New sanctions against North Korea: Hope or destruction?

North Koreans watch a news report showing North Korea's Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile launch on an electronic screen at Pyongyang station in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Reuters)

North Koreans watch a news report showing North Korea's Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile launch on an electronic screen at Pyongyang station in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Reuters)


The world’s young people will gather in  Russia to discuss ways to combat imperialism to create a better world characterised by peace and socioeconomic equality. 

The World Festival of Youth and Students will meeting in Sochi from October 14 to 22, and will be attended by more than 30 000 delegates.

The United Nations Security Council met on September 11 to consider new sanctions against North Korea because the government of Kim Jong-un has tested several nuclear arsenals, which is against the International Protocols on Nuclear Proliferation. 

The Security Council argued that the latest test over the air space of Japan further fuelled their decision to impose even tougher sanctions on North Korea.

But Japan and South Korea have been calling for the extension of sanctions against North Korea since that country launched a rocket, to commemorate the centenary of the birth of the founder of the republic Kim il-sung, which it said was to put an advanced satellite into space.

Japan and South Korea insisted that the rocket was a habitual attempt by North Korea to proliferate the weapons of mass destruction against agreed international protocols.

What is the attitude of the Security Council?

It was clear from the triumphalism of the United States that the newly imposed sanctions on North Korea gives them confidence to use their influence in rallying all major powers of the world behind their agenda to thwart North Korea from its advance towards global hegemony. The US is under the impression that all countries will act in good faith, consistent with their beliefs, to isolate North Korea. They have expressed that the use of sanctions against North Korea will include oil and gas export cuts, which they believe is responsible for the nuclear proliferation project as it is pursued by North Korea.

The US and their bedfellows, the United Kingdom and a number of European Union members mainly the west of Europe, believe that the textile export cut to North Korea is also a significant measure to bring the country’s economy to its knees and so force it into discussions, the terms of which will be dictated by the US and its allies. 

On the other hand, China and Russia have endorsed these sanctions for completely different reasons; both these countries insist the sanctions should not be seen as a step towards a regime change in North Korea. They furthermore argue that the sanctions should not completely suffocate North Korea’s economy as this would create a humanitarian crisis. China and Russia insist that the six-party talks should resume in earnest to rescue the situation on the Korean Peninsula and to advance the codes on denuclearisation.

The two countries are also concerned that the US should not use this round of sanctions to initiate attacks on North Korea. In this regard the Libyan experience of the “no fly zone” came in very handy - many countries, including South Africa, were misled to vote for this resolution, which eventually led to the annihilation of the Libyan people and Supreme Leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The complementary and confrontational views of the above-mentioned countries can only indicate to the whole world that this was another lip-service agenda to impose new sanctions on North Korea, and that there is no way of ensuring these sanctions will indeed work.

The sanctions can only work in as far as they are targeted at the vanguard leadership of the Korean people in pursuance of their life of comfort outside the borders of North Korea. There is historical evidence that targeted sanctions do work, as was the case in Zimbabwe and as they affected the sons of Gaddafi.

To further illustrate that the sanctions won’t be as effective as the Security Council members believe they will be, the People’s Republic of China is currently transporting goods and services to North Korea via their Dandong border and have extended generous credits to the country without any timeframe in which to pay it back. China is therefore the fundamental endorser of North Korea and is seconded by Russia.

What are the underlying ideological Issues on the North Korean question?

The question is: Why is the Security Council discussing sanctions based only on their view of denuclearisation?

Why is North Korea advancing this nuclear programme?

What necessitates these conditions of hostilities?

To attempt to answer these questions, it should be noted that the Korean people have not recovered from the effects of the Korean war, which was fought in the 1950s. They still see evidence of mass graves, the existence of gas chambers that were used to massacre the Korean people and the continued spy efforts by the US. The chief issue however, remains the division of their country into North Korea and South Korea.

The communist ideological struggle of North Korea under the leadership of the Workers Party of Korea and its Kim Il-sung Socialist Youth League remains the Juche or self-reliant ideology - that with their collective effort and without divinity they will conquer the material condition of their lives - and the Sunghun or the unity of North and South Korea. It is according to this understanding that the North Koreans have built a reunification monument.

The two Koreas have been divided for more than six decades under the Armistice Agreement, which imposes trade and travel barriers between North and South Korea, The North Korean border continues to be guarded by its army, which it is believed to be receiving support from China. The South Korean border is visibly guarded by the US army, which many commentators say turns South Korea into a puppet of the USA.

Towards the end of 2010 there were initiatives to change the Armistice Agreement into a peace agreement, which would remove the restrictions between the countries and inevitably lead to the reunification of the two Koreas.

North Korea believes that the former South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, sank the Cheanoan, its own navy ship, and blamed it on North Korea. This they believe he did to reverse progress towards the peace agreement and so that he could maintain US territorial hegemony in the Korean Peninsula, keep its liberal democracy and continue its free market, capitalist economy.

Towards this end, it is important for the UN General Assembly to include the reparations agenda to deal with the Korean crisis and other countries (such as Burma/Myanmar, Vietnam and South Africa), whose further development and democratisation is prevented by old wounds suffered during periods of war and repression. 

North Korea vowed retribution against the US should any of the new proposed sanctions be implemented. This matter should not be taken lightly and the world should, through its special envoys and other diplomatic channels, ensure that negotiations are directed towards avoiding a possible third world war.

We all need to struggle for a world free from conflict, war, poverty and exploitation.

Abner Mosaase is a former head of international relations for the ANC Youth League 

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