On 5 February 2015, bipartisan leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Ed Royce and Democrat Eliot Engel, introduced a bill in the House of Representatives intended to broaden sanctions against North Korea. This follows an expansion in January of US sanctions against the state by executive order, as we previously reported on this blog.
The legislation would impose tougher punishments on foreign companies that do business with North Korea or have ties to its illicit activity, such as its nuclear program. It would also target banks facilitating North Korean financial crime and human rights abuses and those who have assisted in cyber-attacks against the US.
If passed, the bill would authorise US officials to freeze US held assets belonging to any entities found responsible.
A similar bill is expected in the Senate and it is reported that both are likely to enjoy significant bipartisan support.
Speaking on 5 February 2015, Royce stated that the bill “presses the Administration to use all available tools to impose sanctions against North Korea and on countries and companies that assist North Korea in bolstering its nuclear weapons programme”.