International community considers stricter sanctions against North Korea
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North Korea continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions despite repeated warnings from other nations. Tremors in the northeast of the country were followed by an announcement of a successful hydrogen bomb test, according to NPR. Both President Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis responded to the incident, Trump doing so via Twitter: “North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.” Mattis stated that any threats made to American allies or territories “will be met with a massive military response.”
The US has called for stricter sanctions against North Korea, despite the varying responses from other nations. The BBC reports that the most recent sanctions, which were deployed in August, severely hampered North Korean exports. However, these new proposed sanctions would further restrict the peninsular nation’s foreign economy.
The two biggest factors are Russia and China, both of which are reluctant to commit against North Korea. Russian President, Vladimir Putin, thinks sanctions will not produce desirable results. China has been more ambiguous about its intentions; it has supported recent sanctions. Yet China’s foreign minister said “sanctions and pressure are only half of the key to resolving the issue. The other half is dialogue and negotiation.” If the UN Security Council does not take action, the US may impose its own sanctions as well.
Al Jazeera notes that Russia and China are North Korea’s most profitable trade partners. A South Korean economics professor, Byung-Yeon Kim, thinks that the North Korean economy could be crippled if China stopped exporting oil into the peninsula.
The BBC also reports that while Putin does not want to cripple North Korea, as it provides a geographical buffer against South Korea, Russia has suggested that both North Korea as well as the US and South Korea step down from their hostilities. This means that the former must cease all missile tests, and the latter pair end military exercises. Given recent allegations concerning Russian interference in the US election, Moscow is not eager to support US measures against a trade partner. Russia currently employs 30,000 North Korean workers.
The UN’s proposed measures go beyond mere economic tactics, however. If the Security Council passes the resolution, any UN member state would have the authority to “use all necessary measures to carry out...inspections’” of North Korean ships, according to the Guardian.
According to NPR, the UN Security Council recently convened for an emergency meeting with Japanese, French, British, and South Korean diplomats joined by US Ambassador Nikki Haley to discuss the proper response to North Korea’s increasingly bold nuclear tests.