Major South Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo is reporting that South Korean and U.S. authorities "have found dozens of accounts presumed to belong to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in several banks in ... China."
The article questions the effectiveness of the newest round of UN sanctions against North Korea because they don't include these alleged accounts.
"Following North Korea's third nuclear test, China has demonstrated willingness to take part in sanctions against the North," the government source told Chosun Ilbo. "But Beijing is reluctant to touch North Korea's real Achilles' heel."
Even if the report about hundreds of millions of dollars sitting in "slush funds" is wrong (the only source is the single South Korean government official), the idea points to the main thing that always seems to soften the blow of sanctions: China.
"In the past China tried to avoid any sanctions that could really hurt the [North Korean] regime, b ut the [new] resolution ... really strengthened the financial sanctions, " Ellen Kim , assistant director and Fellow of the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies , told BI. " This could have a real impact on the North Korean regime if China actually follows through. The key to the effect of the sanctions is China."
The new sanctions — aimed at at deterring North Korea from further development of ballistic missiles and itsnuclear program — prohibit countries from engaging in any financial transactions with Pyongyang that could in any way be linked to its nuclear and missile programs in addition to further targeting the trade of luxury items.
So it remains unclear how much the new sanctions will hurt North Korea, but analysts seem to agree that China still will try to avoid the collapse of the North Korean regime.
"China's main priority is to keep the status quo — although they opposed North Korea's nuclear test, they want the regime to remain on the Korean peninsula," Kim told BI.
Jia Qingguo, associate dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University, told The New York Times that China backed the sanctions to bring North Korea back to negotiations for denuclearization , but will make sure they aren't harsh enough to cause the North’s collapse.
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