Forget Hillary Clinton; I’ve been telling you that if you want to see whether the U.S. government is serious about bringing the pain to Kim Jong Il, keep an eye on Stuart Levey. And did I not tell you that President Obama would thank himself for renominating the architect of the financial constriction strategy that briefly struck fear into Kim Jong Il’s dessicated heart?
A United States government official who played a key role in freezing North Korean assets in 2005 will be part of an American delegation visiting Seoul this week, perhaps signaling that the international community will look to impose financial sanctions against Pyongyang following its nuclear test last week.
Stuart Levey, the U.S. Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, is part of the American delegation led by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg. The group arrives in South Korea today for a two-day visit as part of a larger visit to China, Japan and Russia. [Joongang Ilbo]
Regular readers know that I’ve had a throbbing priapism at the prospect of leveling comprehensive financial sanctions at North Korea, because I believe that they could, if applied at a moment of political flux within the regime, potentially collapse it. Something very much like Plan B now appears to be under consideration in this new round of
six five-party talks:
Levey’s name certainly stands out. In 2005, Levey was instrumental in freezing about $25 million of North Korean assets at the Banco Delta Asia bank in Macao. According to Levey’s article on the Institute for Korean-American Studies’ Web site in 2007, the U.S. Treasury Department at the time found the BDA to be a “primary money laundering concern” and determined that the bank had facilitated “the gamut of illicit activities … on behalf of North Korean-related entities.
Following the department’s move, some 20 financial companies around the world cut their ties with North Korea and stopped the flow of dollars to the reclusive regime.
Treasury, which believed as recently as a year ago that North Korea was still counterfeiting our currency, resented being called off by Chris Hill. I don’t doubt that Levey salivates at the prospect of being turned loose again.