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Stop oil supplies first

July 10,2017
The United States and its two closest Asian allies — South Korea and Japan — focused on North Korea in their first tripartite summit talks under new leadership in Seoul and Washington. In the talks held on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, the three countries agreed on three principles to address the North Korean nuclear problem. First of all, they agreed on a peaceful solution instead of a military option. They would mount tough economic sanctions to make Pyongyang inevitably yield.

Second, they agreed to join forces to draw a more aggressive role from China to influence North Korea. The three would work to make Beijing enforce sanctions. U.S. President Donald Trump said his government was mulling additional sanctions on Chinese enterprises and individuals involved in business deals with North Korea.

Third, they would endeavor to bring about new UN Security Council action on Pyongyang in punitive action for defying its earlier resolutions by testing ICBMs. This would put more pressure on Beijing which refuses to take any actions beyond the UN Security Council agreement.

The three leaders in short reemphasized the role of China in order to peacefully solve the North Korean weapons problem. Beijing must become entirely different from the past. It must admit it is accountable for the advance in North Korean weapons. Pyongyang was able to continue its weapons program despite international pressure and sanctions because of loopholes, and few would disagree that China was behind them. China is responsible for more than 90 percent of North Korean trade. Despite international sanctions, trade between North Korea and China has increased this year.

Instead of complaining about the U.S. missile shield, Beijing must take effective steps to remove North Korean nuclear weapons. Beijing would be foolish to hesitate in fear of aiding its rival Washington if it pressures Pyongyang, and of undermining its relationship with Pyongyang despite its unruly and dangerous ways.

If the problem is not solved immediately, the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia will be under the North Korean nuclear threat. President Xi Jinping’s dream of creating a renaissance for the Chinese could be ruined. China must take effective actions. Cutting or freezing the oil supply is the start.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 8, Page 26