States respond to DPRK provocations, more actions expected

North Korea’s January nuclear test and its satellite launch last week have already drawn several state responses to Pyongyang’s violation of UN Security Council resolutions, with further actions expected from other states and multilateral institutions.

Japan’s proposed new sanctions on the DPRK, announced on 10 February, include the following measures:

  • travel restrictions for North Korean nationals, which will also be expanded to any foreign nuclear experts who have visited North Korea and crew members of North Korean ships;
  • a complete port entry ban on North Korean ships or any foreign ships that intend to enter Japan after exiting North Korea;
  • a money transfer ban, with an exception for those transactions for humanitarian purposes and valued at less than JPY 100,000.

These sanctions are still subject to approval and potential amendment by the Japanese parliament.

South Korea has shut down its operation in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), a cooperative economic zone with the North intended to promote reconciliation through joint industry. KIC is reported to have provided an estimate of USD $515 million to North Korea since its opening in 2004.

In the United States, the Senate on Wednesday passed H.R. 757 – the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2016. The bill’s provisions require the US executive branch to undertake the following measures:

• investigate sanctionable conduct by North Korea, such as proliferation of mass destruction and arms or related material, luxury goods, and money laundering and counterfeit goods;

• enact mandatory sanctions against persons that contributed in any means to North Korea’s nuclear weapons programmes developments, facilitated or aided transfer of financial assets and properties of the regime;

• block North Korean banks from direct or indirect access to the U.S. financial systems, as well as grave measures against persons and financial institutions that extend services to entities involved in sanctionable conduct.

The UN Security Council is still in the process of adopting a new sanctions resolution. China has expressed its support for a new resolution, but has so far not committed to any specific additional measures. Russia’s representative to the UN has called for a “proportionate response” while France has demanded “rapid and tough” action from the international community.

The EU External Action Service has also publicly denounced Pyongyang’s actions.