While President Trump threatens “fire and fury” against North Korea, his diplomats are talking up remedies based on sanctions and diplomacy, in hope that Kim Jong Un’s regime can be persuaded to embark on talks over stopping its nuclear missile program. Unfortunately, sanctions won’t suffice, and any deal with Pyongyang would be a disaster.

In particular, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and America’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, have been celebrating last week’s diplomatic victory at the UN, where all 15 members of the Security Council, including permanent members China and Russia, voted unanimously to approve the toughest sanctions ever imposed on North Korea. In remarks Wednesday to the press, Tillerson reiterated his hope of pressuring North Korea, “with the engagement of Russia and China” toward “a dialogue about a different future.”

That might sound good in theory, but it’s a discouragingly familiar scene in practice. For more than a decade, the UN Security Council has been passing sanctions against North Korea, all of them approved unanimously. In other words, Russia and China, rather than abstaining, have actively signed on to the entire stack of existing UN sanctions. None of those diplomatic victories for the U.S. has sufficed to stop the flow of resources into the North Korea weapons programs now enabling Kim to threaten the U.S. with a nuclear strike…

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