Sanction after sanction has not been enough to deter the North Korean Supreme Leader from going ahead with his nuclear enrichment, yet U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is calling for further sanctions after a recent, powerful nuclear test explosion. This comes shortly after North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan, further increasing the tension in the region. Haley said,
“Enough is enough. War is never something the United States wants. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited.”
Given the personality of President Donald Trump, I don’t think he will hesitate to go to war if he deems it fit. The journey to office was a tumultuous one for Trump. He made a lot of accusations, claims, and threats which, up until now, he has been unable to act on. On this premise, it is possible that the North Korean Supreme Leader has begun to judge him as “all bark and no bite”. However, we have also known Trump to be able to take radical decisions including publicly lashing out at his own party.
A Security Council meeting comprising of Britain, France, Japan, South Korea and the United States had earlier handed a stiff sanction on North Korea. They banned the country from exporting lead, coal, seafood products and iron. The banned items were worth about a third of the total $3 billion in export generated by the country last year. The remaining option would be for the council to place a ban on other profitable export products like textile or limit North Korean labourers abroad. Other suggestions made by the United States included restricting oil to North Korea’s military and weapons programs and air and maritime restrictions.
Like Russian Ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, I think addressing the issues with North Korea using sanctions alone will produce little to no result – especially if the current sanctions have not caused the Supreme Leader to remotely budge. Those that would really feel the pinch are the vulnerable masses. So far, there has been no path to engaging the North Korean leader in a constructive negotiation.
War was not ruled out with North Korea – even though it is the last thing that the United States would want. President Trump reiterated this in a meeting in the White House when he said, “certainly not our first choice but we will see what happens”.
The North Korean leader is also pointing an accusing finger at the United States and South Korea of carrying out a joint military exercise as a rehearsal for invasion. China and Russia had earlier proposed a two-pronged approach where North Korea would suspend its nuclear and missile program while the United States suspends its joint military operation with South Korea.
I don’t think there is a comparison between the two since the joint military action between the United States and South Korea is conducted openly and monitored by the international community, while North Korea’s weapon program is conducted secretly and has been banned by the international community.
There has been a series of sanctions since 2006 when North Korea resumed its nuclear enrichment. Obviously, the united States have to apply restraint since any wrong step will result in an explosive disagreement. Already, Donald Trump has said that he will decide on the next line of action after a “very, very frank” call with Xi Jinping of China. Any action that must be taken now needs to be precise, considered and most importantly, fast.