Crack­down on North Korea un­avoid­able now.

The Ter­ri­ble death of stu­dent Otto Warm­bier at the hands of North Korea should be the cat­a­lyst for a gen­uine crack­down on this re­pug­nant regime, for hu­man­i­tar­ian and na­tional se­cu­rity rea­sons. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, thank­fully, is tak­ing the North Korea sit­u­a­tion far more se­ri­ously than its pre­de­ces­sors.

When Pres­i­dent Trump met with China’s leader, Xi Jin­ping, in April, he pressed the Chi­nese pres­i­dent to take mean­ing­ful mea­sures to curb North Korea’s ag­gres­sive­ness. So far, China hasn’t fol­lowed through suc­cess­fully.

That’s why there are sev­eral steps the U.S. should take im­me­di­ately, which would start to in­flict se­ri­ous eco­nomic pain on Py­ongyang and put pres­sure on China to make good on its own pledges.

• Bar any travel to North Korea by U.S. cit­i­zens that is not ex­plic­itly sanc­tioned by Washington.

While the State Depart­ment strongly warns U.S. cit­i­zens not to go to that odi­ous coun­try, that’s not the same as an out­right pro­hi­bi­tion. Re­mem­ber, ev­ery dol­lar spent in North Korea by an Amer­i­can goes di­rectly into the hands of mur­der­ously psy­chotic dic­ta­tor Kim Jong-un to fi­nance his nu­clear and ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties.

• Put North Korea back on the U.S. list of ter­ror­ist states.

In a mis­be­got­ten bout of ap­pease­ment Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush re­moved that des­ig­na­tion in 2008, in the hopes that do­ing so would in­duce Py­ongyang to keep its prom­ises to throt­tle back its nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams. We’ve seen how suc­cess­ful that Neville Cham­ber­lain-like move has been.

Py­ongyang has rou­tinely vi­o­lated such agree­ments since Bill Clin­ton be­gan this ab­ject ap­pease­ment process in 1994. North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gram pro­ceeds apace, and tests of its in­creas­ingly po­tent bal­lis­tic mis­siles—which will soon be able to reach our shores—are now rou­tine.

• Start ap­ply­ing se­ri­ous sanc­tions on all banks and com­pa­nies that do busi­ness with North Korea.

We be­gan do­ing this in the early 2000s, and the sanc­tions were start­ing to be ef­fec­tive, which is why Py­ongyang sig­naled the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion that, if we let up, it was ready to make a deal. We backed off the sanc­tions, but the North didn’t change its be­hav­ior.

Any fi­nan­cial or com­mer­cial en­tity found not to be in com­pli­ance would be barred from do­ing any busi­ness with the U.S. That ban would cover non­com­ply­ing com­pa­nies ev­ery­where—in­clud­ing those in Europe and in China. Banks in vi­o­la­tion would be kicked out of the SWIFT (So­ci­ety for World­wide In­ter­bank Fi­nan­cial Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion) net­work, which is the world’s largest pay­ment-mes­sag­ing sys­tem. This would ef­fec­tively pre­vent such banks from con­duct­ing any in­ter­na­tional trans­ac­tions. Three North Korean banks were re­cently ousted from SWIFT, but this mea­sure would also ap­ply to fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions that deal with com­pa­nies do­ing busi­ness with the North.

• An­nounce that the U.S. Navy would be free to in­ter­dict ships sus­pected of trans­port­ing North Korean mil­i­tary prod­ucts, in­clud­ing nu­clear parts, or of trans­port­ing mil­i­tary items or nu­clear parts to Py­ongyang.

This would force­fully let the world know that we are fi­nally dead se­ri­ous about de­ci­sively deal­ing with this rogue regime.

• Step up our an­tibal­lis­tic mis­sile ef­forts, with the stated goal of shoot­ing down any fu­ture mis­siles fired by North Korea.

Such ef­forts would re­as­sure South Korea, Ja­pan and other Asian na­tions that we are not aban­don­ing our post-wwii pol­icy of pro­tect­ing them and keep­ing the peace in the re­gion.

Pow­er­ful stuff, this. But kick­ing the North Korea can down the road, as we have done for more than 20 years, is no longer a vi­able op­tion.

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