North Korea Sanctions Are Major Step Towards Reform

The United Nations Security Council announced on Tuesday that the United States and China have reached an agreement in a proposed draft of sanctions against North Korea. These sanctions came as a result of the North’s history of defiance against the international community, which include a long history of unprompted acts of violence and prohibited nuclear tests. Although the full draft of the resolution has not been released to the public, anonymous diplomats familiar with the document have stated that the sanctions break “new ground” in terms of their severity towards hindering the North’s economic and nuclear development. 

China’s role in the resolution is crucial, as the nation is the North’s only major ally. Although China has shown its support for the UN in the past, it has always cautiously preserved its alliance with North Korea. However, as a result of China’s growing impatience with the North’s rebellious actions specifically the nuclear test in February which occurred in the midst of China’s Lunar New Year celebrations the Chinese government agreed to work alongside the United States in devising a strategy to interrupt Kim’s growing power.

"A strong signal must be sent out that a nuclear test is against the will of the international community," China’s Ambassador, Li Baodong, said during the UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday.

The resolution also served to cause concern among the political elite who have flourished under Kim’s regime, as it prohibits certain imported luxury goods from entering the country, among other major trade restrictions. The resolution also supplements previous sanctions made against the North which include an embargo on all nuclear and ballistic missile-related material.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said after the closed-door meeting that the new draft resolution "builds up, strengthens and significantly expands the scope of the strong U.N. sanctions already in place."

Although the resolution has yet to be imposed on North Korea, Kim’s regime has responded with a line of threats which include attacking the United States with "lighter and smaller nukes" and ending the armistice made in 1953 which put the Korean War on hold. Of course, these threats have become all too familiar to the United States and their ally South Korea. Regardless, both nations have responded to these threats by tightening their defenses at the border between the two Koreas.

Kim’s regime has shown a history of failing to cooperate with the UN in spite of the sanctions imposed upon them; however, this resolution serves as an important step in reforming the North Korean government. Because of China’s growing frustration with Kim’s regime, as well as the North’s struggling economy which has only further been damaged as a result of these sanctions, Kim may be forced to open up to the UN in order to prevent his nation from collapsing. Nonetheless, it is very unlikely that Kim will relinquish his pride, especially while his regime continues to be a viable threat against his adversaries. 

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Jimmy Tang

Jimmy Tang is a graduate of the American University's School of International Service in Washington, D.C. Currently based in Los Angeles, Jimmy's interests include covering US-Asia relations, Congressional affairs, and institutions of international development.

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