Sanctions on North Korea: Ineffective

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GIL H. A. SANTOS

THE United Nations Security Council has unanimously passed seven resolutions against communist North Korea since 2006 after Pyongyan successfully test-fired its first nuclear warhead, condemning its nuclear weapons build-up and imposing economic sanctions against the rogue state.

The reason for the resolutions and sanctions: North Korea’s action violates the UN agreement to limit the stockpiling and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. North Korea is a UN member.

The latest resolutions were No. 2270 in March 2016, No. 2321 in November 2016, and No. 2271 in the latter half of August 2017. But these last two resolutions, voted unanimously by UN members, including the five original Security Council members—UK, France, China, Russia and the US which have veto powers—are obviously not working.

The economic sanctions or penalties have been escalated, from UN arms inspection teams inspecting Pyongyang’s nuclear plants (which the North Koreans claimed are for industrial power supply), to banning trade between UN member countries and North Korea.


Later resolutions called for inspections and seizures on the high seas of nuclear shipments bound for Pyongyang and North Korean ports, and banning money transfers from North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank, to China’s rejection—in compliance with the latest resolutions—of coal exports and banning of minerals imports from North Korea.

Comparatively, Moscow has been mum on the issue. Nothing much has been heard or read from Vladimir Putin yet, as of this writing.

UN member states are required to monitor—and submit regular reports for one year effective last month—North Korean military movements and nuclear tests and buildups to the UN sanctions committee.

The latest estimates by international credit raters claim the economic sanction banning mineral exports alone will cost North Korea some $1 billion a year or one-third of its total economic revenues.

The Asean during its summit conferene in Manila, led by President Rodrigo Duterte, has offered to broker peace between North Korea and the superpowers, including China. The North Korean Foreign Minister and his counterparts from the US and China did talk but nothing has resulted from them excepted increased military tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Instead, Pyongyang’s dictator/ruler Kim Jong-un, over the past two months, ordered more test launches of its ICBMs, verbal threats to rain nuclear warheads on the US territory of Guam, annihilation of South Korea where US anti-missile missiles were installed last month, plus additional ICBM tests over Japan and into the northeastern Pacific.

Why have the UN Security Council resolutions failed?

Because one fact stands out that encourages North Korea to act with impunity: there is no United Nations international law enforcement agency. And the UN stands on its basic principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of its members—all of which are sovereign and independent, with each respecting the other as sovereign and “equal” to each other.

The Cold War is another factor to consider before a complete understanding of the North Korea situation is achieved.

Russia has used Kim Il-sung’s North Korea to invade the American-held South Korea after World War 2 as much as it used Mao Zedong’s China to oust US-backed Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist China, and Ho Chi Minh’s North Vietnam to defeat the French in the early 1950s and the Americans in 1975.

All that was part of Joseph Stalin’s long-range plan to expand Communism under Moscow’s leadership, replacing the Americans as the world hegemon and “bury capitalism”. Both Russia and China reinforced North Korea in the Korean War with war materiel and manpower. Shooting in that war ended with a truce, the 38th parallel (Panmunjom) still dividing the North and South Koreans.

But all that whole world communist alliance collapsed after the split between Russia and China in the mid-1960s when Mao Zedong branded Stalin a “revisionist” and unfaithful to the communist cause. After Mao’s death, Deng Xiao-peng ruled China with a hybrid communist government and State-controlled economy to become the world’s second biggest economic power next to the US.

North Korea uses covert trade methods to circumvent the UN Security Council resolutions and its sanctions. A couple of East European newsmen who prefer anonymity, of course for obvious reasons, just revealed that Chinese textile mills, clothing factories and service firms are operating in North Korea employing local workers.

My reliable sources also say non-agricultural North Korea buys manufactured goods in African and Latin American countries under their foreign-registered companies and ship them to Pyongyang as imported items.

China buys goods from other countries and ships them to North Korea as exports of the countries of origin.

While China bans the registration or start-ups of new North Korean businesses in China, as well as new Chinese investments in North Korea, in compliance with the UN resolutions, the North Koreans use the Chinese renminbi (or yuan) in its foreign currency trading in “some of the world’s capital markets.”

In daily foreign exchange trading, it is common practice to trade in different currencies within the three to four trading hours and your gains in any of the world’s freely traded currencies can easily be electronically transferred to Pyongyang using third-party countries or private individuals as fronts.

One other sub-rosa method used by North Korea, my sources said, is using Russian firms to import vegetables and other fresh or manufactured food products from Japan’s free export zones in Hokkaido into Vladivostok and transshipping them down to North Korea regularly.

On top of the above, the question still remains: Will the rogue North Korean regime of Kim, grandson of the late Kim Il-sung, push the world into a third global war similar to what the grandfather almost did?

This issue now rests more with China and Russia to decide and act on. And it will depend a lot on US President Trump’s next moves. The world economies’ wealth and health depend on these three superpowers plus 17 more, including Japan, India, Brazil, South Africa and South Korea.

Nobody has the certain answer. So we watch, plan and take the best options but prepare for the worst.

Comments and reactions to gilsmanilatimes@yahoo.com

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