News / Asia

Effectiveness of UN Sanctions on North Korea Questioned

In this Dec. 12, 2012 file image made from video, North Korea's Unha-3 rocket lifts off from the Sohae launching station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea.
In this Dec. 12, 2012 file image made from video, North Korea's Unha-3 rocket lifts off from the Sohae launching station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea.
As the world waits to see whether North Korea will follow through on its threat to conduct a third nuclear test, some analysts say the international community should look into new ways of dealing with Pyongyang.

Last month, North Korea promised to soon conduct a "high-level" nuclear test after the United Nations Security Council tightened sanctions against the communist state. The 15-member body was responding to a November long-range rocket launch that North Korea was banned from conducting under previous U.N. sanctions.

Sanctions not working

If the new threat is carried out, it would be the third time in the last seven years that North Korea has conducted a nuclear test following U.N. condemnations of its rocket launches, raising serious questions about the effectiveness of the U.N.'s strategy toward Pyongyang's advancing nuclear weapons program.

The latest Security Council resolution, which expands asset freezes and travel bans on several North Korean entities, virtually assured that Pyongyang would conduct another nuclear test, according to Korea analyst Ben Habib of Australia's Latrobe University.

"We've seen in the past whenever the international community tries to 'tighten the noose' on North Korea, it has the opposite effect of provoking more escalatory behavior," Habib says. "I'm quite certain that's going to happen again here."

But he says it is unclear what else the Security Council can do, other than take steps to target outside entities that help North Korea get around the sanctions.

Negotiations the best way forward?

Others say negotiations, not more sanctions, may be the most effective method moving forward.

"It looks like it's time to look at the possibility of talking to the North Koreans, rather than pushing them further toward the corner," says Leonid Petrov, a Korea researcher at the Australian National University.

North Korean Nuclear Tests

2006
  • Carried out underground at Punggye-ri
  • Powered by plutonium
  • Released radioactive materials

2009
  • Carried out underground at Punggye-ri
  • Seismic signals were consistent with a nuclear test
  • Radioactive material was not detected
If the United States and its allies were to hold talks with North Korea, Petrov says they should not take place in the context of the stalled, six-party negotiations, which North Korea walked out of in 2009.

"[The talks should probably take place] in the form of bilateral negotiations and agreements between Pyongyang and Washington, Pyongyang and Seoul, Pyongyang and Beijing, Moscow, and Tokyo - bilaterally rather than multilaterally," he says.

Petrov also suggests the United States and its allies should not give up on offering aid to win concessions from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has promised to use this year to improve the lives of his people, following years of food shortages and famine.

China plays key role

But whether through sanctions or negotiations, it seems that China, North Korea's only major ally, will play an important part in helping reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Linda Jakobsen of the Sydney-based Lowy Institute for International Policy, says it is encouraging that Beijing backed the latest Security Council resolution, saying it could be a sign that China's frustration with North Korea has "reached the point of exasperation."

"This could be a signal that China is more ready than it has been in the recent past to back a tougher response against North Korea," says Jakobsen, who also warns that it is unclear how far Beijing is ready to go. "One must always remember that China's long-standing policy when it comes to North Korea is no war, no instability, and no nukes - and in that order."

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs