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Increasing the Pressure on North Korea


A man watches a TV news program showing a file footage of North Korea's rocket launch at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, April 28, 2016.

The United States Treasury Department has tightened sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to target ongoing violations of its international obligations and a broad range of its provocative, destabilizing and repressive actions and policies.

In direct violation of numerous UN Security Council Resolutions, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea, continues to conduct nuclear tests and launch ballistic missiles. To facilitate this program, the North Korean government is using the country’s financial system to launder money and illicitly procure needed materials and equipment.

For this reason, the United States Treasury Department has tightened sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to target ongoing violations of its international obligations and a broad range of its provocative, destabilizing and repressive actions and policies.

On February 18th, the United States enacted the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016, which requires the Treasury Department to determine within 180 days whether reasonable grounds exist for concluding that North Korea is a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern.

On March 2, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2270, which requires UN Member States to sever correspondent banking relationships with North Korean financial institutions within 90 days of the adoption of the resolution, among other restrictions.

Having found evidence that the DPRK is indeed a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern, the Treasury Department took steps to further isolate North Korea from the international financial system by proposing a special measure that would, if finalized, require U.S. financial institutions to implement additional due diligence measures to prevent North Korean banking institutions from gaining improper and indirect access to U.S. correspondent accounts.

This measure would also reinforce current U.S. law that prohibits U.S. financial institutions from engaging in both direct and indirect transactions with North Korean financial institutions by prohibiting U.S. financial institutions from opening or maintaining correspondent accounts with North Korean financial institutions, and prohibiting the use of U.S. correspondent accounts to process transactions for North Korean financial institutions.

“The United States, the UN Security Council, and our partners worldwide remain clear-eyed about the significant threat that North Korea poses to the global financial system,” said Adam Szubin, Acting Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

“The regime is notoriously deceitful in its financial transactions in order to continue its illicit weapons programs and other destabilizing activities.

“Today’s action is a further step toward severing banking relationships with North Korea and we expect all governments and financial authorities to do likewise pursuant to the new UN Security Council Resolution. It is essential that we all take action to prevent the regime from abusing financial institutions around the world – through their own accounts or other means.”

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