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Pressure, not dialogue

Sept 28,2017
U.S. President Donald Trump is flexing his muscles and further tightening financial sanctions on North Korea. The U.S. government on Wednesday put eight North Korean banks and 26 North Korean individuals on a list of sanctions. Washington took the step only five days after Trump signed an executive order imposing comprehensive restrictions on individuals, enterprises and financial institutions of a third party that transact with North Korea.

The secondary sanctions are intended to warn financial entities around the world not to do business with North Korea in the future. Financial and security analysts compared the tougher sanctions to the 2010 “secondary boycott” the Obama administration levied on global financial institutions to thwart Iran’s nuclear program.

The reinforced sanctions will most likely have a strong impact on North Korea because the North Korean banks that are included on the sanctions list are known to have played key roles as a channel not only to deliver money needed to fund the North’s relentless push for nuclear and missile development but also to provide slush funds needed to maintain the Kim Jong-un regime. The sanctions also will put more pressure on China’s financial organizations than ever, given their whopping 90 percent share of North Korea’s total financial transaction with other countries.

“We are targeting North Korean banks and financial facilitators acting as representatives for North Korean banks across the globe,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Tuesday. “This further advances our strategy to fully isolate North Korea in order to achieve our broader objectives of a peaceful and denuclearized Korean peninsula.”

His comments strongly suggest that China is one of the targets.

Washington’s latest measure — arguably the toughest taken by past U.S. administrations — constitutes Trump’s second option aimed at bringing North Korea to the negotiating table without the risk of a military clash. Beijing must cooperate with Washington without trying to find loopholes in the sanctions as it did in the past.

At the same time, the international community must find effective ways to put the brakes on the funds deposited in fake names in Chinese banks. Our government must help tighten the U.S.-led financial sanctions on North Korea after recognizing the need for pressure, not dialogue.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 28, Page 34