Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Toomey Joins Democrat in Taking Aim at N. Korea's Bank Access

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Toomey Joins Democrat in Taking Aim at N. Korea's Bank Access

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey is proposing stiff economic sanctions to deter North Korea from developing its ballistic missile program.

The aim is to force North Korea to stop developing nuclear weapons by cutting off its access to the international financial system, said Mr. Toomey, R-Pa., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who are sponsoring a bill together.

Mr. Toomey doesn't often wade into foreign affairs, but became engaged as a member of the Senate Banking Committee.

"It's financial institutions that we're going after because the best way to impose really tough sanctions on any country is to shut off their access to financial transactions, which ultimately you need for whatever you're doing," Mr. Toomey said Wednesday in an interview in his Capitol Hill office.

He had more to say later during a news conference with Mr. Van Hollen.

"The fact is North Korea has intercontinental ballistic missiles. They can already reach parts of the United States," he said. "This is a menace we cannot tolerate. We cannot allow North Korea to achieve its goal of being able to hold the United States hostage to nuclear attack."

North Korea has conducted nuclear tests and this month completed a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The proposed legislation targets intermediary banks, companies and financiers that engage in illicit financial transactions with North Korea, Mr. Van Hollen explained.

"You can do business with us or you can do business with North Korea, but you cannot do business with both. The penalties are escalating, allowing for firms to make the choice to change course and stop working with the North Korean regime," he said.

The goal is to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

"These sanctions are absolutely essential," Mr. Toomey said. "It's not acceptable for the North Korea regime to be able to menace the United States with nuclear weapons. …

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