RSS
Will Kim Jong Il ever back down?
The sinking of a South Korea naval ship in March has prompted the U.S. to announce stringent new sanctions on North Korea. Is that punishment enough? 
 
Kim Jong-Il.
Kim Jong-Il.
Corbis

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced a slew of fresh U.S. sanctions against North Korea, which continues to deny responsibility for the sinking of the South Korean warship, Cheonan, that left 46 South Korean sailors dead this March. The expanded American sanction plan will, among other things, target counterfeiting and sales of contraband, and freeze assets of senior authority figures in North Korea. Though Clinton says sanctions would be lifted if Kim Jong Il accepts blame for the Cheonan incident, and makes steps towards "irreversible denuclearisation," few experts expect him to capitulate. How can the U.S. solve a problem like North Korea? (Watch an AP report about the new sanctions)

The U.S. must give these sanctions real teeth: The only successful U.S. sanction to date came in 2005 when the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia was singled out as a "primary money-launderer of North Korean illicit assets," says Howard LaFranchi at The Christian Science Monitor. That prompted a "wave of cooperation" around the world, and North Korea resumed talks over its nuclear capabilities. Clinton must ensure the new sanctions include similarly "serious financial measures."
"North Korea sanctions: Are they meaningless?"

Only sanctions from China will make a real difference: Sanctions make North Korea "uncomfortable," says Foster Klug at The Associated Press, but the regime will not feel "real pain" until the U.S. enlists help from China. North Korea still gets a "flow of cash" from China, which is reluctant to "pressure a country it considers a buffer between itself and South Korean-based U.S. troops." The Obama administration must get tough with Beijing.
"Chinese help is key to pressuring N.Korea"

It's too late for sanctions: Existing sanctions already block all international trade with North Korea, says Christian Whiton at Fox News, so these new ones will not change much. The U.S. needs to flex its military muscle, perhaps by collaborating with South Korea and Japan to move "intermediate range nuclear forces into the region." Unless we up the stakes, Kim Jong Il will never back down.
"No pain for North Korea, no gain for the U.S."

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week