North Korean sanctions useless?

North Korean sanctions useless?
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that sanctions are “useless” against North Korea and would not deter the nation from focusing on its nuclear program. The President..

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that sanctions are “useless” against North Korea and would not deter the nation from focusing on its nuclear program.

The President was speaking during the BRICS Summit.

Background

North Korea views the United States as its greatest threat. The distrust is mutual as former US President George W Bush once referred to North Korea as part of the “Axis of Evil.”

In July 2017, North Korea successfully test launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). The state media announced that the first ICBM, which was launched on July 3rd, was a “gift” to America. At the time, experts said that this ICBM could reach Alaska. The second one can reportedly reach a number of cities in the US including Boston and New York. US has responded by condemning the tests and carrying out joint military exercises along with South Korea. Many top officials from the US, including Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to UN, have said that the country would not rule out a military conflict if a resolution is not reached.

In August 2017, North Korea flew a missile over Japan and called it the “first step” in its Pacific operations.

Analysis

In September 2017, the nation has conducted its sixth nuclear test to date. It was the nation’s most powerful test yet. According to reports, the country detonated a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

An emergency meeting was convened at the UN Security Council in New York. During this meeting Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the United Nations, said that North Korea was “begging for war.” She said, “War is never something the United States wants. We don't want it now but our country's patience is not unlimited."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that while North Korean actions were “provocative,” sanctions will be ultimately useless. He said, “They'd rather eat grass than abandon their [nuclear weapons] program unless they feel secure. And what can establish security? The restoration of international law. We should promote dialogue among all interested parties.” He also cited humanitarian reasons for not imposing fresh sanctions on the country. He argued that millions in North Korea would suffer.

North Korea’s most important ally China, has called for negotiations. Switzerland has offered to mediate the process.

Assessment

Our assessment is that there is growing consensus amongst international leaders that sanctions will not work on North Korea. Perhaps it is time for US and North Korea to pursue diplomatic channels for a resolution.  We feel that the challenge for the US is that it has few friends in the region who are willing to engage with the North Koreans and remediate the situation. 

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