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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 1:00 am

Trump: N. Korea penalty 'small step'

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Tuesday new U.N. sanctions “are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen” to stop North Korea's nuclear march. U.S. officials showed Congress satellite images of illicit trade to highlight the challenge of getting China and Russia to cut off commerce with the rogue nation.

The U.N. Security Council's new restrictions could further bite into North Korea's meager economy after what Kim Jong Un's authoritarian government says was a hydrogen bomb test Sept. 3. The world body on Monday banned North Korean textile exports, an important source of hard currency, and capped its imports of crude oil.

The measures fell short of Washington's goals: a potentially crippling ban on oil imports and freezing the international assets of Kim and his government.

“We think it's just another very small step – not a big deal,” Trump said as he met with Malaysia's prime minister at the White House. “But those sanctions are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen.” He did not elaborate.

Despite its limited economic impact, the new sanctions succeed in adding further pressure on Pyongyang without alienating Moscow and Beijing. The U.S. needs the support of both of its geopolitical rivals for its current strategy of using economic pressure and diplomacy – and not military options – for getting North Korea to halt its testing of nuclear bombs and the missiles for delivering them.

Trump said it was “nice” to get a 15-0 vote at the U.N.

Briefing the U.S. lawmakers, Marshall Billingslea, assistant treasury secretary for terrorist financing, displayed satellite photos to demonstrate North Korea's deceptive shipping practices. He focused in particular on how it masks exports of coal that were banned in August after the North tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles.

In one example, a North Korean ship was said to have sailed from China to North Korea, turning off its transponder to conceal its location as it loaded coal. The ship then docked in Vladivostok, Russia, before finally going to China to presumably unload its cargo. China accounts for 90 percent of North Korea's external trade.