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Former sanctions official says U.S. will need more cooperation from China to solve North Korean nuclear dilemma

The Trump administration has said all options, including the military option, are on the table

(National Sentinel) Diplomacy: A former official in charge of overseeing sanctions told a Senate panel on Wednesday that they alone won’t force China to take a tougher stand against North Korea over its maturing nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

As reported by South Korean news agency Yonhap:

Adam Szubin, who served as assistant treasury secretary in charge of sanctions until February, made the remark during a Senate hearing, stressing that the U.S. should have serious talks with China to map out a broader way forward, including potential leadership change in the North.

“China will not be strong-armed into a course of action that it believes imperils its own national security,” Szubin said. “For that reason, serious and high-level engagement with China will be needed to set out a way forward to include an intensive pressure campaign and the various scenarios that could follow from it, including potential leadership change in North Korea.”

He added that China won’t take any chances when it comes to North Korea’s fate, given their shared border (and historical alliance).

“Concerns over stability will be paramount. But I believe that our interests can be reconciled with China’s,” he said, adding that sanctions can work against North Korea but only if China is dedicated to enforcing them.

“North Korea is not self-reliant or sanctions proof. Its leadership depends upon access to foreign imports and international banking services and that access can be disrupted,” he said. “Sanctions leverage over North Korea is concentrated in one country, China. If China is prepared to take a qualitatively tougher stance on sanctions against North Korea, sanctions have a chance to succeed.”

In a separate report, Yonhap noted that John Sullivan, named to be deputy secretary of state, told a Senate committee during his confirmation hearing that the Trump administration planned on turning up pressure on China to help reign in Pyongyang.

“Our goal is to have a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. That is our objective and we’re going to use all the means at our disposal, our national power, to accomplish that, in working with allies, partners and others, and having as an option the use of other means at our disposal with the Defense Department,” Sullivan said.

The White House wants to accomplish that with increased diplomatic pressure and tough new sanctions, but President Donald J. Trump and members of his administration including Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have said all options, including the military option, are on the table.

“The secretary has made clear that we will use all of the legal and policy authorities that we have to … turn the dial on the pressure on China to make sure that we are leaning in … on China. Leaning on China more than we ever have to make clear how important this is to the United States,” Sullivan said.

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