Trump angry after South Korea signals it may ease North Korea sanctions

11 October, 2018, 17:53 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Foreign Minister S. Korea Mulling Lifting Sanctions on N. Korea

Trump said this week the United States had "made incredible progress" in dealing with North Korea, saying: "You've got no rockets flying". A key point in the administration's defence of its North Korea diplomacy is that sanctions remain in place and that the Kim regime continues demilitarization talks with South Korea.

The Catholic church estimated that there were around 55,000 followers of the Catholic religion in North Korea when the Korean War broke out in 1950, but that figure is believed to have dwindled to a maximum of 4,000.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told a parliamentary audit on Thursday there has been no serious consideration given to lifting the sanctions and that doing so would be hard unless North Korea acknowledges responsibility for the 2010 attack.

A State Department spokesperson said the US and South Korea are committed to "close coordination on our unified response to North Korea".

In an interview granted to the Washington Post on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in NY last month, Kang said: "What we need to proceed with the South-North cooperation project as identified in the Panmunjom Declaration [issued after the April inter-Korean summit] means that sometimes we may need waivers on the sanctions, but getting waivers is very different from seeking a weakening of the sanctions regime".

However, there are growing calls for easing sanctions. Her comments more likely reflect the opinions of an administration frustrated with Washington. We can't violate global sanctions. "As there are many (bilateral) sanctions overlapping the United Nations ones, it won't necessarily mean the substantive lifting (of sanctions on the North)".


However, if they were lifted, by allowing cross-border barter trade - in which goods, but no actual currency crosses borders - North-South trade could feasibly resume without violating worldwide sanctions. The source added Pompeo "used strong language" in the phone call with Kang.

A session of the United Nations Security Council in September, too, revealed the growing divisions between members, with China and Russian Federation calling for sanctions to be weakened and the U.S., Japan, and numerous European countries insisting that pressure should be maintained.

Kang's remarks generated smiles in other quarters.

"Noting the important steps taken by the DPRK in the direction of denuclearization, the parties considered it necessary to start a timely review by the UN Security Council of the sanctions measures against the DPRK", the Joint Information Communiqué on Tripartite Consultations said. Kim committed to work toward "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the US. North Korean officials have suggested Pyongyang as a site, although that would hand a major propaganda victory to Kim, without him having to make a concession. However, as talks with the United States progressed, Kim made a number of visits to China, and there has been speculation that Chinese leader Xi Jinping will make a visit to North Korea in return.

The pair discussed ending the reclusive state's nuclear weapons program and hostilities between Washington and Pyongyang.

Pompeo told a reporter travelling with him Monday that "we made significant progress".

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