A Chinese tour boat sails past the Friendship Bridge linking between China and North Korea, in Dandong, China Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. Defying U.N. warnings, North Korea on Tuesday conducted its third nuclear test in the remote, snowy northeast, taking a crucial step toward its goal of building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile capable of striking the United States. (AP Photo/Aritz Parra)
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — For the past decade, the world’s most powerful nations have turned to sanctions in an attempt to punish North Korea for a series of rocket launches and nuclear tests. Their stated goal: to stop North Korea’s march toward acquiring an arsenal of nuclear-armed long-range missiles.
The sanctions, however, have failed to slow Pyongyang down. It conducted a third nuclear test Tuesday despite warnings of more international punishment.
Once again countries are looking to the United Nations to tighten already harsh multilateral sanctions.
But the U.S. and its allies will also consider boosting their own national penalties against North Korean companies and individuals.
Here’s a look at these countries’ current non-U.N. sanctions and the reasons why many argue that for any real change to happen in North Korea, a reluctant China must also embrace tough, unilateral penalties against its ally.
China is seen as the only major power with any real influence on North Korea as it pursues nuclear weapons. It provides most of North Korea’s fuel, a good deal of its food and accounts for an increasing share of its trade and investment.
But despite recurring nuclear and missile tests by Pyongyang, Beijing has been reluctant to take unilateral action against a neighbor it sees as a valuable buffer between U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and Japan.
“China can make a difference,” said Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul. “The question is whether it will make a difference.”