H.R. 1073: Penalties for Attacks

H.R. 1073 the “Nuclear Terrorism Conventional Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act of 2013” assigns penalties for attacking United States’ ships and for using or attempting to use radioactive weapons. It also adds “United States corporations” to the list of entities protected.

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Background

Section 2280 of Title 18, United States Code fines and imprisons people for up to 20 years for intentionally:

  • Attempting to or succeeding in seizing a ship.
  • Destroys or damages a ship.
  • Destroys or damages navigational facilities.
  • Communicates false information to endanger a ship.
  • Conspires to do any of these things.

If the attack is successful and a death occurs, the suspect can be sentenced to death or life in prison.

The law currently says that this section applies to ships that fly the United States flag or are in the United States.

Bill Highlights

TITLE 1: SAFETY OF MARITIME NAVIGATION

Section 101: Changes to existing law

(1)(A) Adds ships “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States” , which includes:

  • Ships without a nationality.
  • Ships belonging to foreign nations who have “consented or waived objection to the enforcement” by the United States.

(1)(C) Will include ships belonging United States corporations or legal entities.

(5) Adds new sections to Section 2280 of Title 18, United States Code

  • An “Exceptions” section that excludes activities done by armed forces during armed conflict and state military exercises.
  • Any property used by the suspect to carry out their attack is “subject to forfeiture” to the United States.

Section 102: Adds new section addressing chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction.

(a)(1) A person who does the following things from a ship (or fixed platform – Section 104) will be fined and sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. If the person is successful and a death occurs, they can be sentenced to life in prison.

  • Uses any kind of explosive against any ship for the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government to do or stop something.
  • Releases oil, natural gas, or other “hazardous or noxious substance” from a ship that is likely to cause death, serious injury or damage.
  • Transports an explosive or radioactive material on a ship knowing it will be used to intimidate a population or compel a government action.
  • Transports any biological, chemical, or nuclear weapon.
  • Transports any material knowing it will be used to make a nuclear weapon to a place that isn’t part of the Non-Proliferation Treaty State Party
  • Transports a suspect accused of attacking a ship, helping them to evade arrest.

(a)(2)  A person who threatens to do these things will be fined and imprisoned for up to 5 years.

TITLE II: PREVENTION OF NUCLEAR TERRORISM

Section 201: Adds a new section to Section 2332 of Title 18, United States Code

(c) A person who does the following things will be fined up to $2,000,000 and get up to life in prison.

(a) Offenses

  • Knowingly possessing radioactive material or “device” with the intent to cause death or damage.
  • Using a radioactive device or causing the release of radioactive material from a nuclear facility with intent to cause death, serious bodily injury, or property damage.
  • Threatening to do the above or demanding radioactive weapons by force.
  • Conspiring to use radioactive weapons.

(b) Jurisdiction: The United States can punish a person suspected of these offenses if:

  • The actions take place in the United States.
  • The actions take place on a United States ship or airplane.
  • The person who did it is found in the United States.
  • The actions are committed in order to get the United States to do or stop some action or “constitutes a threat directed at the United States”
  • The actions take place outside the United States by a United States national, a United States corporation, or habitual United States resident.
  • The actions take place outside the United States against a United States national, state, government facility, or corporation.

Bill Status

H.R. 1073 passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly on May 20, 2013. It now moves into the Senate.

 

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