Today U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) urged Congress to soon consider their Banking Restrictions Involving North Korea (BRINK) Act, which is the necessary next step in tackling the crisis in North Korea and peacefully resolving this nuclear threat.
"The rapidly escalating situation in North Korea demands quick action from Congress to expand and enforce sanctions against Kim Jong Un's regime, and Senator Toomey and I have introduced the BRINK Act to do just that. U.N sanctions resolutions are only words if they are not enforced, and for too long the international community has been unwilling to enforce sanctions against Pyongyang," said Senator Van Hollen. "I recently visited South Korea, China, and Japan on a Congressional delegation trip, and it's clear that much more needs to be done to crack down on financial institutions supporting North Korea. This bill will put sharp enforcement teeth behind the sanctions, and it sends a clear message to anyone who has any business dealings with North Korean entities - you can do business with them, or you can do business with the United States. But you can't do both."
"Kim Jong Un is a menace whose threats to the United States and our allies further underscore the need for tougher economic sanctions," said Senator Toomey. "Passing these sanctions contained in the bipartisan BRINK Act will demonstrate to the North Korean government that dangerous provocations will not go unanswered. The BRINK Act aims to raise the cost of pursuing nuclear capabilities to the point where the regime cannot sustain its current belligerent path."
North Korea maintains access to the international financial system through a network of Chinese-based front companies that allow it to evade international sanctions. Aggressive sanctions are needed to sever their ties to the international financial system and create the leverage necessary for successful nuclear negotiations.
The BRINK Act, modeled after the successful Iran sanctions laws, mandates a comprehensive set of sanctions on banks and other firms that do business with North Korea to cut off this access. Critically, the BRINK Act also imposes severe and escalating fines on those banks and firms. These tools were essential in bringing Iran to the nuclear negotiating table.
The BRINK Act also provides an expedited opportunity for Congress to block any administration from unilaterally lifting the sanctions without congressional consent. It requires the administration to issue a new unclassified, publicly available report on any financial institutions that do business with North Korea, ensuring that evaders of sanctions are named, shamed, and ultimately shut out of the global financial system. It also includes provisions that seek to end illicit trade and further enforce UN sanctions on North Korea.