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Security World

Fourth North Korean nuclear test shows need for harsh, sustained sanctions — not diplomacy


This January, North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test. Though not significantly larger than the previous tests, it triggered a stronger international response than any of its first three, the result of an international consensus that stronger, more comprehensive sanctions must be imposed for serial violations of its agreements, United Nations resolutions and U.S. law.

Resolution 2270, approved in February, goes beyond previous U.N. actions by increasing financial sanctions, expanding required inspections of North Korean cargo and targeting key exports. The resolution is the first instance of U.N. targeting of North Korean commercial trade, including mineral exports.

What triggered this international consensus was not just cumulative anger and frustration over North Korea’s repeated violations. It was also the realization that diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang was no longer a viable solution, combined with heightened concern over North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat and a greater willingness to push China for more extensive sanctions.

The United Nations, the European Union, the U.S. and other countries have begun to implement long-overdue punitive measures to enforce laws, curtail proliferation and raise the cost for Pyongyang’s continued defiance of the international community. Imposing the enhanced punitive measures is a welcome step toward sharpening North Korea’s choice between its nuclear program and economic isolation. – READ MORE

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