Wrong Place, Wrong Time: US’s New Sanctions Against DPRK Escalate Threat of War

Sunday, February 25, 2018
By Paul Martin


The Trump administration’s new sanctions package against North Korea, described by the president as the “heaviest sanctions ever imposed” on a country, come at the worst possible moment, and increase the threat of war in the Korean peninsula, according to Russian international relations experts.

The new restrictions introduced by the US Treasury target several dozen vessels, trade entities and shipping companies from China, Singapore, Taiwan, and elsewhere, and have been met with condemnation by Pyongyang, which declared that any US effort to institute a maritime blockade would constitute an act of war.

Following the announcement, Donald Trump again not-so-subtly warned of the possibility of direct military action. “If the sanctions don’t work, we’ll have to go to phase two. Phase two may be a very rough thing, may be very, very unfortunate for the world. But hopefully the sanctions will work,” he said.

Russian Senate International Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev slammed Washington’s decision, saying the new sanctions were untimely, to say the least.

In a post on his Facebook page, the senator wrote that it is a “stupendous peculiarity of the Americans to crash down with penalties not when a situation worsens, but when there are signs of normalization.”

The politician recalled that the announcement on the new restrictions comes immediately after the DPRK’s Olympic delegation, led by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, arrived in the south to invite South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang for an Inter-Korean summit.

“And what effect is Trump hoping to achieve? For North Korea to curtail its negotiating activities?” Kosachev asked. “Pyongyang is ready for this at any moment. In this case, one gets the impression that that maybe the US is interested in escalating the confrontation, rather than resolving Korea’s problems through dialogue.”

Ultimately, the senator stressed that the Korean case is another example of the US Treasury being used as a punitive institution, taking advantage of Washington’s dominant position in the world economy to serve its own, narrow interests. “This, however, gives the other participants in global economic processes all the more reason to consider mechanisms to protect against the US’s arbitrary behavior and outright blackmail,” Kosachev concluded.

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