An Escalating North Korea Crisis

With President Trump demeaning North Korea’s leader as “Rocket Man” and threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea, tensions over Kim Jong Un’s nuclear missile program grow worse, as Dennis J Bernstein reports.

By Dennis J Bernstein

The United Nations Security Council voted last week to unanimously back the U.S.-drafted sanctions resolution banning exports of coal, lead and seafood to North Korea, in response to its recent testing of a hydrogen bomb.

Secretary-General António Guterres (left) addresses the Security Council ministerial-level meeting on the nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). At right is Rex W. Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State and President of the Security Council for April. Behind Tillerson is U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

I spoke about the volatile situation with Flashpoints Special Correspondent and Korea expert Kay Jay Noh — recently back from the region — and with Christine Ahn, a policy analyst with expertise in Korea, globalization, militarism, women’s rights and philanthropy. She is co-founder of the Korea Policy Institute (KPI), National Campaign to End the Korean War, and Women Cross DMZ.

Dennis Bernstein: Let’s begin with you Christine Ahn. Your response to the sanctions? They could have been a lot tougher?

Christine Ahn: Nikki Haley had announced after North Korea’s hydrogen bomb test that they were going to further tighten the noose on North Korea and propose some very ambitious sanctions. The good news is that, probably because of pushback from China and Russia, these sanctions have been significantly watered down.

However, as we know from sanctions on Cuba and Iraq, these sanctions tend to harm everyday people. Diplomacy seems to have become equated with more sanctions, which we know further aggravate North Korea and incite them to rapidly pursue their missile and nuclear capability.

Kay Jay Noh: It is useful to look back at the last weeks and months leading up to this situation. On July 14 and July 28, North Korea tested a new ICBM. The US response was to say that North Korea would be met with…

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