Effective implementation is key

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Effective implementation is key

Barring any emergencies, the United Nations Security Council will almost certainly pass a resolution today calling for tougher sanctions against North Korea’s third nuclear test in February. The resolution will likely be adopted unanimously by 15 member countries of the UN body given China’s rare endorsement of the tougher sanctions against its ally.

The latest UN resolution calls for even harsher measures against Pyongyang compared to previous resolutions adopted after the North’s nuclear tests or long-range rocket launches. A number of recommendations to UN members are now mandatory. For instance, the resolution compels member countries to go aboard a North Korean ship carrying banned materials and forbid airplanes laden with suspicious cargo from landing.

It also forces members to thoroughly crack down on any smuggling or trafficking of cash by North Korean diplomats, together with an embargo on special materials needed to enrich uranium. By putting a mandatory ban on any financial transactions to export nuclear weapons or ballistic missile programs, the resolution seeks to make North Korea feel acute pain.

The passage of the resolution was possible thanks to China’s cooperation, which means Beijing will not remain as a mere spectator. Pyongyang must face up to the reality and give up additional provocations. Its fiddling with nuclear bombs and other military provocations can only exacerbate the isolation and suffering of North Koreans.

To achieve the original goal of the resolution, the international community must do its best to put the resolution into action. As it turned out, less than a half of the UN members have reported their implementation of UN sanctions to the Security Council. Pyongyang has taken advantage of the loophole to further develop its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Given China’s decisive role as it accounts for more than 80 percent of North Korea’s foreign trade, Beijing’s proactive crackdown on its ally’s illegitimate trade and suspicious financial dealings will help raise the effectiveness of the sanctions.

Considering North Korea’s marvelous adaptability to various types of constraints, sanctions alone can hardly change Pyongyang’s behavior. That’s why the international community needs to begin negotiations to induce the recalcitrant regime to voluntarily abandon nuclear weapons. But if the North really feels the pain from UN sanctions, it will definitely shorten the time for Pyongyang to come to the negotiation table. Otherwise, a vicious cycle of provocations and sanctions will be repeated.
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