Maximum Pressure Against North Korea, RIP

Maximum Pressure Against North Korea, RIP
AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

Sanctions are a policy tool to induce a change in a country's behavior. This concept underpins the objectives laid out in UN Security Council resolutions on the DPRK, including denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the halting of the DPRK's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Yet sanctions have now become an end in themselves, ostensibly to punish the DPRK and give the appearance that something is being done.[1] And even that goal is illusory. In 2019, after three years of “maximum pressure”—which includes unilateral US as well as UN sanctions—there are few signs of macroeconomic distress in North Korea, as one might expect, for example, in the foreign exchange rate, gas prices, rice prices and the like. The UN Panel of Experts reports year after year on the failure of countries to devote requisite time, resources and political will to implement the sanctions. Three years after the launch of “maximum pressure,” this is hardly the look of success.

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