The United States aims to use new sanctions imposed on North Korea over the cyber attack on Sony Pictures to cut off the country’s remaining links to the international financial system, a senior U.S. Treasury official said on Tuesday.
Daniel Glaser, assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the U.S. Treasury Department, said past sanctions had already discouraged “hundreds” of overseas banks, including China’s major commercial banks, from doing business with North Korea. New sanctions announced by President Barack Obama on Jan 2. provided “a tremendous amount of flexibility” and the goal was to identify remaining financial institutions that allowed North Korea access to the global system, which could face sanction themselves, Glaser told a House of Representatives briefing.
Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called for use of the full scope of the new sanctions announced. “The significance of this new Executive Order may come from the broad power it gives the president to target anyone who is a part of the North Korean government, or is assisting them in any way … that is if the administration chooses to use it to its full advantage,” he told the briefing. “We need to step up and target those financial institutions in Asia and beyond that are supporting the brutal and dangerous North Korean regime.”
When challenged by Royce about “a number of small banks” still doing business with North Korea and the need to choke off the country’s access to hard currency, Glaser replied: “That’s exactly what we are trying to do.”
Royce said he hoped a bipartisan bill he sponsored that would label North Korea “a primary money laundering concern” would be passed by the Senate this year.