U.N. sanctions against commerce with North Korea are proving toothless. In the last few days we have learned via open sourced U.S. and Western intelligence that both China and Russia are selling oil and petro chemicals to North Korea. The sales are in violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions. The sales permit continued development of the rogue nation’s nuclear weapons program.
Existing U.N. sanctions simply stop the Kim regime sourcing oil on the open market. The U.S. can publically castigate countries like Russia and China for violating the sanctions, to no effect. Even with concrete proof the White House could do little, given we are dealing with a feckless U.N.
Publically, there is no “smoking gun” tying the governments of China and Russia directly to the illegal oil sales. In practical terms, it is unlikely that state level smuggling, worth tens of millions of dollars would go unnoticed or unsanctioned by two centrally controlled regimes.
It is more likely the Chinese and Russian governments are complicit in the illicit oil sales. The two governments, both longtime backers of Kim Jong Un, are relying on plausible deniability. The oil transfers are made, ship transponders off, on the open sea, outside the territorial waters of China or Russia. One can almost hear 1960’s television’s Sargent Schultz refrain, “I know nothing.”
So, what options does the White House have? Despite U.N. sanctions and international condemnation, the oil and money continues to flow into North Korea. Kim Jung Un has continued to develop nuclear weapons capable of reaching the United States and our Pacific allies. The Trump Administration seemingly has two potential responses, both bad….