President Trump announced on February 23, 2018, that the United States has placed new shipping sanctions on North Korea. The sanctions are another attempt to block oil and other prohibited materials from reaching the rogue nation. During his time at CPAC this weekend Trump stated, “We have imposed the heaviest sanctions ever imposed…Hopefully, something positive can happen. We will see” (NPR). Likewise, the Treasury Department cited that 50+ ships and shipping companies have evaded both the United Nations and the United States sanctions on North Korea and have continually imported sanctioned material to North Korea. Some of those ships and shipping companies came from these countries: China, Singapore, Taiwan, Panama, Tanzania, the Marshall Islands and Comoros.
Moreover, these new sanctions are part of the Trump Administrations broader program that is entitled the maximum pressure campaign. The program has been designed to ultimately put pressure on the nation and its leadership to halt its nuclear program. Yet, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has continuously stated that his country nor the plan to disengage from their nuclear weapons program. Moreover, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has continued to make progress in the past year.
These recent sanctions have come when there has been a recent thaw in North and South Korean relations due to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Additionally, besides the Olympics, there has been continued high-level discussions among both Koreas as well. Moreover, Trump’s daughter and political adviser, Ivanka Trump will be attending the closing ceremonies for the Winter Olympics, but there have been no reports stating that she would be meeting with any North Korean officials during that time.
Yet, the amount of weight sanctions has had on the north has not been fully reported however a Senior administration official debriefed news report stating that current sanctions that
the United Nations and the United States individually placed on the North have reduced oil imports by 90% in recent months. Likewise, it has been reported that North Korea has tried to evade the sanctions by participating in “ship-to-ship transfers on the open seas, officials said” (NPR). The US Treasury has collected several photos of potential North Korean ships with false identification thus abling them to do the ship to ship transfers in the international waters. Thus, the United States and many of its Asian Allies are working with local shipping companies to put a halt on these activities, which the North are participating in. In addition, to this, the United States has barred all shipping companies that are participating in the ship to ship transfer program with the North Koreans.
Moreover, China the Norths main and only ally has agreed to cooperate with the UN and the United States to further punish the North. However, some Chinese Companies have been undermining the United Nations and US sanctions that were placed on North Korea and are continuing to be doing business with the North Koreans. Consequently, many wonder if the United States and the United Nations can fully trust the Chinese in following protocol.