Fletcher in the News

Fletcher Experts Testify Before Congress on North Korea


Senate Foreign Relations Committee Holds Hearing on North Korea (Dean Bosworth's Testimony)


The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on U.S. policy towards North Korea, including testimony from the State Department's special representative for North Korea, Glyn T. Davies.

Earlier Thursday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a fourth round of sanctions against North Korea aimed at slowing down its nuclear programs.

The resolution was drafted by the United States and China, North Korea's closest ally. The council's agreement to put the resolution to a vote just 48 hours later signaled that it would almost certainly have the support of all 15 council members.

The United States does not have normalized diplomatic relations with North Korea. The current leader, Kim Jong Un, came to power after the death of his father in 2011. Since that time, he has given mixed messages about his position on relations with the outside world.

Kim successfully launched a satellite shortly after taking power, which was widely viewed by the foreign policy community as a veiled test for an intercontinental missile system. Earlier this year, the North Koreans detonated a nuclear device in an underground test site, leading experts to believe that they are inching closer to a viable nuclear weapons system.

Davies testimony was follwed by a panel that included: Stephen W. Bosworth, dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University; Robert G. Joseph, senior scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy; and Joseph DeTrani, president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Watch the full proceedings here (C-SPAN)

US diplomatic experts speak on need for dialogue with North Korea

In a hearing on North Korean policy held in the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Mar. 7 (EST), current and former representatives at the six-party talks spoke of the necessity of dialogue with North Korea … 

… Stephen Bosworth, Davies' predecessor as special representative for North Korea, and dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, also predicted that the US and North Korea will return to the table for talks. "My own personal view is that at some point, I can’t say exactly when, but sooner rather than later, we [the US] will come back to an effort to engage with North Korea. In some manner, only because the alternatives are so bleak."

"The question that will exist at that time is, engage on what basis? Do we again seek to engage on the basis of denuclearization, pretty much by itself, at least as a primary objective, or do we seek to engage on a broader basis, going back for example to the Joint Statement negotiated in the six-party process back in September of 2005, in which all parties signed on to a four-goal, four-objective formulation: denuclearization, a peace treaty to replace the armistice of 1953, an establishment of diplomatic relations among all parties concerned, an agreement to provide energy and economic assistance to North Korea.”

Bosworth added, “In my view, it would be more productive to seek for the outset to engage with North Korea on the basis of that broader agenda.”

Read the full piece (The Hankyoreh) http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_northkorea/577294.html

Global Bid to Cripple North Korea's Illicit Trade

Unprecedented international pressure is building up to cripple North Korea's illicit trade in arms, fake currency, and drugs as punishment for its defiant nuclear and missile tests.

At the United Nations on Tuesday, the United States and China agreed on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution which "for the first time ever" will target the illicit activities of North Korea's diplomats, banking relationships, and illicit transfers of bulk cash.

At the U.S. Congress, also on Tuesday, the House of Representatives held a hearing to examine how best to pressure North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the ruling elite by systematically restricting their access to hard currency. …

… At the congressional hearing, a North Korea expert said while the U.N. sanctions are more symbolic, the U.S. should take the lead in enforcing financial regulatory measures against North Korea's illicit activities.

"The U.S. Treasury Department should strengthen its sanctions against North Korean banks and businesses that finance the Kim regime’s palace economy," Lee Sung-Yoon, an expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University told the hearing.

He called for the Treasury Department to declare the entire North Korean government to be a "Primary Money Laundering Concern," which is a legal term for entities that fail to implement adequate safeguards against money laundering.

Treasury could also apply measures to third-country business partners that finance Pyongyang’s economy, Lee said, calling on the U.S. to also ask allied governments to apply corresponding measures to third-country banks, businesses, and nationals doing business with North Korea.

Read the full piece (Radio Free Asia) http://www.rfa.org/english/news/korea/illicit-03052013150916.html

US Lawmakers Push for Tougher North Korea Sanctions 

Lawmakers are pushing for tougher U.S. financial restrictions on North Korea even as the U.N. Security Council moves closer to a new resolution tightening international sanctions in response to Pyongyang's latest nuclear test. ...

... Targeted U.S. financial sanctions have been tried before and have had a significant impact but upset China, the North's main source of economic support and the country where it conducts most of its trade and financial transactions. The U.S. wants Beijing to exert more pressure on North Korea. …

… Sung-Yoon Lee, professor of Korea studies at Tufts University, who was scheduled to testify, said the North's "shadowy palace economy" makes the Kim regime vulnerable to actions targeting money laundering. He suggests the Treasury Department require American banks to restrict their dealings with foreign individuals, banks, entities and even entire governments that are linked to North Korea's government.

"The Obama administration has apparently not decided on this approach, but the political climate is conducive to trying something like it," Lee said.

Read the full piece (Yahoo! News)

Ex-officials urge renewed U.S. drive against North Korea crime income

The United States should revive a crackdown on drug trafficking, counterfeiting and other illicit business by North Korea that was succeeding before it was dropped to facilitate a nuclear deal with Pyongyang, architects of that policy said on Tuesday.

A renewal of the 2001-2006 North Korea Illicit Activities Initiative would deprive Pyongyang of funds to advance its nuclear and missile programs and could force it to return to disarmament negotiations, two former George W. Bush administration officials told a House of Representatives panel.

The officials said North Korea's deepening international isolation after the latest of its three nuclear tests makes its meager economy vulnerable to a renewed attack on illicit cash flows that sustain elite and military loyalty to the government. …

… Scholar Sung-Yoon Lee of Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy told the panel he estimated that North Korea derived between a third to 40 percent of its income from "criminal activities" and was thus vulnerable to pressure.

"Pyongyang's overdependence on its shadowy palace economy makes the Kim regime particularly vulnerable to tools designed to counter international money laundering," Lee told the panel.

The Obama administration should designate the entire North Korean government as a "primary money laundering concern," extend these sanctions to Chinese entities and other third-country partners, and use presidential executive orders to punish firms that abet Pyongyang's missile proliferation, said Lee.

Read the full piece (Reuters) 

US, China agree on UN sanctions draft on North Korea

Dr. Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor of Korean studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, provides insight into how sanctions would impact alleged illicit business that benefits the North Korean regime.

Watch the video here (NBC News)

Hearing: North Korea’s Criminal Activities: Financing the Regime

Official Website of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - (The full video of the hearing can be found here)

U.S. Should Sanction Chinese Banks Laundering North Korean Money: Experts

The U.S. government should sanction Chinese banks with ties to North Korea in order to convince the rogue state to finally abandon its nuclear weapons drive, issue experts advised lawmakers on Tuesday.

The United States is “singularly equipped” to deliver harsh economic coercive pressure on the Kim Jong Un regime due to the strength and pervasiveness of the U.S. financial system, according to Tufts University Korean studies professor Sung-Yoon Lee.

“The Treasury Department should declare the entire North Korean government a primary money laundering concern” and require all U.S. financial institutions to take measures that would impact foreign banks’ willingness to do business with North Korean entities, Lee told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Pyongyang for years has faced U.N. Security Council penalties that specifically target its nuclear and missile programs, ban the North from engaging in any weapons commerce on the international market, and prohibit the import of a number of luxury goods. Other countries have adopted even more comprehensive domestic sanctions; the United States has a total trade and financial embargo in place against the North.

Read the full piece (NTI) 

House Lawmakers Examine Increased Sanctions Against North Korea

Hours after the North Korean government threatened to nullify the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on the communist country’s illegal activities, human rights violations, and nuclear capability.

“Test after test, broken promise after broken promise, successive administrations – both Democrats and Republicans – have clung to an unrealistic hope that one day North Korea will suddenly negotiate away its nuclear program,” said Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) in his opening statement this morning. ”No, it is perfecting it.”

Witnesses who testified offered a variety of different solutions and insight as to how to deal with the new regime in North Korea, and how to address the country’s nuclear weapons ambitions, as well as its infamous human rights violations.

Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor at the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation, testified that North Korea would be “uniquely vulnerable” to financial sanctions by the international community, and added that up to forty percent of the regime’s finances come from illegal activity such as drug trafficking.

Lee advocated for the United States Treasury Department to have the authority to strengthen sanctions against North Korean banks that contribute to the regime’s finances, as well as expanding the department’s ability to designate what it deems to be prohibited activity. Lee included illicit activities, import of luxury goods, cash transactions greater than $10 thousand, lethal military equipment, and crimes against humanity.

Read the full piece (TalkRadioNews.com) 

US must choke off N. Korea access to cash: experts

US policy has failed to end North Korea's nuclear ambitions and Washington must now seek tighter sanctions to cut off access to hard currency for the country's elite, experts said Tuesday.

While the isolated authoritarian state is already under heavy global sanctions, the experts told US lawmakers that Pyongyang has raised billions of dollars through such things as smuggling arms and precious metals.

"We must go after Kim Jong-un's illicit activities like we went after organized crime in the United States: identify the network, interdict shipments and disrupt the flow of money," said Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"North Korea is uniquely vulnerable to targeted financial sanctions, because unlike any other authoritarian government in the world, the regime is so dependent on such illicit streams of revenue," expert Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor at the Fletcher School at Tufts University agreed.

"Damming, if not all, even some of those streams of revenue would achieve secondary, tertiary effects... that would lead to a rise in the number of disgruntled men in the North Korean party bureaucracy, military."

Read the full piece (AFP) 

Comprehensive financial sanctions on N. Korea necessary: U.S. House hearing

Lee Sung-yoon, a professor at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, agreed that tougher sanctions are necessary to curb Pyongyang's illicit behaviors.

"The U.S. Treasury Department should strengthen its sanctions against North Korean banks and businesses that finance the Kim regime's palace economy," he said at the hearing. "To this end, the Treasury Department should declare the entire North Korean government to be a primary money laundering concern."

Lee emphasized that the North Korean regime is indeed vulnerable to such financial measures due to its "overdependence on its shadowy palace economy."

He added, "The United States is in a position to take the lead in enforcing financial regulatory measures against North Korea's illicit activities and should immediately seize upon the opportunity."

Read the full piece (Yonhap News)