expressed opposition to the sanctions. The White House could waive sanctions in some cases, but would have to report that to Congress.

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