New Sanctions for North Korea
The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously today to impose additional sanctions on North Korea:
UNITED NATIONS, June 12 — The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted Friday to impose a broad range of additional financial, military and trade sanctions on North Korea in response to its recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests, and called on states for the first time to seize banned North Korean cargo on the high seas.
The Security Council’s action marked a significant escalation in the United Nations’ effort to coerce North Korea into halting a barrage of ballistic missile tests and to prod it back into six-nation talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. The 15-nation council is now set to begin negotiations over imposition of an asset freeze or travel ban on additional individuals and state companies linked to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program
There are a couple of noteworthy things about the move. First, both Russia and China, on whom North Korea has been able to depend to oppose sanctions, voted for the additional sanctions. That the new sanctions are not a total embargo may have been the price of that support.
Second, the resolution authorizes the interdiction program that the United States has been organizing:
The resolution calls for U.N. members to inspect all shipments entering or leaving North Korea if there is a reasonable suspicion that the cargo contains banned nuclear or missile technology. Member nations would be given the right to search ships suspected of carrying banned materials on the high seas and to seize any contraband.
The resolution, however, includes important caveats, such as the need for the flag state — the country in which a ship is registered –to approve the searches. If the flag state does not allow inspections on the high seas, it would be required to direct the ship to a nearby port for a search. But council members would not be authorized to use force to ensure that happens.
This is certainly a move in the right direction and almost undoubtedly the most that could have been expected from the UNSC. Whether it will be enough to bring the hermit kingdom to heel on its nuclear weapons program is another matter. Frankly, I doubt it. Without it, they’ve got nothin’.
How much does it really matter? Using their nuclear weapons against Japan, South Korea, or U. S. interests would be suicidal. What have they to gain? If we can prevent their trading nuclear weapons and nuclear technology with a robust apprehension and search regime, doesn’t that accomplish enough? And this resolution makes such a program much more likely.