Plan B Watch

I really, really like the way the South Korean Foreign Minister is talking lately, and I hope he also expresses the sentiments of U.S. officials with whom he’s spoken:

Strangling the flow of cash to North Korea is the most effective non-military way to hold the Stalinist country accountable for the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said Tuesday.

“The U.S. is keeping a close eye on North Korea’s trafficking of counterfeit banknotes, drugs and tobacco while strictly applying existing sanctions on the North,” Yu told the Chosun Ilbo. He said the U.S. has a web of mechanisms to thwart North Korea’s trade, financial transactions and weapons exports but has not yet been running them to full capacity. Now, however, it will gradually step up action.

The U.S. has monitored North Korea’s illicit activities including the forgery of banknotes but has held off from punitive measures so far. “It’s quite possible to punish North Korea effectively through individual actions taken by South Korea’s allies such as the U.S., Japan and the EU even if the UN Security Council won’t impose additional sanctions on North Korea,” Yu said.

Strangling off the cash flow would be effective, he said, because the North “has to import parts to develop weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons, so restricting the cash flow will make that more difficult and discourage North Korea from pursuing provocations.”