Washington Under Pressure to Ease North Korean Sanctions


WASHINGTON Washington faces mounting pressure from China, Russia and South Korea, as well as humanitarian groups, to ease sanctions on North Korea as the Trump administration’s denuclearization talks with Pyongyang have hit a snag.

Washington’s talks with Pyongyang stalled last week when North Korea abruptly canceled a scheduled meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo amid U.S. efforts to maintain sanctions while engaging in diplomatic negotiations with the country.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is expected to bring up the issue of relaxing North Korean sanctions when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their scheduled meeting at the sidelines of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday as an attempt to revive the stagnant denuclearization talks.

William Brown, a former U.S. intelligence official and a professor at Georgetown University who focuses on the North Korean economy, said suspending production of fissile nuclear material is the essential first step that North Korea needs to take toward complete denuclearization that would prompt sanctions relief.

The financial and more general trade restrictions should remain until Pyongyang moves toward permanent reduction and ultimate elimination of its nuclear weapons, Brown said.

‘Snap back’ sanctions

Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said, The U.S. can suspend some sanctions (to be negotiated) in exchange for agreed-upon steps of denuclearization.

Manning continued, This could be done by getting a new U.N. Security Council resolution that commits ‘snap back’ sanctions if North Korea fails to comply. Snap back refers to the restoration of lifted sanctions if North Korea falls short of reaching its denuclearization agreements.

Gause, of the International Affairs Group, said he believes Washington will ease sanctions only when it thinks sanctions are ineffective.

The U.S. will relax sanctions once the U.S. comes to terms that the sanctions are not really working on North Korea, he said.

Jonathan Schanzer, a former Treasury Department official and currently a senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said, The key to success, to the extent that success is possible, is to sustain sanctions pressure while negotiating simultaneously.

In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Pence said a second summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, tentatively scheduled for sometime early next year, will be where a verifiable plan to disclose the nuclear sites must be reached.

I think it will be absolutely imperative in this next summit that we come away with a plan for identifying all of the weapons in question, identifying all the development sites, allowing for inspections of the sites and the plan for dismantling nuclear weapons, Pence said.

Source: Voice of America