March 05, 2019

Van Hollen, Toomey Introduce North Korea Sanctions Bill

Today Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) reintroduced the bipartisan Otto Warmbier Banking Restrictions Involving North Korea (BRINK) Act. The bill – which passed the Senate Banking Committee unanimously last Congress – is designed to offer foreign banks a stark choice: continue business with North Korea or maintain access to the U.S. financial system. The BRINK Act would impose mandatory sanctions on the foreign banks and companies that facilitate illicit financial transactions for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“The United States should not sit on our hands as reports of North Korea’s efforts to build up their nuclear capabilities continue to stream in. And with talks between the Trump Administration and the DPRK breaking down last week, the need for Congress to draw a clear line in the sand is more important than ever,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This legislation sends a straightforward message to the regime and its partners that it’s not business as usual. We must expand and enforce sanctions against Kim Jong Un's regime – the BRINK Act would do just that. I’m glad to join Senator Toomey in reintroducing this crucial measure to protect our national security.”

“Kim Jong-un’s pursuit of nuclear weapons poses a threat to the United States and our allies in Asia,” said Senator Toomey. “We have few good options to effect change in North Korea, but one is to apply crippling economic sanctions that leave the regime with no alternative but to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Our bipartisan measure is a powerful tool that gives companies a choice: you can do business with the United States or North Korea – but not both.”

“We want to thank Senators Van Hollen and Toomey for once again introducing the "Brink" Act. We continue to support their bill and appreciate them honoring our son's memory. We believe that the sanctions in this bill will provide useful new tools for the United States to impact and change the behavior of Kim and his regime,” said Fred and Cindy Warmbier, parents of Otto Warmbier.

The legislation is modeled on the Iran secondary sanctions laws passed by Congress in 2010 and 2012 that helped to bring Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear program. The key feature of the bill is that it imposes secondary sanctions on financial entities that do business with the North Korean regime, and those who evade sanctions to assist the regime. The bill also aims to enforce existing international law by mandating tough sanctions on individuals and entities that facilitate North Korea’s trade in coal, iron and textiles; shipping; and labor trafficking.

The text of the legislation is available here.