Wednesday May 27, 2020


March 8, 2013

The United Nations announced new sanctions against North Korea this week after a draft agreement was reached between the U.S. and China following three weeks of negotiations and passed by a unanimous UN Security Council vote. US media reports state that the text was negotiated between Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN, and Li Baodong, China’s UN ambassador. These new sanctions are in response to North Korea’s latest test of nuclear weapons last month and represent the fourth round of UN sanctions against Pyongyang.

In an effort to strengthen previous efforts, these new sanctions will seek to: prevent the funneling of money by North Korean banks and cash couriers in support of the regime’s nuclear and missile programs; outline measures to step up scrutiny of suspicious sea shipments and air cargo; block the sale of luxury goods to the regime; and expand restrictions to encompass several institutions and senior officials in the Pyongyang’s weapons industry, in addition to a range of materials and technology known to be used in uranium enrichment.

According to Ambassador Rice, the sanctions break new ground by targeting the illicit activities of North Korean diplomatic personnel, banking relationships, and illicit cash transfers. Ambassador Li reiterated Beijing’s calls for a resumption of the six-party talks, saying “We want to see full implementation of the resolution. The top priority now is to defuse the tension, bring down heat, and focus on the diplomatic track.”

Prior to the UNSC vote, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman stated the United States “is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war,” while the state-run Korean Central News Agency stated that North Korea “will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country.” Pyongyang additionally threatened to cancel the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War.

Though critics remain skeptical of the new sanctions, citing previous sanctions’ lack of success, many scholars believe their ultimate outcome depends on China, with some suggesting that future levels of Chinese grain sales to North Korea could offer a possible indicator of its ultimate commitment in pressuring Pyongyang. Others suggest China’s agreement to the sanctions reflect Beijing’s growing frustration and disappointment over Pyongyang’s recent behavior. In a recent Financial Times opinion piece, Deng Yuwen, deputy editor of Study Times, the journal of the Central Party School of China’s Communist Party, wrote that “China should consider abandoning North Korea,” suggesting that a nuclear-capable North Korea could put China on the losing-side of any confrontation on the Korean peninsula and suggested, instead, that China should “…press for the reunification of the Korean peninsula.”

Ultimately, it is too soon to tell if China’s response reflects a hardening of their North Korea strategy or even if it signals a desire to work more closely with the U.S. Cui Tiankai, presumed to become the next Chinese ambassador to the United States, emphasized on Thursday that “this [decision] is not between China and the United States…it’s very inaccurate to say China and the United States have reached a deal on imposing sanctions on North Korea,” stressing any deal would come from the Security Council. Similarly, recent reports in the Chinese media on the UN sanctions focus primarily on the joint efforts of the Security Council and, in contrast to their U.S. counterparts, do not emphasize agreement between the U.S. and China as being a significant aspect of the deal.


For further information on the recent UN sanctions, please see the following news sources:

Associated PressDiplomats: US, China agree on NKorea sanctions

China Daily –China backs ‘appropriate’ UN response to DPRK test

China Daily – China urges resumption of six-party talks

China File – Are Proposed Sanctions on North Korea a Hopeful Sign for U.S.-China Relations?

CNN –U.S. says U.N. sanctions ‘will bite’ after North Korea threatens nuclear attack

The Guardian –North Korea threatens pre-emptive nuclear strike against the US

The IndependentStill friends, but China will be peeved by North Korea’s aggression

South China Morning Post –No deal with US on North Korea sanctions, says top Chinese envoy

Time –U.S., China Propose Tough U.N. Sanctions for N. Korea

Xinhua – Int’l community hails new UN resolution, urges DPRK to abandon nuclear arms program

XinhuaUN resolution on DPRK nuclear test ‘balanced’


For Chinese-language commentary on the UN sanctions, please see the following news sources:

China News (中国新闻网) – 美国宣布对朝鲜个人实施制裁 冻结其在美资产

Deutsche Welle联合国通过制裁朝鲜决议

iFeng (凤凰网) – 联合国宣布:中美就新一轮对朝鲜制裁达成共识

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC (中华人民共和国外交部) – 常驻联合国代表李保东大使在安理会表决朝鲜核试验问题决议草案后向媒体发表谈话

People’s Daily (人民网) – 朝鲜宣布废除朝韩互不侵犯协议

Voice of America (美国之音) – 美国欢迎联合国制裁朝鲜

Xinhua (新华网) 美国称完全有能力防御朝鲜弹道导弹攻击


Compiled and edited by Catherine Beck.