U.N. sanctions on North Korea range from luxury goods to visas


Four sets of U.N. sanctions have been imposed on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.

Here is a look at the sanctions:

Four resolutions

The U.N. Security Council has adopted four resolutions imposing or strengthening various sanctions on North Korea. Two U.N. measures were adopted in 2006 and 2009, while two more were passed in 2013.

Arms embargo

The Security Council first imposed an arms embargo and a ban on a range of imports and exports to prevent North Korea from conducting nuclear tests or launching ballistic missiles in October 2006. In June 2009, the ban was extended to all military material, financial transactions and technical training related to the supply and use of arms, nuclear and missile technology. In 2013, that provision was further strengthened to allow countries to seize and destroy material connected to North Korea’s weapons programs.

Travel, luxury goods, assets freeze

A U.N. sanctions committee was established in 2006 to put together a blacklist of persons and entities deemed to be providing support to North Korea’s banned programs. The targeted sanctions provide for a global travel ban, including on family members of those who are blacklisted, and a freeze on their assets.

This was extended in 2013 to persons and entities who may have helped North Korea evade sanctions. The latest raft of measures calls on all countries to prevent the sale of luxury goods to North Korea, a measure designed to hit Pyongyang’s elites.

20 entities/12 individuals

Currently there are 20 entities and 12 individuals on the U.N. sanctions blacklist. The list was last updated in July 2014, when sanctions were imposed on the Ocean Maritime Management company for arranging shipments of concealed arms from Cuba to North Korea in 2013.

The North Korean nationals on the blacklist are mostly involved in trading houses and commercial banks, but there is also Atomic Minister Ri Je Son and the former director of the Nyongbyon nuclear research center, Ri Hong Sop.

Are sanctions effective?

Experts and diplomats agree that sanctions have a limited effect and are only one tool in the broader international effort to help North Korea strip away its pariah status.

“The resolutions have had some impact, but not a lot,” said Roberta Cohen, a North Korea expert at the Brookings think tank in Washington.

“Really the elephant in the room is China and what it is willing to do unilaterally as well as in the U.N.,” she said.

Cohen argued that big powers at the United Nations need to look beyond sanctions and have a serious discussion about reunifying the Korean Peninsula that address China’s concerns.