The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump may or may not be right in thinking that its “maximum pressure” campaign has brought North Korea to the bargaining table. What’s certain is that there remain cracks in that campaign. To sustain pressure on the Pyongyang regime and give the U.S. leverage in upcoming talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, they need to be plugged.
Certainly, the Trump administration deserves credit for coordinating the harshest set of sanctions ever levied against North Korea, targeting in particular its energy trade with the outside world. The United Nations has banned member states from buying North Korean coal and sharply curtailed the volume of crude oil and refined petroleum products the country can import. The U.N. also prohibits ship-to-ship transfers of fuel, in addition to exports of commodities such as iron and seafood.
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