Open Sources, March 17, 2013: Plan B Watch Edition

WHACK-A-MOLE:  The news that Treasury has designated North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank under Executive Order 13382 leaves me underwhelmed.  This executive order provides for the blocking of assets of entities involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and restricts transactions with those entities, assuming we can reach them.  I’m dubious about how many assets or transactions are within our reach, but the pin-pricky targeting suggests that this approach is far less comprehensive than what’s needed to defang North Korea.

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THEY AREN’T MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE:  The Christian Science Monitor argues for a “soft response” to North Korea’s nuke test, by encouraging more refugee flows rather than imposing new sanctions.  The problem with this idea is that the regime has somehow found the resources to crack down on, and cut, the cross-border flow of refugees.  Rather than view these ideas as mutually exclusive, we should see them as complimentary — deny the regime resources, and it will have less money to buy barbed wire and pay border guards.  Eventually, when the regime fears for its stability, even diplomacy can pay a productive part in a multi-faceted strategy.

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THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT is auctioning off the former headquarters of Chongryeon, aka Chosen Soren, the pro-North Korean association of Korean residents in Japan that once poured half a million into Pyongyang each year, and was brought down by revelations of its involvement in kidnapping Japanese citizens.

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JAPAN HAS ALSO SEIZED a shipment of high-strength aluminum alloy on its way to North Korea from North Korea to Burma, suitable for the construction of centrifuges.  Admittedly, this is mysterious to me. What else might this alloy be suitable for that North Korea builds?  But of course, North Korea has forced us to assume the worst about all of its transactions with the Outer Earth.

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THE TINY ISLAND NATION OF KIRIBATI has been outed for selling fake passports to North Koreans suspected of involvement in illicit activities. Fortunately, the practice was detected and stopped several years ago.  The Seychelles is also implicated.

2 comments

  1. Glans says:

    Was the aluminum going to North Korea? Foster Klug’s big story says it was going from North Korea to Burma. His point is that the North Korean bomb and missile tests are advertising, and that the proliferation risk is more urgent than the possibility that North Korea will attack the United States. BTW, Burma has supposedly dialed back its cooperation with North Korea.

  2. Joshua says:

    You’re absolutely right, Glans. I’ll correct the post. Thanks.

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