Somewhere over the rainbow, the United Nations has squeezed out another resolution ordering North Korea to be nice, to abandon its nuclear weapons, or else. Off in the great somewhere, where colors meet the clouds, there’s faith that sanctions resolution No. 8 will succeed where the previous seven didn’t. On the ground where reality unfolds, it’s clear that only stronger medicine can cure the rogue regime of its practiced evil.
The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Monday to impose a fresh round of sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in response to its most recent provocations — the firing of a ballistic missile over Japan and the accompanying inaugural testing of a hydrogen bomb. The U.N. measure calls for capping oil imports to North Korea, blocking its textile exports, prohibiting new overseas contracts for its workers and clamping down on its smuggling.
Posh, responded the crazy fat kid. Trade prohibitions will not cause the Hermit Kingdom to flinch in its single-minded march toward completing a nuclear arsenal: “The DPRK is ready and willing to use any form of ultimate means. The forthcoming measures to be taken by the DPRK will cause the U.S. the greatest pain and suffering it had ever gone through in its entire history.”
Carrot or stick, the North’s answer is always the same: more threats. Treating North Korea as if it were a run-of-the-mill third world nation out to improve the lives of its people is a mistake. Under Juche, the ruling ideology of “self-reliance,” sacrifice for the sake of the state is paramount. Supporting Kim Jong-un’s drive for nuclear weapons in the face of worldwide condemnation is the approved means of securing the future.
Is it surprising that sanctions on Pyongyang have been futile? The answer is no. Such punitive economic measures are often reserved for the most uncooperative states, the nations that, like Iran, revel in their intransigence. Tehran has negotiated its way out of most restrictions on its financial activities while clearing an unhindered pathway to nuclear weapons within a decade. In his isolated Asian redoubt, Mr. Kim has no fear of losing money, only the fear of losing control.
Frustration boiled over on Capitol Hill Tuesday as the House Foreign Affairs Committee pondered the leverage, or lack thereof, that sanctions would bring in persuading the rogue regime to improve its unneighborly deportment. Without China’s full cooperation, sanctions are worthless. “It’s been a long, long time of waiting for China to comply with the sanctions that we pass and frankly, with the sanctions that the United Nations passed,” says Rep. Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the committee.
China, as North Korea’s big brother and source of 80 percent of the regime’s hard currency, has the heft and weight to prevail on the dictator to comply, like it or not. China has much to fear from an angry Washington, too. The Middle Kingdom collected $463 billion in trade with the United States in 2016. Though sanctions on China would slow the quickening pace of the U.S. economy, Beijing’s comparatively smaller output would suffer worse.
The president should follow through on his vow to shoot down any missiles that Mr. Kim fires over the heads of his neighbors. By backing up his warning with action, Mr. Trump can protect the innocent and wipe the smug smile off Mr. Kim’s face. The taboo against pressing the nuclear button, which people who love life clearly understand, must be carefully taught to those who do not.
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