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Intro | The Impact of Sanctions on North Korea
Published August 1, 2017

How sanctions are impacting North Korea is of utmost significance as leaders debate either tightening the sanctions or shifting to another approach for dealing with the North. The range of opinions on this issue is wide. At one extreme are those who see sanctions as ineffective, insisting that there is little that China and others could do to make them work to change the North’s behavior. At the other are observers who see sanctions as a potential panacea, feeling that if applied vigorously they would alter the calculus of the North Koreans. As a prelude to the current debate, earlier cutoffs of assistance to the North and rounds of sanctions have drawn overly optimistic predictions about their impact as well as persistent pessimism that they would be of little avail. In the middle between the two extremes are views that increased sanctions are a priority, if China is not determined to nullify them, but they must be advanced with urgency and accompanied by other measures that can bypass China and make China aware that the sanctions option is preferable to the alternatives now under preparation.