The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed tougher sanctions against North Korea Thursday. And after the vote U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice proclaimed, “These sanctions will bite, and bite hard.”
But will they?
The goal of the new sanctions is to stymie the activities of North Korean banks and cash couriers who might be funneling money to the secretive regime’s nuclear and missile programs. It will be tougher for the regime to move large sums of cash stuffed into suitcases, the US says.
The U.N. resolution also outlines measures to step up scrutiny of suspicious sea shipments and air cargo. And it expands restrictions to encompass several institutions and senior officials in the North’s weapons industry, as well as a range of materials and technology known to be used in uranium enrichment.
It also blocks the sale of luxury goods — such as yachts and certain high-end jewelry — to North Korea. “As a result, North Korea’s ruling elite, who have been living large while impoverishing their people, will pay a price” for the ongoing nuclear activities, Rice said.
Some doubt whether the new measures will make much difference. “As long as China allows North Korea to operate, as long as China provides food, energy assistance, and investment, the sanctions really don’t matter,” said Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute.
Ken Gause, an analyst with CNA, said the new sanctions won’t deter North Korea from building up its nuclear program. “North Korea last year inserted language into its constitution that the country is a nuclear power. To walk back from this, especially under pressure from the outside world, would undermine Kim Jong Un’s legitimacy and make him vulnerable. He will not do this,” said Gause.