Toughest UN resolution
Ultimately, dialogue must accompany sanctions
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously approved its toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea in response to the reclusive state's recent nuclear and rocket tests. The United States and China, Pyongyang's sole ally, spent seven weeks negotiating the sanctions.
The punitive measures are harsher than ever.
Among other things, all U.N. members are required to inspect all cargo to and from the North at all airports and seaports. The resolution bans exports of coal, iron and iron ore and other minerals to North Korea and tightens an arms embargo by banning sales of small arms.
In the financial and banking sectors, countries must freeze the assets of companies and other entities linked to the North's nuclear and missile programs.
The resolution also added 16 individuals and 12 entities to the sanctions blacklist, including North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration and the Reconnaissance General Bureau, its intelligence agency. Luxury watches and recreational watercraft are banned from being sold to North Korea in what appears to be a move targeting Pyongyang's elites.
No matter how tough the resolution is, however, one cannot expect the isolationist regime in Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons ambition obediently. As if to demonstrate its strong determination to continue its weapons of mass destruction program, North Korea fired six short-range missiles into the East Sea Thursday, hours after the Security Council passed the resolution.
This explains why we must be on high alert against the North's possible provocations.
What is most important after approval of the sanctions is to ensure that all countries implement the measures without fail.
But it is no secret that the U.N. sanctions, which have been imposed over the past 20 years whenever Pyongyang unleashed nuclear and missile provocations, have failed to deter the North from seeking to be a nuclear power. That is because China and Russia have stood by idly while North Korea has devoted all its energy to developing its nuclear weapons program.
This time our diplomatic efforts should be focused on encouraging the two countries to carry out the sanctions actively. It is encouraging in this regard that Wu Dawei, China's point man on Korean affairs, pledged to support the U.N. resolution in Seoul this week.
Even so, it is clear at the moment that sanctions cannot offer an ultimate solution to the North Korean nuclear issue. After all, denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula through dialogue seems inevitable.
It is therefore by no means sensible for Seoul to take a blind hard line against Pyongyang, especially with the possibility that the North might return to the negotiating table at any time, driven by the tougher sanctions.
Flexibility is badly needed, given that the simultaneous discussion of denuclearization and a U.S.-North Korea peace treaty is actually the only solution.
To be sure, it is best to convince the North that it cannot escape international isolation and pressure without minimal denuclearization measures. That is why sanctions should go with dialogue.
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