By Alexander Dombrowski, International News Writer
The United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved another wave of sanctions against North Korea in response to their continued testing and developing of nuclear weapons. The United States led the charge to demand a strong international response to the North Korean threat.
North Korea has called this latest round of sanctions imposed on them, “the most vicious, unethical, and inhumane act of hostility to physically exterminate” the nation and its people, according to Reuters.
For the last several months, North Korea has been conducting missile tests off the coast of Japan and in the North China Sea, much to the worry of developed nations in the area, such as Japan and of course, South Korea. Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, told the New York Times that the international community needs to unite and enforce harsh sanctions on North Korea for its dangerous missile tests. North Korea has threatened military action against developed nations in East Asia if it continues to be placed in a chokehold by international sanctions and now claims to be able to strike the West Coast of the United States.
After repeated calls from the U.S. to impose crippling restrictions on North Korea, the eventual UN resolution was watered down but still stringent enough to severely damage North Korea’s economy in an attempt to dissuade Kim Jong-Un from continuing to threaten nuclear war and bring him to the negotiating table.
Since Donald Trump was elected president, many in the international community have wondered what his response to the increasing threats made by North Korea would be. His attitude towards the matter has shown that he is in no state to back down; Trump has promised that any military action by North Korea would be met with “fire and fury,” a comment that emphasizes his willingness to use military force if diplomacy fails.
Advocating an aggressive array of sanctions and promising the US would respond in kind to a North Korean attack on it or any of its allies, Trump has substantiated the standoff between North Korea and the Western world. Through NATO and UN condemnations of North Korea’s actions, Trump has allied U.S. interests with the international community, attempting to halt North Korea’s missile program before it poses a serious threat to the rest of the world.
The major holdup to complete international cooperation against North Korea’s nuclear missile program has been the country’s two largest trading partners, Russia and China, who both hold vetoes on the UN Security Council to block any action they believe compromises their national interest. Both nations have advocated for softer sanctions against their neighbor in an effort to keep tensions from escalating into war. If a war does break out between Pyongyang and Western nations, China and Russia will be forced to take an active role in the fighting as major regional powers. Additionally, in the event of a war, the inevitable influx of refugees from North Korea will end up in China, creating a dangerous refugee crisis in a nation with an already swollen population density.
The different interests of these powerful nations with vetoes on the Security Council forced the US to back off slightly on the sanctions it was proposing to the UN, in order for the resolution to have a chance at passing. However, getting both to sign off on a resolution condemning North Korea and implementing harsher economic sanctions should be seen as a major step forward for international cooperation in this nuclear standoff.
There is much speculation as to why North Korea is so motivated to escalate this nuclear standoff. It is clear that North Korea sees nuclearizing itself to be imperative to maintain the country’s best interests, however, amidst the threat of sanctions it is concerning that they wish to retaliate even further.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 26th print edition.
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