Will Fresh Sanctions Against N.Korea Work?

      December 14, 2012 14:02

      The international community is pushing for sanctions against North Korea after the renegade state launched a long-range rocket on Wednesday, but there is skepticism whether they will be effective.

      The South Korean government on Thursday said it is pushing for tougher financial sanctions on more North Korean entities as well as shipping restrictions. Seoul and Washington are also considering sanctions similar to those imposed on Iran, which ban dollar transactions with any banks that deal with North Korea, or similar to those imposed in 2005 which froze North Korean assets in a Macau bank.

      Korean Ambassador to the UN Kim Sook talks to the press on Wednesday after a UN Security Council meeting on North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket. /AP-Newsis

      But previous sanctions against North Korea have not yielded any great results and failed to dissuade the North from weapons development.

      The UN Security Council has made no fewer than 24 resolutions or statements on North Korea since June 25, 1950, the day the Korean War broke out. Eleven were resolutions, nine presidential statements, and four press releases.

      Four concerned North Korea's nuclear program or missiles, from 1993 to 2009. They included financial sanctions against North Korean companies and government bodies; a travel ban on North Korean officials; a ban on selling weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons and exchanging or transferring relevant technology to North Korea; and searches of North Korean cargo ships and curbs on the sale of luxury goods to North Korea.

      But due to North Korea's economic isolation and lack of support for the sanctions from China, on which it depends economically, the sanctions had little effect. Experts say they were bound to fail since for every door that was shut in the North's face, China opened a back door.

      One high-ranking official in the South Korean government said, "Rather than widening the scope of sanctions, it would be more effective to target three or four key organizations that source and manage Kim Jong-un's political funds. But China is worried about the collapse of the North Korean regime if the pressure gets too much."

      Skeptics also say sanctions by the UN Security Council against North Korea have become a mere formality.

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