Login/Logout

*
*  
"...the Arms Control Association [does] so much to keep the focus on the issues so important to everyone here, to hold our leaders accountable to inspire creative thinking and to press for change. So we are grateful for your leadership and for the unyielding dedication to global nuclear security."
– Lord Des Browne
Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
North Korea

North Korea Hit With New Sanctions

January/February 2017

By Alicia Sander-Zakre

The UN Security Council voted unanimously to impose the harshest sanctions yet on North Korea, including a reduction in a major source of hard currency, as it continues to conduct prohibited nuclear testing. 

Security Council Resolution 2321, adopted Nov. 30, is a response to North Korea’s Sept. 9 nuclear test and follows Resolution 2270 in March, which imposed sanctions on North Korea following its January nuclear test. In the past year, North Korea has conducted two underground nuclear test explosions and more than 20 ballistic missile test launches in violation of Security Council resolutions. 

The UN Security Council on November 30, 2016, unanimously adopts resolution 2321, which condemns the nuclear test conducted by North Korea on September 9 and toughens the sanctions regime imposed on that country. (Photo credit: United Nations)The new sanctions include a cap on North Korean coal exports, a major source of hard currency, to reduce shipments by $700 million, or more than 60 percent. By setting a dollar value and tonnage limit on coal exports, the resolution closes the loophole in previous sanctions, which allowed unlimited coal exports for “livelihood purposes.” The new sanctions also ban the export of nonferrous metals, including copper, silver, and zinc, which provide $100 million a year to the regime, and the export of monuments, which are large authoritarian-style statues particularly popular among African leaders, which generates tens of millions of dollars in sales. The resolution expands by 18 items the list of prohibited imports by North Korea of dual-use items that have applications for weapons of mass destruction. 

“The sanctions are the latest step in our ongoing efforts to convince North Korea that the only path to economic development and international recognition it claims to seek is by returning to credible negotiations on denuclearization,” Joseph Yun, the U.S. State Department special representative for North Korea policy, said after meeting Dec. 13 with Japanese and South Korean officials. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in an official statement Nov. 30, praised the sanctions for demonstrating international resolve. Japan and South Korea each announced unilateral sanctions on Dec. 2 to blacklist senior North Korean officials, and Japan banned ships that dock in North Korea from entering its ports.

North Korea scoffed at the resolution. “There will be no greater miscalculation than to think that [U.S. President Barack] Obama and his henchmen can use cowardly sanctions racket to try to force us to give up our nuclear armament policy or undermine our nuclear power status,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement reported Dec. 1 by the Korean Central News Agency.

China, as North Korea’s largest trading partner, plays a critical role in determining the success of sanctions. In compliance with Resolution 2321, China announced Dec. 11 that it would halt all coal imports from North Korea through the end of the year.

Sanctions alone will not curb North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, said Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, at a Dec. 14 press briefing. He argued for a larger strategy of coercive diplomacy, of which the measured escalation of sanctions are one component. 

Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, also acknowledged the limitations of UN sanctions. “No resolution in New York will likely, tomorrow, persuade Pyongyang to cease its relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons,” she said when the Security Council measure was adopted.

The UN Security Council acts again in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear tests.

UN Security Council Resolutions on North Korea

January 2018

Contact: Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102

Updated: January 2018

The United Nations Security Council has adopted nine major sanctions resolutions on North Korea in response to the country’s nuclear and missile activities since 2006.

Each resolution condemns North Korea’s latest nuclear and ballistic missile activity and calls on North Korea to cease its illicit activity, which violates previous UN Security Council resolutions. All nine resolutions were unanimously adopted by the Security Council and all but Resolution 2087 (January 2013) contain references to acting under Chapter VII, Article 41 of the United Nations Charter.

In addition to imposing sanctions, the resolutions give UN member states the authority to interdict and inspect North Korean cargo within their territory, and subsequently seize and dispose of illicit shipments.

The resolutions also call upon North Korea to rejoin the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which it acceded to in 1985 but withdrew from in 2003 after U.S. allegations that the country was pursuing an illegal uranium enrichment program. The Security Council also has called for North Korea to return to negotiations in the Six-Party Talks, which include South Korea, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. The Six-Party talks, which took place from 2003-2009, resulted in a joint statement on denuclearization. North Korea also dismantled its plutonium-producing reactor as part of the process, although it has subsequently restarted the reactor. For more on the Six-Party talks, click here.

The United Nations monitors implementation of North Korea sanctions through the 1718 Committee, established by Security Council Resolution 1718 in 2006 and a Panel of Experts, established by Security Council Resolution 1874 in 2009. The panel produces regular reports to the Security Council on the status of the sanctions and enforcement.

Prior to passing the first sanctions resolution in 2006, the Security Council passed several resolutions condemning North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities. In response to North Korea’s announcement of intent to withdraw from the NPT in 1993, the Security Council passed Resolution 825, urging North Korea to remain party to the NPT and to honor its nonproliferation obligations under the treaty. Resolution 1695 was passed in 2006 in response to ballistic missile launches in July, and calls on North Korea to suspend activities related to its ballistic missile program. Additional Security Council resolutions on North Korea serve to extend the 1718 Committee mandate. They are not included in this list, but can be found here.

 

UN Security Council Resolutions Quick Links

  

Resolution 1718 (2006)

Resolution 1874 (2009)

Resolution 2087 (2013)

Resolution 2094 (2013)

Resolution 2270 (2016)

Resolution 2321 (2016)

Resolution 2371 (2017)

Resolution 2375 (2017)

Resolution 2379 (2017)

 

Security Council Resolution 1718

Resolution 1718 was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council on October 14, 2006, shortly after North Korea’s first nuclear test on October 9. The full text of Resolution 1718 is available here.

Resolution 1718’s Principal Provisions

Resolution 1718:

  • Demands North Korea refrain from further nuclear or missile tests.
  • Demands North Korea return to the NPT.
  • Decides North Korea shall suspend all ballistic missile activities.
  • Decides North Korea shall abandon its nuclear program in a “complete, verifiable, and irreversible” manner.
  • Decides North Korea shall abandon all WMD activities.
  • Calls upon North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks.

Resolution 1718’s Principal Sanctions

Member states are prohibited from the “direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer” to North Korea, of:

  • Heavy weaponry, such as tanks, armored vehicles, large caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships and missile systems
  • Spare parts for the above mentioned heavy weaponry
  • Materials and technologies that could contribute to North Korea’s WMD programs and ballistic missile related activities, as set out in prior Security Council documents
  • Luxury goods

Member states are also required to:

  • Freeze the funds or financial assets of entities designated by the Security Council as providing support for North Korea’s nuclear, missile, and other WMD programs

Resolution 1718’s Monitoring Mechanisms

The resolution established a committee composed of the 15 current members of the Security Council to function as a monitoring body to review and adjust the imposed sanctions and violations of the sanctions. The body was to provide a report on the status of sanctions implementation every 90 days.

Back to the top. 

Security Council Resolution 1874

Resolution 1874 was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council on June 12, 2009, shortly after North Korea’s second nuclear test, which took place May 25. The full text of Resolution 1874 is available here.

Resolution 1874’s Principal Provisions

The resolution reiterated a number of provisions from Resolution 1718. It also called upon North Korea to join the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Resolution 1874’s Principal Sanctions

Sanctions in Resolution 1874 built off several measures first laid out in Resolution 1718. The resolution expanded the arms embargo by banning all imports and exports of weapons, excluding small arms (which required Security Council notification).

Member states were also authorized to:

  • Inspect North Korea cargo on land, air, and sea, if the state has reason to believe that it contains prohibited items and seize any prohibited materials or technologies
  • Prohibit bunkering services for North Korean ships if the state has reason to believe it is carrying illicit cargo

In addition, member states were called upon to:

  • Prohibit public financial support for trade with North Korea that would contributed to nuclear, ballistic missile, or WMD-related activities
  • Refuse new loads or credit to North Korea, except for humanitarian or development purposes

Resolution 1874’s Monitoring Mechanisms

Resolution 1874 set up a seven-member expert panel to assist the sanctions committee in enforcing the resolution and monitor implementation. Known as the ‘Panel of Experts,’ the group was initially given a mandate for one year and was required to report regularly to the Sanctions Committee on possible violations and recommendations for improving implementation. Later resolutions extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts.

Back to the top. 

Security Council Resolution 2087

The Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2087 on January 22, 2013 after a successful North Korean satellite launch on December 12, 2012. The launch was a violation of Resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), which prohibited any further development of technology applicable to North Korea’s ballistic missile programs. The full text of Resolution 2087 is available here.

Resolution 2087’s Principal Provisions

Resolution 2087 called for other states to “remain vigilant” in monitoring individuals and entities associated with the North Korean regime. It also directed the sanctions committee to issue an Implementation Assistance Notice if a vessel refused to allow an inspection authorized by its flag state.

Resolution 2087’s Principal Sanctions

Resolution 2087 built on sanctions included in Resolutions 1718 and 1874 including:

  • Clarifying the catch-all provision
  • Clarifying the state’s right to seize and destroy material suspected of heading to or from North Korea
  • Directing the sanctions committee to take action to designate individuals or entities that have assisted in sanctions evasion

Resolution 2087 also listed individuals subject now to the travel ban and asset freeze penalties, and entities subject to the asset freeze penalties, for violations under Resolutions 1718 and 1874.

Resolution 2087’s Monitoring Mechanisms

No new monitoring mechanisms were included in Resolution 2087.

Back to the top. 

Security Council Resolution 2094

The Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2094 on March 7, 2013 in response to North Korea’s third nuclear test on February 12, 2013. The full text of the resolution is available here.

Resolution 2094’s Principal Provisions

Unlike prior resolutions, 2094 explicitly mentioned North Korea’s uranium enrichment in its condemnation of Pyongyang’s nuclear activities.

Additionally, this resolution

  • Expressed concern that North Korea was abusing immunities granted to its diplomats by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations
  • Welcomed the Financial Action Task Force’s new recommendation on targeted financial sanctions related to proliferation and urged member states to apply the recommendations

Resolution 2094’s Principal Sanctions

Resolution 2094 expands a number of sanctions measures from earlier resolutions, such as adding nuclear and missile dual-use technologies and luxury goods to the list of banned imports.

Resolution 2094 also designated additional individuals and entities for asset freezes and the travel ban and expanded the designation criteria to include persons or entities suspected of acting on the behalf or controlled by any persons or entities already sanctioned.

The resolution aims to make it more difficult for North Korea to make further progress in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs by hindering its access to hard cash and technological equipment needed to build weapons and pursue uranium enrichment.

The resolution also strengthened the interdiction and oversight authorities for member states by:

  • calling for states to inspect and detain any suspected cargo or shipments to or from North Korea that transit through their territory, if the cargo is suspected to contain bulk cash or material that could be used in a nuclear program.
  • Directing states to enhance vigilance over North Korea’s diplomatic personnel

New financial sanctions included in the resolution:

  • blocked the North Korea regime from bulk cash transfers
  • restricted North Korea’s ties to international banking systems

Resolution 2094’s Monitoring Mechanisms

The resolution expanded the panel of experts that assesses implementation of UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea to eight people.

Back to the top.

Security Council Resolution 2270

The Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2270 on March 2, 2016 after North Korea conducted a fourth nuclear test and launched a satellite for the second time. The full text of the resolution can be found here.

Resolution 2270’s Principal Provisions

Resolution 2270:

  • Prohibits states from providing any specialized teaching or training of North Korean nationals in disciplines which could contribute to North Korea’s proliferation.
  • Emphasizes that the North Korean regime has seriously neglected to meet the needs of the North Korean people and has instead prioritized development of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
  • Decides that North Korea shall abandon all chemical and biological weapons and programs and act in accordance with the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention

Resolution 2270’s Principal Sanctions

Resolution 2270 builds upon sanctions measures from prior resolutions, including:

  • Expanding the arms embargo to include small arms and light weapons
  • Prohibiting North Korea from servicing and repairing any weaponry sold to third parties
  • Prohibiting additional luxury goods

Resolution 2270 also expands interdiction and inspection authority for member states to:

  • Mandatory inspections on cargo destined to or originating from North Korea
  • Asset freeze on all North Korean government and Worker’s Party entities associated with prohibited activities

Resolution 2270 also designated an additional 16 individuals and 12 entitles for asset freezes and travel bans.

New financial sanctions place limits on banking activities of North Korean entities abroad including:

  • Prohibiting UN member states from hosting North Korean financial institutions that may be supporting proliferation activities in North Korea
  • Prohibiting states from opening new financial institutions or bank branches in North Korea
  • Requiring states to terminate existing joint ventures within ninety days of the adoption of the resolution

    It also requires that member states repatriate North Korean or other foreign nationals found to be working on behalf of a Security Council resolution-designated entity.

    Member states are also prohibited from:

    • Chartering or leasing vessels to North Korea, or providing crew services to North Korea or North Korean entities
    • Selling or supplying aviation fuel to North Korea so that it cannot be diverted to its ballistic missile program

    Resolution 2270’s Monitoring Mechanisms

    No new monitoring mechanisms were included in Resolution 2270.

    Back to the top.

    Security Council Resolution 2321

    The Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2321 on November 30, 2016, following North Korea’s fifth nuclear test on September 9. Resolution 2321 significantly expanded sanctions on North Korea.

    The full text of the resolution can be found here.

    Resolution 2321’s Principal Provisions

    Resolution 2321:

    • Calls on all members to reduce the number of staff at DPRK diplomatic missions and consular posts
    • Condemns the DPRK for pursuing nuclear weapons instead of the welfare of its people
    • Emphasizes, for the first time, the need for the DPRK to respect the inherent dignity of its people in its territory

    Resolution 2321’s Principal Sanctions

    Resolution 2321 imposed new sanctions that prohibit North Korea from:

    • Exporting minerals, such as copper, nickel, silver, and zinc
    • Selling statues
    • Selling helicopters
    • Selling or transferring iron and iron ore, with exceptions for livelihood purposes
    • Selling or transferring coal in amounts that exceed a particular cap annually

    Member states were also directed to:

    • Limit the number of bank accounts held by diplomats and missions
    • Suspend scientific and technical cooperation with North Korea, except for medical purposes

    Resolution 2321 also added additional items to the list of prohibited dual-use technologies and designated additional individuals and entities to subject to asset freezes and the travel ban.

    Resolution 2321’s Monitoring Mechanisms

    Resolution 2321 introduced a standard notification form for coal purchases from North Korea to track imports against the cap set by the resolution. The resolution also directed the Panel of Experts to hold meetings designed to address regional concerns and build capacity to implement the measures in 2321 and other North Korea sanctions.

    Back to the top.

    Security Council Resolution 2371

    Resolution 2371 was adopted unanimously by the Security Council on August 5, 2017 in response to North Korea’s two ICBM tests in July. The United States claimed the new sanctions would prevent North Korea from earning over $1 billion each year, although some experts expressed doubt.  The full text of the resolution can be found here.

    Resolution 2371’s Principal Provisions

    Resolution 2371:

    • Regrets North Korea’s massive diversion of its scarce resources toward its development of nuclear weapons and a number of expensive ballistic missile programs
    • Reaffirms the Council's support for the Six Party Talks, calls for their resumption, reiterates its support for commitments made by the Six Parties, and reiterates the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia
    • Decides North Korea shall not deploy or use chemical weapons and calls on North Korea to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention and comply with its provisions

    Resolution 2371’s Principal Sanctions

    Resolution 2371 bans the export of several materials, which previous sanctions resolutions had restricted the export of, including:

    • Coal
    • Iron and iron ore
    • Seafood
    • Lead and lead ore

    The resolution also:

    • Adds new sanctions against North Korean individuals and entities, including the Foreign Trade Bank (FTB)
    • Prohibits joint ventures between North Korea and other nations
    • Allows for the Security Council to deny international port access to vessels tied to violating security council resolutions
    • Bans countries from allowing in additional North Korean laborers

    Resolution 2371’s Monitoring Mechanisms

    Resolution 2371 asks Interpol to publish Special Notices on listed North Koreans for travel bans. It also gives the UN Panel of Exerts additional analytical resources to better monitor sanctions enforcement.

    Security Council Resolution 2375

    Following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on September 3, 2017 the UN Security Council unanimously adopted UNSCR 2375 on September 11. The resolution, which primarily targeted North Korean oil imports, textile exports and overseas laborers, contained the strongest yet sanctions against North Korea, according to a U.S. press release. The full text of the resolution is available here.

    Resolution 2375’s Principal Provisions

    • Reiterates its deep concern at the grave hardship that the people in the DPRK are subjected to, condemns the DPRK for pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles instead of the welfare of its people
    • Reaffirms its support for the Six Party Talks, calls for their resumption, and reiterates its support for the commitments set forth in the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005 issued by China, the DPRK, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States

    Resolution 2375’s Principal Sanctions

    Resolution 2375:

    • Fully bans textile exports
    • Caps refined petroleum product imports at 2 million barrels per year
    • Freezes the amount of crude oil imports
    • Bans all natural gas and condensate imports
    • Prohibits member states from providing authorizations for North Korean nationals to work in their jurisdictions, unless otherwise determined by the committee established UNSCR 1718
    • Imposes asset freezes on additional North Korean entities, including the Organizational Guidance Department, the Central Military Commission and the Propagation and Agitation Department
    • Directs the 1718 committee to designate vessels transporting prohibited items from North Korea
    • Bans all joint ventures or cooperative entities or the expansion of existing joint ventures with DPRK entities or individuals

    Resolution 2375 also added additional items to the list of prohibited dual-use technologies and designated additional individuals and entities.

    Resolution 2375’s Monitoring Mechanisms

    • Provides further guidance for states to conduct interdictions, without the use of force, if the member states have reason to believe the vessel is carrying prohibited cargo.
    • If a suspected vessel refuses inspection, the flag state must direct the ship to a port for inspection or risk being designated for an asset freeze or denied port access.

    Security Council Resolution 2379

    The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2397 on December 22, 2017 in response to North Korea’s ICBM launch on November 29. The full text of the resolution is available here.

    Resolution 2397’s Principal Provisions

    • Repeats many of the principles expressed in Resolution 2375
    • Acknowledges that North Korean revenue generated by exports and workers overseas contribute to its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs

    Resolution 2397’s Principal Sanctions

    • Caps North Korean refined petroleum imports at 500,000 barrels per year
    • Establishes an annual limit of crude oil imports at four million barrels per year
    • Obligates the Security Council to impose additional caps on petroleum imports if North Korea tests another nuclear weapon or ICBM
    • Directs countries to expel all North Korean workers immediately, or in two years at the latest
    • Bans North Korean exports of food, agricultural products, minerals machinery and electrical equipment
    • Bans North Korea from importing heavy machinery, industrial equipment and transportation vehicles
    • Designates an additional 16 individuals and 1 entity to the UN sanctions list

    Resolution 2397’s Monitoring Mechanisms

    • Requires countries to seize and impound ships caught smuggling illicit items, including oil and coal

    Back to the top.

    -Update assistance by Elizabeth Philipp.

    Nuclear/Ballistic Missile Nonproliferation

    Country Resources:

    Subject Resources:

    Fact Sheet Categories:

    North Korea: Obama’s Prime Nonproliferation Failure

    December 2016

    By Mark Fitzpatrick

    North Korea is the biggest blemish on President Barack Obama’s nonproliferation record. Pyongyang’s four nuclear tests and more than 50 missile and rocket launches during the past eight years have given it a capacity to rain nuclear warheads on its regional adversaries and a good start to be able soon to reach the U.S. homeland. 

    A photo from North Korea’s official news agency shows military personnel and others participating in a rally September 13 at Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang to celebrate the country’s fifth underground nuclear test explosion. (Photo credit: KNS/AFP/Getty Images)

    Early in Obama’s term of office, North Korea displayed a uranium-enrichment program to complement its plutonium production. For ways to deliver nuclear weapons, it successfully tested submarine-launched systems; intermediate-range, road-mobile Musudan missiles; and satellite-launch rockets that employ technologies useful for intercontinental-range missiles. Nuclear armament became etched in the country’s constitution and posture. Pyongyang now insists it will never give up its nuclear-armed status. The six-party talks that once showed promise of a path to dismantling the nuclear program are dead, the parties not having met since before Obama took office. 

    A failed North Korea policy is not unique to Obama. His predecessor, President George W. Bush, saw arguably worse breakthroughs by Pyongyang, with a quadrupling of separated plutonium holdings and its first nuclear test. North Korea fixed its nuclear path well before Obama’s presidency and met his offer of an open hand with a three-stage rocket launch and nuclear test within his first four months in office. Obama’s commendable effort to halt the strategic weapons development, via the 2012 Leap Day deal that promised a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests as well as enrichment, was a bust. Within a few weeks, the North’s new young leader, Kim Jong Un, ordered the testing of a space rocket as his diplomats improbably claimed that this was not covered by the agreement. Kim’s duplicity sapped Obama’s will to risk any more political capital on engagement, although there were some quiet efforts that went unrequited.

    The administration no longer uses the term “strategic patience,” but it is an apt moniker for a policy of holding to the demand that North Korea return to the goal of denuclearization as a condition for talks. Instead, the Obama team loaded its eggs in the sanctions basket, finally this year ratcheting the pressure up to the level of the biting penalties that had been imposed on Iran. It is too early to judge these sanctions a failure. In Iran’s case, harsh sanctions were in place for a year and a half before Tehran agreed to serious negotiations. It will likely take longer for North Korea, given its greater insularity and Chinese lifeline. Would that the tough measures had been imposed earlier.

    The Obama team can boast success in maintaining an international consensus in dealing with North Korea. Unlike under the previous administration, Seoul and Tokyo have seen eye to eye with Washington on the issue. Peace on the Korean peninsula has been preserved, as has UN Security Council unity, with China and Russia reluctantly agreeing to the tougher sanctions. Spotty Chinese implementation has improved. This autumn, the United States adeptly coordinated secondary sanctions on Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Company Ltd., a major Chinese supplier to North Korea. Beijing itself targeted the firm with a criminal investigation. 

    If President Donald Trump is able to roll back North Korea’s nuclear program, it will be due in part to the groundwork Obama laid. Alternatively, if the threat increases, the blame will be shared by successive administrations. The North Korean case may prove the adage that if a country is absolutely determined to acquire nuclear weapons, it will. Whether it will be allowed to keep them will be the test for the incoming administration. 


    Mark Fitzpatrick is executive director of International Institute for Strategic Studies-Americas, and head of the IISS Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme.

    North Korea is the biggest blemish on President Barack Obama’s nonproliferation record.

    Trump Reassures South Korea on Security

    December 2016

    By Kelsey Davenport

    South Korean President Park Guen-hye reported that she received an assurance from President-elect Donald Trump that the United States will be “steadfast and strong” in its security alliance with South Korea. 

    Park said in a Nov. 10 statement that she spoke with Trump the day after his election and raised the issue of North Korean nuclear weapons advances as the “greatest threat” that both nations face. “We are with you all the way, and we will not waver,” he said, according to the South Korean account of the 10-minute phone conversation. 

    South Korean sailors wave South Korean and U.S. flags as the aircraft carrier USS George Washington arrives in Busan for a port visit on July 11, 2014. (Photo credit: Mass Comm. Spec. 1st Class Frank L. Andrews/U.S. Navy)North Korea has violated UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting nuclear and ballistic missile tests over two dozen times this year through November. Experts advise that North Korea will need to be a priority for the new administration, as Pyongyang continues to advance its ballistic missile capabilities and expand its stockpile of fissile material for nuclear weapons. 

    North Korea conducted two underground nuclear test explosions this year, and a number of experts and officials from South Korea and the United States assess that Pyongyang could fit a nuclear warhead on a medium-range ballistic missile. (See ACT, October 2016; January/February 2016.)

    Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s choice for national security adviser, told a group of South Korean officials on Nov. 18 that North Korea would be a top priority for the Trump administration. 

    Trump has yet to give details on how he will approach North Korea. On the campaign trail in June, he suggested he would be willing to personally negotiate with leader Kim Jong Un over North Korea’s nuclear program. A few months earlier on a CBS news broadcast, Trump called Kim a “bad dude” and said that he would increase economic pressure on China “to make that guy disappear in one form or another.” 

     Trump’s assurance to Park that the United States will be steadfast and strong in its security alliance with Seoul marks a shift in his thinking during the campaign. At various times, Trump raised the prospect of removing U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula, saying South Korea was not paying enough of the costs for U.S. troops stationed there, and suggested that South Korea and Japan may need to develop their own nuclear weapons rather than relying on the United States for security.

    South Korea currently pays about half of the costs of housing more than 28,000 U.S. troops on the peninsula, but Trump has argued that Seoul should pay a greater share of the expense. 

    The United States used to keep nuclear weapons in South Korea, but removed them in 1991. South Korea and Japan are protected by U.S. nuclear weapons as part of Washington’s extended deterrence.

    Pyongyang has remained relatively silent on Trump’s election, although a week after the voting, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) implied that Park was using the U.S. election and the “Trump emergency system” to divert attention from the scandal surrounding her own presidency. 

    Protesters are calling on Park to resign after information came to light that she allowed a friend to edit speeches and access sensitive information. 

    A report submitted by South Korea’s unification ministry on Nov. 14 said that Seoul will continue its policy of sanctions and pressure on North Korea during the Trump administration. 

     The Obama administration’s policy included increasing pressure on North Korea through sanctions and engaging in talks with North Korea only after Pyongyang takes steps toward denuclearization. 

    KCNA issued a release on Nov. 8 that characterized the Obama administration as a “total failure” and stated that President Barack Obama’s plan to “stifle” North Korea pushed Pyongyang to “bolster its nuclear force.”

    South Korean President Park Guen-hye reported that she received an assurance from President-elect Donald Trump that the United States will be “steadfast and strong” in its security alliance with South Korea. 

    IAEA Condemns North Korea’s Actions

    November 2016

    By Kelsey Davenport

    Member states of the Inter-national Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed several resolutions at the organization’s yearly meeting, including one that condemns North Korea’s nuclear activities, but did not vote on a controversial resolution singling out Israel’s nuclear program. 

    The IAEA’s 60th General Conference was held Sept. 26-30 in Vienna. 

    Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, addresses delegates September 26 at the 60th IAEA General Conference in Vienna. (Photo credit: Dean Calma/IAEA)The agency’s resolution on North Korea was adopted unanimously Sept. 30. It reaffirmed that North Korea cannot have the status of a nuclear-weapon state under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and called on Pyongyang to implement comprehensive safeguards and resolve all outstanding issues that have emerged since agency inspectors were last granted access to North Korea’s nuclear facilities in 2009. 

    North Korea joined the IAEA in 1974, but withdrew in 1994. The agency has not been able to conduct safeguards activities since then, although inspectors had limited periodic access through 2009.

    Laura Holgate, U.S. representative to the IAEA, said in a statement on Sept. 30 that the resolution is “strong, resolute, and unequivocal” and underscores that North Korea could “not harbor any illusions that its illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons will achieve legitimacy in the eyes of the international community.” 

    Holgate said that enhanced pressure on North Korea will remain essential to compel Pyongyang to “correct its course.” 

    In June, the Arab member states of the IAEA made a request to put Israel’s nuclear capabilities on the agenda, but unlike past years did not introduce a resolution on the subject during the conference. 

    Zeev Snir, head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, said in his opening statement at the meeting that Israel welcomed the decision to refrain from putting forward a draft resolution but regretted the Arab Group’s decision to include the topic on the agenda for discussions, saying it leads to “politicized, irrelevant discussions.” 

    Holgate said the United States welcomed the decision by the Arab states and that the resolution singling out Israel was “not an appropriate item” for the conference.

    In the last decade, the resolution has passed once, in 2009, and was not put forward in 2011 and 2012. It failed to pass in 2010, 2013, and 2014.

    The member states did approve a resolution on Sept. 29 on the application of safeguards in the Middle East. The measure was approved 122-0, with six abstentions, including the United States. Explaining the U.S. position, Holgate said that efforts to advance toward the creation of a Middle Eastern zone free of weapons of mass destruction have been pursued at IAEA general conferences “without seeking consensus among states in the region” and that this approach undermines trust. 

    The resolution calls on all states in the Middle East to accede to the NPT and accept full-scope IAEA safeguards on their nuclear activities. It also calls on states in the region to take measures toward supporting a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. 

    The resolution does not specifically single out Israel, but Israel is the only Middle Eastern country not party to the NPT. Israel is suspected of having a nuclear arsenal of about 80 warheads, with enough material for up to 200 weapons, although it has never officially acknowledged possessing such arms or demonstrated its capability through a declared nuclear test.

    The conference also passed resolutions relating to the agency’s budget, nuclear security work, and technical cooperation. It approved three new applications for IAEA membership for Gambia, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

    Pyongyang’s defiance tops the issues International Atomic Energy Agency’s annual meeting.

    UN Struggles Over North Korea’s Actions

    November 2016

    By Kelsey Davenport

    The UN Security Council issued a statement condemning a North Korean missile test last month, but has yet to pass a resolution in response to the underground nuclear test explosion Pyongyang conducted in September. 

    According to a statement from U.S. Strategic Command, North Korea attempted to launch a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile on Oct. 14 from an airfield near Kusong, a city in the northwestern part of the country. The missile exploded shortly after liftoff. The missile has an estimated range of 3,000 kilometers with a 750-kilogram payload.

    This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on June 23 shows what is described as a test launch of a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Photo credit: KCNA/AFP/Getty Images)Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations and president of the Security Council, said in an Oct. 17 statement that council members condemned the test as a “grave violation” of past Security Council resolutions and that North Korea’s ballistic missile activities “increase tension.” 

    He called on all member states to “redouble their efforts to implement fully” the sanctions imposed on North Korea and reiterated the Security Council’s commitment to finding a way to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula. 

    Just days after Churkin’s statement, North Korea attempted another launch, presumably of a Musudan. The Oct. 19 test, which also took place near Kusong, failed. North Korea has tested the Musudan eight times in 2016. Only one launch, in June, was successful. 

    The council is discussing a new resolution expanding sanctions on North Korea in response to its Sept. 9 nuclear test, but has yet to agree on a text. (See ACT, October 2016.

    During a trip to Seoul, Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the UN, called negotiations over the resolution “intense” and said that there are political and technical issues involved in the talks over new sanctions. Power said that the United States wants a resolution that “makes a substantive difference and changes the calculus over time of the North Korean leadership” and that officials are “working around the clock” to quickly secure passage of a resolution.

    Power said that the United States has engaged at the highest level with China on the resolution. China and the United States are reportedly at odds over what restrictions to include in the resolution. 

    Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with their South Korean counterparts in Washington on Oct. 19 to discuss a range of issues, including the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. 

    In a news conference following those talks, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said that Washington and Seoul agreed during the meeting to “use all available tools” to “beef up pressure and sanctions” on North Korea. 

    Yun said that the two countries will “institutionalize the extended deterrence doctrine, which is at the heart of the U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea.” To accomplish this, Yun said that the four officials agreed to establish a high-level “extended deterrence strategy and consultation group.

    Kerry and Carter “have reaffirmed that the U.S. will defend South Korea from any and all North Korean threats through extended deterrence, encompassing all parameters of defense capabilities, including nuclear umbrella, conventional, and missile defense,” Yun said. “They also made it loud and clear that Pyongyang will be met with effective and overwhelming responses should it resort to nuclear weapons.”

    Lost Cause

    The top U.S. intelligence official effectively buried the Obama administration’s effort to force North Korea to give up all its nuclear weapons, but in doing so, he opened the way for the next president to pursue a different approach to dealing with Pyongyang.

    Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Oct. 25 that the best that can be achieved diplomatically may be limiting further advances in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and even that, if possible, would require offering Pyongyang “significant inducements.” 

    “I think the notion of getting the North Koreans to denuclearize is probably a lost cause,” he said at an event held by the Council on Foreign Relations. “They are not going to do that. That is their ticket to survival.”

    North Korea is thought currently to have enough plutonium for approximately six to eight weapons and the capacity to produce six to eight a year, according to U.S. officials and private analysts. The intelligence community previously assessed that North Korea has been able to develop a warhead that could be mounted on a missile, Clapper said.

    The six-party negotiations between North Korea and China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States collapsed in 2009, leaving North Korea to advance its weapons programs. The Obama administration has pursued a policy of “strategic patience,” which includes international sanctions and Chinese diplomacy to induce North Korea to return to denuclearization negotiations. 

    As recently as Sept. 9, following a North Korean underground nuclear test explosion, President Barack Obama said in a statement that “the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state.”

    Clapper said his views in part draw on his visit to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, in 2014 on a mission to gain the release of two Americans. “I got a good taste of that when I was there about how the world looks from their vantage [point],” he said. “They are under siege, and they are very paranoid. So the notion of giving up their nuclear capability, whatever it is, is a nonstarter with them.”

    Asked about whether there may be prospects for an Iran-type accord to roll back North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities, Clapper said, “I don’t think so.”

    “The best we could probably hope for is some sort of a cap,” he said. “But they’re not going to do that just because we ask them. There’s going to have to be some significant inducements.”

    The UN Security Council quickly condemned a missile test, but moves slowly on new sanctions in response to September nuclear test.

    Second Debate Provides Opportunity to Discuss North Korea

    Oct. 9 marks both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s second presidential debate and the 10th anniversary of North Korea’s first nuclear test. This serendipitous timing should push each candidate to present a clear plan of action to confront North Korea’s rapid nuclear development. To date, Clinton has avoided making policy recommendations about North Korea and Trump has provided a handful of troubling remarks. North Korea’s most recent nuclear test Sept. 9 , its fifth thus far, took place only eight months after its last Jan. 6. The explosive yield from the September test was greater than 10...

    Interview with The Hankyoreh (Seoul)

    Hankyoreh: North Korea its 5th nuclear test at the eight months after 4th nuclear test on January. It was regarded as very unusual beacause North Korea conducted nuclear test at intervals of two or three years so far. What do you think is its implication in terms of technology? Daryl Kimball: The cumulative knowledge of the five nuclear test explosions since 2006, and the dozens of ballistic missile tests, especially in the last 12 months, has provided the DPRK’s technical and military teams greater confidence that they can deploy warheads on their short and medium-range ballistic missiles...

    UNSC Test Ban Initiative: Reinforcing The Existing Norm Against Nuclear Testing

    Sections:

    Body: 

    Volume 8, Issue 5, September 9, 2016

    Diplomats at the UN Security Council (UNSC) are engaged in consultations on a proposal from the United States for a council resolution designed to reinforce the existing global norm against nuclear weapons testing established by the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The resolution would be complemented by a separate political statement from the council's five permanent members (P5) further asserting their support for the object and purpose of the treaty.

    North Korea is the only country to test nuclear weapons in the 21st century. All other nuclear powers have voluntarily enacted testing moratoria. The effort is all the more vital in the wake of North Korea’s fifth nuclear weapon test explosion September 9.

    The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna reports that preliminary data from more than two dozen of the seismic stations that are part of their International Monitoring System confirm that the seismic event is in the 5.1 magnitude range, is at very shallow depth, and is in the immediate vicinity of North Korea's Pyunggye-ri test site.

    Barring unforeseen diplomatic disputes, the UNSC resolution and the P5 statement will likely be approved later this month at UN headquarters in New York.

    The Testing Taboo

    As President Bill Clinton said when he became the first world leader to sign the treaty on Sept. 24, 1996: "The signature of the world’s declared nuclear powers … along with the vast majority of its other nations will immediately create an international norm against nuclear testing, even before the treaty enters into force.” 

    Since then, 183 states have become CTBT signatories and a robust, international monitoring system has been established that can effectively detect and deter clandestine nuclear testing anywhere in the world. The CTBT has near universal support.

    Only North Korea has conducted nuclear test explosions in this century.

    However, the door to further nuclear testing by North Korea and possibly other countries remains ajar. There are still eight key states—including the United States—that must still ratify the treaty in order to trigger its formal entry into force.

    Until then, it is clearly in the interests of the United States and the international community to strengthen the taboo against nuclear testing and the work of the CTBTO to maintain and operate the global monitoring system and international data center established to verify compliance with the treaty.

    What the UNSC Resolution and P5 Statement Would and Would Not Do

    According to the State Department, the initiative would not establish new binding legal limitations on nuclear testing. The proposed UNSC resolution and P5 statement are:

    • “… intended to reinforce global support for the CTBT and its verification system” and “stigmatize those that continue to test and to act in ways contrary to the de facto norm of international behavior;” and are
    • “… in no way a substitute for early entry into force of the treaty.”

    The proposed P5 statement on the CTBT would reaffirm the support of the five major nuclear powers for the treaty and clarify that “a nuclear test explosion or any other nuclear explosion would violate the object and purpose of the CTBT.

    Such a statement would give public expression to an existing obligation by the United States, as a signatory to the CTBT that seeks ratification and entry into force, not to take any action that would defeat the object or purpose of the treaty, which is to halt nuclear explosive tests.

    The Misplaced Concerns of Some Senators

    Unfortunately, some Republicans in the Senate have mistakenly chosen to interpret this common sense initiative as an effort to circumvent the U.S. Senate’s constitutional role by promoting ratification of the CTBT through the United Nations.

    In reality, presidents do not circumvent the U.S. Constitution by seeking support for treaties at the United Nations; they have done this many times in the past without usurping the Senate’s prerogatives for advice and consent. The resolution would, as UN Security Council Resolution 1887 (2009), annual UN General Assembly resolutions, and national statements at the bi-annual Article XIV Conferences on Facilitating the Entry Into Force of the CTBT have already done before, exhort states to take the steps necessary to ratify the treaty so the treaty can enter into force.

    Nevertheless, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) convened a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee September 7 to examine the issue.

    On September 8, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and 32 other senators threatened U.S. funding for the seismic monitoring stations that detected the North Korean test the next day. (Photo: U.S. Senate)

    In a letter to President Obama dated August 12 and in the hearing, Corker expressed concern about the language in the proposed P5 statement “expressing the view that a nuclear test would violate the object and purpose of the CTBT.” He suggested that this “… could trigger a limitation on the ability of future administrations to conduct nuclear test explosions.” 

    In a letter to the White House published September 8, a group of 33 Republican senators went much further, threatening that: “If you decide to pursue a Security Council Resolution that accepts the imposition of international obligations the Senate has explicitly rejected, we would make every effort to prevent the authorization or appropriation” of the

    These arguments rest on two incorrect assertions:

    1. The George W. Bush administration’s decision not to pursue the Senate’s consent to the CTBT’s ratification has, in effect, constituted a permanent repudiation of the CTBT even though the United States did not formally notify the depository; and
       
    2. The Bush administration’s position on the CTBT reflected a shared understanding between the legislative and executive branches. Corker erroneously suggested in his August 12 letter that: “The planned U.N. effort would reverse course on that shared understanding between the Senate and Executive Branch.

    These assertions are incorrect for several reasons:

    • Sometimes administrations pursue the ratification of treaties negotiated by their predecessors, and sometimes they don’t. For example, the Geneva Protocol banning the use of asphyxiating gases remained on the Senate Calendar for 50 years until the Senate responded to the strong urgings of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford to consent to its ratification. The fact that their predecessors did not seek the Senate’s consent did not constitute formal repudiation of the Geneva Protocol, any more than the Bush administration’s lack of interest in the CTBT did.
       
    • Political statements of intent regarding treaties do not formally release the United States from its Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties Article XVIII obligation “not to take actions that would defeat the object or purpose” of a treaty Washington has signed. When the Bush administration wanted to formally release the United States from the legal obligations established when President Clinton signed the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court and the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, they did so by formally notifying the depositories. This was not done vis-a-vis the CTBT.
       
    • Ever since the Oct. 13, 1999, vote on the CTBT in the Senate, the treaty remains before the Senate. The Senate has not voted to discharge the treaty and send it back to the executive branch. The executive branch does not have the right to unilaterally withdraw from the Senate a treaty that is still formally before the Senate. In other words, there has never been any shared understanding that the CTBT would not be reconsidered. As Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said Oct. 13, 1999: “Treaties never die, even when defeated and returned to the Executive Calendar of the Senate.”
       
    • Even if political statements by the executive branch during the Bush years provided a sufficient legal basis for releasing the United States from its obligation as a signatory not to take actions that would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty, the Obama administration’s many statements of support for the CTBT and its intention to seek and obtain ratification recommitted the United States to its obligations as a treaty signatory.

    There is no technical need or military requirement for the resumption of U.S. nuclear testing. If, however, a U.S. president did seek to resume nuclear explosive testing, he/she would need to formally notify the depository that the supreme national interests of the United States require such an action and that the United States no longer intends to seek ratification of the treaty. This would be the case even were there not a P5 political statement expressing the view of the leaders of the P5 about what action(s) would violate the object and purpose of the CTBT. 

    Reality Check

    In response to the questions about the administration’s UNSC initiative on the test ban, Secretary of State John Kerry sent a letter September 7 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He stressed that the initiative on the test ban will not establish any new binding legal limitations on nuclear testing and “will not cite Chapter VII of the UN Charter or impose Chapter VII obligations.”

    It will,” Kerry writes, “be a nonbinding resolution that advances our interests by affirming the existing nuclear testing moratoria, while highlighting support for the CTBT and its verification regime.

    Kerry underscored that the proposed P5 statement will give public expression to an existing U.S. (and British, Chinese, French, and Russian) commitment not to test. The United States, as a signatory state that seeks to ratify the CTBT, is obligated under customary international law not to take any action that would “defeat the object or purpose of the treaty,” which is to halt “any nuclear weapon test explosion and any other nuclear test explosion.”

    Overall, the resolution and the P5 statement would strengthen the barriers against testing in the years ahead, encourage action by CTBT holdout states to sign and ratify, and reinforce support for the treaty’s nearly complete International Monitoring System to detect and deter clandestine testing.

    As ranking member of the committee Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) explained in his opening statement at the September 7 hearing:

    “We do not need nuclear active testing to have our deterrent stockpile. It’s the countries that are trying to develop a stronger capacity in nuclear weapons that could benefit by active nuclear testing. It’s those countries that we don’t want to test. It is in our national security interest that they don’t test. Therefore, as I look at this, if we are capable of putting more pressure on those countries not to test, it’s in our national security interest.”

    Furthermore, North Korea’s nuclear test should underscore why it is irresponsible for some senators to threaten to cut off funding for the CTBTO’s international monitoring system out of misplaced and overwrought concerns that efforts to strengthen global support for the existing norm against nuclear testing would infringe upon their role in the treaty ratification process.

    The New Senate Should Take Another Serious Look at the Treaty

    Lost in the legal back-and-forth about executive and legislative branch authorities is the fact that the Senate has not taken a serious look at the CTBT for well over a decade.

    Much of the skepticism that is expressed by some Republicans is based on outdated information and misconceptions about nuclear testing and the test ban treaty.

    Much has changed since the Senate last examined the CTBT in 1999 and rejected the treaty after a brief and highly partisan debate that centered on questions about the then-unproven stockpile stewardship program and then-unfinished global test ban monitoring system.

    A decade and a half later, those programs are fully functioning and have been proven effective. Today, the three U.S. nuclear weapons lab directors report that they are in a better position to maintain the arsenal than they were during the era of nuclear weapons test explosions. No ally or foe questions the lethal power of the U.S. arsenal. All U.S. allies want Washington to ratify the CTBT.

    As former Secretary of State George Shultz has said, “Republican senators might have been right voting against [the CTBT] some years ago, but they would be right voting for it now.”

    Bringing the CTBT back to the Senate for another vote requires a lengthy, intensive educational and outreach campaign by the executive branch to present the new information, answer detailed questions, and dispel misconceptions about the treaty. But the process of reconsideration should begin—and soon, with the new president and Senate.

    Until such time as the U.S. ratifies and the CTBT enters into force, it is common sense U.S. policy to strengthen the barriers against nuclear testing by others.

    —DARYL G. KIMBALL, Executive Director

    Description: 

    North Korea’s nuclear weapon test explosion September 9 underscores the need to reaffirm the existing global norm against nuclear testing and early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

    Country Resources:

    Statement on North Korea's Fifth Nuclear Test by Daryl Kimball and Kelsey Davenport

    Fifth North Korean nuclear test is alarming and cause for action to freeze its programs and reinforce global testing taboo—Statement by Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball and Director for Nonproliferation Policy Kelsey Davenport, 5am GMT, September 9, 2016.

    Pages

    Subscribe to RSS - North Korea