This weekend, tensions are running high on the Korean peninsula. The usual cat-and-mouse game between the hermit North Korean state and the international community is going into extra-time. The repeated violations by North Korea of UN sanctions is a constant source of tension (e.g. Japan has also decided to extend its unilateral sanctions regime against North Korea).
For this reason, on 6 April 2017, the EU Council adopted additional restrictive measures against North Korea – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The EU decided to:
- expand the prohibition on investments in the DPRK to new sectors, namely the conventional arms-related industry, and metallurgy and metalworking, and aerospace;
- The Council also agreed to prohibit the provision of certain services to persons or entities in the DPRK, namely
- computer services and services linked to mining and manufacturing in the chemical, mining and refining industry.
The Council took these additional restrictive measures considering that the actions of the DPRK violate multiple UNSC resolutions and constitute a grave threat to international peace and security in the region and beyond.
The Council also decided to add four persons to the list of persons targeted by the EU’s restrictive measures for being responsible for supporting or promoting the DPRK’s nuclear-related, ballistic missile-related or other weapons of mass destruction-related programmes. This brings the total number of persons subject to travel restrictions and asset freeze to 41. Seven entities are also subject to an asset freeze.
The legal acts are published in the Official Journal of 7 April 2017. They were adopted by written procedure. This brings the total number of listed people to 41, in addition to 7 entities. See Regulation 2017/658 amending Regulation 329/2007, and Decision 2017/666 and Decision 2017/667 amending Decision 2016/849.
The latest round of tensions with North Korea is indeed worrying. However, the question is whether expanded sanctions against North Korea, for a country which continually conducts itself as a hermit, will work. The key to solving this issue requires a fundamental change of policies for a situation which logically is not in the interests of the main protagonists – China, Japan and the U.S. One could argue that all of these countries, for different reasons, want the status-quo to remain.
For instance, China would probably not like to have a united Korea at its doorstep (which would also probably align itself with the West). Although, it would probably be South Korea’s task to rebuild its northern neighbor, something which could take decades – think of the case of East Germany. Once rebuilt, a united Korea could potential evolve into a formidable economic power in Asia, which could in turn become a threat to Japan – which despite the threat of a nuclear attack by North Korea, would in the long-term also be an unacceptable scenario for Tokyo. For the U.S., a peaceful united Korea would in no doubt be a welcome, although it might not then have a justification to station so many troops in the region.
Well, time will tell if sanctions will work to continue to keep the peace ….