US to offer most restrictive sanctions on North Korea ever

The US is ready to offer a sanctions package on North Korea that goes far beyind any other sanctions efforts previously created. The new sanctions resolution will be introduced to the UN Security Council  perhaps as soon as Monday.

What makes these sanctions radically different from other attempts to rein in North Korea's missile and nuclear programs is that the United States did not consult with Russia or China in developing the package.

Fox News:

The new push could potentially cause a rift with China, North Korea’s ally and trading partner, as well as with Russia.

The speedy U.S. action is prompted by Washington’s concern over what North Korea leadership claims was a hydrogen bomb test last weekend, as well as its recent missile launch over Japan, several diplomats said.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft stressed that “maximum possible pressure” must be placed on North Korea to give diplomacy a shot at ending the ongoing crisis.

Rycroft said a proposed ban on all oil imports and textile exports, as well as prohibiting North Koreans from working overseas -- which helps finance the country’s nuclear program -- was "a proportionate response" to North Korea's "illegal and reckless behavior."

Under the U.S. plan, all foreign financial assets of the government and its leader, Kim Jong Un, would be frozen. The U.S. also identified nine North Korean ships that failed to comply with the previous U.N. resolutions. The U.S. proposal would authorize any U.N. member state to stop these vessels on the high seas without their consent and use "all necessary measures" -- which in U.N. language includes force -- to carry out an inspection and direct the vessel to a port.

The U.S. demand for the Security Council to take swift action was viewed as a clear gauge of how seriously the Trump administration views the situation in North Korea.

"My sense is they believe that they don't have time for a delicate diplomatic dance," Professor Joseph DeThomas of Pennsylvania State University, a former U.S. ambassador and State Department official who dealt with North Korea, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday. "The other possibility ... is they want to see the color of China's money.

"They're putting down the marker here and saying, `OK, Are you prepared to do what is necessary to put pressure on North Korea at a moment when we're simply out of time?"'

In essence, the US is telling China and Russia to put up or shut up. If China and/or Russia veto the measure, it will prove how unserious they have been about pressuring their North Korean allies to abandon their nuclear program. The time for playing the big power game is over. North Korea's nukes represent an existential threat to much of the world. If China and Russia are sincere about avoiding a ruinous war, they will get on board and either vote to support the new sanctions or abstain and allow them to pass the council.

Thankfully, the US has an excellent representative to make the case for drastic sanctions. UN Ambassador Nikii Haley has spoken clearly and forcefully before the Security Council, making a convincing case against North Korea. She has also proved adept at cajoling UN members behind the scenes. Even some liberals have offered grudging admiration for her efforts.

But it will be a tall order for Haley to convince Russia and China that these extreme sanctions are necessary to avoid war. China, especially, doesn't want war on the Korean peninsula, but have proven themselves to be unwilling to exert the kind of pressure on North Korea that would get them to change their behavior. As a matter of national policy, China does not support sanctions, so the best that Haley can hope for is to convince China not to stand in the way of the rest of the world in sanctioning North Korea.

It may be that even with these draconian new sanctions, North Korea will not yield its position. If that's the case, the US could then claim that they've tried all diplomatic routes (except a direct meeting with Kim) and there is only one alternative left.

That decision by the president will come sooner rather than later.

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