By Katsuhisa Furukawa, former member of UN panel of experts on North Korea sanctions
Imposing sanctions alone cannot stop North Korea’s nuclear and missile development. No country has ever abandoned its nuclear and missile ambitions simply because sanctions were imposed on it. Diplomatic pressure and the use of force have also been used to urge them to relinquish their nuclear ambitions. The sanctions imposed on the North are beginning to have an economic impact, but their true purpose is to freeze Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development. The latest sanctions include placing a ceiling on the shipments of refined oil products to North Korea, a measure that could cause an “oil shock” in Japan. Of North Korea’s means to earn foreign currency, 90% are subject to the sanctions. Financial sanctions have also been also imposed. The North is certainly in a predicament, but it has continued its nuclear and missile development by sacrificing people’s lives. To freeze its nuclear and missile ambitions, diplomatic pressure and soliciting cooperation [from other nations] will become indispensable.
The U.S. toned down the sanctions that it initially proposal, but maintained the level of the economic aspects to sufficiently isolate the North. I assume that China’s quick decision-making was realized because of the direct involvement by President Xi Jinping, who has been growing uncomfortable with the North Korean situation and developing discontent toward the regime. The fact that China and Russia approved the sanctions in such a short period of time must have come as a shock to the North. Nonetheless, Pyongyang will never cease its provocative actions. There is no doubt that it will aim to complete the development of missiles with an eye on actual warfare with the U.S. Japan should be aware that North Korea’s launches of missiles that pass over Japan will become commonplace.