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.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. Wayne says:

    “Using their nuclear weapons against Japan, South Korea, or U. S. interests would be suicidal”

    So would a shooting at guards at a D.C. government building by an 89 year old. Assuming people or regimes will act logically is a risky proposition. That said I think you have about a 85% chance of being right.

  2. The Strategic MC says:

    “If we can prevent their trading nuclear weapons and nuclear technology with a robust apprehension and search regime, doesn’t that accomplish enough?”

    Yes, but…

    I would argue that the “caveats” will ensure that these new sanctions will be less than robust. It should be noted that the Russians and Chinese, while voting for the sanctions, also ensured that the resolution was made less effective than it could have been.

    I still believe that China will do do little more than pay lip service to the PSI. A truly effective enforcement regime is not in their interest.

  3. steve says:

    China not vetoing is pretty interesting. I keep waiting for the Chinese to rein in N. Korea, and they do not. I can see some advantage to China in the threat of NK having nukes. It leads to the West financing NK so they do not have to do so. What possible advantage could there be for them in NK actually having nukes? Don’t they risk Japan wanting to more strongly assert itself?

    Steve

  4. Ooooooo… double secret probation.

  5. G.A.Phillips says:

    Remember what happened last time……

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0hk9vaqWUg

  6. anjin-san says:

    We have to consider the possibility that China cannot reign NK in. It would certainly seem to be in their best interest to do so. N Vietnam was willing to take aid from China, but when we withdrew from indochina and China tried to be a little too assertive, Vietnam told China to piss off and proceeded to slap them around in the 1979 border war.

  7. wolfwalker says:

    Using their nuclear weapons against Japan, South Korea, or U. S. interests would be suicidal.

    Why do you say that? Right now, none of the above countries has the political will to act against an aggressor, even a nuclear one.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    I won’t comment about domestic politics in South Korea or Japan, about which I suspect you know even less than I do, wolfwalker, but any imaginable U. S. president will respond forcefully to a nuclear attack against the United States or its interests (like U. S. military bases) overseas. There is no doubt whatever in my mind that President Obama would do so (hint: he wants to stay president).

  9. […] reaction to yesterday’s UNSC resolution North Korea has vowed to throw off the restraint it has shown so far in its nuclear weapons […]

  10. […] New Sanctions for North Korea […]

  11. An Interested Party says:

    Why do you say that? Right now, none of the above countries has the political will to act against an aggressor, even a nuclear one.

    This is so typical of the complete irrationality that exists on certain parts of the right…how many people really believe that the president would let an attack on this country or its interests just go by without any kind of forceful response…

  12. The possibility that someone may push play on the war paused in 1953 is becoming more real every day. Perhaps Obama should give a speech telling NoKo how much we appreciate and admire them. That should fix it.

  13. An Interested Party says:

    Perhaps Obama should give a speech telling NoKo how much we appreciate and admire them. That should fix it.

    Complete nonsense which no one is arguing for…instead of this, perhaps you could point to what military actions would be effective against North Korea…