U.S. Treasury updates N.K. sanctions rules in line with new law

April 9, 2020

The U.S. Treasury Department said Thursday it has revised its regulations to incorporate North Korea sanctions provisions contained in the latest National Defense Authorization Act.

The revisions do not add new sanctions on North Korea, but reinforce the department’s wide-ranging efforts to block the communist regime’s access to funds that could be used to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington. (Yonhap)

The U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington. (Yonhap)

This comes after personal negotiations between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump have failed.

The actual measures were incorporated into a section of the NDAA for fiscal year 2020, signed by Trump in December.

The section, titled the “Otto Warmbier North Korea Sanctions and Enforcement Act of 2019,” requires the president to designate any person that he determines “knowingly engages in” certain specified North Korea-related activities, according to a document published on the department’s website.

It also requires the treasury secretary to impose sanctions on foreign financial institutions that the secretary, in consultation with the secretary of state, determines to be knowingly providing “significant financial services” to individuals already designated for their illicit ties to North Korea.

These sanctions include “blocking sanctions” on the financial institutions and a ban or strict conditions on the opening or maintenance of correspondent or payable-through accounts in the United States.

Also contained in the Warmbier bill is a provision requiring the treasury secretary to ban any U.S.-controlled entity outside of the country from knowingly engaging in any transaction with the North Korean government or sanctioned individuals.

The department said it is also revising the definition of “luxury goods” to exclude any items that have been approved by the U.N. Security Council for export to North Korea.

Warmbier was an American college student who died in 2017 after falling into a coma during detention in North Korea.

The new regulations will go into effect Friday after they have been published in the Federal Register.