US secondary sanctions undermines cooperation

By CHEN WEIHUA | | Updated: 2017-08-23 04:33

US secondary sanctions undermines cooperation

Members of Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) take part in an anti-terror drill as a part of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise in Seoul, South Korea, August 22, 2017. Photo/Agencies

The US Treasury Department announced sanctions on Tuesday on 16 entities and individuals, mostly Chinese and Russian, for alleged business ties with the nuclear and missile program in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The decision came less than two months after the US Treasury imposed sanctions on a bank, a shipping company and two individuals from China for the same so-called secondary sanctions.

The US Treasury claims that its actions complement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2371 enacted on Aug 5. However, in essence, it is a major distraction from the real issue in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a reflection of failed US policies.

China has not only endorsed the UNSC Resolution 2371, but earnestly implemented all the relevant resolutions on DPRK. China, however, has opposed unilateral sanctions imposed by the US outside the UNSC framework. China has also stated that it opposes such "long-arm jurisdiction" by any other country using their domestic laws against Chinese entities or individuals.

China has made it clear that if any Chinese entities or individuals were found violating UNSC resolutions, they will be investigated and punished according to Chinese laws.

The US has long believed that sanctions are a silver bullet. But its past track records have shown that the majority of sanctions not only failed but caused humanitarian disasters in other countries. It is also not hard to tell that its sanctions and heightened sanctions on DPRK have failed to stop the country from pursuing its nuclear and missile program.

There is little doubt that such secondary sanctions will have no, if little, effect on DPRK in changing its course.

However, the Tuesday announcement has greatly undermined the trust and cooperation between the US and China and Russia, the two countries who endorsed the UNSC resolution on Aug 5 and in previous years.

Lack of trust and cooperation between relevant parties, especially between the US and DPRK and between US and China, is a major stumbling block to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

For weeks, the US administration has been sending conflicting messages about DPRK from President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis. Such messages, highlighted by Trump's "fire and fury" and "locked and loaded" rhetoric, not only invited harsh response from DPRK, but caused concern and confusion around the world, including from US allies – South Korea and Germany.

The Tuesday announcement came at a time that the US repeatedly ignored the call from China and Russia for the dual suspension – the US and South Korea halt their large military drills while DPRK halts its missile and nuclear tests.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula rose again on Monday after the US and South Korea began their annual Ulchi-Freedom Guardian military drills, with DPRK threatening "merciless strike" ahead of the drills.

The US has always blamed DPRK for the failure in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, and never wants to acknowledge that its own behaviors, such as breaking its promise to deliver two light water reactors to DPRK in time under a 1994 agreement, or imposing financial sanctions on DPRK soon after a joint statement from the Six-Party Talks in 2005, have contributed to the current impasse.

This is not to mention that the US has a lot to do in recovering its credibility after removing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 after he gave up his nuclear weapons program.

Secretary Tillerson's words on Tuesday are welcome when he acknowledges that the DPRK has not conducted missile and nuclear test since the UNSC resolution on Aug 5 and he hopes this would lead to dialogue in the future. But the Treasury announcement on Tuesday directly contradicts to such efforts.

The author is deputy editor of China Daily USA.


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