Sanctions against North Korea: a tricky dilemma

EUISS – Brief – No23 – 09 July 2015

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is one of the most heavily sanctioned countries in the world. Yet the sanctions have been costly and technically difficult to implement. And since North Korea deems its nuclear programme to be essential for its national security (and therefore non-negotiable), their effectiveness in terms of non-proliferation has been limited.

Pyongyang also believes itself to be party to a ceasefire, and thus regards sanctions as measures which hamper any peace or reconciliation process.The UN and bilateral sanction parties are thus confronted with a dilemma: preventive sanctions cannot be lifted without risks and there is no guarantee that diplomatic efforts will succeed.

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