When it comes to dealing with North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, many people hope sanctions are a useful tool. But not all sanctions are created equal.
This weekend, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose strict new sanctions on Pyongyang — a response to North Korea’s launch of two intercontinental missiles last month. The new measures significantly step up restrictions on North Korea’s international trade: Estimates say they may cost Pyongyang $1 billion a year, an enormous sum for a relatively poor country.
The hope is that these efforts may lead Kim Jong Un’s regime to abandon its nuclear weapons program, or at least bring it to the negotiation table. But the effectiveness of sanctions is hard to predict — often it is difficult to quantify their effect even in hindsight — and North Korea’s weapons program has appeared relatively impervious to previous sanctions.