Although the aims of U.S. foreign policy towards North Korea have developed over time, the economic policies enacted to pursue those aims have remained stagnant since the Korean War in 1950. This project examines the elements that have contributed to the failure of economic sanctions to curb North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Scholarly discussion on the failure of sanctions against North Korea has revolved around two explanations: one politically driven, focusing on diplomatic opportunities missed by the United States, and one economically driven, focusing on the regional objectives of China.
I conclude that each approach may undermine the other, creating problems when neither a cooperative nor punitive approach is fully embraced. For an engagement-based approach to economic sanctions, politicians must be prepared to make meaningful and difficult concessions, rather than taking an ideological stance or working towards regime change. Sanctions against North Korea ultimately represent a failure to commit to that approach, a lesson that can be applied to the current diplomatic crisis and use of sanctions to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Jennifer Knox, ’13
Majors: International Relations, Classical Studies
Sponsor: David Yamanishi