From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is calling for more accountability for companies working with North Korea.
With North Korea in the headlines recently as it continues to develop its nuclear weapon program, Rubio teamed up with U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Col., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to introduce the “North Korean Enablers Accountability Act” on Thursday.
The bill would ensure companies working with North Korea are locked out of the American financial system by making the White House “block all transactions that are property of the North Korean government, affiliates, or those that do significant business with North Korea", "block any entity or financial institution implicated in any significant trade in goods or services with North Korea from the U.S. financial system" and “prohibit any goods made with North Korean labor from entering the United States and to impose sanctions of all entities implicated in North Korean labor trafficking.”
Rubio made the case for the proposal on Thursday.
“North Korea, one of the world’s worst human rights abusers, is continuing to expand its nuclear and ballistic missile threats against the American homeland and our allies,” said Rubio. “It’s high time for the United States to maximize international economic pressure against Kim Jong Un’s regime as well as against the many foreign banks and foreign companies that are enabling it, especially in China.”
“With its latest successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, North Korea has demonstrated intent and capability to hit the U.S. homeland – and as President Trump said, we must never allow this to happen,” said Gardner who chairs the Senate East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee. “We must take every diplomatic and economic measure now to stop North Korea and to prevent nuclear war. My bipartisan legislation gives those that currently conduct trade with North Korea a clear choice – either do business with this heinous outlaw regime or do business with the world’s leading economic and military power.”
“There is no military solution to the threat of a nuclear North Korea,” said Markey who is the ranking Democrat on the East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee . “We must utilize direct negotiations with Pyongyang alongside increased economic sanctions pressure from China to bring the Kim regime to the table and ultimately rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons. These negotiations could offer the prospect of engaging North Korea in line with international norms by ending horrific human rights abuses, including labor trafficking.”
During his time in the Senate, Rubio has been pushing legislation taking aim at North Korea. Back in 2015, Rubio teamed up with Gardner and U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Id., to bring out the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2015” (NKSPEA). Besides putting sanctions on North Korean leaders for pursuing a nuclear program, the bill had the White House offer a strategy to counter cyber-attacks from that nation and have the State Department look at human rights abuse. At the end of May, Rubio worked with senators from both parties to unveil a proposal shoring up America’s missile defenses.