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US Coordinator for Iran and N. Korea Sanctions

Posted June. 14, 2010 15:33,   


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has appointed Robert Einhorn, special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, to double as Washington’s coordinator for sanctions on Iran and North Korea. Certain South Korean media carried news reports suggesting that Pyongyang will encounter the “messenger of death.” Einhorn has a small physique and ears about 1.5 times larger than those of ordinary people, looking anything but a messenger of death. A graduate of Cornell University and earning a master’s degree in international relations from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, he dealt with weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, from 1972 to 2001. He is a North Korea expert who is deemed a member of the rational centralist group.

Einhorn was assistant secretary of state under the Clinton administration. He joined Hillary Clinton’s camp in the Democratic Party’s presidential primary in 2008, and is considered one of the power elite at the State Department. Einhorn is close to Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and the Obama administration’s point man for North Korea policy, and to Jon Wolfsthal, special adviser to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. They worked at the Center of Strategic and International Studies, a facility for liberals out of power during the Bush administration. The U.S. coordinator for North Korea sanctions is in charge of adjusting diverse U.S. sanctions aimed at preventing nuclear proliferation, including the implementation of U.N. resolutions 1781 and 1874. The job requires professional expertise and ample connections.

So what level of sanctions will the international community seek against North Korea for the sinking of the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan? Since China is reluctant to impose sanctions on the North, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan could seek to implement sanctions independently. As such, it is all the more important to ensure that existing resolutions on sanctioning the North are implemented more thoroughly. The most effective sanctions on the North has been U.S. detection and freezing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s “slush funds for governing” stored at financial institutions worldwide.

Einhorn spearheaded Washington’s missile negotiations with Pyongyang in the 1990s. While assistant secretary for arms reduction at the State Department, he held talks with Kim twice while accompanying Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He said, “Negotiations with North Korea are a long process that require constant pressure. Nothing comes easy. While showing steadfast patience, we must guide Pyongyang to believe that if it fails to coordinate, it shall pay the price.” It remains to be seen how his ample knowledge of North Korea derived from his extensive experience will be useful in dealing with the Cheonan’s sinking.

Editorial Writer Kwon Sun-taek (maypole@donga.com)