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Sanctions on N. Korea meaningless if not effective
Publication Date : 25-01-2013
It is crucial for the international community to make continuous efforts to pressure North Korea and improve the effectiveness of sanctions against the country.
On Tuesday, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2087, which boosts sanctions against North Korea.
The resolution condemned Pyongyang's December launch of a long-range ballistic missile, which North Korea claimed sent a satellite into orbit. The Security Council also expressed its "determination to take significant action" if the country launches another missile or conducts a new nuclear test.
It took time for the Security Council to arrange the details of the sanctions. However, the new resolution means that members of the international community have joined hands to make a tough response to North Korea's provocative actions. This deserves praise.
The latest resolution was a product of compromise between the United States and China, both of whom are permanent members of the Security Council.
Resolution not best, but better
The United States tried to heighten punitive actions against North Korea by adding new sanctions with the help of Japan and South Korea. However, China reportedly opposed this idea and insisted the Security Council should issue a presidential statement--which is not legally binding--instead of a resolution.
In the end, the Security Council decided to adopt a resolution but refrained from imposing new sanctions on North Korea. Instead, the Security Council has beefed up existing sanctions stipulated in previous resolutions, such as adding new entities to its travel ban and freeze on assets.
The resolution could have been better if it imposed new sanctions, such as obligating member countries to inspect North Korean cargos. However, this is clear progress compared to the Security's Council's response to North Korea's previous missile launch in April.
At that time the Security Council only managed to issue a presidential statement condemning North Korea, due to protests from China. It is clear that the Security Council's lukewarm response has inflated Pyongyang's ego, and is one reason the nation decided to launch another missile in December.
The Security Council's new resolution has drawn an angry response from North Korea. The nation said it will take countermeasures against the resolution and "bolster its military capabilities for self-defence, including nuclear deterrence." This could be interpreted as expressing Pyongyang's intention to conduct a fresh nuclear test.
North Korea has twice conducted nuclear tests, both of which took place in response to the Security Council's condemnation of Pyongyang's missile launches. If the international community fails to prevent Pyongyang from conducting a third test, the horror of a nuclear-armed North Korea will become more imminent, further exacerbating regional tensions.
China must act
As a permanent member of the Security Council and a regional neighbour, China should strongly urge North Korea to stop threatening the international community.
The underlying reason why China agreed to adopting a UN resolution is its strained relationship with the United States over Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea and to the Senkaku Islands. We believe China judged it would be an additional burden on the country if it also clashed with the United States over North Korea.
Efforts to boost sanctions against North Korea will be meaningless if they fail to produce tangible results. China, which accounts for about 70 per cent of North Korea's trade, has a heavy responsibility to strictly comply with and strengthen the sanctions, such as an embargo on commodities related to weapons of mass destruction and luxury goods.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has said the government plans to take independent action against North Korea, such as beefing up Japan's sanctions against the country. We urge the government to come up with ideas that will effectively discourage North Korea's provocations.