Last month, North Korean scientists carried out the country's third nuclear test, prompting the United Nations (U.N.) to vote on economic sanctions against North Korea. It took less than 3 minutes for the U.N. Security Council to vote unanimously March 7 to "raise the cost to North Korea's leaders of violating the international community."
The unanimous vote sent a strong message of international concern with North Korea's defiance. Even China, North Korea's closest ally and largest trading partner, helped in drafting the sanctions, which blacklist certain items that could be used for their weapons program and block transactions with North Korean companies linked to nuclear proliferation financing.
Hours before the vote, North Korea threatened a nuclear strike against the U.S., saying, "Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to preemptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor in order to protect our supreme interest."
The question now is whether the countries that agreed to the sanctions will follow through on their promise to enforce them. If any countries, especially China, who has a history of defying sanctions, fail to honor the agreement, the sanctions could be rendered useless.
"Taken together, these sanctions will bite, and bite hard. They increase North Korea's isolation and raise the cost to North Korea's leaders of defying the international community," - United States Ambassador Susan Rice, United Nations.
1. Where is North Korea? Who are its immediate neighbors?
2. What do you know about North Korea? Why kind of government does it have?
3. What are "sanctions"? Why are they used and who determines them?
1. North Korea is already a heavily sanctioned country; do you think more sanctions will change their behavior? Why or why not?
2. What do you think the U.S. should do if China fails to uphold the sanctions?
3. Do you think American military power should ever be used against North Korea? If so, what kind of behavior from North Korea would deserve this response?
North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Il Has Died:
North and South Korea Square Off After Warship Attack: