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US Strong-Arms China Into Playing Ball On North Korea

The U.S. is ready to hit China hard if it fails to fully implement the latest United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

“If China doesn’t follow these sanctions,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday, “we will put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the U.S. and international dollar system, and that’s quite meaningful.”

In response to North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a new resolution Monday that will put increased pressure on Pyongyang. While the resolution is a watered-down version of the original U.S. draft resolution, it still caps oil exports to North Korea, bans North Korean textile exports, bans overseas North Korean labor across the board, prohibits joint ventures, and freezes certain regime assets, according to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

It is unclear whether the U.S. would actually take action against China.

During negotiations on sanctions, Mnuchin warned that the U.S. would come down hard on China if it did not meet U.S. demands on sanctions.

“If we don’t get these additional sanctions at the UN,” he said, “I have an executive order prepared to go to the president that will authorize to stop doing trade and put sanctions on anybody that does trade with North Korea.”

Before the draft resolution was put to a vote Monday, China and the U.S. reportedly renegotiated the document, softening the blow in certain places.

The initial draft resolution called for a full oil embargo, the blacklisting of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and several other measures to address the growing threat. In addition to testing a collection of new missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the U.S., the North has also tested a suspected staged thermonuclear bomb.

The Trump administration has been under the impression that China is the key to resolving the North Korean nuclear problem from the beginning. While Beijing asserts that it is doing its part, the U.S. has argued that China has not done enough to rein in its nuclear neighbor.

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