North Korea Defies Fresh UN Sanctions By Firing Missiles
South Korea’s defence ministry claimed that the North had fired six short-range missiles into the sea only hours after the sanctions came into effect.
Many in South Korea believe that the missile testing is part of Pyongyang’s desire to convey its disregard for the UNSC’s sanctions.
Coal barges continued to arrive at the Sino-North Korean border even after the sanctions took effect, implying that China had not yet enforced them.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), on Wednesday (2 March), voted unanimously to impose some of the toughest sanctions on North Korea yet. The new measures mandate the inspection of all cargo entering and leaving North Korea, and oblige countries participating in North Korea’s financial sector to freeze the assets of all entities linked to North Korea’s nuclear program.
But the impact of the sanctions was almost immediately thrown into question after South Korea’s defence ministry claimed that the North had fired six short-range missiles into the sea only hours after the sanctions came into effect.
While the firing of short-range missiles is not in contravention with international law, many in South Korea believe that the missile testing is part of Pyongyang’s desire to convey its disregard for the UNSC’s sanctions. Earlier, North Korea had continued its contemptuous attitude towards the UN by declaring that it would no longer take part in UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions, accusing the UNHRC of “politicisation, selectivity and double standards”.
Ahead of the UNSC’s vote, questions were raised over China’s commitment to upholding the sanctions. Those fears were far from being dispelled when the BBC’s correspondent in the Chinese town of Dandong found coal barges still arriving at the Sino-North Korean border, even after the sanctions had taken effect. North Korea’s lucrative coal exports are banned under the fresh new UNSC sanctions.
Earlier, while the sanctions were still under negotiation, China had been unequivocal in expressing that it did not want the new sanctions to threaten the stability of North Korea or its economy.
With China keen to maintain its ties with North Korea and use Pyongyang as a tool in the Asia Pacific region, even as Beijing’s tensions with Japan and the United States rise, it is now increasingly unlikely that China will shed its soft attitude towards the North Korean regime. If North Korea derives security from Beijing’s attitude, it may be likely to defy the UNSC’s newest sanctions and accelerate its nuclear program.
Further missile testing by Pyongyang in the days to come may also push the United States to step up its own security arrangements with South Korea and Japan, thereby setting the stage for more instability and conflict in East Asia.
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