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Ex-U.S. official calls for massive sanctions to cripple N.K. economy

All News 08:12 January 20, 2016

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 (Yonhap) -- Sanctions on North Korea should target not only the regime's illicit activities but also the country's overall economy to curb its economic growth and completely cut the country off from the global banking system, a former U.S. sanctions official said Tuesday.

Peter Harrell, a former deputy assistant secretary of state, made the point in an article to The Hill, saying the existing sanctions on North Korea do not reflect the country's recent economic growth and other developments.

"The U.S. and our allies should shift from sanctions that target North Korea's illicit activities to broader sanctions designed to cripple North Korea's economy as a whole -- much as the U.S. and our allies began targeting the Iranian economy in 2010," he said.

Harrell, currently an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), said the North is believed to have achieved modest economic growth, adding a construction boom is reportedly under way in Pyongyang and its government has reportedly established more than 20 special economic zones.

"The existing sanctions are not effectively designed to challenge this dynamic," he said.

The expert called for imposing sanctions on international companies that do business with North Korea's primary economic sectors, such as mining and textiles, and ramping up financial sanctions against the handful of banks that still do business with North Korea.

Financial sanctions should not be limited to banks that facilitate the North's nuclear program or other illicit activities, but the goal should be "to entirely cut North Korea off from the global banking system, much as the U.S. did with Iran over the past five years," he said.

"Combined, escalated trade and financial sanctions have the potential to curb North Korea's growth and to undercut the economic base that the North requires to keep advancing its nuclear program," Harrell said, adding that such a new broader sanctions campaign could be complemented by stepped-up enforcement of the existing sanctions.

He stressed, however, that such sanctions should be paired with diplomacy.

"The unfortunate reality is that there are no short-term solutions to the North Korean nuclear threat," he said. "But the U.S. and our allies do have tools to hit North Korea's economy, and should use these tools to respond to North Korea's increasingly provocative acts."


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