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Intercept NK shipping?

Canada and its Korean War allies will sit down in Vancouver next week to mull ways to tighten the screws on North Korea — including whether to intercept North Korean shipping.

U.S. State Department officials confirmed that China and Russia were not invited to Tuesday's meeting, which Canada is co-hosting with the U.S. in response to North Korea's recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Instead, only those countries that deployed troops as part of the United Nations during the Korean War between 1950 and 1953 have been invited to participate in the discussions, which China has blasted as "Cold War thinking."

More than 25,000 Canadians served as part of UN Command during the war, of which 516 died. Canada was one of 17 countries to contribute troops to the UN force.

The Vancouver meeting is expected to put a heavy emphasis on finding ways to crack down on the many smuggling and money-laundering schemes that Pyongyang has employed to sidestep sanctions and pay for its nuclear program.

The Trudeau government has provided little information in the days leading up to the Vancouver summit, despite being a co-host, and appears to be instead consumed with the threat of a trade war with the U.S.

But Brian Hook, director of policy for U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said the plan is to come up with concrete ways that Washington and its allies can strengthen the "maximum-pressure campaign" on North Korea.

One of the options to be discussed, he said, would be naval interdiction to stop North Korean smuggling.

"We will be discussing with our partners and allies the kind of steps that we can take on maritime interdiction and to be disrupting funding and disrupting resources," Hook said during a briefing in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

"And maritime interdiction helps us to disrupt resources and then the financial side helps us to disrupt the financing of their nuclear and missile program."

Western security officials have accused Russia and China of exporting oil to North Korea in recent months, which would be a violation of UN sanctions.

Both countries have denied the charges, but the reports have nonetheless put a spotlight on the importance of maritime trade and smuggling to the North Korean government's continued survival and weapons development.



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