North Korea gets its $25 million

MIKE CLARKE/AFP After many, many fits and starts, North Korea reportedly got its $25 million in frozen funds back today. Banco Delta Asia released the money to a undisclosed location, possibly a Russian bank.  The apparent issue holding up the transfer was that the North Koreans didn’t want the United States to simply wire them ...

601185_070321_bda_05.jpg
601185_070321_bda_05.jpg

MIKE CLARKE/AFP

After many, many fits and starts, North Korea reportedly got its $25 million in frozen funds back today. Banco Delta Asia released the money to a undisclosed location, possibly a Russian bank. 

The apparent issue holding up the transfer was that the North Koreans didn't want the United States to simply wire them the money; they wanted a private bank to handle the funds in order to confer a sense of legitimacy on the country's accounts. But no bank would take the reputational risk involved in passing along cash that could be tied to drugs or money laundering.

MIKE CLARKE/AFP

After many, many fits and starts, North Korea reportedly got its $25 million in frozen funds back today. Banco Delta Asia released the money to a undisclosed location, possibly a Russian bank. 

The apparent issue holding up the transfer was that the North Koreans didn’t want the United States to simply wire them the money; they wanted a private bank to handle the funds in order to confer a sense of legitimacy on the country’s accounts. But no bank would take the reputational risk involved in passing along cash that could be tied to drugs or money laundering.

One thing the North Koreans will soon find out, however: Resolution of the $25 million won’t end the country’s financial isolation. As U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Wall Street Journal recently:

Once one of these — once you are — your accounts are called out this way in the international financial system, the international financial system is not readily available.

This is a problem for the international community as well as North Korea, however. Kim Jong Il’s regime engages in nasty illegal activities not for the heck of it, but to make up for an estimated $1.7 billion shortfall (pdf) in hard currency. Now that the nuclear deal appears to be going forward, serious effort needs to be made to help the North Koreans understand that there are other ways to make a buck.

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.