Examine the effectiveness of the use of economic sanctions to halt nuclear weapon and missile programs of countries like North Korea. What is the way ahead?

The United States has time and again used the tool of economic sanctions as the primary means to exert pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile program. However, this strategy has abjectly failed as North Korea’s ballistic missile program has become stronger over time.

Sanctions over North Korea:

  • North Korea has been forbidden to conduct nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches by the UN Security Council.
  • The sanctions were imposed to cut off funding for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
  • North Korea has been evading sanctions and continuing its program.

Effectiveness of policy of Economic Sanctions:

  • It has failed to stop North Korea’s weapons program, but they have slowed the weapons program.
  • One of the reasons behind the ineffectiveness of the sanctions regime is that they are not imposed and enforced robustly.
  • The geopolitical tensions like Russia-Ukraine conflict, US-China tensions, China-Taiwan tensions made it easier for North Korea to circumvent.
  • There have been claims regarding support from China and Russia to North Korea.

Way forward:

  • Penalize Chinese banks laundering North Korea’s money.
  • Recognizing North Korea as a nuclear power and using sanctions relief to incentivize for better behavior.
  • Using economic leverage to persuade North Korea.


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