Saturday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on N. Korea on Saturday over Pyongyang’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests. What got little shrift in the media is how pivotal Trump’s shrewd efforts were in getting Russia and China to fall in line with the U.S. led sanctions effort.
The new measure bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood, and also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working abroad, bans new joint ventures with N. Korea, along with any new investment in current joint ventures.
The new resolution also adds nine individuals and four entities to the U.N. blacklist, including North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank, subjecting them to a global asset freeze and travel ban.
Negotiating new measures typically takes months, not weeks, and especially. considering the tense relationship between the U.S. and Russia, along with the escalated tensions with the Chinese over N. Korea, the 15-0 vote was certainly surprising. The United States negotiated with China for a month on the resolution, then expanded negotiations to the full council on Friday.
In those negotiations, President Trump threatened to exert trade pressure on Beijing and impose sanctions on Chinese firms doing business with Pyongyang unilaterally, which only served to enflame tensions, and the tensions with Russia over it’s alleged interference in the 2016 elections are well documented, with Congress recently passing a new raft of sanctions against them.
Nikki Haley confirmed how difficult the efforts of getting the 15-0 vote to become a reality:
We had tough negotiations this week. I think that the Chinese realized that the United States was going to push, but they responded and we appreciate how they cooperated with us during these negotiations.
So how did they achieve this success? Donald Trump’s international business savvy.
Ambassador Haley’s structuring of the resolution toward N. Korea was set-up by President Trump, Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary Ross have positioned a severely consequential trade reset between the U.S. and China. Trump and Ross delayed an announcement on trade sanctions against China, which they strategically scheduled for the day before the vote.
This put China on the defensive. By President Trump being able to offer ‘better’ trade outcomes for China if they comply with Nikki Haley’s sanctions, they were able to get them to play ball in the security council.
Similarly with Russia, enhanced U.S. energy export initiatives, in conjunction with lower oil prices, an outcome of U.S. energy policy and a mutually beneficial relationship between President Trump and Arab states in the Gulf Cooperation Council—remember Trump’s first foreign visit?—, have severely weakened the economic position of Russia.
Since Russia’s energy export economy is dependent on energy prices remaining high, Trump can negotiate with Russia on ‘better’ or “more favorable’ terms for U.S. energy shipments to Eastern Europe, hence, helping the slumping Russian energy export economy, and obtaining Russian compliance with Nikki Haley’s sanctions.
It is doubtful that the press will ever give President Trump any credit for his foresight and ability to set all of this up, leveraging relationships with nations, and his knowledge of international business, to accomplish the political goal of getting sanctions imposed on N. Korea, with all international hands on deck, in a political environment that made such an outcome seem highly improbable.