WASHINGTON — The Latest on Congress and North Korea (all times local):
Members of the Senate Banking Committee say they’ve reached an agreement on legislation to strengthen and expand U.S. financial sanctions against North Korea.
The committee is scheduled to consider the measure next week. The bill targets banks and other financial institutions that continue to do business with Pyongyang and anyone else who evades existing sanctions to support the rogue, nuclear-armed nation. The legislation also permits states and local governments to divest from or prohibit investments in companies that maintain ties to North Korea.
Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, the committee chairman, says, “the time has come for the U.S. to take the lead to ensure that all nations work together to isolate the (Kim Jong Un) regime until it has no choice but to change its dangerous, belligerent behavior.”
A high-ranking North Korean defector has told a congressional hearing that a pre-emptive U.S. military strike would trigger automatic retaliation, with the North unleashing artillery and short-range missile fire on South Korea.
Thae Yong Ho (tay yong ho) was testifying Wednesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He defected in 2016 as deputy chief of mission at the North Korean Embassy in London.
Thae said the U.S. and South Korea would win a war after a preventive military strike, but there would be a “human sacrifice.”
He said North Korea has tens of thousands of artillery guns and short-range missiles at the military demarcation line, and the North’s officers are trained to open fire on the South in response to any bombing or a U.S. military strike.