The United Nations sanctions against North Korea seek to apply economic pressure on its government in an effort to dissuade it from further testing nuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The latest sanctions, issued last December 22, 2017, sought to limit North Korea’s crude oil exports to 4 million barrels a year and banned nearly 90 percent of its crude oil exports. The UN also called on various countries around the world to end their employment of North Korean overseas workers.
These economic sanctions have been gradually increasing over the years but they do not seem to have had the desired effect. North Korea has not stopped its tests. After its last one last December, it declared that its missiles can now reach any city in mainland United States. Evidently, North Korea has managed to find ways to import and export enough oil and oil products to keep its economy and its missile tests going.
Last week, the US — via a tweet from President Donald Trump — charged that US satellites have spotted Chinese ships transferring oil products to North Korean ships in the open sea. A spokesman of China’s foreign ministry immediately denied the charge.
At about the same time, two Western European security sources said Russian tankers supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months, transferring the cargo at sea. There was no immediate comment from the Russian foreign ministry.
China and Russia have long been rivals of the US in international affairs and while they officially support the UN Security Council decision for economic sanctions, certain sectors of their economy are not above dealing with North Korea.
If the economic sanctions do not succeed, we fear that the US, led by the rather unpredictable President Trump, might resort to other means to force North Korea to stop its testing of weapons which, it openly claims, are aimed at the US.
In this new year of 2018, the risk of a war on the Korean Peninsula and surround nations is therefor as high as ever. In fact the danger may have risen a few notches with the report that North Korea continues to carry on despite UN sanctions, with China and Russia now accused of surreptitiously assisting it. And with Kim Jong Un’s defiant New Year message that it will now mass-produce nuclear warheads and missiles.
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