How Effective Are U.S. Sanctions Against North Korea?

In order to punish North Korea for flagrant violations of international law, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved new sanctions against the hermit kingdom.

U.S. Senate Approves Sanctions

After reports emerged about North Korea conducting new nuclear tests and long-range rocket launch, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously for tougher sanctions against the hermit kingdom.

The bipartisan bill, called the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, passed 96-0.

The measure primarily targets North Korea’s finances that eventually enable the secretive state to develop miniaturized nuclear warheads and the long-range missiles. But, if history is any indication, it probably won’t be of much consequence.

After all, this isn’t the first time the U.S. has slapped sanctions on North Korea.

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Just last year, the U.S. imposed sanctions on North Korea, following 2014's devastating hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment. However, the punishment didn’t really work as, it later turned out, the country’s main nuclear facility resumed normal operations. In fact, within a year, North Korea managed to test a hydrogen bomb.

So, how exactly does North Korea, despite immense economic pressure from the West, manage to attain its nuclear aspirations? China could be one — and only  logical answer to the question. It’s a well-documented fact that Pyongyang only has one real ally in the Asia Pacific and that’s Beijing.

China is North Korea’s biggest trading partner and main source of food and arms and fulfills almost 90 percent of its energy needs.

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South Korea is also moving to punish Pyongyang, sending workers to close down the industrial complex in the border city of Kaesong. Although the move would shut off a major source of income for the impoverished North, it’s highly unlikely that it would hinder its ambitious nuclear plans  as has always been the case.