Trump asks China to cut all oil to North
Trump threatened “major sanctions” on the regime Wednesday, following Pyongyang’s launch of an ICBM that can strike the United States, tweeting that he had just spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping “concerning the provocative actions of North Korea.”
He added, “Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!”
Such measures could also include sanctions against financial institutions, maritime interdiction and the cutting off of energy supplies to the regime.
“President Trump called Chinese President Xi this morning and told him we have come to the point that China must cut off the oil from North Korea,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in New York Wednesday evening. “That would be a pivotal step in the world’s effort to stop this international pariah.”
She called on Xi to “show leadership and follow through,” saying, “China can do this on its own, or we can take the oil situation into our own hands,” hinting at possible military action. Beijing has previously resisted attempts to cut off all oil supplies to Pyongyang, which would cripple the regime.
“Today, we call on all nations to cut off all ties with North Korea,” said Haley. “In addition to fully implementing all UN sanctions, all countries should sever diplomatic relations with North Korea and limit military, scientific, technical or commercial cooperation. They must also cut off trade with the regime by stopping all imports and exports and expel all North Korean workers.”
She also noted that North Korea and its enablers are using deceptive tactics to smuggle coal, banned under UN sanctions, into the regime, and bring in refined petroleum through illegal ship-to-ship transfers.
“The regime has shown time and again that it doesn’t want to talk,” said Haley, pointing out that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “didn’t even speak with President Xi’s envoy when he was sent to talk with the regime.” Chinese senior diplomat Song Tao made a four-day trip to Pyongyang on Nov. 17, but returned without meeting with leader Kim.
She also pointed out that while North Korea declared itself a nuclear power following its missile launch Wednesday, that title “comes with certain standards.”
Haley added, “The dictator of North Korea made a choice yesterday that brings the world closer to war, not farther from it. We have never sought war with North Korea, and still today we do not seek it. If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday.”
She went on to say, “And if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.”
Saying it was a “time of reckoning,” Haley advised that North Korea’s UN rights and privileges to be taken away, including its voting powers, and pointed out that member states “have it within their power to further isolate, diminish and god willing, reverse the dangerous course of the North Korean regime.”
Through an emergency meeting, the 15-member UN Security Council has called on nations to prevent the escalation of tension after the recent launch of the regime’s Hwasong-15.
Wu Haitao, China’s deputy ambassador to the United States, urged North Korea to stop escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula, expressing regret that the stable situation in the past two months failed to achieve dialogue. He continued to stress the need for diplomacy, while again raising China’s initiative with Russia for a double suspension of the North’s nuclear activities and the United States’ military exercises with South Korea.
“We urge Pyongyang once again to seize the rapidly closing window of opportunity to resolve its nuclear problem peacefully,” said Cho Tae-yul, South Korean ambassador to the United Nations, who also attended the meeting upon the invitation of the council.
The White House said in a statement on Trump’s call with Xi that Trump “underscored the determination of the United States to defend ourselves and our allies from the growing threat posed by the North Korean regime.”
It added that Trump “emphasized the need for China to use all available levers to convince North Korea to end its provocations and return to the path of denuclearization.”
The Trump administration has engaged in a strategy of maximum pressure to get the North to denuclearize, and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson underscored that he plans to continue working toward a diplomatic solution.
Tillerson told reporters Wednesday that the United States has “a long list of additional potential sanctions,” including some that could target financial institutions.
He added, “The Treasury Department will be announcing those when they’re ready to roll those out.”
Last week, Trump relisted North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism for the first time since 2008, and declared additional sanctions on North Korea will be revealed over the next two weeks, which would lead to “the highest level of sanctions.”
The U.S. Department of Treasury last week also sanctioned one Chinese individual, 13 entities and 20 North Korea-flagged vessels accused of illicitly funding Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. There could, however, be further secondary sanctions on Chinese banks and oil companies seen to be enabling the North Korean government and its weapons of mass destruction program.
When asked how much time he was willing to give to his pressure campaign on the North, Tillerson merely responded, “As a diplomat, we keep working on it every day.”
Washington has also urged the international community to take extra steps to interdict vessels transporting goods to and from North Korea, in what is described as “new level of maritime interdictions,” by State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
She told reporters that such interdiction of ships “could be a major new pressure point” on the North.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]