Kentucky Congressman Andy Barr opened hearings Wednesday on draft legislation that would impose secondary sanctions on foreign banks that do business with North Korea.
The talk of escalating sanctions comes amid growing tensions with the North Korean regime, which is facing new U.N.-backed penalties following its sixth and largest nuclear test.
Congressman Barr, who chairs the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee, told lawmakers Wednesday that new legislation under consideration would dial up the pressure on financial institutions that support the regime.
"The legislative draft we’ll be looking at lays out a choice: foreign banks can either do business that benefits North Korea, or they can do business with the United States. They cannot do both," the sixth district representative said.
Barr acknowledged that the bill risks upsetting the country’s relationship with China, a major economic partner that accounts for an estimated 90 percent of North Korea’s trade. Barr said, however that if China is not part of the solution, it’s part of the problem.
So far the North Korean regime has promised to redouble its efforts to “increase its strength” in light of the latest round of U.N. sanctions.