After Pyongyang’s most recent and largest intercontinental ballistic missile launch (ICBM) last month, the United States, South Korea, and Japan placed fresh sanctions on North Korean officials involved in the country’s nuclear weapons programs. The most recent sanctions come after North Korea conducted an intercontinental ballistic missile test on November 18 as part of a record-breaking string of over 60 missile launches this year, and amid worries that it may soon begin nuclear weapons testing, which has been halted since 2017. The US Treasury Department named the individuals that are already under sanctions by European Union since April. Sanctions against eight entities and seven additional people, including a Singaporean and a Taiwanese, were announced by South Korea’s foreign ministry. According to the ministry, all are already subject to US sanctions that were put in place between January 2018 and October 2022. According to the foreign ministry of Japan, three entities and a person were also designated for fresh sanctions. The penalties freeze the blacklisted persons’ American-based assets and prohibit American citizens from transacting with them.
On the other hand, China and Russia have obstructed recent attempts to apply additional UN sanctions, arguing that they should be reduced in order to jump-start discussions and prevent humanitarian harm. After this, Washington is concentrating on trilateral cooperation with South Korea, Japan, and European allies. Between 2006 and 2017, Pyongyang carried out six nuclear tests, concerns have also grown that Pyongyang may conduct its first nuclear test since September 2017 which will be its seventh nuclear test that too in the not so distant future. Additionally, it is being claimed that North Korea is enhancing its conventional military capabilities and short-range missile arsenal. In the statement, the U.S. Department of the Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, “The treasury is taking action against officials who have played key roles in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s illegal WMD and ballistic missile programs in close trilateral coordination with the Republic of Korea and Japan.” To conclude, it is the time to understand that sanctions by different countries have not helped to change the North Korea’s behavior and have failed to make a real impact, therefore, all the stakeholders should consider the options i.e. initiation of talks that can actually help to deal with the situation.
Research Associate, Pakistan House