Looking for loopholesThe international community’s discontent with the UN Security Council’s new resolution to impose sanctions on North Korea is growing. Even though the resolution was overwhelmingly approved by the Security Council, it had to be watered down at the last minute in the face of opposition from China and Russia. For instance, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was left off a list for financial sanctions and China will only cut its oil supplies by 30 percent instead of a total ban proposed by the United States.
The diluted resolution shows how difficult it is to build consensus on sanctions on North Korea in the UN Security Council. In light of the gravity of the sixth nuclear test of an alleged hydrogen bomb in North Korea — and considering the all-out push for the toughest-ever resolution by the United States — we are disappointed at the diminished resolution passed by the UN.
Nevertheless, Resolution 2375 carries great significance as it has removed the last-remaining obstacle — China’s oil supplies to its “blood ally” — despite Beijing’s resistance in the beginning. The United Nations did manage to ban oil supplies for aircraft in North Korea after its fourth nuclear test last year. But this is the first time that the international body considerably restricted oil supplies to the North, which will certainly have a great impact on the struggling North Korean economy.
After taking the unprecedented step, the world has secured a bridgehead to throttle the North Korean economy. No matter how light a punishment, it can seriously affect the regime if the pain accumulates. Though the new UN sanctions won’t paralyze the North Korean economy, they will weaken the durability of its economy significantly.
To achieve tangible results from the sanctions, the international community must prepare effective systems to prevent possible loopholes being exploited. The Moon Jae-in government cannot rely on the goodwill of Beijing and Moscow anymore. Seoul must find an appropriate mechanism along with international society to scrutinize UN member countries’ implementation of the resolution and put the brakes on potential smuggling that tries to evade the toughened sanctions.
The best way at the moment for the world to force North Korea to come to the negotiating table is putting maximum pressure on the rogue state. In addition to diplomatic efforts, South Korea must do its best to reinforce its capability to cope with the increasing North Korean nuclear threat by securing powerful weapons systems.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 13, Page 34