WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, the Obama administration imposed new sanctions on North Korea that target the country’s trade in metal, graphite, coal and software as well as overseas revenue streams, among other areas.
"It is a significant escalation," Eurasian Business Coalition China Program Director Ralph Winnie said on Thursday. "The key is to try and interdict North Korea’s ability to purchase technology for its missile and nuclear programs."
Winnie cautioned the impact of the sanctions would be heavily blunted by the strong lock that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his inner circle still held on their country of 25 million people.
He noted the wide-ranging nature of the sanctions is well thought out, but unless they "gain access" to North Korea’s inner circle, the sanctions will be meaningless.
"The government in Pyongyang has been able to survive and it still holds the allegiance of its key cadres,"
Above all else, Pyongyang still retained the power of fear over its people, Winnie added.
"The people and elites are fearful of revolting as they know that the regime will ruthlessly target their families too," he pointed out.
However, the new sanctions, if successfully enforced, could prove significant in slowing or blocking North Korea’s efforts to acquire advanced technology from the outside world needed to continue its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile development programs, Winnie noted.
"The sanctions will stop North Korea’s ability to advance work on their long range missiles. The sanctions follow the pattern set by the United Nations Security Council. They imposed some of the toughest sanctions in decades on the Pyongyang regime."
But the US government would have to swallow its pride and be ready to compromise with Moscow, Beijing and Brussels in developing an effective global partnership to make the sanctions credible, Winnie urged.
"The aim here is that everyone is in the same place. The United States cannot go it alone on enforcement. You have to work with the European Union and China. International cooperation is essential. You have got to sever their ability to engage with other countries."
The record of sanctions imposed on North Korea in recent decades suggested that even energetically-enforced and punitive measures were unlikely to seriously threaten a well-established regime, University of Northern Ohio Assistant Professor of History Robert Waters told Sputnik.
"My conclusion is that sanctions work against our friends. Against our enemies? Not so well," he said. "North Korea hardly notices since Kim and his crew live in isolation from their people: A large and a half-starved people are easier to control."
Against well-established regimes with strong coercive internal security services, the impact of sanctions was likely to remain marginal, Waters concluded.