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No Meeting Ground between China and US over North Korea

Dr Roshan Writes: North Korea had conducted its fourth nuclear test on 06 January 2016, and there were reports based on satellite imagery of North Korea’s Tongchang-ri missile test site, that preparations were going on for the launch of a long-range missile

No Meeting Ground between China and US over North Korea

Dr Roshan Writes: North Korea had conducted its fourth nuclear test on 06 January 2016, and there were reports based on satellite imagery of North Korea’s Tongchang-ri missile test site, that preparations were going on for the launch of a long-range missile[1]. The world community had been unanimous in condemning these nuclear test and the Americans had further contemplated in imposing tough punitive sanctions on the North Koreans which may have included a ban on oil exports to North Korea and also a ban on imports of North Korean mineral resources[2].The UN Security Council had also strongly criticised this nuclear test. In fact all the nations are unanimous when it comes to verbal condemnation of such issues. It is only when practically some measures need to be taken that the fissures appear, especially between China and the US regarding the approaches which one needs to adopt against North Korea. China has been resisting imposing harsh sanctions against North Korea, as they believe that it can destabilise the peninsula and instead they are pressing for targeted sanctions against individuals in the North Korean nuclear complex, which the Americans believe are unlikely to have serious repercussions[3].  However it is equally true that without China’s participation, the sanctions will not have the desired result. China is the only country which has the leverage to tone down North Korea. China is North Korea’s main trading partner and it can easily twist North Korea financially, by cracking down on its banks and businesses that give the North access to foreign exchange[4]. Also the largest flow of funds available to the regime does not come from illicit weapons sales or other sanctioned activities; it comes from aid, trade, and investment from Beijing[5] . Unilateral sanction by the Americans would not be effective hence, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, visited Beijing, primarily to discuss the  list of new sanctions that United Nations may approve in an effort to control North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. But the fissures in the approaches to deal with North Korea has widened.

The role of South Korea will also have an impact as far as militarisation of this region is concerned. The South Korean President Park Geun-hye was trying to balance her country’s relationship with China but after the nuclear test she had hinted that South Korea may accept the American proposal of deploying the Missile Defence System – Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad. The Chinese had indirectly advised South Koreans not to go in for that as they believed that it will compromise their capabilities in the Pacific[6]. It needs to be seen whether the Americans can put enough pressure on the Chinese this time, so that punitive sanctions could be imposed on the North Koreans or the Chinese will be able to thwart any such efforts. The Iran Nuclear deal depicts that a broad understanding between the Nuclear Weapon states is essential to deal nuclear issues effectively. However if the nuclear weapon states are more interested in safeguarding their narrow interests then countries like North Korea and Pakistan will continue to strengthen and expand their nuclear arsenals.

 

End Notes

[1]North Korea Missile Could Launch early next week, Japanese Officials Warn,By Jackie Salo  01/27/16,International Business Times, at, http://www.ibtimes.com/north-korea-missile-could-launch-early-next-week-japanese-officials-warn-2283256?mkt_tok

[2] U.S. to ask China to ban oil exports to North Korea, By Elizabeth Shim   |   Jan. 22, 2016   At http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/01/22/US-to-ask-China-to-ban-oil-exports-to-North-Korea-report-says/8901453473437/

[3] John Kerry Urges China to Curb North Korea’s Nuclear Pursuits,By JANE PERLEZ and DAVID E. SANGERJAN. 27, 2016,Asia-Pacific, The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/28/world/asia/us-china-north-korea.html

[4] Ibid

[5]Reality Check on North Korean Sanctions, By 38 North / Joseph DeThomas January 23, 2016, The Diplomat at http://thediplomat.com/2016/01/reality-check-on-north-korean-sanctions/

[6] See,3, John Kerry

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