Hillary Clinton Would Use North Korea Sanctions to Limit Its Nuclear Program

Hillary Clinton and Kim Jong-un
Matt Rourke/AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton plans to take a page out of the Obama administration’s Iran playbook and use sanctions to force North Korea to limit its nuclear program, reveals her top foreign adviser.

Jake Sullivan, chief of the Clinton campaign’s foreign policy advisory team, participated in the secret talks with Iran in 2012 that led to the nuclear agreement the Islamic Republic reached with five U.S.-led world powers.

On Monday, Sullivan told the Asia Society in New York that Clinton is planning to implement a similar strategy to tackle North Korea’s nuclear program.

“This is a paramount security challenge of the United States. It will have to be right at the top of the agenda for the next president to deal with,” he declared. “It’s hard for me to underscore how important it is that we place urgency behind this.”

North Korea is already sanctioned heavily by the U.S and the United Nations. Nevertheless, Bloomberg reports that Sullivan indicated a drastic increase in pressure is necessary to get North Korea to negotiate about its nuclear program in good faith.

The Clinton policy advisor reportedly suggested that sanctions imposed on Iran by the international community prior to the nuclear agreement last year provide a model for how to deal with North Korea.

“Those negotiations were set up by a comprehensive, highly tailored, highly resourced effort that involved basically every significant economy in the world getting together and putting real pressure on that regime in a concentrated, sustained way,” he said, adding that, “like in Tehran, the North Koreans’ ‘expectations and understanding of their choices need to be reshaped.’”

Meanwhile, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, said Tuesday that he is open to negotiating  with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un about the Communist country’s nuclear weapons program.

“I would speak to him, I would have no problem speaking to him,” Trump told Reuters, adding, “at the same time I would put a lot of pressure on China because economically we have tremendous power over China.”

“China can solve that problem with one meeting or one phone call,” he continued.

As President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, Clinton opposed several sanctions that U.S. lawmakers imposed to increase pressure on Iran.

“Clinton actively supported United Nations sanctions against Iran at that time,” notes Bloomberg. “She often takes credit on the campaign trail for building the sanctions regime that eventually brought Iran to the table.”

The Bloomberg report adds:

Clinton and Sullivan are skeptical that North Korea will ever give up its nuclear weapons program completely. North Korea has conducted four nuclear tests since 2006. The regime is amassing nuclear weapons material and could have enough for 79 nuclear bombs by 2020, according to leading nuclear experts. The Iran deal that Sullivan helped negotiate has been criticized for leaving a significant portion of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure intact.

Like Trump, Sullivan reportedly said China will have to play a role to increase pressure on North Korea.

Bloomberg points out:

He did not say directly that Clinton would use sanctions to pressure China to pressure Pyongyang, but he noted that the Obama administration recently signed an executive order that allows for sanctions on countries that do business with North Korea, known as “secondary sanctions,” and that Congress passed a bill this year that authorizes sanctions against any entity that aids North Korea in nuclear, trade or human rights abuses.

“This has to be one of the first and most important pieces of business in the first summit between the next president and [China’s leader] Xi Jinping,” Sullivan said.

During his speech, Sullivan did lambast Trump for comments he has made on foreign policy.

“The ideas he’s putting forward and the temperament that he has displayed make him a dangerous proposition to be commander-in-chief,” he said.