U.N. places additional sanctions on North Korea after missile tests

by Michael Eng and Anjay Saklecha

In a strong voice of solidarity, the United Nations (UN) Security Council unanimously voted on Sept. 11 to impose a new set of sanctions against North Korea—nearly one week after the rogue nation carried out its sixth and largest nuclear test.

While not as hard-line as the initial U.S.-drafted resolution, the approved ratification achieved five key objectives: capping oil imports to North Korea, banning textile exports, suppressing smuggling efforts, forbidding nations from authorizing work permits for North Korean citizens and applying punitive measures to designated North Korean government entities.

This is the eighth and strongest set of measures imposed on North Korea by the UN since the country’s first nuclear tests in 2006. Prior UN resolutions have prohibited military supplies, luxury goods, metals and ore exports to North Korea and restricted foreign financial transactions and cargo shipments to and from the country.

Professor at the University of Vienna, Austria, Rudiger Frank, is a German economist and expert on North Korea’s economy and state-business relations in East Asia.

“Sanctions do have effects on North Korea, there is not doubt about that,” he said. “But they have neither achieved their stated goals—namely, prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, nor their unstated goals—triggering a domestic revolution that would bring down the regime.”

As North Korea’s largest trading partner, China worked closely with the U.S. in negotiating the final language of the resolution.

Yet, upper school economics teacher Samuel Lepler believes that U.S. sanctions on North Korea can come in the form of punishing China for its trade with the country.

“Sometimes, sanctions are actually a punishment of anybody who does business with that country,” Lepler said. “So for example, China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, so sanctions on North Korea could come in the form of punishing China for trade.”

The sanctions significantly reduce access to vital energy materials and key sources of foreign currency. U.S. officials believe that with the new sanctions, there will be a 90 percent decrease in North Korean’s exports reported from 2016.

However, after hearing news of the sanctions, North Korea has warned that such pressures would only accelerate its nuclear weapons program, calling the sanctions “the most vicious, unethical and inhumane act of hostility.”

This latest flurry of political activity reflects the growing escalation of tension created by North Korea’s increasingly successful efforts in the development of its nuclear weapons program. According to the Japanese Defense Ministry, the nuclear test last month had an estimated yield of 160 kilotons—more than 10 times the size of the Hiroshima bond.

“The North Korean regime deserves our disgust over human rights violations and our anger over its Weapons of Mass Destruction program, no doubt about that,” Frank said. “But the people of North and South Korea also deserve a chance to survive. Risking a war is therefore irresponsible, and sanctions—which are warfare by economic means—will lead into that direction.”

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on October 12, 2017.