Experts have said secondary sanctions, which would target Chinese companies and nationals who support North Korea, could effectively cripple North Korea’s economy and were not tried in earnest by the Obama administration. In September, the Obama administration sanctioned a Chinese company and four Chinese nationals for ties to North Korea’s nuclear program for the first time, but critics said the step was not enough.
China is hesitant to take any action that could cause North Korea to collapse, experts say, because of the potential that it would unleash a flood of refugees and let loose weapons of mass destruction. Further, the collapse could result in a unified Korea, a powerful country on China’s doorstep that would likely be allied with the United States.
North Korea loomed large during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday with the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, the combatant command in charge of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Gen. John Hyten told the committee that North Korea is what he’s “concerned about most nights.”