On Friday, 9th of September North Korea conducted a nuclear test for the fifth time on the country’s National Day. The only difference is that this time it was successful and much more powerful. This had led to outrage all over the world, with many leaders reacting angrily. China opposed the test, with South Korea terming the leader maniac and the US warning the North of serious consequences with further new sanctions. The main question popping out of the entire issues is whether the sanctions have worked in any way to deter the North from raising its nuclear arsenal?
According to North Korea, the rationale behind having its own nuclear arsenal is that otherwise it shall meet the same faith as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Gaddafi’s Libya. Despite sanctions against it and with poverty rampant, North Korea says it won’t be deterred as it seeks to protect itself from the United States.
The US has reportedly pressed the UN to impose sanctions against North Korea with five sets of UN sanctions been imposed since 2006, when the North carried out its first test. Talks among the world powers have failed to deter North Korea from discontinuing its nuclear programme.
The US and its allies are in a precarious situation. If they impose tough sanctions like blocking any oil export to the country, block all shipping going in and out of North Korea and to paralyze its finances, they risk many people would starve in the country. Further, there is a risk of this confrontation in Asia escalate to war. However, starting talks with North Korea on Kim Jong-Un’s terms would lead him to be defiant of the Allies and there is no guarantee that he will discontinue his nuclear programme.
With the continuing threat posed by the North, many in South Korea believe that it should develop its own nuclear weapons as it cannot solely rely on the US. In fact Mr. Trump’s suggestion that the South and Japan should pay more to the US to defend it, there has been concern among these nations and it seems that the South wouldn’t be far from developing its own nuclear arsenal. According to experts if South decides to develop its own nuclear arsenal, North Korea would focus more on developing its short range missiles capable for targeting the South. This is perhaps due to the fact that it would consider South Korea as a direct and graver threat than the US.
No matter what the outcome of today’s UNSC meeting will be, it seems that imposing sanctions doesn’t work against North Korea and reflects failure on part of the US’s foreign policy.