US Prepares For “Aggressive” High-Seas Crackdown On North Korea Sanctions Violators

Saturday, February 24, 2018
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
ZeroHedge.com
Sat, 02/24/2018

The Trump administration is coordinating with key Asian allies to crack down on ships suspected of violating sanctions imposed on North Korea, Reuters reports.

The joint effort between the U.S. Coast Guard and regional partners including Japan, South Korea, Australia and Singapore, would go further than ever before to physically block deliveries of banned weapons, components for its nuclear missile program and other prohibited cargo. Suspected violators could be targeted on the high seas or in the territorial waters of countries which cooperate with the coalition. Up to now, suspect ships have been intercepted on a far more limited basis.

Depending on the scale of the campaign, the U.S. might even devote a portion of air and naval power from the Pacific Command – though the plan would stop short of a full naval blockade according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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. -Reuters

North Korea is suspected of being just a few months away from having an ICBM capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, a program which has continued despite heavy sanctions which have been sidestepped by smuggling and ship-to-ship transfers of banned goods.

“There is no doubt we all have to do more, short of direct military action, to show (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un we mean business,” said a senior administration official.

Dozens of countries and vessels linked to North Korean shipping trade were slapped with fresh sanctions by Washington Friday, while the U.S. urged the United Nations to blacklist entities known or believed to be smuggling prohibited cargo in or out of North Korea.

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