U.S. President Donald Trump commented on Tuesday, “North Korea’s denuclearization was going very, very well. They are going to through the process. We have no time limit and no speed limit.” His comments emphasize the removal of a denuclearization time table in addition to last month’s comments of “rushing the turkey out of the oven.” Against this backdrop, North Korean sanctions, the only way to pressure North Korea’s denuclearization in a peaceful manner, are found to be full of flaws.
Trump’s denuclearization schedule, which initially used words such as one-shot, big-bang, to emphasize its eagerness for swift implementation, has shifted to denuclearization without time limit. Though Trump has stressed that “extremely positive events are taking place behind the scenes,” it is evident that denuclearization has shifted course for the longer term.
Such changes may be the outcome of the Trump administration belated recognition of tough negotiations with North Korea. It is likely that the United States has decided that forced pressure on North Korea, who has rejected the U.S. fast-track approach and demanded security assurance in the form of a treaty to formally end the war, may backfire. For Trump, who faces an election in November, appeasing North Korea and successfully returning U.S. soldier remains first then drafting a denuclearization and security assurance package at an appropriate timing may be part of a strategic plan.
As the Trump administration has emphasized that as the North Korean sanctions will not be lifted, North Korea has no choice but to accelerate the denuclearization process. In other words, it is the thirsty man who digs the well. However, there are many flaws in the North Korean sanctions. Some 9,000 tons of North Korean coal, which is banned by the United Nations, has been shipped to South Korea, disguised as Russian origin. The event has put South Korea in an awkward position, which encourages international cooperation regarding North Korean sanctions. Thorough investigations and follow-up measures should be in place to ensure that the sanctions are no longer suspected.
China has already revealed gaps in the sanctions and turns a blind eye to North Korea’s change of position. China has recently arrested 10 business people involved in smuggling in the border area between North Korea, revealing flaws in the sanction. The vessels that shipped North Korean coal to the South were found to be mostly Chinese-owned. Giving North Korea more time for denuclearization would only result in sophisticated nuclear and missile power.