Cutoff of crude exports to N. Korea possible in case of sixth nuclear test: Victor Cha

WASHINGTON-- The United States and the international community could respond to an additional nuclear test by North Korea with a package of harsh sanctions, including a cutoff of crude supplies to the impoverished nation, a U.S. expert said.

Concerns have persisted that Pyongyang could carry out its sixth nuclear test, with satellite imagery of the test site showing completion of preparations. A test could come as early as Monday when the North marks the foundation anniversary of its military.

"While the Trump administration may be reviewing all options, including military ones, in its North Korea policy, a sixth nuclear weapon test will likely compel the U.S. and the international community to respond with heightened sanctions," Victor Cha, Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a newsletter.

Cha picked a halt in petroleum exports, including crude oil, as one of the first responses, along with a complete embargo on all coal shipments being bought from or sold to North Korea, a key source of hard currency for the regime.

The international community could also seek to institute a global ban prohibiting Air Koryo, the North's state-run airline, from transiting airports around the world, Cha said, adding that the carrier has been accused of transporting bulk cash, luxury goods, and materials for Pyongyang's illicit activities.

Other restrictions could include measures aimed at drying up the North's revenue sources, such as an embargo among U.N. member states on agricultural products like ginseng and seafood being imported from North Korea and a worldwide ban on the use of North Korean forced labor, Cha said.

The U.S. could also seek "secondary sanctions" on individuals and organizations in China and other third countries that facilitate North Korean money laundering, re-export, or illicit activities that help build their nuclear weapons program.

The North could also be relisted as a state sponsor of terrorism, and the international community could even consider suspending the North's U.N. membership, he said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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