The United States needs to step up and target North Korea’s financial allies in Asia and elsewhere, said representatives Tuesday at a House Committee on Foreign Affairs briefing on North Korea. The standing committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in charge of discussing the nation’s foreign affairs said working with international allies to deal with North Korea’s aggressive behavior is of utmost importance, but the way to approach it is complicated.
“This rogue regime has no interest in being a responsible state,” said Rep. Edward Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the committee, in his speech. He said that for years, the United States and its allies have been concerned about the nuclear threat from North Korea. Now, Royce said, the country has added cyberattacks to its arsenal, citing what he called the “state-sanctioned attacks on Sony Pictures” in December, for which Pyongyang denied any culpability.
Officials called for greater accountability from financial institutions that North Korea has access to, namely China. U.S. Treasury Assistant Secretary Daniel Glaser said that China provides North Korea with the "lion's share" of financial access for terrorist financing, according to CNBC, and that there should be an effort to identify others supplying North Korea with a lifeline.
"We need to step up and target those financial institutions in Asia and beyond that are supporting the brutal and dangerous North Korean regime," Royce said.
The U.S. imposed more sanctions on North Korea earlier this month, but some officials are calling for even more to be placed atop existing ones, amid questions of whether the recent sanctions would actually be effective.
North Korea has been trying to reduce its dependence on China as it turns to Russia for help. South Korea is becoming an increasingly important trading partner for China, and Beijing has no wish to see that relationship jeopardized by South Korea’s belligerent neighbor to the north, said Sung Kim, the State Department’s special representative for North Korea. “Russia has responded positively” to North Korea, Kim said.
Kim believes North Korea’s alleged hack into Sony should have been “a wakeup call to China” about the threat North Korea poses to China and its businesses. “China has a unique and important role to play in addressing the challenges of North Korea’s nuclear program and its provocations on the world stage,” Kim said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “We believe there is more that China can do to bring the necessary pressure to bear so that North Korea concludes it has no choice but to denuclearize and abide by its international obligations.”