On September 11, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to step up sanctions against North Korea. This is the ninth package of restricting measures since 2006, when that country first carried out an underground nuclear test. Expanding sanctions was a response to testing a hydrogen bomb. The blast was so powerful that it caused severe earthquakes in China, South Korea, and Japan.
The new sanctions include a total ban on exports of textiles, which is Pyongyang’s second-biggest export worth more than $700 million a year, and a ban on new visas for North Korean overseas workers, which the US estimates would eventually cut off $500 million of tax revenue per year, and limits on imports of crude oil and oil products, the BBC reports.
Incidentally, the UN resolution was adopted on Washington’s initiative, and the original version of the sanctions package included a total embargo on oil supplies to North Korea, an asset freeze and a travel ban on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But the US made a concession, and the vote was only passed unanimously after “Pyongyang allies Russia and China agreed to the reduced measures,” the BBC says.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the Security Council after the vote: “We are not looking for war. The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return. If it agrees to stop its nuclear program, it can reclaim its future.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan called the resolution “strong.” “This has made clear the will of the international community that we must strengthen pressure to a new level and make North Korea change its policies,” he said.
North Korea itself had warned earlier that if sanctions were strengthened, the US would “pay a high price.”
In an interview with The Day (read on page 4), Richard Weitz, a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at Hudson Institute, named three ways by which the US can help settle the conflict around North Korea: imposing sanctions, using diplomacy, and strengthening military preparations, including deployment of US antimissile defenses in South Korea.
The Day has requested an expert to comment on fresh sanctions against North Korea and assess the role of the US and China in settling the crisis.
“OBLIGING THE NORTH KOREAN LEADER TO HAVE AN EXPANDED DIALOG WOULD BE THE BEST SOLUTION”
Oleksandr TSVIETKOV, Americanologist; Professor, Diplomatic Academy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ukraine:
“There are two approaches to resolving the North Korea problem: from the viewpoint of threats and increased sanctions and from the viewpoint of expanding the circle of participants in the negotiating process. It seems to me that the latter option is preferable, and many European countries are focusing their attention on it. Particularly, Germany is taking a more and more active position in this approach.
“The situation in North Korea is very complicated. It depends on its neighbors, especially Russia and China. China accounts for 90 percent of that country’s export revenues. Of course, geopolitical and strategic interests of these two powers may prevail over those of others or must be taken into account. For this reason, the prospects of multilateral approaches to discussions with this region in general and North Korea in particular are standing more chances.
“The situation has not in fact been settled, but it’s not in a deadlock either, and allows one to look at this problem from the viewpoint of the interests of a larger number of participants, particularly Europe. Although North Korea is geographically very far from us, a catastrophe or a military force that will resolve this problem will dangerously hit everybody. Even our problems will become less acute or less perceptible on the international arena if nuclear danger in the Far East gets aggravated.
“The US will be taking now a tougher attitude to all the countries that render strategic commercial services to North Korea. All the other countries must take this into account.
“In this case, South Korea has more opportunities to maintain or open up for a dialog with its northern neighbor. We also know the position of Switzerland which offers its services in international contacts or mediation as one more diplomatic channel of negotiations with Pyongyang.
“The crux of the matter is that North Korea has a very unpredictable and absolute leader on whom all movements to and possibilities of a dialog depend. He is not a suicide. He is playing with nuclear weapons, the weapons of a strategic scale, thus opposing himself to the rest of the world. But it is equally not in his interests to come into conflict. Making a wise move and obliging him to have an expanded dialog would be the best solution.”