From the threat to smite with “fire and fury likes of which the world has never seen” to being forced to climb down on the much heralded “super-tough” sanctions on Pyongyang at the UN, the policy of Donald Trump’s administration on North Korea continues on its confusing course.
In order to avoid vetoes by Russia and China at the Security Council, the US had to dilute a whole series of proposed punitive measures. An oil embargo which would have caused serious problems for Pyongyang has been replaced by a plan to reduce oil exports to the country in the future. Proposed restrictions on North Koreans working abroad – an important source of foreign exchange – have been ditched as has a naval blockade to ensure that existing UN sanctions are being enforced. Even the supposed assets freeze on Kim Jong-un, portrayed as the pantomime villain of the piece, and his cronies, has been dropped.