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Asia Minute: North Korean Sanction Options

Roman Harak / Flickr
Roman Harak / Flickr

International attention remains focused on North Korea this week. The Trump Administration has been talking with allies about a potential response to the latest actions by the Pyongyang government. But turning rhetoric into specifics is a challenge. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


Trade sanctions have been the historical weapon of choice in response to provocations from North Korea.

After meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said sanctions alone will not be effective against North Korea.

It was barely a month ago that the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed its latest set of sanctions against Pyongyang. That was the seventh round since 2006, banning exports of minerals like coal and iron ore – as well as seafood.

So what’s left on the sanctions menu?

The big one would be to block North Korea from importing oil. Most of that oil comes from China, some from Russia.

Other options include banning North Korean exports of textiles.

The South China Morning Post cites government figures showing clothing exports to China alone came to nearly 150 million dollars in the second quarter.

One other noteworthy export from North Korea: labor.

The Korea Herald quotes U.N. calculations that show some 54,000 North Koreans work abroad—sending hard currency back to North Korea.

The biggest host countries: China and Russia.

Both hold veto power over potential sanctions at the U.N. Security Council.

Whether either chooses to exercise that option is another question.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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