U.S. to review North Korean finances

March 4, 2013 at 10:26 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he wanted to vet suggestions for removing North Korea's access to financing.

Royce, R-Calif., said he would have a hearing Tuesday to address alleged illegal activity that's bankrolling the North Korean government. He said he was frustrated that U.S. foreign policy options have been based on optimism that Pyongyang would eventually change course.

"We know that North Korea continues to engage in all types of illicit activities, from proliferation of weapons to counterfeiting U.S. currency, to finance their brutal regime," Royce said in a statement. "This hearing will identify the best strategy for cutting off North Korea's access to hard currency in order to see real change."

Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure by a voice vote describing Pyongyang is among the most brutal regimes in the world. The measure said that "thousands" of North Koreans are subjected to forced labor, torture and death in the country's work camps.

Human Rights Watch said as many as 200,000 people are in the North Korean gulag system.

North Korea drew scorn from members of the international community when it conducted its third underground nuclear test last month. The test was described by Pyongyang as part of its anti-U.S. agenda.

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