October 10, 2022 | The Wall Street Journal

When Will Biden Put Pressure on North Korea?

Letter to the Editor: A once-robust sanctions program has atrophied since Trump embraced summit-level diplomacy with Kim in 2018.
October 10, 2022 | The Wall Street Journal

When Will Biden Put Pressure on North Korea?

Letter to the Editor: A once-robust sanctions program has atrophied since Trump embraced summit-level diplomacy with Kim in 2018.

Your editorial “The Missiles of North Korea” (Oct. 5) argues that the Biden administration should respond to North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic-missile launch over Japan by strengthening “the credibility of the conventional and military deterrent in Northeast Asia.” That is correct, but Washington must also launch a sanctions offensive against the Kim Jong Un regime’s nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs.

President Biden should return to the once-robust sanctions program that has atrophied since former President Trump embraced summit-level diplomacy with Mr. Kim in 2018. The administration hinted it may move in that direction by pledging to limit Pyongyang’s “ability to advance its prohibited ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction programs, including with allies and U.N. partners.” The Biden team needs to match its words with actions.

Unfortunately, Mr. Biden has continued his predecessor’s post-2018 policy of imposing few sanctions and enforcing them indifferently. Last year the administration issued only a single set of sanctions on Pyongyang. While it has issued more this year, its actions remain infrequent and inadequate, even though there are plenty of targets available. Mr. Biden should concentrate his initial efforts on reducing the regime’s sources of revenue, and then address the Russian and Chinese companies, individuals and banks that aid North Korea’s sanctions evasion.

Mr. Kim continues his provocations because he knows the Biden administration won’t increase the pressure. Now is the time to make Mr. Kim uncomfortable and force him to choose between his weapons and the financial viability of his regime.

Anthony Ruggiero

Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Washington

Mr. Ruggiero was director for North Korea (2018-19) and senior director for counterproliferation (2019-21) on the National Security Council.

Anthony Ruggiero is senior director of FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program and a senior fellow at FDD.

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Issues:

Military and Political Power Nonproliferation North Korea Sanctions and Illicit Finance