Tension arises between North and South Korea over sanctions
Tensions between North and South Korea have arisen this week over the contentious issue of nuclear weapons and the United Nations’ decision to extend sanctions on North Korea.
Following the announcement to extend sanctions earlier in the week, on Friday 25th of January, North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland issued a statement warning South Korea against backing the UN decision.
Stating that “sanctions mean a war and a declaration of war against us”, the Committee in Pyongyang threatened to use physical “counter measures” if South Korea supported the series of UN on the matter.
The UN decision to extend the sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was implemented following Pyongyang’s announcement of plans to forge ahead with its nuclear weapons programme with a third nuclear test; North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests previously in 2006 and 2009, planned for this year.
Introduced back in 2006 by the UN Security Council SC/8853 following the first nuclear weapons test, the sanctions “prevent a range of goods from entering or leaving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and imposes an asset freeze and travel ban on persons related to the nuclear-weapon programme”.
The international system has predominantly criticised North Korea. White House Spokesman Jim Carney has condemned North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons stating that “further provocations would only increase Pyongyang’s isolation, and its continued focus on its nuclear and missile programme is doing nothing to help the North Korean people”.
In China, however, the reaction has been far more cautious. Indeed, according to reports at Reuters, Hong Lei of the Foreign Ministry of China issued the statement: “We hope all relevant parties can see the big picture, maintain calm and restraint, further maintain contact and dialogue, and improve relations, while not taking actions to further complicate and escalate the situation.”
The bellicose threats issued by North Korea this week mark a distinct contrast to the message sent by Kim Jong Un on New Year Speech. Indeed, during the speech the new leader made references to an end of confrontations between the two Koreas. In light of this week’s events, however, the prospect of peace between the two is looking more and more unlikely.