Incensed by the North’s two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month, the United Nations Security Council adopted a new sanctions resolution over the weekend, the eighth since the country conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. Backers of the resolution said the new sanctions would cut North Korea’s meager annual export revenue by about a third, impeding its ability to raise cash for its weapons programs.
The sanctions banned member countries from importing coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood from North Korea. They also prohibit member nations from hosting any additional workers from the North above their current levels. Washington called the restrictions “the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation.”
But strong doubts remain over how rigorously China and Russia, the North’s two neighboring allies, will enforce the sanctions.
The sanctions also do not impair the North’s ability to import oil and export clothing and textiles that its workers produce for Chinese companies, although the sanctions ban new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures. Clothing and textile exports are a leading source of foreign currency for the impoverished country.
Officials and analysts still doubt that North Korea has mastered the technology needed to deliver a nuclear payload on an intercontinental ballistic missile. But its last ICBM test, conducted on July 28, alarmed Washington and its allies by demonstrating that missiles now could potentially reach much the continental United States.
“North Korea’s development of ballistic missiles and its nuclear program are becoming increasingly real and imminent problems for the Asia-Pacific region including Japan, as well as the rest of the world,” the Japanese government said in an annual threat assessment released on Tuesday. “It is possible that North Korea has already achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has acquired nuclear warheads.”
One of the last technical hurdles North Korea must clear is mastering the “re-entry” know-how…