U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration and vital Asian allies are reportedly working on coordinating an unprecedented crackdown on ships suspected of evading sanctions on the murderous North Korean regime led by dictator Kim Jong-un.
The revelation, first reported by Reuters, comes days after the U.S. imposed what President Donald Trump described as unprecedented new sanctions against North Korea on Friday.
“I do want to say — because people have asked: North Korea — we imposed today the heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country before,” proclaimed President Trump during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, DC, on Friday.
Meanwhile, the United States and its regional allies, namely Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Singapore, are “coordinating a stepped-up crackdown that would go further than ever before in an attempt to squeeze Pyongyang’s use of seagoing trade to feed its nuclear missile program,” Reuters, which first reported on the upcoming initiative, learned from various U.S. officials.
While suspect ships have been intercepted before, the emerging strategy would expand the scope of such operations but stop short of imposing a naval blockade on North Korea. Pyongyang has warned it would consider a blockade an act of war.
The strategy calls for closer tracking and possible seizure of ships suspected of carrying banned weapons components and other prohibited cargo to or from North Korea, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Depending on the scale of the campaign, the United States could consider beefing up the naval and air power of its Pacific Command, they said.
American officials told Reuters the U.S.-led initiative intends to force North Korea into negotiations over the abandonment of its nuclear weapons program.
Despite a plethora of sanctions slapped on North Korea by the United States and the United Nations, the rogue regime may at the very least be a few months away from completing the development of a nuclear missile capable of hitting the American homeland.
The North Korean people have been able to survive the international sanctions because the restrictions have been “sidestepped by smuggling and ship-to-ship transfers at sea of banned goods, according to officials,” notes Reuters, adding:
The [anti-santion evaders] initiative, which is being developed, would be fraught with challenges that could risk triggering North Korean retaliation and dividing the international community. China and Russia, which have blocked U.S. efforts at the United Nations to win approval for use of force in North Korea interdiction operations, are likely to oppose new actions if they see the United States as overstepping.
On Monday, Reuters published its exclusive report detailing the Trump administration’s plan to intensify its high-seas offensive with the help of U.S. regional allies against vessels believed to be ignoring sanctions on North Korea.
The day before, soon before the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics hosted in South Korea, the country’s President Moon Jae-in indicated, “High-ranking officials from North Korea told him their country was willing to start a dialogue with the United States,” reports the New York Times (NYT).
According to the Times, Kim Eui Kyeom, a spokesman for the South Koran leader, said in a statement:
President Moon noted that North Korea-United States dialogue must take place soon in order to improve South-North Korean relations and to find a fundamental solution to the Korean Peninsula issue. To this, the North Korean delegates responded that the North was quite willing to start talks with the United States and agreed that relations between North and South Korea and those between the North and the United States should develop simultaneously.
President Moon emphasized that South-North Korea relations must be expanded and improved widely. The North Korean delegates had said that Mr. Kim “shared the same desire.”
A top North Korean official visiting the South reiterated Monday that Kim is willing to engage in dialogue with the United States, Spanish news agency EFE reports, citing a South Korean presidential office spokesperson.