Posted March. 23, 2017 07:12,
Updated March. 23, 2017 07:19
The U.S. House of Representatives is seeking fresh sanctions legislation calling for cutting off North Korea’s lifeline crude oil imports and cash inflows. The measure is the first additional legislation in one year since U.S. Congress passed a bill calling for tougher sanctions on the North. In addition, the Trump administration is in final stages of formulating its new North Korea policy that would put all options on the table to pressure Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambition. The U.S. administration and Congress are escalating their pressure on the North to the highest level ever.
What attracts the eyes the most in the new legislation is a clause that calls for banning the sale or transfer of crude oil and petroleum products to North Korea except for heavy oil for humanitarian purposes. Every time the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) discussed sanctions on the North, it considered an import ban on oil, only to fail to include it in final sanctions due to China’s opposition. This time, however, the UNSC has clearly expressed its determination to force Beijing to cut off its oil supply to Pyongyang. Previous measures subjected only individuals and corporations to sanctions. This time, “foreign” states are included, too, in a show of the international body’s will to push ahead despite possible diplomatic tensions with Beijing.
In line with the House’s move, the Trump administration is also putting spurs to drawing up a new North Korea policy, vowing to seek all forms of measures and put all options on the table. U.S. President Donald Trump said that he “inherited a mess” from the Obama administration, suggesting that he will take a new North Korea approach of seeking peace through power, an about-face from Obama’s “strategic patience.” The U.S. is also expected to take various measures targeting China, a hole in the North Korea sanctions.
Foreign media report that the United States is worried about the possibility that South Korea’s new administration will not support Washington’s tough North Korea policy. No wonder because leading opposition Democratic Party presidential contenders, including front-runner Moon Jae-in, are pledging to resume the Kaesong Industrial Complex and Mount Kumgang tourism that had served as cash cows for Pyongyang. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s defining Japan as “the most important ally” but referring to South Korea as “a global partner” probably was not just a mistake. North Korea attempted to launch yet another ballistic missile on Wednesday, apparently showing that Pyongyang did not care about international sanctions. Does Pyongyang believe it has another one to rely on other than Beijing?