The United States has imposed economic sanctions on North Korea for years to curb its nuclear program. But that didn’t work either. The US has failed to end its nuclear and missile programs or bring the Northeast Asian states back to the negotiating table.

Rather, North Korea’s ballistic missile program has strengthened since US sanctions. The country has even conducted record-breaking test launches of multiple types of weapons this year. This includes intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to reach the US mainland. The country is expected to end its self-imposed five-year moratorium on nuclear bomb tests soon.

Former US diplomat Joseph D. Thomas said, ‘We have had a policy failure. This is the policy failure of a generation.’

Joseph has worked on sanctions against North Korea and Iran. He also has experience working in the administrations of Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama He added, ‘A whole generation of people worked on it. It failed… so okay, now we have to move on to the next step, to think about what we’re going to do about it.’

Meanwhile, Biden administration officials have acknowledged that the sanctions have failed to halt North Korea’s weapons program. But they also claim that their sanctions have at least been effective in slowing North Korea’s nuclear program.

“I don’t agree with the idea that sanctions have failed,” a senior administration official told Reuters. It is absolutely true that sanctions have failed to stop their programs. But I think if sanctions didn’t exist, (North Korea) would be much more of a threat to its neighbors in the region and the world.’

Asked for comment, a State Department spokesman said, in an apparent reference to China and Russia, that “the United Nations Security Council has passed a series of resolutions to establish a strong sanctions regime aimed at curbing this illegal weapons program.” It is everyone’s responsibility. We will continue to call on Member States to fully implement these resolutions.

Former officials and experts say the sanctions were never imposed and were not enforced strongly enough for long enough. In addition to weakening U.S. actions toward North Korea, pressures such as Russia’s war in Ukraine and U.S.-China tensions over Taiwan are responsible for making it ineffective and easy for North Korea.

The UN Security Council has long banned North Korea from conducting nuclear tests and launching ballistic missiles.

The Security Council has imposed sanctions on North Korea since 2006 to freeze funding for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. These now include banning exports of coal, iron ore, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

However, UN experts report in their regular reports that North Korea is evading sanctions and continuing its programs.

Russia and China supported tougher sanctions after North Korea’s last nuclear test in 2017.

(November 7)