Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Treasury Dept. Turns up the Heat

Since the first announced punitive actions against North Korean money laundering counterfeiting the Treasury Dept has leveled heavy sanctions against the NK and companies linked to its illegal activities. Originally, this primarily involved Malaysian Banco Delta, but recently came to include a Swiss bank.

The scope of US pressure on NK began to cause South Koreans to worry about the possibility that full sanctions would be imposed and that this would include the Kaesong Development Park. The US Treasury Dept took enough time to reassure SK that no such thing would happen in the immediate future before they fired their next broadside against the lagging North Korean economy. Today, the US announced shipping sanctions that will make it illegal for American companies or individuals to employ or ship materials with NK vessels. The move will not have a large impact on US economic interactions with NK, as not many NK vessels dock in the US, but it is one more representation of the serious attitude Washington has taken in regards to state sponsored economic crimes. The act may also help cut down on the drug running as well.

Sanctions, as a whole, have emerged as a viable means of pressuring the NK government as many analysts believe the NK economy is feeling the full effect of such sanctions. That makes me think the recent announcement that NK military spending will remain on pace is more smoke and mirrors than actual truth. I don't know if they can even afford their army anymore. They never could afford their population.