Home » Opinion » Editorial » UN OKs new sanctions vs N. Korea. What next?

UN OKs new sanctions vs N. Korea. What next?

On two fronts this week, efforts were made to make North Korea abandon its nuclear missile program which, it has repeatedly said, is aimed at the United States.

In the United Nations (UN), the Security Council voted unanimously last Saturday for a ban on North Korea’s primary exports of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore, and seafood, for its continued violation of UN resolutions against missile and nuclear weapons testing. The UN sanctions will slash North Korea’s export revenue of $3 billion by more than a third.

In Manila, where they were attending a security forum with the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Hong-Yo and urged that the North halt its tests. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was also attending the forum, sought the aid of China’s Minister Wang and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

This is not the first time the UN has approved sanctions against North Korea because of its nuclear program; the first one was way back in 2006. But the UN sanctions have not succeeded in stopping North Korea’s well-publicized testing of nuclear warheads and missiles which, it claims, can now reach most of the US mainland.

North Korea has been able to keep on exporting to its principal ally, China. This is why the US is concentrating its diplomatic efforts on China in its bid to stop North Korea’s tests. The US believes the UN sanctions will not work unless China stops Chinese firms that continue to do business with the North.

Possibly anticipating that the new UN sanctions may be no more successful than the previous ones, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster reiterated that all options are on the table.

Will the UN sanctions – or the diplomatic efforts by China – succeed in stopping North Korea? Very unlikely, considering the North’s actions and decisions in the past. In which case, will the US, now led by new President Donald Trump, undertake a military strike at the North?

“It would be a very costly war, in terms of… in terms of the suffering of mainly the South Korean people,” he said.

He was, of course, being diplomatic, because many more people – the North Koreans surely, the US, and its allies in the region – will surely be drawn into the conflict and inevitably suffer. And it may be no ordinary war. Given North Korea’s unremitting rhetoric, it could be a quick – though limited – nuclear war.