In a decisive 419-3 vote, the House of Representatives voted to pass a new bill that imposes sanctions on Iran, Russia, and North Korea. Regarding North Korea and Iran, the sanctions come in response to the testing of ballistic missiles by two nations, as well as growing concern from the U.S. government that Iran is funding several terrorist organizations. Meanwhile, the sanctions against Russia will be imposed to send a message to the country accused of human rights violations in Ukraine and their interference with the most recent U.S. presidential election.
Despite signing the bill, President Donald Trump had some reservations and gave the following statement: “The bill remains seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.” Trump later tweeted that “Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!” His frustration is most likely stemming from the fact the bill limits Trump’s power to ease the U.S. sanctions placed on Russia without congressional approval.
Moreover, Russian President, Vladimir Putin was also quick to show his displeasure when, only a day after the bill was passed, the Russian government announced that the U.S. must pull out a number of its diplomatic staff currently working in the Eastern European nation by September 1st. This move follows a similar one by the Obama administration earlier this year where 35 Russian diplomats were forced to move out of the country after accusations of Russian meddling in the election. As a result of these events, many have begun to speculate on how this will affect Trump’s relationship with Putin. Certainly, though, the shift of power from the executive to congressional power when dealing with the management of U.S. sanctions on Russia will place a significant barrier between Trump and Putin, and may ultimately result in a declination of U.S.-Russian relations.
Furthermore, the sanctions against North Korea and Iran are likely not a surprise for the other two nations that have had tense relations with America, especially as of late. Most notably, North Korea has continued to flex its military might by continuing to run nuclear missile tests and has even threatened to attack the U.S. These threats are being taken very seriously by U.S. officials, as they believe that North Korean missiles could reach many major U.S. cities. Thus, while imposing sanctions is a sign of action from Congress, much more is needed to be done to seriously hinder the efforts of Kim Jong-Un as the country has shown that it is willing to drain itself, economically, for the sake of its nuclear arms program.
However, in an interview with CNN, Andrei Lankov, an expert on North Korea from the Kookmin University in Seoul, South Korea said, “”If we are talking about denuclearization, let’s be frank — nothing is going to work. (The) North Korean government is determined to remain nuclear, and it will remain nuclear. Period. If it means massive economic disaster, they will not care.” Lankov even implied that the sanctions may do even more harm than good as it could prove to be a major detriment to U.S.-China relations. For instance, President Trump’s frustration with China’s lack of action is no secret, and will likely only continue to grow as the North Korean threat deepens.
In the meantime, as North Korea continues to progress with its ambitions of becoming a nuclear stronghold, more pressure will be placed on China to take action as, in many ways, North Korea is economically dependent on China.
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