Senators call for more sanctions on North Korea amid rising tensions

Michelle Macaluso, Sinclair Broadcast Group

Lawmakers are calling for more sanctions against North Korea after the nation successfully test launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile last week.

Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), members of the Senate Banking Committee, announced Thursday they will introduce a new bipartisan bill on imposing sanctions on North Korea called the Banking Restrictions Involving North Korea (BRINK) Act.

“China and other countries still maintain close ties to North Korea, and through a variety of ways have provided the the North Korean regime with a lifeline, despite countless US sanctions and UN Security Council Resolutions that forbid this,” said Sen. Toomey.

The bill will impose sanctions and fines on foreign financial banks and firms who provide funding and conduct business with North Korea. Chinese financial entities are the number one culprit.

“We will also authorize the president to sanction foreign governments who are evading international sanctions on North Korea,” said Sen. Van Hollen.

President Trump has been pressuring Chinese President Xi Jinping to do more to curb the regime’s nuclear program. In a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, President Trump said China could be doing more.

"We've asked for some assistance with respect to North Korea. Probably he could do a little bit more, but we'll find out,” Mr. Trump said.

China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and according to Chinese official trade between China and North Korea rose by 10.5% to $2.55 billion from January to June 2017.

“I don't have any confidence in the Chinese government at this point,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “Passing sanctions have failed working with china has failed at some point the military options are going to be on the table.”

For now, the White House is holding off on military action.

“At the moment we are are following a program or peaceful pressure and we will see if it works,” said White House Deputy Assistant Sebastian Gorka.

On Tuesday, the US successfully tested its THAAD anti-ballistic defense missile system and shot down a simulated intermediate range ballistic missile system over the Pacific Ocean.

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