US expert: Implementation of new UN sanctions on N. Korea going well
Unlike previous sanctions, implementation of the new UN sanctions on North Korea appear to be going pretty well, with China actively carrying out both financial and trade restrictions, an American sanctions expert said Tuesday.
Joshua Stanton, a North Korea sanctions expert who helped write the North Korea sanctions legislation that passed Congress last month, made the assessment during a Heritage Foundation discussion, saying he was “encouraged” to see positive effects of the sanctions.
“What we’ve seen so far is that the large banks in China have begun cutting off money transfers to North Korea,” he said. “Shipping sanctions seem to be working pretty well. We’ve seen that the Philippines seized a North Korean ship that was among the 31 ships designated by the UN Security Council.”
China has also been turning away North Korean ships, and the North’s coal exports have also been halted, he said.
What’s also important to note is that the sanctions have had little effect on the everyday lives of North Korean people, with food prices remaining stable, he said. On the contrary, more food and coal have been put into markets in the North as their exports have been made difficult, he said.
“The early signs are encouraging. It is too early again to say that the policy is working, but these are exactly the signs I would expect to see if the policy will work,” Stanton said.
But he warned against hasty optimism, saying there is “too much that could go wrong.”
“The most obvious danger is that China sort of feints toward cooperating with the sanctions for a few months and then everything blows over and we take our eyes off the ball and suddenly we wake up one morning and the Bank of China is doing money transfers to the Foreign Trade Bank of North Korea again,” he said.
The past sanctions resolutions on the North have not been carried out as there have been too many exceptions to their enforcement, Stanton said, claiming that the now-shuttered inter-Korean industrial complex in the North’s border city of Kaesong was also a clear violation of sanctions.
The factory park had been kept intact as a last-remaining symbol of inter-Korean rapprochement, but South decided to shut the complex, which served as a key source of hard currency for Pyongyang, in response to the North’s nuclear and missile tests.
Stanton stressed that in order to maintain the momentum for sanctions implementation, it is important for the US government to show determination to enforce the sanctions legislation that was enacted with overwhelming support from Congress.
Right after the passage of the UN sanctions, the US government announced unilateral sanctions, blacklisting the North’s powerful National Defense Commission as well as key aides to leader Kim Jong-un, such as Hwang Pyong-so, director of the general political bureau of the Korean People’s Army.
“I’m looking for more designations, including the designation of ‘His Corpulancy’ himself, which is something that the State Department and the president must consider under Section 302 of the new sanctions law,” the expert said, referring to the North’s leader.
Officials have said that the US Treasury Department is putting together an additional package of sanctions on the North to carry out the UN resolution and to enforce the sanctions legislation. The new sanctions are expected to be announced as early as this week.
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