Economic sanctions passed by the United Nations and the U.S. Congress, as forcefully implored by the Trump administration, appear to be having their desired effect on the North Korean leadership. As President Trump embarks on a tour of Asia, Pyongyang leaders are beginning to panic as the noose tightens around their insular dictatorship. The crushing sanctions have imperiled the Kim Jong Un regime in a way that prior attempts have not, leading the North Korean mission to the UN to beg for a reprieve.
“The U.S.-led racket of brutal sanctions and pressure against the DPRK constitutes contemporary human rights violation and genocide,” they said in a statement. “These sanctions threaten and impede the enjoyment by the people of the DPRK of their human rights in all sectors. All types of anti-human rights and inhumane sanctions against the DPRK should be terminated immediately and thoroughly.”
Putting aside the monstrous irony of this regime calling out the international community for human rights violations, this plea for relief is a clear sign that Trump’s hardline stance against Kim Jong Un is bearing fruit. And it is a plea likely to go unheard, since North Korea brought all of this on itself. With its continual ballistic missile tests – many of which threaten other sovereign countries like Russia and Japan – and its refusal to give up its nuclear arsenal, the regime left the UN with no choice but to pass some of the toughest sanctions ever brought against a nation. Their import/export game has been crippled, and they are now depending almost entirely on China’s (dwindling) benevolence to stay in existence.
Expanding Pressure On China
Speaking of China, Trump’s Asian tour brings to him the perfect opportunity to confront President Xi Jinping about doing more to bring North Korea to heel. Democrats in Congress are freaking out about a Pentagon assessment that it would take a full-scale American invasion to fully destroy North Korea’s nuclear arsenal – an invasion that could easily lead to hundreds of thousands of casualties. Trump, who has pointedly refused to take the military option off the table, is nonetheless eager to handle Pyongyang in a way that does not invite total war.
While the sanctions could lead Kim Jong Un to do something stupid and desperate, it’s important to make sure that they are working as intended. And that means pressuring China to stop propping up their Communist allies.
Right now, China is responsible for 90% of what passes for trade in North Korea. And while they have been more willing to cooperate with President Trump on sanctions than any of his presidential predecessors, there is still much more they could do. Alternatively, there is much more the U.S. can do to make sure China follows through on their commitments to security. This week would be an excellent time for Trump to remind Xi of that pertinent fact.