By Robert Pittenger
Russia, Iran and North Korea – three very different countries, each posing a different and unique threat to the United States’ national security.
Did you know that North Korea has fired 18 missiles over 12 tests since February?
What’s their ultimate goal, you might ask? To create a ballistic, possibly nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States.
Regarding Russia, under President Obama, we allowed them to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty and violate their human rights by annexing the southern region of Crimea. We balked at our own bilateral protection treaties with Ukraine and allowed the Russian government to invade. The Russian government has disrupted U.S. businesses and critical infrastructure, conducting numerous widespread and government-sponsored cyberattacks.
Developing nuclear weapons, violating human rights and providing support to terrorist organizations are efforts Iran has continuously carried out.
Action must be taken to keep Americans safe and prevent these foreign enemies from undermining our freedom.
With that in mind, the House overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan sanctions bill, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which President Trump signed into law, to put pressure on these three nations and strengthen our national security. Our bill creates new sanctions, improves existing sanctions and imposes a variety of reporting obligations.
Specifically, the bill puts pressure on North Korea by prohibiting United States financial institutions from doing business with individuals that provide direct or indirect finances to North Korea. In addition, it will place tough sanctions on cargo, shipping and goods produced by North Korean labor. The efforts laid out in our sanctions bill will further weaken the North Korean government and protect the United States from the hostile reign of Kim Jong Un.
With Russia, our bill penalizes Russia’s role in recent cyberattacks and imposes sanctions related to Russia’s illegal intervention in Ukraine.
Lastly, the House bill targets Iranian weapons programs, those who sell military equipment to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and any individuals found culpable for assisting Iranian human rights violations.
Not only does our bill sanction Iran, Russia and North Korea for their state-sponsored bad actions, but we also strengthen our government’s efforts to track and intercept terrorist financing. As vice chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Financing, I drafted legislation, included in the sanctions bill, to strengthen our country’s anti-terror financing efforts.
Specifically, my legislation improves the role of Treasury Department anti-terrorism units embedded in our foreign embassies abroad, and it strengthens the Treasury Secretary’s role on the National Security Council. Our bill also updates our national anti-money laundering strategy, which is an issue I’ve worked on and promoted for years. This strategy has not been updated since 2007.
Efforts by the Treasury Department are fundamental to combatting terrorist groups, and these were important provisions in this legislation to stem the flow of money to terrorists.
The terrorists do not rest as they seek to circumvent the international financial system. We must take these critical actions to enhance our efforts here at home and abroad to stem the flow of money the terrorists need to carry out their attacks against liberty.
The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act is a start in combatting their threats. As chairman of the Congressional Taskforce on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, I will continue leading efforts to keep our country safe and fight against these foreign adversaries.
Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-9) is chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance. He serves on the House Financial Services Committee, with a special focus on supporting small businesses, community banks and credit unions.