"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
North Korea

North Korea Tests Land, Sea Missiles

June 2016

By Elizabeth Philipp

In April, North Korea conducted a test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and three tests of an intermediate-range ballistic missile, eliciting international condemnation.

On April 28, North Korea conducted two test launches of its intermediate-range ballistic missile, known as the Musudan. The same day, U.S. Strategic Command released a statement saying that “[i]nitial indications reveal the tests were not successful.” These tests followed an earlier attempt on April 15, which failed after diverting from a normal trajectory. (See ACT, May 2016.) North Korea first displayed a mockup of the missile in an October 2010 military parade. The Musudan is estimated to have a range of up to 4,000 kilometers. 

Meeting on the same day as the Musudan launches, the UN Security Council held a closed consultation on nonproliferation in North Korea. As ACT went to print, the Security Council had not released a statement on the two Musudan launches of April 28, and Yonhap News had just reported a new failed Musudan launch on May 30. Consensus on a statement has been blocked by Russia, according to an NK News report on May 24 citing UN diplomats. The Security Council did condemn the maiden test of the Musudan on April 15. (See ACT, May 2016.)

North Korea’s SLBM test did garner Security Council condemnation. Launched April 23, the KN-11 reportedly flew 30 kilometers before exploding, according to the South Korean joint chiefs of staff cited in a May 1 Yonhap News article. The test may have been designed merely to evaluate “the submarine’s launch systems, missile ignition sequence and initial guidance operations rather than a full operational test,” according to Joseph Bermudez, chief analytics officer for AllSource Analysis, writing for 38 North, an online publication of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. 

The Security Council “strongly condemned the firing” of the SLBM in a press statement on April 24 issued by the council’s president, Ambassador Liu Jieyi of China. The launch “constituted yet another serious violation” of several Security Council resolutions, which prohibit North Korea from “develop[ing] and testing new ballistic missile capabilities.” Liu urged UN member states to “redouble their efforts to implement” the nonproliferation measures imposed by the council’s resolutions, which aim to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program and prohibit it from testing ballistic missiles. (See ACT, April 2016.)

On May 26-27, heads of state from the Group of Seven industrialized nations held a summit in the Mie Prefecture of Japan. At its conclusion, the leaders released a joint declaration that condemned “in the strongest terms” North Korea’s nuclear test and “launches using ballistic missile technology” of earlier this year. The declaration also demanded that Pyongyang “not conduct any further nuclear tests, launches, or engage in any other destabilizing or provocative actions.”

In June, Japan, South Korea, and the United States are expected for the first time to test jointly their capabilities to track North Korean missiles. According to a South Korean Defense Ministry official cited in The New York Times on May 16, the joint naval drill will test the ability to detect missile launches, track missile trajectories, and share the information. In April, high-level diplomats from the three states met in Seoul and announced that their countries would enhance their collaboration on North Korea policy in part by increasing intelligence sharing. (See ACT, May 2016.

More Nuclear and Missile Tests Pending?

North Korea’s ruling Korean Workers’ Party held its seventh Congress on May 6-9 (see box below). Ahead of the gathering, South Korean intelligence officials warned of an impending nuclear test by Pyongyang. (See ACT, May 2016.) On May 16, Lim Byeong-chol, director of South Korea’s unification ministry, said that South Korea was still bracing for another nuclear or missile test following the Congress, according to Seoul’s Yonhap News. 

According to a March 15 story published by Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared that North Korea would conduct a “nuclear warhead explosion test and a test-fire of several types of ballistic rockets capable of carrying nuclear warheads…in a short time to further increase the reliability of nuclear attack capability” and ordered preparations to be made. Another nuclear test would constitute North Korea’s fifth since 2006.

North Korea Reiterates Nuclear Posture at Congress

On May 6-9, North Korea held the seventh Congress for its ruling Korean Workers’ Party, which since 1946 has served as a forum for setting political priorities and rolling out policies. The Congress was last held in 1980, when Kim Jong Il was named heir apparent.

At the gathering, the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, spoke about Pyongyang’s nuclear posture. He stated a discretionary no-first-use policy under which, “[a]s a responsible nuclear weapons state, [North Korea] will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive hostile forces with nukes, as it had already declared,” according to transcripts made available by the National Committee on North Korea, a Washington-based nongovernmental organization that focuses on U.S.-North Korean relations.

As Kim highlighted, North Korea has previously described itself as a “responsible nuclear weapons state” and declared a no-first-use policy. On Jan. 6, the North Korean government released a statement that it “will neither be the first to use nuclear weapons…under any circumstances as already declared as long as the hostile forces for aggression do not encroach upon its sovereignty.” The statement was released via the state-run Korean Central News Agency following Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test.

In the same Jan. 6 statement, North Korea stated it will not be the first to “transfer relevant means and technology” for nuclear weapons. Kim reiterated this position at the Congress, stating that Pyongyang “will faithfully fulfill its obligation for non-proliferation and strive for the global denuclearization.” North Korea has a known history of proliferating nuclear delivery technology to other states and is believed to have aided the construction of a suspected plutonium-production reactor in Syria, which was destroyed by Israel in 2007 before being completed.

Kim also stated that the “Party and the [North Korean] government will wage a vigorous struggle to radically put an end to the danger of nuclear war, imposed by the U.S., with powerful nuclear deterrence and defend the regional and global peace.” Earlier in 2016, North Korea released a propaganda film depicting a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile attack on Washington.

The 2013 constitution of North Korea describes the state as “a nuclear state and an unchallengeable military power.”

In April, Pyongyang tested two new types of ballistic missiles, earning UN condemnation.

North Korea’s Nuclear and Missile Tests Set the Stage for Party Congress

In the four months leading up to the North Korean Workers’ Party Congress convening on May 6, the country’s young dictator, Kim Jong Un, has ordered up a dazzling display of the country’s putative prowess in nuclear weaponry. The mixed results of nuclear and missile testing may succeed in impressing Kim’s domestic audience and alarming or inciting his neighbors to the south. But the testing also demonstrates that North Korea’s achievements fall far short of its claims and that political goals rather than technological imperatives are driving weapons development programs. All Eyes on the...

From Paper to Practice: The Significance of New UN Sanctions on North Korea

May 2016

By Andrea Berger

For many years, common wisdom held that North Korea was one of the most heavily sanctioned countries on earth and therefore one of the most isolated. Shortly after Pyongyang’s third nuclear test, in 2013, one commentator, expressing a widespread view, asked, “Is there anything left to sanction in North Korea?”1

Only three years later, the UN Security Council showed that there was in fact much more that could be done. On March 2, the council passed Resolution 2270 in reaction to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and subsequent satellite launch. Until now, the sanctions regime against North Korea has evolved slowly, incrementally expanding the authority of previous resolutions. By contrast, Resolution 2270 adds numerous, qualitatively different restrictions. 

The resolution’s practical effect, however, may be more limited than the changes on paper. Pyongyang’s international isolation—largely self-imposed, though compounded by sanctions—has created unique trade and finance dynamics. In particular, it has cemented China as the primary trade and finance pathway for North Korea and therefore the linchpin for sanctions effectiveness. China’s decisions over the next few months will largely determine the size of the barriers to North Korean prohibited activity created by Resolution 2270. 

By contrast, North Korea’s sanctions evasion skills will determine whether these barriers are surmountable. Such skills, including the creation of opaque corporate structures and the holding of assets offshore, have helped it cope with the UN sanctions regime to date and have given it a head start in overcoming any added challenges created by the new resolution. 

An Evolving Framework

The trigger for UN sanctions on North Korea was the country’s first nuclear test, in October 2006. Although countries such as the United States had previously restricted interactions with North Korea by their nationals or companies, it was not politically possible to attract Chinese or Russian support for multilateral sanctions until North Korea publicly crossed the nuclear threshold. Resolution 1718, adopted on October 14, 2006, five days after North Korea’s nuclear test, contained a basic framework, built specifically to counter North Korean activity directly relevant to its nuclear and missile programs. It includes an embargo on trade in any goods or services related to nonconventional weapons or missiles; an embargo on trade in large conventional weapons systems, the revenue from which the Security Council argued would flow into the same coffers that fund Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development; a ban on luxury goods; and a freeze on assets held outside of North Korea by listed individuals and entities violating the resolution. 

That framework expanded in the same way it was born: in reaction to North Korean testing of nuclear weapons. In 2009, after Pyongyang’s second test, the arms embargo was expanded to include all conventional arms and related materiel and services,2 and a panel of experts was established to monitor implementation of the resolutions. In 2013, after the third test, the Security Council approved new provisions calling for states to refrain from providing certain financial services or establishing financial relationships with North Korea if there were reasonable grounds to believe they could contribute to prohibited activities. Among other things, the council decided that states should restrict bulk cash transfers by North Korea and inspect cargo going to or coming from the country if they could contribute to prohibited programs. It also called on states to “exercise enhanced vigilance” over North Korean diplomatic personnel, but it did not clarify what this vigilance should entail in practice. 

In response to North Korea’s nuclear test on January 6, the United States drafted Resolution 2270 and presented it to China, but the resolution saw little progress for several weeks. When Beijing did show movement and propose amendments, which were fewer and less extensive than expected, bilateral negotiation of the resolution proceeded rapidly. In substantive terms, the resolution goes far beyond previous measures. Its key provisions require countries to expel all representatives of designated entities and close their offices,3 “inspect” all cargo going to and coming from North Korea, deny port access for or impound certain North Korean-controlled vessels, cease purchases from North Korea of certain minerals, limit coal and iron ore imports from the country, ban exports of airplane fuel to North Korea,4 cut off any relationships with North Korean banks outside North Korea, and forbid their financial institutions from opening new offices, subsidiaries, or accounts in North Korea.

The new resolution represents a departure from the sanctions regime’s earlier focus on restricting North Korean activity only when member states have information suggesting that the activity could contribute to prohibited programs. That focus meant the regime was designed primarily to prevent illicit arms-related activities and stop ongoing proliferation incidents. Many of the new obligations in Resolution 2270, including commodity-based sanctions on trade in rare earth minerals, demonstrate that this time the measures are partly punitive. Restrictions of this type, although they may constrain a general revenue stream for North Korea, have no direct, conclusive connection to North Korea’s weapons development or proliferation. Their purpose is instead to make clear to Pyongyang that its actions can have a wide range of consequences. South Korean President Park Geun-hye, for instance, clarified that the United Nations should make North Korea feel “bone-numbing pain” through sanctions.5

Since North Korea’s fourth nuclear test, Japan, South Korea, and the United States have solidified the substantive shift toward more general trade and finance sanctions by instituting their own new unilateral restrictions.6 Although their promotion of such a shift may have been foreseeable, the fact that notoriously sanctions-averse countries such as China and Russia consented came as a greater surprise. 

Beijing and Moscow were eager to send a strong warning to Pyongyang that its actions would risk alienating even those who had given it political cover at the UN. This resolution squares that desire with their continued objection to the idea that sanctions can and should play a decisive role in resolving the nuclear dispute with North Korea. Both countries insisted on inserting major caveats and ambiguities into the text of the resolution that lighten the implementation burden. Restrictions on coal purchases from North Korea, for example, exempt transactions that are for undefined “livelihood” purposes—language that Beijing can use as cover if it wishes to do so. China’s insertion of major exemptions for commodity-based sanctions in this way suggests that it wished to buy itself leverage over North Korea that it claimed it previously did not have. In practice, it is therefore likely that China will vary its enforcement of the provisions in reaction to North Korean behavior, taking action only sporadically. 

Previous rounds of sanctions against North Korea have never covered as much ground or as much paper. Yet, even the unprecedented length of the new resolution has not been enough to address all of the practical challenges with implementing member state obligations. There already are signs that implementation will be a challenge for those who wish to be compliant. Under Resolution 2270, states are required to freeze all assets of the designated North Korean shipping firm Ocean Maritime Management (OMM) Co., including by impounding its vessels, listed in an annex to the resolution. As required, the Philippines diligently impounded the MV Jin Teng.7 

This action has raised numerous issues. For a few weeks, it was unclear whether Manila would have to detain the ship indefinitely. The nature of an asset freeze is such that those vessels should remain “frozen” as long as OMM is designated.8 Because few individuals realistically foresee North Korean capitulation on its nuclear and missile programs as a result of sanctions, few believe the company will ever be removed from the sanctions list. Would the Philippines incur the costs of berthing the vessel in port indefinitely? Could it sell the ship instead? 

Ultimately, China insisted that the UN sanctions committee on North Korea delist four of the vessels because their ties to OMM could not be proven. This included the MV Jin Teng. Issues over reimbursement of the port berthing costs incurred during the period of detention persist. Such growing pains are unsurprising considering the speed at which the new resolution was amended in negotiations between China and the United States, and they are sure to materialize again in the near future.

A Decade of Sanctions Evasion

North Korea already has numerous tools and tactics that it will use to circumvent the new restrictions. As discussed above, the multilateral sanctions regime against North Korea has evolved relatively slowly in line with Pyongyang’s nuclear testing activities. This decade-long evolution has given the country’s overseas networks the time to hone an array of evasive tactics in three areas: corporate structures, logistics, and finance.9 

Corporate structures. In terms of corporate structures, North Korea enjoys a significant presence in neighboring countries, especially China. The diaspora of ethnic Koreans in China remains actively involved in cross-border trade, and North Korea deploys countless businesspeople to neighboring countries to establish companies. To give a sense of scale, more than 300 companies in Liaoning province alone are registered formally as North Korean owned.10 Many more fronts and shells are registered by Chinese nationals or North Korean dual nationals. Although they are not listed officially as having foreign ownership, they could in fact have North Korean beneficiaries. Another approximately 1,000 companies in Liaoning have recorded official trade with North Korea in the past five years although these companies are not necessarily North Korean controlled.11 

The majority of these firms list their business as “general import and export.” In almost every instance investigated by this author where a Chinese-registered company has been involved in illegal North Korean activity, the company in question also had licit business. In one recent example, the representative of a North Korean-controlled company in Liaoning was found to be trading headphones, pasta machines, solar water heaters, and nonferrous metals now banned under Resolution 2270. North Korea exploits these dynamics to make the task of detecting illegal activity comparable to finding a needle in a stack of needles. 

Beyond China and Russia, North Korea does not have a substantial and loyal diaspora that it can co-opt into illegal activity. Instead, it draws on its diplomats and foreign trade representatives for its prohibited activities, having them serve as facilitators of prohibited activity. In 2015, for example, the United States accused the North Korean ambassador to Myanmar of facilitating deals for his country’s primary arms trading firm. Pyongyang also consistently deploys representatives of designated entities abroad and often embeds them in foreign companies. Representatives from North Korea’s designated OMM are known to have embedded in local firms in Singapore and Hong Kong, for example. Similarly, North Koreans operating abroad have bought or otherwise secured access to passports of convenience, further obscuring their personal links to North Korea and the links of any companies they subsequently register.12 In many circumstances, North Korea has managed to co-opt foreign nationals into registering companies and opening bank accounts overseas on its behalf. Research into North Korea’s foreign operations and recent revelations from the Panama Papers show that the country’s corporate networks commonly extend into traditional tax havens and jurisdictions with poor transparency requirements, such as the British Virgin Islands.

The result of these elaborate efforts is that, on paper, when one examines a network that facilitates North Korean trade, whether licit or illicit, there is very rarely obvious and conclusive evidence of the involvement of a North Korean national. This makes detecting the beneficial owners, rather than the on-paper owners, immensely difficult for private sector organizations and governments that wish to avoid inadvertently facilitating or otherwise participating in North Korean trade, especially illegal trade.

Trade flows. The vast majority of North Korea’s maritime, air, and overland trade flows into China as a first port of call. The bulk of the North Korean commercial shipping fleet stays in North Korea’s neighborhood, making repeated trips to and from Chinese ports. 

The portion of this fleet that flies the North Korean flag is steadily decreasing. The country repeatedly carries out major campaigns to reflag its vessels, it frequently changes their corporate structure, and it involves foreign partners in vessel chartering and operations in order to further distance a ship from any North Korean connection on paper. 

Once in China, goods destined for foreign countries are transshipped or re-exported and often put on vessels or other forms of transport that do not have an obvious North Korean identifier or are not North Korean controlled, including vessels of major shipping firms. 

An illustrative example of this pattern is the 2009 seizure by South African authorities of North Korean conventional weapons and parts en route to the Republic of Congo. The relevant containers had been shipped from North Korea through the Chinese port of Dalian, where a North Korean-controlled company in China arranged for them to be booked aboard the CGM Musca bound for Malaysia. There they were again transshipped and loaded onto the MV Westerhever, which was chartered at the time by a subsidiary of the French firm CMA CGM. 

North Korea commonly falsifies the documentation accompanying its shipments to conceal the true nature of the goods and the parties involved. It may mislabel the goods or alter the documents for a number of reasons—for example, to give the impression that the goods originated outside of North Korea. As those consignments travel, the average eye will likely not be able to immediately identify anything potentially suspicious. 

The reverse of this scenario—goods going to North Korea—involves similar patterns. Investigations by the UN panel of experts on North Korea and by this author show that Pyongyang continues to procure a range of legal and illegal goods by declaring false end users in China, including Hong Kong, who are commonly part of North Korea’s wider trade networks. Products are then re-exported to or rerouted by the declared end user or other intermediaries in the transaction. This was exemplified by a recent attempt by a North Korean-linked businessman in China to procure high-tech cameras from the United Kingdom, with the intent to re-export them for North Korea’s unmanned aerial vehicle program.13

Financial flows. North Korea’s evasion activities are as sophisticated in the financial realm. In particular, North Korea is accustomed to amassing its assets offshore. It generates revenue abroad in various ways, including through illegal activity, and holds the funds in overseas accounts. Those accounts may be attached to companies with no immediate North Korean identifier or to foreign nationals co-opted by North Koreans abroad. Contrary to popular belief, North Korea continues to be able to open and maintain accounts with major global banks. North Korea’s primary construction firm operating abroad, Mansudae Overseas Projects, uses one of South Africa’s “big four” banks to conduct its Namibian transactions, for example. Its activities are insured by Old Mutual, a South African-owned financial institution on the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index.14

Where North Korea manages to collect assets in offshore accounts, it uses them to process a wide variety of transactions relating to legal and illegal national business overseas. When money needs to be transferred into North Korea itself, evidence shows that one of the primary methods used is to withdraw the cash needed and carry it into the country. North Korean diplomats have been caught recently in Sri Lanka doing just that.15 In short, Pyongyang is highly accustomed to moving money through the formal financial system in support of its overseas activity in a way that masks the North Korean source or beneficiary of the funds. As with its trade documentation, the start or end of the financial paper trail visible to a bank will rarely be in North Korea. 

Implications. North Korea’s sanctions evasion activity over the course of the last decade highlights the country’s head start in circumventing the stronger measures just put in place by Resolution 2270. When taken together with the already limited global presence of North Korean banks, Pyongyang’s familiarity with offshoring practices means that the bulk of the financial restrictions imposed by the new resolution, which focus on relationships with North Korean banks, will likely fail to substantially impede North Korea’s access to the formal financial system. The ability of North Korean networks to use elaborate corporate structures and the cooperation of foreign nationals to hide their beneficial ownership of companies and the bank accounts they open only add to the difficulties of getting to the heart of illicit North Korean finance. 

As with the movement of funds, the country’s ability to hide evidence of North Korean involvement while its goods are in transit will continue to help it engage in the prohibited activities identified by Resolution 2270. 

The Case of Chinpo Shipping

Chinpo Shipping Co. in Singapore is a ship chandler that has conducted its entire business with North Korean ships since its incorporation in the 1980s. Until 2013, Chinpo’s director, Tan Cheng Hoe, allowed North Korea to use his Bank of China account to process hundreds of foreign remittances totaling nearly $40 million.1 North Korea would transfer money into Tan’s account from accounts belonging to non-North Korean companies overseas. Tan would be instructed by officials from North Korea’s Ocean Maritime Management Co. to execute payments to other foreign accounts although those payments were unrelated to his own business. 

When Pyongyang needed to move some of the assets in Tan’s account back into North Korea, a diplomat would withdraw up to $500,000 and carry the cash out of Singapore by hand.2 The diplomat was stopped at the border once, but subsequently released. Tan was ultimately caught and charged when North Korea used his account to pay a Panamanian firm for the Panama Canal passage of the Chong Chon Gang, which was seized while smuggling conventional weapons from Cuba to North Korea in 2013. In 2015, he was found guilty of aiding North Korean proliferation and processing remittances without a license.


1.   Andrea Berger, “Thanks to the Banks: Counter-Proliferation Finance and the Chinpo Shipping Case,” 38 North, December 16, 2015, http://38north.org/2015/12/aberger121615/.

2.   Sangwon Yoon, Sam Kim, and Andrea Tan, “How North Korea Funnels Cash Into the Country,” Bloomberg, February 21, 2016, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-21/china-at-the-heart-of-north-korea-s-illicit-cash-flow-funnel.

    The Enforcement Landscape

    As mentioned above, North Korea will likely encounter few insurmountable difficulties in moving goods or funds from a foreign destination to China or vice versa. The key question is how much scrutiny North Korean cargo will encounter in its travels to and from China. Some of the new provisions in Resolution 2270 would be more acutely felt by North Korea than other provisions would be if they were systematically implemented by Beijing. Obligations to inspect cargo are foremost among them. A decision by China to undertake systematic inspections of North Korean land, air, and sea freight—an enormously burdensome endeavor—undoubtedly would punish Pyongyang by slowing bilateral trade and hamper North Korea’s ability to sell and buy illicit goods internationally. 

    By contrast, the value of Chinese implementation of provisions requiring that OMM ships be denied entry into foreign ports or be impounded will decline over time. North Korea almost certainly will bring the remaining 27 designated OMM ships home, keep them close, and later attempt to sell some of them, perhaps to others in the North Korean shipping network who can challenge the Security Council’s assessment that they are OMM controlled. Countries on the UN committee on North Korea sanctions, including China, should seek to pre-empt this possibility by agreeing on the criteria by which vessels are deemed to be OMM owned and thus subject to an asset freeze.

    Curbing North Korea’s coal and iron exports would also be significant, as China is Pyongyang’s largest customer. As described above, however, there are notable caveats in the resolution that permit coal trade for “livelihood” purposes and for transactions unrelated to generating revenue for prohibited activities. Financial flows from general commodity sales to prohibited programs are extremely difficult to prove in practice, meaning that China will be able to continue to buy large quantities of North Korean coal and argue that it is adhering to the resolution.

    Whether China will opt to systematically change its practice with respect to any of the aforementioned sanctions obligations remains to be seen. Over the last decade, it has failed to show adequate vigilance over high-risk trade with North Korea, such as consignments aboard charter flights on North Korea’s national airline, Air Koryo. It has been largely unresponsive to intelligence shared with it about ongoing prohibited activities. Furthermore, it allows offices of designated entities to remain open on its territory, permitting their representatives to go about their business and travel freely. 

    Many hope that the substantive leap encompassed in the text of Resolution 2270 represents a dissolution of Chinese apathy toward sanctions implementation. In the weeks since the resolution’s adoption, news reports have quoted unnamed traders and bankers as saying that China has been putting more resources into cargo screening at the border, turning away North Korean ships, and issuing directives to Chinese banks.16 Although some designated North Korean vessels appear to have been denied port access, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has directly contradicted the claim in some media reports that it has decided to turn away all North Korean ships.17 

    Beijing’s other actions point to the conclusion that North Korea’s nuclear test did not instantly increase China’s appetite for robust, burdensome sanctions implementation. Most recently, Beijing reportedly infuriated Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, by demanding that the Security Council delist four of the 31 OMM vessels it agreed to designate only weeks before and vowing to withhold cooperation on other issues if the ships were not stricken from the sanctions list.18 

    Ultimately, it is unlikely that any pressure exerted by Western nations on China will succeed in convincing Beijing to implement more systematically the restrictions on North Korean trade and finance to which it has agreed. North Korea’s own behavior may be the only variable that can bring about this change of heart. Until such a development transpires, North Korea’s illicit networks will continue to use China as a commercial base and primary trade and finance pathway. Combined with Pyongyang’s prowess in evading sanctions evasion, its unfettered access to China will make it more difficult for countries in other parts of the globe to detect and inhibit North Korea’s prohibited activities. Pyongyang will be able to camouflage much of its involvement in a particular transaction behind Chinese-incorporated companies; Chinese nationals, including dual nationals; or Chinese bank accounts. 

    Although this may make the sanctions implementation task for countries in other parts of the globe more difficult, it does not make it impossible or unimportant. Panama searched the Chong Chon Gang, throwing a wrench into the North Korean-Cuban military relationship. Singapore prosecuted the financiers of the Chong Chon Gang shipment, shutting down an important financial pathway for OMM. Comparable actions by cooperative countries can have a similarly disruptive effect in the future on individual nodes in North Korea’s networks. 

    As a result, even if Chinese cooperation is not forthcoming, the dissemination of up-to-date information on North Korea’s current evasive practices and the obligations encompassed in the new resolution still must be given high priority. If these dynamics are not well understood internationally, there could be numerous ramifications. National laws could inadequately reflect UN requirements, resulting in the inability of officials to act on an ongoing incident of prohibited activity. Directives might not be given to customs officials or port operators, for example, or those that are given may be out of step with the requirements of Resolution 2270. The UN panel of experts on North Korea already has done an admirable job in improving international awareness of the sanctions regime and the tactics employed by North Korea to circumvent it, but by its own account, much more outreach is needed.


    The latest UN Security Council sanctions resolution on North Korea is a significant step on paper, in terms of the removal of the narrow focus on trade that is determined to be proliferation sensitive and the type of new measures imposed—for example, restrictions on commodities that are not related to weapons. The fact that notoriously sanctions-shy countries such as China and Russia agreed to the resolution is equally noteworthy. Their acquiescence is a large warning to North Korea: its provocations risk alienating even its key partners. The design of the new provisions suggests that China wished to buy itself additional leverage over North Korea and that Beijing may now intend to vary its implementation of individual sanctions in reaction to North Korean developments. 

    This will be important to bear in mind as those who championed Resolution 2270 seek to measure its practical effect. Large gaps in enforcement left by Chinese or Russian inaction or variable interpretations of the resolution’s provisions will undercut not only the chances that other countries will be able to successfully detect prohibited activities and take action, but also the significance of those actions on North Korea’s broader networks, trade, and finance. As long as illicit goods and funds can cross North Korea’s borders into neighboring states, Pyongyang’s sanctions evasion techniques and networks will allow the majority of them to flow unhindered through other jurisdictions, even those cooperating with UN sanctions. 

    The next few months will be crucial in a number of respects. As evidenced by the discussions over the fate of the OMM vessel impounded in the Philippines, practical growing pains will continue to affect the reformed sanctions regime against North Korea. Beijing’s implementation approach also will become apparent, confirming or contradicting some of the initial “leaks” to the media about the state of Chinese action. Countries in other parts of the world will similarly be required to understand North Korea’s current tactics and implement national laws and procedures reflective of Resolution 2270. Although China may not welcome implementation assistance, countless other governments are open to it. Countries and civil society representatives with expertise should do all they can to support efforts to raise awareness about the North Korea sanctions regime. 

    National approaches ultimately will determine the number and size of the barriers that North Korea will have to use its sanctions evasion skills to surmount. Without active and informed participation by countries, especially those in North Korea’s neighborhood, any barriers erected will be insufficient to regularly prevent illicit activity, punish North Korea for its latest nuclear test, or change Pyongyang’s calculations concerning the desirability of its nuclear and missile programs.


    1.   Colum Lynch, “Is There Anything Left to Sanction in North Korea?” Foreign Policy, February 13, 2013, http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/02/13/is-there-anything-left-to-sanction-in-north-korea/

    2.   Sales of small arms and light weapons to North Korea were exempted by the resolution, but this loophole was closed in 2016 by UN Security Council Resolution 2270.

    3.   The term “designated” refers to the addition of a particular entity or individual to the sanctions list, requiring states to subject that entity or individual to a travel ban and assets freeze.

    4.   An 11th-hour Russian amendment to the resolution clarified that fueling of Air Koryo planes in foreign airports would continue to be permissible.

    5.   Ju-min Park and Tony Munroe, “South Korea Calls for ‘Bone-Numbing’ Sanctions on North for Nuclear Test,” Reuters, January 13, 2016, http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-nuclear-usa-congress-idUSKCN0UQ2MK20160113

    6.   A few countries have chosen to go beyond Security Council resolutions and pass more-expansive measures. Japan and South Korea have newly introduced shipping sanctions forbidding vessels that have recently called in North Korea from calling in their ports. In February, U.S. President Barack Obama signed the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 into law. It calls for extensive action by the Department of the Treasury to designate those assisting Pyongyang’s illicit aims, sets in motion a process for the introduction of secondary sanctions against foreign financial institutions processing North Korea-related transactions, and could lead to enhanced restrictions on trade with foreign ports deficient in their North Korean cargo screening requirements.

    7.   Elizabeth Shim, “Philippines Seize Second North Korea-Operated Ship,” United Press International, March 15, 2016, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/03/15/Philippines-seize-second-North-Korea-operated-ship/2611458059392/

    8.   In the case of Resolution 2270, the Security Council actually listed the 31 vessels it believed were controlled by the Ocean Maritime Management Co. in order to clarify the grounds for asset freezing by member states. China subsequently negotiated the delisting of four of the vessels, including one of the ships held by the Philippines, the Jin Teng, which has since been released. 

    9.   Andrea Berger, “Target Markets: North Korea’s Military Customers in the Sanctions Era,” Whitehall Paper, no. 84 (December 8, 2015), pp. 35-62.

    10.   Data collected by the author using Chinese corporate and credit registry information.

    11.   Data collected by the author using official Chinese customs data provided through Panjiva, covering 2010-2015.

    12.   Andrea Berger and Ching N. Fung, “Business or Pleasure? A N. Korean-Cambodian Arrested in Hawaii,” NK News, August 7, 2015, https://www.nknews.org/2015/08/business-or-pleasure-a-n-korean-cambodian-arrested-in-hawaii/

    13.   UN Security Council, “Note by the President of the Security Council,” S/2016/157, February 24, 2016, pp. 33-38 (containing “Report of the Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1874 [2009]”). 

    14.   Ibid, p. 180.

    15.   “N. Koreans Detained in Sri Lanka After Carrying Cash,” Yonhap, March 17, 2016, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2016/03/17/65/0401000000AEN20160317010500320F.html

    16.   Ju-min Park et al., “Chinese Banks Freeze North Korean Accounts: South Korean Media Report,” Reuters, February 22, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-satellite-china-banks-idUSKCN0VV09S; “China Strengthens NK Cargo Inspections: Source,” Yonhap, March 16, 2016, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2016/03/16/0401000000AEN20160316010100315.html

    17.   “China Denies Reports of Entry Ban on All N. Korean Vessels,” Yonhap, March 23, 2016, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/2016/03/23/0200000000AEN20160323008200315.html

    18.   Michelle Nichols, Louis Charbonneau, and James Pearson, “U.N. Lifts North Korea Sanctions on Four Ships at China’s Request,” Reuters, March 22, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-sanctions-china-usa-exclus-idUSKCN0WN287

    Andrea Berger is deputy director of the Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Program at the Royal United Services Institute in London. She is author of the 2015 paper “Target Markets: North Korea’s Military Customers in the Sanctions Era.”

    The recently adopted UN Security Council resolution on North Korea is qualitatively different from its predecessors, but its practical effect may be more limited than the changes on paper...

    Getting to Know Carolyn Mac Kenzie

    May 2016

    Interviewed by Daniel Horner

    Carolyn Mac Kenzie has spent much of her professional life in pursuit of radioactive sources that are no longer under the control of authorities. These sources, which are used in medicine, research, and industry, can be dangerous if they fall into the hands of people who do not realize what they are or if people do know what they are and want to use them to make a radiological dispersal device, or “dirty bomb.” Mac Kenzie’s experience in tracking “orphan” sources has included stints at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. 

    She spoke to Arms Control Today on April 6 from her office at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is the radiation safety officer. The interview, which was conducted by Daniel Horner, has been edited for length and clarity.

    I wanted to ask how you got into this field. Could you lay out the path that led you to be interested in radioactive sources?

    I sort of fell into it, but I always thought I would be probably pretty good at this when the issue of orphan sources came up in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

    Why did you think that? What is it about you that makes you good at it?

    It’s my adventuresome spirit. I’ve traveled the world a lot, and I understand how radioactive sources are used. When I was 20 years old, I had backpacked across Africa, India, and the Middle East. I knew I could comfortably go to out-of-the-way developing countries and help them find these things. 

    The first opportunity came up in 2002 working with Russia and radiological thermal generators that are placed along the Arctic Circle to power lighthouses. Livermore was involved with their removal and replacement with solar units. They are a very large source of strontium-90, and they have a potential to be used as a dirty bomb. My background was in radiation safety, and I knew I could help.

    So I got my first taste of this, and I enjoyed it. Some people from the IAEA had heard about that work and called me and were interested in having me come over to the IAEA and help them with their orphan-source mission. So it sort of was fate; things fell together.

    Did you have a scientific inclination that led you this way, or you just followed the adventuresome spirit?

    Right out of college, I got a job at a cyclotron making radiopharmaceuticals. I was taking some fairly significant radiation doses, and the regulator threatened to shut us down. So I got really motivated to try to figure out how to reduce radiation exposure. I then went back to graduate school in biophysics to learn more.

    The big focus at the IAEA in 2004 was on a series of incidents around the world in the late 1990s and early 2000s where scrap metal dealers or illiterate people had found large radioactive sources and wanted to salvage the lead around them. They had not a clue what they were, nor did they recognize the trefoil [radiation] symbol as meaning anything. They saw the lead and knew it was valuable. As a result of removing it, they became excessively exposed to radiation, which caused death or severe injuries. I was tasked with helping to locate these sources and finding a symbol for the sources to prevent this from happening.

    Tell me about creating the supplementary symbol.

    It was fascinating. The task was to help develop a symbol that anybody, especially illiterate people, would recognize as “Danger. Don’t touch. Leave alone.” The intent was to put the symbol right on the lead, right where you would go to take off [the lead]. With the symbol that we ended up settling on, the vast majority of the people saw that there was a grave danger. 

    You visited more than 35 countries to do this work. Did you have to do anything differently because you are a woman? 

    Initially, in some of the countries, but we got past it. I had this one experience with the Russian military where I think initially they were thinking, “What? Why is she along with us?” And then by the end of the trip, I would be the one going forward first with the [radiation] meter and measuring the source instead of them just marching right in. Later in the trip, they would say, “Oh, Carolyn, you go on in and tell us if it’s safe to come in now.” So you had to earn their respect. 

    Her “adventuresome spirit” led to a love of travel and a career that has focused on hunting for radioactive sources.

    North Korea Ramps Up Missile Effort

    May 2016

    By Elizabeth Philipp

    North Korea has recently accelerated efforts to display advances in its ballistic missile program, conducting a test launch of one missile and a ground test of the engine for a different missile in April. 

    On April 15, North Korea attempted to launch an intermediate-range ballistic missile, according to an official from the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff quoted in a Yonhap story the same day. According to the story, the Korean official described the launch as a failure, saying that after the missile lifted off, it did not maintain a “normal” trajectory. The North Korean media, which is state run, did not report the launch.

    The test was of the Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, according to the officials quoted in the Yonhap story. The Musudan was first displayed in a military parade in October 2010 and was not known to have been flight-tested. 

    U.S. intelligence had been tracking two mobile ballistic missile systems in the days leading up to the test, according to an April 13 report by CNN. Officials told CNN the anticipated launch would most likely be of the Musudan. 

    The UN Security Council “strongly condemned” the launch in an April 15 press statement. Security Council President Liu Jieyi, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, said that although the attempted launch was “a failure,” it “constituted a clear violation” of existing council resolutions. 

    The launch came less than a week after Pyongyang claimed to have successfully conducted a “ground jet test” of a “new type” of “inter-continental ballistic rocket” via an April 9 report in the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). The rocket engine was designed and produced by North Korean scientists, according to the KCNA report. The test of the rocket engine reportedly took place at the Sohae launch facility on the western coast and was guided by the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un. 

    The report quoted Kim as stating that North Korea now “can tip new type inter-continental ballistic rockets with more powerful nuclear warheads,” claiming that the United States is within North Korea’s striking range, and emphasizing “the need to diversify nuclear attack means.” 

    The KCNA report did not specify for which intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) models the engine was designed. According to John Schilling, a specialist in satellite and launch vehicle propulsion systems at the Aerospace Corporation, the photographs of the test published by the KCNA indicate that North Korea tested a liquid-fueled engine comprising a pair of Soviet-designed 4D10 missile engines. If nuclear-armed KN-08 or KN-14 ICBMs were to be outfitted with this new engine, it would give the missiles a range of 10,000 to 13,000 kilometers, Schilling wrote in an April 11 analysis published on 38 North, an online publication of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. This test, however, indicates that Pyongyang likely “still lacks the ability to design (or buy) engines any larger than the 4D10,” Schilling wrote. The KN-08 and KN-14 are ICBMs under development in North Korea, but neither has been flight-tested. 

    In March, North Korea claimed to have conducted a simulation test of a re-entry vehicle. (See ACT, April 2016.) This information, coupled with the ground engine test, indicates that North Korea “might be far enough along to conduct flight tests in as little as a year,” Schilling said. On this timeline, Pyongyang may be able to deploy a complete delivery system by 2020 “in a limited operational capability,” he wrote. 

    Meanwhile, in late April, South Korea was bracing for a fifth nuclear test by North Korea. President Park Geun-hye said that preparations for such a test had been detected, according to a Yonhap story on April 18. Park then reportedly ordered her military to “maintain readiness” to “sternly retaliate” against North Korea, according to the report. North Korea last conducted a nuclear test on Jan. 6. (See ACT, January/February 2016.)

    North Korea is “several years” away from being capable of mounting a nuclear warhead on an ICBM, according to a senior South Korean government official quoted in The New York Times on April 5. North Korea is able to arm its medium-range Nodong ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead, according to the official, who was cited as saying that South Korea did not have evidence that North Korea has deployed nuclear-armed Nodong missiles.

    The Chinese ambassador to the United Nations called North Korea’s attempted launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile “a clear violation” of Security Council resolutions.

    States Deepen Cooperation on N. Korea

    May 2016

    By Elizabeth Philipp

    Senior officials from Japan, South Korea, and the United States announced last month that they will bolster their cooperation in responding to North Korea’s recent moves in its nuclear and missile programs.

    Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki, South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed strategic coordination on North Korea policy when they met April 19-20 in Seoul. At an April 20 press briefing, Blinken cited increased intelligence sharing as an example of the ways in which the three states will enhance their collaboration on North Korea policy, according to a Yonhap report. The three states also will set up trilateral consultations on sanctions implementation, including those for UN Security Council Resolution 2270, which the council adopted March 2. 

    On Jan. 6, Pyongyang conducted its fourth underground nuclear test and, on Feb. 7, conducted a space launch using ballistic missile technology. Pyongyang has, in addition, announced additional advances in its delivery systems in recent weeks and months. (See ACT, May 2016.

    The high-level meetings in South Korea followed world leaders’ calls at the nuclear security summit in Washington earlier this year for a greater effort to counter North Korea’s nuclear advances. In remarks on March 31, U.S. President Barack Obama called for states to use existing nonproliferation infrastructure, stating that “it is important to the entire international community to vigilantly enforce the strong UN security measures.” 

    Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and South Korean President Park Geun-hye met on the sidelines of the summit and “discussed ways to deepen [their] cooperation” with the goal of “deterring the North Korean nuclear threat and the potential of nuclear proliferation as a consequence of North Korean activities,” Obama said at the joint press conference after the meeting. 

    Park said North Korea would be “certain to find itself facing even tougher sanctions and isolation” if there were “further provocations” from Pyongyang.

    Also in April, the United Nations added to the list of items that its member states are barred from sending to North Korea under Resolution 2270, which the Security Council adopted March 2. 

    Román Oyarzun Marchesi of Spain, the chair of the specialized sanctions committee on North Korea, delivered the list to the Security Council in an April 4 letter. The list includes items that are usable in programs to produce nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons or to produce missiles. 

    China has continued to take steps to implement the sanctions imposed by Resolution 2270. On April 7, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced a new list of mineral products that cannot be bought from North Korea. The list of additional banned items was adopted “[i]n order to carry out relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council” and includes imports to China from North Korea of coal, iron, gold, and rare earth minerals, as well as exports to North Korea from China of certain aircraft and rocket fuels, with some limited exceptions to the bans, according to the official announcement. 

    China has undertaken similar national bans in the past in order to implement UN resolutions, including an executive order to reinforce a blacklist instituted by Security Council Resolution 1874 in 2009, according to Yang Xiyu, a former Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs official speaking at an April 20 press briefing in Washington held by the U.S.-Korea Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. China has banned more than 900 items for export to North Korea, Yang said. 

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated his appreciation for China’s actions at the meeting in Hiroshima on April 11 of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries. “China has an enormous ability to send a message to and have an impact on North Korea. And China, we are pleased, joined us in doing some things that have an impact” on North Korea, Kerry said.

    Also at the G7 meeting, Kerry stated that the United States has “made it clear that [it is] prepared to negotiate a peace treaty on the [Korean] peninsula,” as well as a “non-aggression agreement” and that the United States is prepared to “welcome the North back to the community of nations.” But in describing these moves toward diplomatic thawing, Kerry emphasized that it “all depends on the North making the decision that they will negotiate denuclearization.”

    In March, Kerry had delivered remarks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during which Wang had called for “parallel track” negotiations with North Korea to address both the conclusion of a peace treaty and a denuclearization agreement. (See ACT, April 2016.) At that time, Kerry did not echo Wang’s call for peace talks.

    Senior officials from Japan, South Korea, and the United States agreed to increase intelligence sharing and set up consultations on sanctions implementation. 

    Getting What We Need With North Korea

    April 2016

    By Leon V. Sigal

    While Washington’s chattering classes were all atwitter about North Korean nuclear testing and rocket launching and China’s backing for UN sanctions against Pyongyang in recent months, U.S. diplomats were tiptoeing to the negotiating table.

    Any chance of a nuclear deal with North Korea depends on giving top priority to stopping the North’s arming even if that means having Pyongyang keep the handful of weapons it has for the foreseeable future. Success will also require probing Kim Jong Un’s seriousness about ending enmity, starting with a peace process on the Korean peninsula.

    The revelation that Washington was willing to talk to Pyongyang without preconditions was a surprise to those who had not been tracking the evolution of U.S. policy closely. The Department of State confirmed that the United States held talks in New York last fall and rejected a proposal to begin negotiating a peace treaty. “To be clear, it was the North Koreans who proposed discussing a peace treaty,” department spokesman John Kirby said on February 21. “We carefully considered their proposal, and made clear that denuclearization had to be part of any such discussion. The North rejected our response.”1

    Intriguingly, the revelation came on the eve of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Washington. Four days earlier, while signaling China’s support for UN sanctions, Wang had made a more negotiable proposal of his own: “As chair country for the six-party talks, China proposes talks toward both achieving denuclearization and replacing the armistice agreement with a peace treaty.” The proposal, Wang said, was intended to “find a way back to dialogue quickly.”2

    Wang’s proposal was consistent with the September 19, 2005, six-party joint statement, which called for “the directly related parties” to “negotiate a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at an appropriate separate forum.”3 Those parties included the three countries with forces on the peninsula—North Korea, South Korea, and the United States—and China. They, along with Japan and Russia, agreed in six-party talks in September 2005 on the aim of “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” to be negotiated in parallel with a peace process in Korea and bilateral U.S.-North Korean and Japanese-North Korean talks on political and economic normalization.

    Wang’s initiative was also a way to bridge the gap between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea has long sought a peace treaty. Its position hardened, however, after Washington, backed by Seoul and Tokyo, demanded preconditions—“pre-steps” in diplomatic parlance—to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization before talks could begin. In response, Pyongyang began insisting that a peace treaty had to precede any denuclearization.

    The Chinese proposal is a testament that sanctions are unlikely to curb North Korean nuclear and missile programs and that negotiation, however difficult, is the only realistic way forward. So is Washington’s newfound openness to talks with Pyongyang.

    Many in Washington and Seoul, however, still contend that negotiation is pointless if North Korea remains unwilling to give up the handful of crude nuclear weapons it has. That premise ignores the potential danger that an unbounded weapons program in North Korea poses to U.S. and allied security.

    It also ignores the possibility that Pyongyang may be willing to suspend its nuclear and missile programs if its security concerns are satisfied. That was the gist of its January 9, 2015, offer of “temporarily suspending the nuclear test over which the U.S. is concerned” if the United States “temporarily suspends joint military exercises in South Korea and its vicinity this year.”4

    Like most opening bids, it was unacceptable. Instead of probing it further, however, Washington rejected it out of hand—within hours—and publicly denounced it as an “implicit threat.”5 That was a mistake Washington would not repeat in the fall.

    Unofficial contacts later that January indicated that Pyongyang was prepared to suspend not just nuclear testing, but also missile and satellite launches and fissile material production. In return, the North was willing to accept a toning-down of the scale and scope of U.S.-South Korean exercises instead of the cancellation it had sought. This underscored the need for reciprocal steps to improve both sides’ security.

    Those contacts might have opened the way to talks at that time, but the initiative was squelched in Washington. Instead, U.S. officials continued to insist Pyongyang had to take unilateral steps to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearizing and ruled out reciprocity by Washington. Their stance was based on the flawed premise that the North alone had failed to live up to past agreements.6 As Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, put it on February 4, “North Korea does not have the right to bargain, to trade or ask for a pay-off in return for abiding by international law.”7 This crime-and-punishment approach, however warranted by North Korean flouting of international law, has never stopped North Korea from arming in the past, and it is unrealistic to think it would work now.

    Tiptoeing Toward Talks

    Last September 18, U.S. negotiator Sung Kim dropped Washington’s preconditions for talks while still insisting that the agenda would be pre-steps North Korea would have to take to reassure Washington before formal negotiations could begin. “When we conveyed to Pyongyang that we are open to dialogue to discuss how we can resume credible and meaningful negotiations, of course we meant it. It was not an empty promise. We are willing to talk to them,” Kim said. “And frankly for me, whether that discussion takes place in Pyongyang, or some other place, is not important. I think what’s important is for us to be able to sit down with them and hear directly from them that they are committed to denuclearization and that if and when the six-party talks resume, they will work with us in meaningful and credible negotiations towards verifiable denuclearization.”8 In short, Washington would sit down with Pyongyang without preconditions in order to discuss U.S.  preconditions for negotiations. That opened the door to contacts with the North Koreans in the New York channel in November.

    In a November 3 interview, North Korean Foreign Ministry official Jong Tong Hak hinted at what the North might be proposing behind the scenes in New York. He said a permanent peace settlement on the Korean peninsula first required a North Korean-U.S. “peace agreement,” perhaps a declaration committing the sides to negotiate peace. That was an advance. It was accompanied by a step backward from previous North Korean positions: “If the American government is serious about respecting the sovereignty of the DPRK [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] and ending its ongoing hostile policy against the DPRK then it can be solved very easily between the two sides.”9 The apparent exclusion of South Korea made that proposal a nonstarter even if the North had been ready to suspend its nuclear and missile programs.

    Sung Kim reiterated the U.S. position on November 10. “I think for us it’s pretty straightforward: If [the North Koreans are] willing to talk about the nuclear issue and how we can move towards meaningful productive credible negotiations, [the United States would be] happy to meet with them anytime, anywhere,” he said. He went on to respond to Jong obliquely: “It’s not that we have no interest in seeking a permanent peace regime, peace mechanism or peace treaty. But I think they have the order wrong. Before we can get to a peace mechanism to replace the armistice, I think we need to make significant progress on the central issue of denuclearization.”10 The armistice agreement, signed in July 1953, established a cease-fire in the Korean War “until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.”11 That has yet to happen.

    The Obama administration deserves praise for agreeing to meet in New York to explore what the North Koreans had in mind and not to reject a peace process out of hand. Disappointingly, North Korea proved unready to discuss denuclearization, which is stymieing talks for now.

    The Limits of Sanctions

    North Korea’s January 6 nuclear test and February 7 satellite launch spurred more-stringent sanctions at the UN Security Council and in Washington. Even worse, the sanctions revived dreams of a North Korean collapse in Seoul, dreams that jeopardize a peace process.

    Sanctions might have helped bring Iran around to negotiating, but North Korea is no Iran. It is far more autarkic and less dependent on trade with the rest of the world. It has no big-ticket items such as oil that require access to the global banking system to transact business.

    An offer to ease sanctions may be of some utility in negotiations with Pyongyang, as it was with Tehran. The latest sanctions will squeeze Pyongyang but not enough to compel it to knuckle under and accept Washington’s preconditions for negotiating. If anything, Pyongyang’s nuclear advances have enhanced its leverage and given it greater confidence to proceed with negotiations on its own terms.

    Wang and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged as much in their February 23 joint press conference announcing their agreement to move ahead on sanctions and negotiations. “China would like to emphasize that the Security Council resolution cannot provide a fundamental solution to the Korean nuclear issue. To really do that, we need to return to the track of dialogue and negotiation. And the secretary and I discussed this many times, and we agree on this,” Wang said. Kerry echoed him, saying that the goal “is not to be in a series of cycling, repetitive punishments. That doesn’t lead anywhere. The goal is to try to get Kim Jong Un and the DPRK to recognize that…it can rejoin the community of nations, it can actually ultimately have a peace agreement with the United States of America that resolves the unresolved issues of the Korean peninsula, if it will come to the table and negotiate the denuclearization.”12 Once again, news reports focused on China’s willingness to endorse sanctions without paying attention to the U.S. commitment to negotiations.

    Kirby, the State Department spokesman, improved that formulation on March 3: “We haven’t ruled out the possibility that there could sort of be some sort of parallel process here. But—and this is not a small ‘but’—there has to be denuclearization on the peninsula and work through the six-party process to get there.”13

    Many in Washington may question whether Beijing will enforce UN-mandated sanctions. By the same token, many in Beijing may wonder whether Washington will keep its commitment to negotiate.

    Focus on the Urgent

    North Korea’s January 6 nuclear test, its fourth, was nothing to disparage. Even if it was neither a hydrogen bomb nor a boosted energy device, the test likely advanced Pyongyang’s effort to develop a compact nuclear warhead that it can deliver by missile.

    That is not all. The North has restarted its reactor at Yongbyon, which is working fitfully to generate more plutonium. It also is moving to complete a new reactor and has expanded its uranium-enrichment capacity. It has paraded two new longer-range missiles, the Musudan and KN-08, which it has yet to test-launch, and it is developing its first solid-fueled missile, the short-range Toksa.

    That makes stopping the North’s nuclear and missile programs a matter of urgency. Doing so should take priority over eliminating the handful of nuclear weapons Pyongyang already has, however desirable that may be. Such a negotiating approach is also more likely to bear fruit, given Kim Jong Un’s goals.

    What Is in It for Kim?

    For nearly three decades, Pyongyang has sought to reconcile—end enmity—with Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo or, in the words of the 1994 Agreed Framework, “move toward full political and economic normalization.”14 To that end, it was prepared to suspend its weapons program or ramp it up if the other parties thwarted the reconciliation effort. Although North Korea’s nuclear and missile brinkmanship is well understood, it is often forgotten that, from 1991 to 2003, North Korea reprocessed no fissile material and conducted very few test launches of medium- or long-range missiles. It suspended its weapons programs again from 2007 to early 2009.

    U.S. negotiators need to probe whether an end to enmity remains Kim Jong Un’s aim. He is not motivated by economic desperation, as many in Seoul and Washington believe. On the contrary, his economy has been growing over the past decade. Yet, he has publicly staked his rule on improving his people’s standard of living, unlike his father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il. To deliver on his pledge, he needs to divert investment from military production to civilian goods.

    That was the basis of his so-called byungjin, or “strategic line on carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously under the prevailing situation,”15 meaning as long as U.S. “hostile policy” persists.

    To curb military spending, Kim needs a calm international environment. Failing that, he will strengthen his deterrent, reducing the need for greater spending on conventional forces—a Korean version of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s bigger bang for the buck.

    Pushback from the military on the budget may explain what prompted him to have his defense minister executed last spring.16 It may also account for Kim Jong Un’s exaggerated claims about testing an “H-bomb” in January. By crediting the party and the government, not the National Defense Commission, for the test, he was putting the military in its place.17 The role that nuclear weapons play in putting a cap on defense spending was explicit in his March 9 claim of a “miniaturized” warhead deliverable by missile, which he called “a firm guarantee for making a breakthrough in the drive for economic construction and improving the people’s standard of living on the basis of the powerful nuclear war deterrent.”18

    If Kim Jong Un still wants a fundamentally transformed relationship with his enemies or a calmer international climate in order to improve economic conditions in his country, a peace process is his way forward.

    Probing for Peace

    Testing whether North Korea means what it says about a peace process is also in the security interests of the United States and its allies, especially now that North Korea has nuclear weapons.

    North Korea’s March 2010 sinking of a South Korean corvette, the Cheonan, in retaliation for the fatal November 2009 South Korean shooting up of a North Korean naval vessel in the contested waters of the West (Yellow) Sea showed that steps taken by each side to bolster deterrence can cause armed clashes. So did North Korea’s November 2010 artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong Island in reprisal for South Korea’s live-fire exercise. A peace process could reduce the risk of such clashes.

    Negotiating a peace treaty is a formidable task. To be politically meaningful, it would require normalization of diplomatic, social, and economic relations and rectification of land and sea borders, whether those borders are temporary, pending unification, or permanent. To be militarily meaningful, it would require changes in force postures and war plans that pose excessive risks of unintended war on each side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas. That would mean, above all, redeployment of the North’s forward-deployed artillery and short-range missiles to the rear, putting Seoul out of range. Yet, to the extent Pyongyang would see that redeployment as weakening its deterrent against attack, it might be more determined to keep its nuclear arms.

    A peace treaty is unlikely without a more amicable political environment. One way to nurture that environment is a peace process, using a series of interim peace agreements as stepping stones to a treaty. Such agreements, with South Korea and the United States as signatories, would constitute token acknowledgment of Pyongyang’s sovereignty. In return, North Korea would have to take a reciprocal step by disabling and then dismantling its nuclear and missile production facilities.

    A first step could be a “peace declaration.” Signed by North Korea, South Korea, and the United States and perhaps China, Japan, and Russia, such a document would declare an end to enmity by reiterating the language of the October 12, 2000, U.S.-North Korean joint communiqué stating that “neither government would have hostile intent toward the other” and confirming “the commitment of both governments to make every effort in the future to build a new relationship free from past enmity.” It could also commit the three parties to commence a peace process culminating in the signing of a peace treaty. The declaration could be issued at a meeting of the six foreign ministers.

    A second step long sought by Pyongyang is the establishment of a “peace mechanism” to replace the Military Armistice Commission set up to monitor the cease-fire at the end of the Korean War. This peace mechanism could serve as a venue for resolving disputes such as the 1994 North Korea downing of a U.S. reconnaissance helicopter that strayed across the DMZ or the 1996 incursion by a North Korean spy submarine that ran aground in South Korean waters while dropping off agents. The peace mechanism would include the United States and the two Koreas.

    The peace mechanism also could serve as the venue for negotiating a series of agreements on specific confidence-building measures, whether between the North and South, between the North and the United States, or among all three parties. A joint fishing area in the West Sea, as agreed in principle in the October 2007 North-South summit meeting, is one. Naval confidence-building measures such as “rules of the road” and a navy-to-navy hotline are also worth pursuing.

    Lacking satellite reconnaissance, North Korea has conducted surveillance by infiltrating agents into the South. An “open skies” agreement allowing reconnaissance flights across the DMZ by both sides might reduce that risk. In October 2000, Kim Jong Il offered to end exports, production, and deployment of medium- and longer-range missiles. In return, he wanted the United States to launch North Korean satellites, along with other compensation. A more far-reaching arrangement might be to set up a joint North-South watch center that could download real-time data from U.S. or Japanese reconnaissance satellites. It is unclear how much such confidence-building measures will reduce the risk of inadvertent war, but they would provide political reassurance of an end to enmity.

    A Starting Point

    Before the sides can get to a peace process, they need to take steps to rebuild some trust. For Washington, that means verifiable suspension of all of North Korea’s nuclear tests, missile and satellite launches, and fissile material production. For Pyongyang, that means an easing of what it calls U.S. “hostile policy,” starting with a toning-down of joint military exercises, partial relaxation of sanctions, and some commitment to initiating a peace process. Such reciprocal steps could lead to resumption of parallel negotiations among the six parties as envisioned in their September 2005 joint statement.

    If the two sides can avoid deadly clashes triggered by the current joint military exercises, they may get back to exploring the only realistic off-ramp from the current impasse: reciprocal steps to open the way to negotiations that would address denuclearization and a peace process in Korea. That, however, would require a change of heart in Pyongyang, Seoul, and Washington. As the Rolling Stones put it, “You can’t always get what you want/But if you try sometimes, well you just might find/You get what you need.” 


    1.   “U.S. Rejected Peace Talks Before Last Nuclear Test,” Reuters, February 21, 2016.

    2.   Lee Je-hun, “Could Wang’s Two-Track Proposal Lead to a Breakthrough?” Hankyoreh, February 19, 2016.

    3.   U.S. Department of State, “Six-Party Talks, Beijing, China,” n.d., http://www.state.gov/p/eap/regional/c15455.htm (text of the joint statement of the fourth round of six-party talks on September 19, 2005).

    4.   Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), KCNA Report, January 10, 2015, www.kcna.co.jp/item2015/201501/news10/20150110-12ee.htm.

    5.   Marie Harf, transcript of U.S. Department of State daily briefing, January 12, 2015, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/01/235866.htm.

    6.   On the history of reneging by various parties, see Leon V. Sigal, “How to Bring North Korea Back Into the NPT,” in Nuclear Proliferation and International Order, ed. Olaf Njolstad (London: Routledge, 2010), pp. 65-82.

    7.   “US: No Sign Yet NKorea Serious on Nuke Talks,” Associated Press, February 4, 2015.

    8.   Chang Jae-soon and Roh Hyo-dong, “U.S. Nuclear Envoy Willing to Hold Talks With N. Korea in Pyongyang,” Yonhap, September 19, 2015.

    9.   “N. Korea Accuses U.S. of ‘Nuclear Blackmail,’” Associated Press, November 4, 2015.

    10.   Chang Jae-soon, “Amb. Sung Kim: U.S. ‘Happy to Meet’ With N. Korean ‘Anytime, Anywhere,’” Yonhap, November 11, 2015.

    11.   Armistice Agreement for the Restoration of the South Korean State, North Korea-U.S., July 27, 1953, 4 U.S.T. 234.

    12.   U.S. Department of State, remarks of Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Washington, DC, February 23, 2016, http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2016/02/253164.htm.

    13.    John Kirby, transcript of U.S. Department of State daily briefing, March 3, 2016, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2016/03/253948.htm.

    14.   Bureau of Arms Control, U.S. Department of State, “Agreed Framework Between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” October 21, 1994, http://2001-2009.state.gov/t/ac/rls/or/2004/31009.htm.

    15.   KCNA, “Report on Plenary Meeting of WPK Central Committee,” March 31, 2013, www.kcna.co.jp/item/201303/news31/20130331-24ee.htm.

    16.   “N. Korean Ex-Army Chief ‘Locked Horns With Technocrats,’” Chosun Ilbo, May 15, 2015, http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2015/05/15/2015051500971.html.

    17.   KCNA, “DPRK Proves Successful in H-Bomb Test,” January 6, 2016, www.kcna.co.jp/2016/201601/news06/20160106-12ee.htm; KCNA, “WPK Central Committee Issues Order to Conduct First H-Bomb Test,” January 6, 2016, www.kcna.co.jp/item/2016/201601/news06/20160106-11ee.htm.

    18.   KCNA, “Kim Jong-un Guides Work for Mounting Nuclear Warheads on Ballistic Rockets,” March 9, 2016, http://www.kcna.kp/kcna.user.special.getArticlePage.kcmsf;jsessionid=823D154834DB0E5032E668C39EDE74B3.

    Leon V. Sigal is director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York and author of Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy With North Korea (1998). A portion of this article draws from a piece that appeared in the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability’s NAPSNet Policy Forum.

    The only realistic way out of the impasse over the North Korean nuclear program is reciprocal steps to open the way to negotiations that would address denuclearization in parallel with a peace process in Korea.

    States Adopt New North Korea Sanctions

    April 2016

    By Elizabeth Philipp

    The UN Security Council on March 2 unanimously adopted a resolution imposing new and broader sanctions aimed at stemming advances in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and its arms trade with other states.

    Resolution 2270, prompted by Pyongyang’s nuclear test on Jan. 6 and launch of a satellite using ballistic missile technology on Feb. 7, is the fifth resolution passed by the council on North Korea and nonproliferation since 2006.

    The new resolution is “the strongest message” that the Security Council has delivered to North Korea since Pyongyang decided to abandon the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Román Oyarzun Marchesi, Spanish ambassador to the United Nations and chair of the council’s specialized sanctions committee on North Korea, said during a March 2 press briefing.

    North Korea announced its withdrawal from the treaty in 2003, an action that NPT members have not officially recognized.

    Oyarzun highlighted a “number of new elements” in the resolution, including a ban on the export of aviation fuel to North Korea, a requirement that states expel North Korean representatives engaged in activities prohibited by previous Security Council resolutions on North Korea, a requirement that states inspect all North Korean goods transiting their territories, “severe restrictions” on North Korea’s ability to operate a fleet of foreign-flagged vessels, a ban on the export of specialized minerals, and “unprecedented” provisions on banking.

    The resolution closes gaps in the arms embargo imposed by the earlier resolutions, he said. It also blocks North Korea’s access to its assets in other countries, imposes a travel ban on more than two dozen new entities and individuals, and names 31 specific vessels subject to the asset freeze.

    Enforcing the Resolution

    States have begun to enforce the new nonproliferation measures, specifically the requirement of states to inspect all cargo within their territory traveling to or from North Korea by land, air, or sea to ensure that no items are transferred in violation of Security Council resolutions.

    In a March 5 story, the Associated Press quoted Charles Jose, spokesman for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, as saying that his government will impound a North Korean ship, the MV Jin Teng. The cargo ship is listed in an annex to the new resolution as being owned by a sanctioned North Korean company. Under the resolution, the Philippines is required to inspect the vessel for illicit goods and repatriate the North Korean crew. Through an official at the Philippine embassy in Washington, Jose told Arms Control Today in a March 20 email that “the Philippines continues to hold [the] MV Jing Teng” and that Philippine authorities “found nothing suspicious or irregular” when they inspected the ship’s cargo. The Philippines subsequently released the ship, according to a March 24 Reuters report.

    In a March 21 press release, the Security Council announced that four ships listed in the annex, including the Jin Teng, are no longer considered “economic resources controlled or operated by [the sanctioned North Korean company] and therefore not subject to the asset freeze.”

    North Korea Sanctions Flawed, UN Panel Says

    A UN panel has determined that “there are serious questions about the efficacy of the current United Nations sanctions regime” against North Korea and that Pyongyang’s illicit nuclear and missile activities are “facilitated by [member states’] low level of implementation of Security Council resolutions.”

    The panel report, which was released Feb. 24, describes North Korea’s disregard for the council’s past demands, finding “no indications that the country intends to abandon” its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It cites Pyongyang’s advancements during the period covered by the report, from February of last year to this February, including launches of short-range and submarine-launched ballistic missiles and a nuclear test in January.

    The multinational panel of experts was established in 2009 and has issued reports nearly annually since then.

    Despite existing financial sanctions that aim to limit its access to the international financial system, North Korea “continues to gain access to and exploit” the system by using aliases and a network of front companies, among other measures of deception, the panel said. Transactions that circumvented financial sanctions directly contributed to North Korea’s ability to launch a rocket in December 2012, the report says. According to the Security Council, the space launch violated previous resolutions because it used ballistic missile technology.

    North Korea also “remains actively engaged in the trade of arms and related materiel,” according to the report. Pyongyang has attempted to ship various arms-related equipment to Egypt and Syria in recent years, as well as engage in other banned activity with states in Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the report says.

    The report includes several recommendations for the Security Council, including encouraging member states to fulfill obligations to report on their sanctions enforcement activities and demanding that the states prevent the training of North Korean scientists in sensitive fields that “could contribute” to the country’s prohibited programs. The panel also suggests several corporation names and aliases to be added to the list of entities and individuals subject to financial sanctions.

    Security Council Resolution 2270, adopted on March 2, appears to respond to several of the key issues that the report raises.—ELIZABETH PHILIPP

      National Sanctions

      Individual states have ramped up sanctions against North Korea in light of the country’s nuclear and missile tests. Japan, South Korea, and the United States have stated an intent to undertake new national nonproliferation measures against North Korea.

      On March 16, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order prohibiting certain financial transactions with Pyongyang and freezing U.S.-based North Korean assets. The order fills legal gaps in U.S. implementation of Resolution 2270 and the new sanctions adopted by the United States on Feb. 18.

      The South Korean Ministry of Unification announced new national sanctions on North Korea on March 8. South Korea will expand targeted financial sanctions against individuals and entities responsible for the development of nonconventional weapons and “strengthen control over shipping related to North Korea,” according to a statement made by Lee Suk-joon, minister of government policy coordination, on behalf of several government agencies. Seoul also promised to “fully implement existing sanctions” by “strengthening on-the-spot crackdowns and control” over shipments between North and South Korea. On Feb. 10, Seoul announced the unilateral closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a joint venture between the two Koreas. Pyongyang and Seoul have suspended activity at Kaesong amid tensions in the past. South Korea has enforced “comprehensive sanctions” against North Korea since 2010, according to the ministry statement.

      Japan said in a Feb. 10 statement that it also has undertaken “measures of its own” against North Korea. The new sanctions against Pyongyang are aimed at taking “the most effective approach toward the comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues of concern, such as the…nuclear, and missile issues,” Japan said. The sanctions include restrictions on the movement of persons between North Korea and Japan, a ban on large cash transfers from Japan to North Korea, and a ban on entry to Japanese ports of all North Korean-flagged vessels “including those for humanitarian purposes.” Japan also declared an asset freeze on additional entities and individuals.

      China, however, denounced national sanctions on North Korea. In a statement on March 17, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang stated that “China never approves unilateral sanctions by any country” and that “unilateral sanctions taken by any country must not affect and harm the legitimate rights and interests of China.”

      The Chinese government prefers to operate under the “cover of UN Security Council resolutions” rather than enacting national sanctions, China expert Jonathan Pollack of the Brookings Institution said in a March 22 interview, although China is “seriously intent” on implementing the resolution.

      In recent weeks, North Korea has continued to issue threats, including some against the United States, through the state-run Korean Central News Agency. It has also made claims that it has miniaturized a nuclear device and made progress toward developing a re-entry vehicle, two steps required for a deployable, long-range nuclear-armed missile. The South Korean Defense Ministry discounted Pyongyang’s claim to have mastered the technology for building a re-entry vehicle, but acknowledged that North Korea “may have made significant strides” toward a miniaturized nuclear device, according to a March 18 report from Seoul’s Yonhap News Agency.

      A recent UN Security Council resolution imposes new and broader restrictions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s recent nuclear test and space launch.

      China Backs Peace Talks for North Korea

      April 2016

      By Elizabeth Philipp

      China is proposing that key countries work on “parallel tracks” to address North Korea’s desire for a peace treaty and the international community’s concerns about Pyongyang’s nuclear program, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said last month.

      In comments at a March 8 press conference in Beijing, he said that “denuclearization is the firm goal of the international community, while replacing the armistice is a legitimate concern” of North Korea. The 1953 armistice established a cease-fire in the Korean War, which divided the peninsula, but the conflict never formally concluded with a peace treaty.

      Wang said that the issues of denuclearization and the peace treaty “can be negotiated in parallel, implemented in steps, and resolved with reference to each other” and that China is “open to any and all initiatives that can help bring the nuclear issue on the peninsula back to the negotiating table.” North Korea has frequently called for the conclusion of a peace treaty through statements in its state-run media.

      Wang delivered a similar message about the two-track approach in earlier joint remarks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Feb. 23 in Washington. Wang said China “hope[s] that, in the near future, there will be an opportunity emerging for the resumption of the peace talks, of the six-party talks.” Those talks, which sought the dismantling of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, were held from 2003, when North Korea announced its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to 2009, when Pyongyang abandoned the talks.

      Wang acknowledged that “certain parties have different views” on his two-track proposal. He apparently was referring to the United States, which maintains that denuclearization is its first priority.

      At a March 3 press briefing, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that “nothing is going to change about [the U.S.] belief that first and foremost there has to be denuclearization.” Washington has not “ruled out the possibility that there could sort of be some sort of parallel process here. But—and this is not a small ‘but’—there has to be denuclearization on the peninsula and work through the six-party process to get there,” he said.

      Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, reinforced the position in a March 8 interview with Seoul’s Yonhap News Agency, saying that his country’s “number one priority goal” of denuclearization “has not changed at all.”

      At the Feb. 23 press conference, Kerry did not reciprocate Wang’s endorsement of a parallel process. Kerry reported on the details of his meeting with Wang, stating that the two discussed ways to deepen cooperation on bringing North Korea “back to the table for the purpose of the six-party talks and particularly discussions about denuclearization.”

      The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that North Korea and the United States had been preparing for peace treaty negotiations via exchanges at the United Nations. In a Feb. 21 story, the paper reported that, in the days before Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test, “the Obama administration secretly agreed to talks to try to formally end the Korean War, dropping a longstanding condition that Pyongyang first take steps to curtail its nuclear arsenal.” The subsequent nuclear test killed the diplomatic effort, the report said.

      Kirby rebutted some of the article’s key points in an email to Reuters the same day. He said that “it was the North Koreans who proposed discussing a peace treaty.” He stated that Washington “carefully considered” the proposal but insisted that “denuclearization had to be part of any such discussion.” Ultimately, North Korea rejected the U.S. response, he said.

      The U.S. response to the North Korean proposal “was consistent with our longstanding focus on denuclearization,” Kirby said.

      China is proposing “parallel tracks” to address North Korea’s desire for a peace treaty and the international community’s concerns about Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

      Stemming North Korean Proliferation Today

      North Korea has no intention of abandoning its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, said a panel of experts mandated by the UN Security Council in a report dated Feb. 24. The panel, part of one subsidiary committee of the Security Council, oversees council sanctions on North Korea. But in the report, the panel highlighted that “there are serious questions about the efficacy of the current United Nations sanctions regime.” Given North Korea’s intentions to expand its nuclear and missile programs, enforcing sanctions designed to prevent Pyongyang from obtaining the materials and technologies...


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