Execution is key
The draft of a new United Nations Security Council resolution disclosed by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power contains the most powerful and comprehensive sanctions against North Korea in the last two decades. The sanctions are potent enough to curb the Kim Jong-un regime’s relentless push for weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms and long-range missiles, not to mention causing big trouble for Kim’s efforts to consolidate his power.
What attracts our attention is the adoption of “sectoral bans,” which are applied to a whole industry and proved effective against Iran. The proposed sanctions against North Korea are even more powerful as they cover a broader range of mineral resources than in Iran, which only saw its exports of crude oil and natural gas banned.
Twenty eight countries (including the United States and European Union member states) joined in the sanctions against Iran. This time, 192 UN members - all except the North - are banding together.
The new sanctions are likely to deal a critical blow, as North Korea pocketed over $1.3 billion last year, or more than 40 percent of its total trade, from exporting minerals.
The resolution could also affect the North’s ability to acquire military supplies, as it prohibits any suspicious North Korean vessels from entering harbors around the globe and allows UN member nations to examine all ships to and from North Korea. Broader financial sanctions will help cut off money transfers aimed at supporting Kim’s reign.
The success of the resolution hinges on execution. In 2005, North Korea had to return to the negotiation table after the UN froze the North’s account at the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia. If all UN members abide by the resolution, it could prevent Pyongyang from pursuing its nuclear dream.
As China accounts for 90 percent of the North’s entire trade, Beijing’s support is critical here. Pyongyang will certainly feel much more pressure than before because China has agreed to much tougher sanctions in a drastic departure from the past. Beijing must recognize that if its blood ally becomes a nuclear state, it poses a serious security threat.
At the same time, South Korea and the United States need to consider simultaneously pursuing the denuclearization of the peninsula and a peace treaty between America and the North.
Seoul and Washington must recognize that their previous positions based on the mantra of “No denuclearization, no dialogue” didn’t help resolve the nuclear crisis at all. With the legacies of the Cold War still lingering on the peninsula, the nuclear conundrum can hardly be solved. JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 29, Page 30