UN Security Council Approves North Korea Sanctions

The UN Security Council has unanimously agreed to impose sanctions on North Korea to punish it for testing a nuclear weapon and to prevent further proliferation.

The U.N. Security Council on Saturday voted unanimously to impose sanctions against North Korea in response to the country’s claimed nuclear test. The vote was scheduled soon after negotiators agreed on the sticking point of cargo inspections, the language over which China had expressed some concerns earlier.

Rather than mandating stop and search operations, “the resolution will say to countries to inspect as necessary all goods going in and out of North Korea,” CNN’s Richard Roth reported. The aim is to stop materials and technology that could be used for nuclear weapons production from going to or from North Korea.

Diplomats from the five permanent council members plus Japan gathered in closed-door meetings Saturday morning to reach agreement. While details of the draft resolution were incomplete, diplomats said it could prevent materials for weapons programs and luxury goods from being sold to North Korea.

The language is directed at North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who has a long, documented record of living a life of luxury while his people wasted away in famine. On Friday U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton said, “The North Korean population’s been losing average height and weight over the years, and maybe this will be a little diet for Kim Jong Il.”

Earlier Saturday, Chinese Ambassador to the U.N. Wang Guangya expressed concerns about the draft’s stop and search provisions. “… This interception idea, once they put it in operation, it could easily lead by one side or the other to a provocation of conflict which would have serious implications for the region, for the countries,” Wang said.

My prediction is that the net effect of this will be zero. Predicting that the pronouncements of the UN Security Council are worthless is really going out on a limb, I know, but that’s the kind of bold insight you’ve come to expect from OTB.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    Apropos of nothin’, John Bolton has a measured, pleasant speaking voice that does not at all sound like it comes from him. (Heard him on NPR a couple of times lately.)

    Are we sure that’s not a prosthetic mustache?

  2. just me says:

    I don’t think its going too far out on a limb, but if it is, I am right there with you on the same limb.

  3. vnjagvet says:

    I am a contrarian on this. I think it was worth a week’s effort to get as much cover out ot the Security Counsel as possible. It also forced Russia and China to be engaged in the process.

    We’ll see how this plays out.

  4. Has the UN given the US (and anyone else who wants to also play) a piece of paper that effectively allows us to wage war on North Korea? Certainly, North Korea will see it that way if we try and board any ships headed into or out of North Korea’s harbors, whether in international waters or otherwise. What if they shoot at our ships, especially from land based locations? Can I expect that our ships and sailors will be allowed to defend themselves rather aggresively?

    The implications of all this seem to be a great deal more serious than I am usually willing to give the UN credit for. Of course, when the shooting starts, it will still be the fault of the US.