North Korea announced on Friday that it saw little reason to maintain “personal relations between our Supreme Leadership,” in other words, Kim Jong Un, and “the U.S. President.” “ The statement, issued by Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon on the second anniversary of the historic Trump-Kim summit in Singapore, came immediately after the North threatened the U.S. with “terrible” things and hinted it would disrupt the November elections. Moreover, Pyongyang at the same time launched a rhetorical barrage against the friendly South Korean government of President Moon Jae-in and cut off communications with Seoul. After months of quiet, Kim Jong Un is starting a new round of provocations. Why? One explanation is that Kim is concerned the Trump administration, which has not vigorously enforced sanctions for more than two years, signaled it is about to up the pressure. Late last month, the U.S. Justice Department obtained indictments of 28 North Koreans and five Chinese individuals for running money-laundering operations in China, Russia, Libya, and Thailand. As Bruce Bechtol of Angelo State University in Texas told The Daily Beast, these charges so far have had little effect on Pyongyang’s extensive smuggling operations, but the next step, stiff fines or sanctions on… Read full this story
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