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Weakening sanctions on North Korea

Posted May. 23, 2018 07:54,   

Updated May. 23, 2018 07:54


The working-level talks between the United States and China that are intended to check if China is complying with the United Nations Security Council resolution on North Korea reportedly have been suspended from this year.

“We have not had working-level talks with China this year owing to the circumstances of China,” a U.S. official said Monday (local time) in a telephone call with The Dong-A Ilbo. “After North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced North Korea’s participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in his New Year’s Address, there has not been a working-level meeting between the United States and China,” another source said. U.S. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Monday, “The word is that recently the Border has become much more porous and more has been filtering in,” openly demanding that China comply with the sanctions against North Korea. Critics argue that Trump’s tweet is related to the suspension of U.S.-China working-level meeting.

At the working-level talks, the Chinese government presented statistics on its import of coal, iron ore and fishery products as well as its export of refined petroleum products to prove that it is in accordance with the sanctions against North Korea by the UN Security Council. The United States, in response, would use the information acquired from satellite observation to verify the statistics provided by China. The United States viewed that China, which accounts for 95 percent of North Korea’s overseas trade, has played a key role in bringing North Korea to the negotiating table by actively imposing sanctions on North Korea. But experts suspect that the suspension of U.S.-China working-level meeting in addition to the conciliatory mood on the Korean Peninsula is poking holes in sanctions once again.

The problem is the Trump administration has no strategy at the moment to toughen sanctions on North Korea as it exhausted tools to pressure China by signing a trade deal with it. The United States and China have reached a trade agreement after two rounds of negotiations to delay import tariffs. The U.S. Treasury Department, which announced sanctions on North Korea nearly every month, has not made any announcements on new sanctions for the third month since February.

Jeong-Hun Park sunshade@donga.com