August 02, 2017

Better Sanctions, Better Expectations, and a Better North Korea Policy

It will surprise no one to hear that the United States has few new or good ideas for managing North Korea. The Trump administration’s early enthusiasm for solving North Korea has waned into a familiar back and forth, as North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities continue to improve. Nevertheless, a new Center for a New American Security (CNAS) report tries to lay out an updated approach to sanctions against North Korea, based in large part on the success of sanctions against Iran.

The authors suggest that the sanctions program against North Korea is not well understood; while the sanctions regime is heavy, it has evolved in complex ways over the past two decades. Indeed, there has probably been some confusion about the sources of North Korea’s sclerotic economy, which tend to lie with internal factors rather than a restrictive international sanctions regime. North Korea’s economy is displaying a mild level of growth, and (as the United States has discovered) it has a level of technical and engineering sophistication that enables serious work on nuclear and missile projects, with or without international assistance. North Korean trade is significant and growing, with China making up the overwhelming bulk (93 percent) of total exports and imports.

Read the full article at The Diplomat.