Catching up on North Korea news following yesterday’s dangerous missile launch over Japan? Miss the news around Tuesday’s Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on tools that must be fully deployed to address the North Korean threat?  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.  Here are the highlights:

Previous administrations have applied pressure on North Korea in fits and starts.

As a result, North Korea has managed to escape the full effect of sanctions:  

  • False flags.  “At the hearing, U.S. officials released American intelligence findings on how North Korea smuggles coal and commodities to Russia and China… ‘Pyongyang falsifies the identity of vessels to make it harder for governments to determine if ships docking in their ports are linked to North Korea,’ [Assistant Treasury Secretary Marshall] Billingslea said.” (Reuters, 9/12/17)
  • Weapons, minerals and more for sale. “’Because of uneven, and sometimes nonexistent, international implementation, North Korea shrugs off the practical impact of many restrictions, and is still exporting prohibited goods such as weapons, minerals, and statues,’ Billingslea said.” (Associated Press, 9/12/17)
  • A Russian lifeline.  “‘Russian companies continue to provide support to North Korea,’ [Billingslea] said, adding that North Korean bank representatives ‘operate in Russia in flagrant disregard of the very resolutions adopted by Russia at the UN’.” (Financial Times, 9/12/17)
  • China is key.  “‘It’s been a long, long time of waiting for China to comply with the sanctions we pass and frankly with the sanctions that the United Nations pass,’ [Chairman] Royce said.” (The Hill, 9/12/17)

This has to change. 

To keep America safe, we’ve got to fully deploy sanctions, diplomacy and information

And we’ve got to compel countries to comply. 

  • “The United States can go much further.” “The amount of pressure North Korea has been put under economically is still far short of what we applied to Iran or even Iraq,’” a senior administration official said.” (Josh Rogin, Washington Post, 9/10/17)
  • The administration has the tools it needs – now it’s time to apply maximum pressure. “Republican Rep. Ed Royce, the committee chairman, said U.S. and allied efforts should be ‘super-charged.’” (Associated Press, 9/12/17)
  • “The North’s access to hard currency [is] its ‘Achilles heel,’ [said Chairman Royce.]” (Associated Press, 9/12/17)
  • “‘We must target major Chinese banks doing business with North Korea, such as China Merchants Bank and even big state-owned banks like Agricultural Bank of China,’ said Mr. Royce who has been a forceful advocate for sanctions in Congress.” (Financial Times, 9/12/17)
  • It’s worked before. In 2005, the U.S. government caught North Korea counterfeiting U.S. dollars, and gave Chinese banks an ultimatum… ‘it shut down [North Korea’s] ICBM system and the dictator couldn’t pay his generals,’ [Royce said.]” (Yahoo News, 9/14/17)
  • We’ve also got to do better with information.  “Royce said… he had met with a top North Korean defector who played up the impact of communications from the outside world as a way to pressure the government of Kim Jong Un. ‘He told me that the one thing really shaking the resolve of people across North Korea is the information that’s coming in on two short-wave [radio stations] run by defectors,” Royce said. “They’re telling people what’s really going on in North Korea and in the outside world.”  The defector, Royce recalled, said, “You should help amp that up and get that all across the country.” (Yahoo News, 9/14/17)