These sanctions could workThe United Nations Security Council on Wednesday agreed to finalize a resolution to punish North Korea for its fourth nuclear test and long-range missile launch. The toughest-ever UN resolution is set to be passed in a general meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday morning New York time.
The United Nations came up with the resolution 57 days after the last nuclear test by the North. Though it took a longer time to hammer out the resolution than earlier sanctions, they are much stronger than previous sanctions.
China and Russia also approved the resolution despite their opposition to the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system in South Korea. We welcome the international community’s concerted action to impose potent sanctions on the North.
The resolution will most likely deal a critical blow to the recalcitrant Kim Jong-un regime, as it strictly bans the North from exporting coal and iron ore - a major source of hard currency for the cash-strapped nation - and stops the import of aviation fuel for military aircraft, together with a prohibition of suspicious North Korean vessels entering harbors around the globe. Regardless of Russia’s last-minute intervention to allow fuel supplies for passenger airplanes and the omission of executives of the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation from the sanctions list, the sanctions will bite. Minerals accounted for 45 percent of the North’s $2.4 billion in exports to China last year.
However, one condition must be met if the UN sanctions are to be effective. China, which accounts for 90 percent of the North’s total trade, must sincerely participate in the sanctions. Beijing actively joined previous sanctions in their early stages but let the North off the hook after a while. If China repeats such a practice, another nuclear test by the North cannot be prevented. Our government must do its best so that international society - particularly China - strictly observes the sanctions.
The government needs to keep one thing in mind. When pushed into a corner, North Korea proposes dialogue with the outside world. If that happens again, the government must make efforts to lead the North toward rapprochement with our leadership instead of blindly sticking to a hard-line position. As we have witnessed in the secret dialogue between Washington and Beijing in the run-up to the UN resolution, superpowers demonstrate flexibility when the need arises. If we ignore such agility in international power dynamics, we may end up nowhere.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 3, Page 34