After months of negotiations among United Nations Security Council member nations, new sanctions against North Korea have been adopted unanimously. These new sanctions aim to impose a cap on the amount of coal North Korea is allowed to export each year and the profits they can make on said coal. As was the case immediately following the passage of the previous sanctions, representatives from Security Council countries all provide very positive assessments of the projected effectiveness of these new restrictions.

I am hesitant to share their optimistic viewpoint.

The fact that China supported this new round of sanctions shows that the PRC does not believe these new regulations will have a significantly large effect on the North Korean economy. The Chinese government is unlikely to ever support sufficiently strong sanctions because it fears the wave of refugees flowing across the Chinese-North Korean border if the North Korean economy was upended. Thus, even though the Chinese vehemently oppose the North Korean nuclear program, any sanctions approved unanimously by the Security Council are unlikely to actually cause any lasting damage to Kim Jong-un’s regime.

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