Probably the only way to influence the regime is through money. We know how the $25 million in Banco Delta Asia influenced Kim Jong Il's decision making (then we blinked). Note that I say "influence" but not change regime behavior. I do not think the north will ever change its behavior; it will react and adjust to pressures, especially extreme pressure such as interdicting its money supply. But the only way to change the regime's behavior is to change the regime. Of course the path to regime change is fraught with complexity, uncertainly, danger, difficulty, and conflict so we have to be careful of what we ask for (though whether they know it or not, there are 23 million who deep down want and need regime change to end the horrific suffering they are experiencing).
- REVIEW & OUTLOOK ASIA
- May 2, 2013, 12:33 p.m. ET
Pressure on Pyongyang, and Beijing
It's up to the U.S. Congress to pursue regime change.
Secretary of State John Kerry spent his recent Asia trip pleading to restart talks with North Korea on its nuclear program. Pyongyang has made nuclear weapons the centerpiece of its regime, enshrined them in the constitution and restarted its plutonium program. Its determination to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state couldn't be more clear. Yet no matter how North Korea spurns Western diplomats, they keep coming back for more.
That leaves the U.S. Congress to pursue the only logical approach left if, as the Obama Administration has said, a nuclear-armed North Korea is not acceptable. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel have drafted H.R. 1771, a bill to impose unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang comparable to those against Tehran. Mr. Royce is explicit about his goal: regime change.
The new sanctions would punish companies that do business with North Korea, including banks. Because most international banks need to have access to the U.S. clearing system, this would make it difficult for the regime to conduct trade other than in cash. The U.S. Treasury Department used a similar pressure tactic in 2005 with great success, but then State traded it for another empty promise to disarm. Putting it in law means American diplomats wouldn't be able to throw Pyongyang another lifeline.
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