01:24 GMT27 February 2021
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    The policy of sanctions imposed by the international community on North Korea has not yet brought any tangible results, experts told Sputnik. Chinese academic Ba Dianjun believes that the only way to influence Pyongyang stance on its nuclear program is to combine sanctions with diplomacy.

    On Wednesday the UN Security Council adopted a resolution for exerting new sanctions on North Korea following its September nuclear test; however, experts express growing doubts over the efficiency of the sanctions regime imposed on Pyongyang.

    "I visited North Korea not long ago and had not noticed any impact of sanctions. Quite the contrary, the North Koreans' living standards are apparently improving. At the same time North Korea announced that it has finalized preparations for its nuclear arms program… Indeed, by violating UN resolutions, North Korea is undermining the global system of nonproliferation of nuclear weapons," Konstantin Asmolov, leading research fellow at the Korean Studies Center, Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), told Sputnik.

    Asmolov emphasized that being a nuclear-weapon state and a permanent member of the Security Council Committee Russia understands the importance of the non-proliferation regime and is committed to protecting the UN interests.

    "The new resolution is designed to increase Pyongyang's degree of responsibility," Asmolov said and added: "However, the path of sanctions, in my opinion, has not brought any results and is fraught with further destabilization of the situation in the Korean Peninsula."

    Georgy Toloraya, Director of the Asian Strategy Center at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), echoes Asmolov.

    According to Toloraya, it will be impossible to force Pyongyang to change its position on a nuclear weapons program through the sanctions policy.

    "The isolation of the country will undoubtedly increase. But it is impossible to alter North Korea's position on nuclear weapons through sanctions," Toloraya told Sputnik.

    A girl in a historical park on the outskirts of Pyongyang.
    Iliya Pitalev
    A girl in a historical park on the outskirts of Pyongyang.

    "Most likely, in response [to the UN resolution] they will conduct yet another test to demonstrate that [sanctions] do not matter. Therefore, I believe, that the recent resolution of the UN Security Council is not the last one, and so are the sanctions," the Russian academic assumed.

    Toloraya stressed that without negotiations and concomitant compromises the sanctions policy won't work.

    The Russian academic suggested, however, that Donald Trump's administration may tip the balance in the confrontation between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the US. However, it is still unclear what approach the Trump administration will adopt toward Pyongyang.

    Toloraya pointed out that Washington actually wants to establish an all-out blockade of the DPRK, ignoring Beijing and Moscow's interests in the region.

    The Russian academic remarked that both China and Russia have a number of bilateral projects with North Korea. He referred to the Khasan-Rajin project aimed at reconstructing the railway line running from Russia's Khasan, Primorsky Region, to North Korea's Rajin Station through the territory of the DPRK.

    Therefore, Toloraya continued, it took a lot of time to prepare the draft resolution: Washington had been pushing ahead with the version which played solely into its own hands, and turned a deaf ear to Russia's arguments.

    For its part, Russia weighted the pros and cons while preparing the draft, the Russian academic underscored. He recalled that the previous UN resolution aimed against North Korea was passed in haste and, apparently therefore, bore no fruit.

    Commenting on Washington's position on the UN resolution against the DPRK, Toloraya suggested that the US wants to kill two birds with one stone by exerting pressure on Pyongyang and driving a wedge between North Korea and China

    A photo taken on July 17, 2016 shows apartment buildings and the Monument to the Founding of the Workers Party (centre R) amongst the Pyongyang skyline, seen from a viewing deck of the landmark Tower of the Juche Idea.
    © AFP 2021 / KIM WON-JIN
    A photo taken on July 17, 2016 shows apartment buildings and the Monument to the Founding of the Workers Party (centre R) amongst the Pyongyang skyline, seen from a viewing deck of the landmark Tower of the Juche Idea.

    Ba Dianjun, Head of the Northeast Asian Studies Center at Jilin University (JLU), China, called attention to the fact that North Korea has already conducted five nuclear tests, toughening its posture in response to the international community's pressure.

    The question then arises, whether the sanctions policy is truly effective, Ba asks in an interview with Sputnik.

    "At present the DPRK is under sanctions imposed [on it] by the UN Security Council (the international community) and additional sanctions enforced by the US, Japan and the Republic of Korea. We call this 'double sanctions'… But are these sanctions effective? I personally have my doubts about it," Ba told Sputnik.

    The Chinese expert underscored that the "double sanctions" policy contains numerous loopholes currently used by private merchants in the Asia Pacific region, which sell North Korean products under their own labels.

    On the other hand, Ba continued, Pyongyang may adopt some counter-sanctions measures: for example, it could start selling weapons through covert channels.

    Since the 1990s the international community has been imposing growing restrictions against North Korea, but all these efforts have proven futile, he pointed out.

    "In my opinion, North Korea has developed a certain 'immunity' to external sanctions," Ba assumed.

    Echoing Toloraya, Ba emphasized that sanctions should be combined with negotiations to achieve tangible results.

    "I think that [the international community] needs to learn from China's experience, and combine sanctions with diplomatic measures," he told Sputnik.

    "In addition, the United States, who raised this question, should initiate dialogue with North Korea, sign a peace agreement [with the DPRK] and reduce the number of military exercises [conducted near North Korea's borders] in order to improve US-North Korean relations and establish a basis for mutual trust," Ba underscored.

    "Only under these circumstances, the DPRK will believe it has security guarantees. The combination of diplomacy and sanctions against North Korea would be much more effective," the Chinese expert highlighted.


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    nuclear test, draft resolution, nuclear weapons, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), United Nations, UN Security Council, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), Asia-Pacific, China, Japan, US, Russia, South Korea
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