North Korea continues to test hypersonic missiles, Biden imposes new sanctions


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (right) looks at a monitor that could display data from a test launch. The photo is from the North Korean regime.Korean Central News Agency Beeld via AP

Washington also wants the United Nations to expand existing sanctions against North Korea. Under UN sanctions, imposed in 2006 in response to North Korea’s first nuclear weapons test, North Korea is prohibited from testing ballistic weapons. Sanctions have since been steadily extended and stepped up as Pyongyang relentlessly continued to test new weapons, including nuclear tests and three hypersonic missile launches.

North Korea fired another such missile on Tuesday, North Korea’s second test of a hypersonic weapon in a week. This development is of concern to the United States, as this weapon flies towards a target at at least five times the speed of sound, and is so maneuverable that missile defenses cannot do much against it. North Korea is also working to reduce nuclear warheads so that they can be fired more easily with long-range missiles.

Humanitarian arguments

The chances that the US proposal to strengthen the current UN sanctions package will reach the Security Council, as Moscow and Beijing want to get rid of a number of sanctions against Pyongyang. In November, Russia and China – both of which have veto power in the Security Council – called for the lifting of the export ban on seafood and textiles, restrictions on the amount of oil that North Korea can import and bans North Korean workers from entering the country. work abroad. It is for humanitarian reasons: the North Korean economy and people are suffering from these sanctions, while they seem to have little effect on the progress of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the military field.

Biden’s wait-and-see attitude towards North Korea is increasingly criticized in the United States. By maintaining the status quo and insisting on diplomatic talks, Biden broke his promises in his first year. Talks with North Korea have been stalled for some time as Pyongyang insists US sanctions must be lifted before North Korea shows up. For the same reason, Pyongyang is also resisting attempts by South Korean President Moon to formally end the Korean War.

Patient strategically

Biden, who has been accused in the United States of returning to Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea, does not seem willing to put further pressure on Kim yet. The additional sanctions are an extension of previous US sanctions, and the pressure that arises from those sanctions remains or wanes with implementation. It remains difficult to catch companies and individuals in violation of sanctions, especially since these activities take place in China and Russia, or at sea.

The new sanctions affect six people whose funds in US bank accounts are frozen by the measures. US companies are not allowed to do business with these people, and foreign companies found to do so face fines.

It concerns five North Korean officials, a North Korean citizen, a Russian and a Russian company. They are believed to be involved in the clandestine purchase of ballistic weapon components for the Second North Korean Academy of Natural Sciences (SANS). This academy is considered the backbone of North Korean military development. Four of the North Koreans involved worked for SANS in various cities in North China, where they allegedly bought steel, chemicals and software that ended up with the North Korean military. A Russian company reportedly supplied fuel, Kevlar and parts for ballistic missiles.

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