U.S. Congress to Mull Fresh N.Korea Sanctions

Ed Royce Ed Royce

The U.S. Congress will get a new bill sanctioning North Korea under way in May, according to a report.

The new bill targets the North Korean regime's "pocketbook," "where it is most vulnerable," said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce on Wednesday. "It will go a long way towards bankrupting the regime."

Royce pledged to begin the process of legislation in May for what look to be the most comprehensive and stiffest sanctions against the North so far.

The bill aims to cut off the regime's financial resources in the wake of a recent report on brutal human rights abuses in the North by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea.

"It will prevent Kim Jong-un from accessing, having the ability to use, that hard currency that he needs in order to pay his generals," Royce claimed.

Royce was speaking at a congressional hearing on the North’s human rights violations, where he pledged the committee will do all it can to hold Kim and other top officials accountable for crimes against humanity and nuclear weapons development.

The bill was introduced jointly by Royce and Eliot Engel, a ranking Democratic member of the committee, in April last year. It envisions preventing companies, banks, and foreign governments from engaging in economic transactions with the U.S. if they have any dealings with North Korea.

The bill stipulates a "secondary boycott" provision, which includes third parties or third countries engaged in illegal transactions with the North on the sanctions list.

This bill is modeled after sanctions imposed on Iran that prevent third countries that import crude oil from Iran from dealing with their partners in the U.S. If passed, it will put heavy pressure on Chinese companies engaged in business with the North.

Amid a stream of verbal attacks from North Korea last year, the bill was co-sponsored by 133 congressmen, nearly one-third of all 435 members of the House of Representatives.

But it lost steam as North Korea quietened down and other issues like Syria and Iran became more pressing. But the UN Commission's report and the North's relentless firing of rockets and missiles gave the bill renewed urgency.

Despite ongoing discussions with China over resumption of six-party nuclear disarmament talks, skepticism is spreading in the U.S. over what any dialogue with the North can achieve, according to diplomatic sources in Washington.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 28, 2014 12:59 KST