Briefing Skipper: North Korea, Sri Lanka, Russian cocaine, Osama bin Laden
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Wednesday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley: "Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton announced today a series of measures to increase U.S. ability to prevent North Korea’s proliferation, to halt the illicit activities that help ...
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Wednesday’s briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley:
- "Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton announced today a series of measures to increase U.S. ability to prevent North Korea’s proliferation, to halt the illicit activities that help fund its weapons programs and to discourage further provocative activities," Crowley said. "These new country-specific sanctions are aimed at North Korea’s sale or procurement of arms and related materiel and procurement of luxury goods, as well as other illicit activities."
- The new sanctions are not targeted at the North Korea people, but are aimed at keeping expensive luxury items out of regime hands. Also, add State and Treasury department designations to all sorts of international firms that may be supporting North Korean proliferation. State will also work with key countries to persuade them to stop doing business with North Korean trading firms and stop allowing North Korea companies to use their banks. Bob Einhorn is in charge of enforcing the new measures. What about the existing sanctions? "North Korean entities are adapting to the existing actions that we have been taking," Crowley said.
- There will be more punitive measures on North Korea coming, Crowley warned. How can Pyongyang get out from under? "North Korea has to fundamentally change its approach to the world and policies," Crowley said, "We are going to look at a combination of ways to send an unmistakable message, have an impact in Pyongyang, and see how they respond."
- So does that mean we’re no longer waiting for the Chinese to do something about the situation? Maybe not. "China obviously has a big role to play in this," Crowley said. Clinton will meet with the Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi Thursday. He might be miffed that State did not consult with Beijing before announcing the new sanctions. "So I can’t say that we consulted with China prior to making this specific announcement. It was within our prerogative to do," Crowley said.
- Assistant Secretary Bob Blake was in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday. He reviewed the bilateral relationship with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, met with a number of opposition political parties and held roundtables with representatives of civil society and the business community. "His key message was simply to continue reconciliation as a core element of achieving lasting peace in Sri Lanka," said Crowley.
- Crowley deferred questions on the arrest of Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko to the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Yaroshenko was picked up by U.S. agents in Liberia in May and extradited back to New York for allegedly dealing in "thousand-kilogram quantities of cocaine." Russia claims that violated the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the 1964 bilateral consular convention.
- The State Department apparently doesn’t know where Osama bin Laden is, and Crowley tried to clarify Clinton’s statements in Pakistan that she believes someone in the Pakistani government does. "I think what the secretary was saying was that it’s our belief that somewhere within the government there is this kind of knowledge, and we would hope that, if that knowledge is available, we can find out and take appropriate action," he said. "But I can’t sit here and say that we today know where bin Laden is. I think we believe that he remains in the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan."
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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