Time to End the North Korea Sanctions Merry-Go-Round
The vote came as the North Korean regime threatened a “pre-emptive nuclear strike” on the United States. China and Russia joined the United States in a unanimous vote to impose sanctions that the U.S. Ambassador to the UN said would “bite hard” for North Korean officials.
Developments last weekend in New York? No, it was March 2013 when the Obama administration secured unanimous support at the UN Security Council for yet another round of multilateral sanctions on North Korea in response to that country’s third nuclear test.
The Trump administration has now done the same, with the White House hailing a new round of multilateral sanctions, projecting that it will have a “very big financial impact” of more than $1 billion.
Yet the Groundhog Day nature of U.S. response to North Korea for the last decade, during Republican and Democratic administrations alike – provocation, followed by multilateral sanctions that usually are not fully implemented, leading to another provocation, to another round of sanctions – begs the question: why will this time be any different?
American allies such as Singapore and Egypt need to choose: do business with the United States or business with North Korea.
We learned a few tough lessons in the U.S. government when we worked to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
First, multilateral sanctions are often worthless unless they are backed by robust unilateral U.S. sanctions. Indeed, following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1929 (2010) against Iran, the U.S. Congress passed stringent sanctions that the Obama administration was required to impose on Iran and its facilitators. These sanctions eventually helped bring Iran to the negotiating table. Unless the United States does the same with North Korea, our latest efforts are doomed to fail.