Correction: An earlier version of this article suggested that, under the new bill: “The transfer and provision of crude oil, condensates, refined petroleum, or other types of petroleum or petroleum byproducts would also be made illegal”. In fact, the bill would only give the President the authority to block such transfers, and is not an outright ban.
New and tougher legislation strengthening sanctions against North Korea has been introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said on Tuesday in a written statement.
Royce stressed the necessity to step up sanctions targeting North Korea’s Kim Jong Un regime in the light of the North’s “growing and urgent” nuclear threats against the United States.
“It is clear that additional authorities will better allow the U.S. to crack down on the Kim regime,” Royce added, making reference to the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 (H.R. 757) which was passed in 2016.
The bill, entitled “the Korea Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act (H.R. 1644)”, aims to curb North Korea’s access to hard currency and materials by expanding existing sanctions, and requires the Trump administration to redesignated the North as a state-sponsor of terrorism within 90 days of being signed into law.
The new legislation provides a detailed list of new restrictions, including a crackdown on online commercial activities run by North Korea’s government – including online gambling – and the provision of “significant telephonic, telegraphic, telecommunications or other data services, in whole or in part, into or out of North Korea.”
The U.S. will also attempt to block financial exchanges by prohibiting the maintenance of a “correspondent account with any North Korean financial institution.”
If the bill passes, the U.S. will prohibit the purchase and acquisition of “any coal, iron, or iron ore in excess of the limitations provided in applicable UNSC resolutions,” and “significant types or amounts” of textile and food or agricultural products.
Under the bill, the President would be given the authority to block transactions which transfer and provide crude oil, condensates, refined petroleum, or other types of petroleum or petroleum byproducts, with heavy fuel oil for humanitarian use being an exception.
Entities and people in the U.S. are also not allowed to offer fuel, supplies, or bunkering services to vessels and aircraft linked to North Korea, nor can they provide insurance or reinsurance to vessels owned or controlled by its government.
“Any significant amounts of rocket, aviation, or jet fuel” would also be banned from being sold or transferred to the North.
The new legislation would also see the U.S. government clamp down on North Korea’s use of forced labor, and obliges the U.S. to ban “any goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part” by North Korean laborers from entering the U.S., as well as to impose sanctions against “foreigner persons that employ North Koreans.”
The rules won’t be applied if the products are not produced with “convict labor, forced labor, or indentured labor under penal sanctions”, according to the draft bill.
The bill also amends the “existing law to make clear that foreign governments that buy or sell North Korea conventional weapons – a serious and continuing problem – are prohibited from receiving certain types of U.S. foreign assistance,” according to the statement issued by the U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee.
The committee said the new legislation also includes cash rewards for whistleblowers who report violations of financial sanctions on the DPRK.
TOP NUCLEAR ENVOYS
Meanwhile, South Korean and U.S. nuclear envoys met in Seoul on Wednesday to conduct an “in-depth discussion on ways to deal with the North Korean nuclear program” on the day the North tried, but failed, to test launch a missile.
“The two sides also shared views on the importance of blocking sources of hard currency,” according to South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
“[Both] will continue joint efforts to further strengthen the pressure on North Korea through deepening diplomatic and economic isolations including the restriction of North Korean overseas workers.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Flickr, U.S. House of Representatives
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