Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) yesterday cosponsored the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act (H.R. 1771), a bipartisan bill to restrict North Korea's access to the global financial system. The legislation increases financial pressure on the country's regime, which relies on money laundered through foreign banks.
"North Korea has too long benefited from relaxed financial sanctions and continues to grow its nuclear arsenal," said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who recently questioned Secretary of State John Kerry during a House Foreign Affairs hearing about the Administration's plans to strengthen sanctions. "We must use every tool we have available to us in order ensure the North Korean regime does not have the resources or support to continue to fulfill its nuclear ambitions. As I have said repeatedly, this is not a threat that will just go away. Our proactive efforts today will contribute to the debilitation of this aggressive regime."
H.R. 1771 borrows not only from the success of sanctions applied to other regimes, but from the success the U.S. Department of the Treasury had in 2005, when it sanctioned a single Macau-based bank for laundering proceeds of North Korean counterfeiting. By all accounts, those limited sanctions were highly effective until they were relaxed prematurely in 2007.
The bill imposes tough, broad, and multi-layered financial sanctions against Kim Jong-Un's regime and its foreign enablers, encourages divestment from companies that invest in North Korea, and makes improvement in human rights conditions a requirement for lifting those sanctions. It also empowers the administration to sanction banks and foreign governments that enable North Korea's proliferation, smuggling, and human rights abuses.
The legislation was recently introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel.