Markey is calling for full cut-off of crude oil as part of strategy that includes direct talks, economic pressure, and military deterrence


Washington (February 23, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, welcomed the announcement of additional sanctions against North Korea, including those related to illicit maritime transfers of coal and refined petroleum products, but warned that they will not be enough to slow down North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The sanctions do nothing to address other key areas of revenue for North Korea, including the cutting off of Chinese crude oil to Pyongyang.


“The so-called ‘largest package’ of sanctions that the Trump administration can announce against North Korea yet again fails to apply the kind of targeted economic pressure necessary to bring Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table,” said Senator Markey. “This latest round of sanctions does not go nearly far enough to halt North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and worse, will not be effective as long as the Trump administration fails to enact a more comprehensive strategy.


“China, the biggest enabler of North Korea’s destabilizing activities, only gets a slap on the wrist, escaping any punishment in this package. It will continue to pump crude oil into North Korea with little fear of an American-led oil embargo. And without additional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance efforts in the Asia-Pacific, shipping companies from China and elsewhere will continue to evade North Korean sanctions.


“And despite North Korea being an avowed state-sponsor of cybercrime, the country’s illicit cyber activities are not addressed. Russia’s reported involvement in providing internet connectivity to the North Korean elite and the Chinese hosting of some North Korean cyberattacks go unmentioned. And these sanctions do nothing to restrict North Korea’s ability to steal cryptocurrencies, a principal means for Kim Jong Un’s regime to raise revenue for its military programs.


“North Korea continues to progress almost unabated with its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and President Trump is playing on the margins when the world needs real leadership,” concluded Senator Markey. “It is past time for the Trump administration to impose sanctions that have real impact on Pyongyang and will advance meaningful discussions. We must continue to work with our ally South Korea to reinforce our alliance and ensure our military forces are ready for any potential provocation. And we must work to free to three Americans who remained unlawfully imprisoned by North Korea. Only a multifaceted strategy of sustained diplomacy, economic pressure, and military deterrence can halt and eventually roll back North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The Trump administration must step up and take the actions necessary to advance a diplomatic solution before it is too late.”


In October 2017, Senators Markey and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced legislation in recognition of the need to develop a coherent and multifaceted North Korea strategy combining diplomatic engagement, sanctions, and a stronger alliance between the United States and South Korea.


Earlier this month, Senator Markey called on the State Department to explain how it is able to implement North Korea-related diplomatic and sanctions enforcement efforts in light of drastic budget cuts, high-level position eliminations, and staffing reassignments.