Trump: We’re adding to sanctions on North Korea

Ed Morrissey Posted at 12:01 pm on September 21, 2017

Unilaterally, or otherwise? Donald Trump plans to keep the heat on North Korea while at the United Nations this week, and maybe on the UN as well. During a press avail with Afghanistan’s president, Trump responded affirmatively to a reporter’s question about escalating sanctions on the Kim Jong-un regime. Just what form those sanctions take is still not clear, but the issue once again goes back to the forefront of the week’s diplomatic efforts at Turtle Bay:

The United States will impose more sanctions on North Korea, President Donald Trump said Thursday.

“We will be putting more sanctions on North Korea,” the president told reporters Thursday morning ahead of a meeting with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan.

The US already has broad sanctions in place against North Korea, including some targeting regime leaders specifically. What new sanctions will get applied, and what impact will they have? That’s a good question, this Bloomberg panel responds, and predict that the impact will be minimal. There may not be much more to sanction, at least not that the US can reach:

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has an already-scheduled press conference this afternoon, and the expectation is that Mnuchin will fill in some of the details. Perhaps the new sanctions will target Kim himself, a step that the US has avoided until now, hoping to gain cooperation at some point with the hereditary dictator. It’s a step we can take unilaterally, but as the Bloomberg panel points out, it’s also a step that would be largely ceremonial.

North Korea has not been passive at the UN this week either. Their envoy told the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that US-led sanctions were starving children in their country. As to their own policies in regard to starvation, Han Tae Song admitted that they could improve matters too, but that the primary problem is the sanctions:

The panel of independent experts challenged North Korean officials over allegations of forced child labor, sexual abuse and trafficking in North Korea, Pyongyang’s health and education budget, and Internet access for children.

Han said North Korea, whose population is 26 million, is a “people-centered socialist country… where protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of the child are given top priority … There is room for improvement.”

But Han said that new sanctions imposed by the United States and the U.N. Security Council over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests were hampering the production of nutritional goods for children and provision of textbooks.

“The persistent and vicious blockade and sanctions against the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) are not only hampering the endeavors for the protection and promotion of the rights of the child but also seriously threatening their right to survival,” he said, calling for sanctions to be lifted.

There is an easy solution to that problem, which would be to, y’know, stop testing ICBMs and nuclear weapons. That solution comes straight from the UN, at which forum North Korea is making this plea. The obvious answer is Abide by our resolutions and you won’t have this problem. The committee will issue a report on North Korea on October 4th; want to bet that it will have this no-brainer response? Take the under.