Trump angry after South Korea signals it may ease North Korea sanctions
North Korea Trump angry after South Korea signals it may ease North Korea sanctions
President says Seoul will âdo nothing without our approvalâ after foreign minister says sanctions review under way
South Korea has considered lifting economic sanctions designed to force North Korea to relinquish its nuclear weapons, drawing a swift rebuke from Donald Trump and exposing a rift in Seoulâs alliance with Washin gton.
On Thursday the South Korean foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, suggested Seoul was increasingly willing to lift sanctions imposed in 2010 after the sinking of a navy corvette that killed 46 sailors. The move would be mostly symbolic since South Korea would still be required to follow United Nations sanctions, which cover much of the same areas.
Kang said âa review is under wayâ when asked about the measures that prohibit almost all inter-Korean exchanges outside of humanitarian assistance.
The remark drew criticism from Trump. âThey wonât do it without our approval. They do nothing without our approval,â Trump said. In Washington, officials have vowed to maintain a âmaximum pressureâ campaign until the North denuclearises.Kim Jong-un invites pope to Pyongyang Read more
Kang also admitted US secretary of state Mike Pompeo had been âdiscontentâ with a military agreement between with two Koreas, saying he was not brief ed sufficiently.
The stark difference in messaging has exposed a long-simmering rift between South Korea and the US over how to deal with North Korea. Moonâs liberal government has favoured closer ties with the North, but has also vowed to adhere to international sanctions which bar most trade with the regime.
âNo matter the substantive disagreement between the two sides, I think Seoul and Washington will move quickly to paper over his comments and maintain a facade of alignment,â said Mintaro Oba, a former US diplomat who worked on North Korea policy.
South Korea still hopes to press ahead with improving ties with its neighbour, Oba said, and Moon âwill continue to test the envelope but avoid any actions he thinks will cause open tensions with the United Statesâ.
Trump said this week the US had âmade incredible progressâ in dealing with North Korea, saying: âYouâve got no rockets flying. You have no missiles flying. You have no nuclear testing. You have nuclear closingsâ. But he added that Pyongyang still had to do more.
âWe havenât removed sanctions. We have very big sanctions,â Trump said. âIâd love to remove them, but we have to get something for doing that.â
There were also rumbles within South Korea that the idea of sanctions relief is being discussed prematurely. An editorial titled âKang flubs itâ described her comments as âshortsightedâ and said the paper was âdumbfoundedâ by her remarks.
âSanctions are the very leverage we have to denuclearise the North,â the editorial said. âIf the Moon administration believes Pyongyang will more actively denuclearise as long we show sincerity, thatâs wishful thinking.âTopics
- North Korea
- South Korea
- Nuclear weapons
- Trump administration
- Asia Pacific
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