Kim Jong Il Unplugged, Part 17

After North Korea showed up at last month’s disarmament talks just long enough to give the United States the finger, you wouldn’t expect us to go wobbly on our financial measures against North Korea’s financing of WMD’s, counterfeit currency, and other illegal proceeds.  With the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1695 and 1718, those …

Kim Jong Il Unplugged, Part 16

East Asia Commercial Bank of Vietnam closed all accounts linked to North Korea on Wednesday after the Macau government indicated it will keep the North’s accounts in its own Banco Delta Asia frozen “as long as legally possible. EACB has been acting as a correspondent bank for customers to remit money to and from North …

Kim Jong Il Unplugged, Part 15

The United States has leaked a new set of sanctions on “luxury items” that can no longer be exported to North Korea, in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718: [T]he list of proposed luxury sanctions, obtained by The Associated Press, aims to make Kim’s swanky life harder: No more cognac, Rolex watches, cigarettes, artwork, …

Dance, Little Piggy! (Kim Jong Il Unplugged, Part 14)

Most observers had speculated, since at least 1994 or so, that North Korea has the capacity to create a crude nuclear weapon. That appears to be exactly what they demonstrated recently, meaning that the only real news was our need to recalibrate Kim Jong Il’s brass-to-brains ratio. I didn’t guess whether he’d actually go through …

U.N.S.C.R. 1718: Who Won, Who Lost (Kim Jong Il Unplugged, Part 13)

John Bolton: Winner. I’d like to hear John Bolton’s critics deny that, as with Resolution 1695, he has wrung far more effectiveness from the U.N. than we had come to expect. Not only should we confirm this man, pronto, we should clone him. Madeleine Albright never got results like these. The United States: Winner. We …

Kim Jong Il Unplugged, Part 12

“If the U.S. keeps pestering us and increases pressure, we will regard it as a declaration of war and will take a series of physical corresponding measures,” the North’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. Well, what on earth did they expect?  Applause?  Mind you, they still …

Kim Jong Il Unplugged, Part 10: The First Shoe Drops

Japan and Australia have imposed sanctions on a series of the companies Kim Jong Il uses to collect foreign currency and dual-use items. In Japan’s case, this includes shutting off a substantial income source for the North: cash remittances from ethnic Koreans in Japan: The sanctions will effectively freeze North Korea’s assets in Japan by …

Kim Jong Il Unplugged, Part 7 (Updated)

[Update: My closing comment below about an expansion of our goals was an understatement: The U.S. Treasury Department, in a shift in its policy toward North Korea, has decided to treat all transactions involving the nation as suspect and subject to sanctions while dictator Kim Jong Il develops nuclear weapons. “Given the regime’s counterfeiting of …

Kim Jong Il Unplugged, Part 6

From the AP: The financial noose is tightening around North Korea as international banks sever ties with the nation – a move championed by the United States, a top Treasury Department official says. [….] “There is sort of a voluntary coalition of financial institutions saying that they don’t want to handle this business anymore and …

Kim Jong Il Unplugged, Part 5

Stuart Levey’s visit to Asia last month is paying off. Yet another nation is cutting off Kim Jong Il’s finances. Vietnamese banks have already closed down North Korean accounts over the past few weeks, most likely forcing Pyongyang to move its money to its last remaining haven, Russia, said Peter Beck, head of the International …

Kim Jong Il Unplugged, Part 4: Smoke ‘em While You’ve Got ‘em.

Several months ago, some misguided BBC staffer asked me to fight above my weight and debate former Ambassador Donald Gregg about the allegation that British American Tobacco was secretly making cigarettes in North Korea. (The debate was for a pilot program and never aired.) At the time, I argued that the decision to grow or …