Kim Jong Un (LaPresse)

Does North Korea’s Mini-Ballistic Missile Program Make Peace Unlikely?

Questions are being raised again over the effectiveness of sanctions against North Korea after a recent United Nations (UN) report revealed that North Korea has successfully built miniature nuclear weapons. The UN document also states that the North Korean regime has achieved a key breakthrough in its nuclear program by creating a nuclear warhead small enough to be carried on a nuclear missile.

The Recent Revelations

The UN said on Monday that Pyongyang is violating international sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear program by exceeding a cap on petroleum imports and sending its workers overseas, including a former Juventus footballer.

Furthermore, the UN Security Council said an annual 500,000 barrel cap on imports of refined petroleum products had been broken in the first five months of 2020 alone.

Considering US President Donald Trump has committed himself to bringing peace to the Korean peninsula, the world would normally look to his country for a reaction to a report like the one the UN has produced recently. Regardless, his administration is powerless until the winner of the November election has been declared.

Sanctions Against North Korea are Failing

Nonetheless, this news, alongside a series of revelations in the last month that have exposed how North Korea is evading US sanctions, calls into question the US’s approach toward North Korea. Earlier this month, NBC News obtained a trove of confidential bank documents which revealed how North Korea moves illicit cash across borders despite international sanctions to block Pyongyang’s access to the global financial system.

The suspected laundering by North Korea-linked organizations totaled more than $174.8 million over several years, with transactions approved by American banks like JPMorgan Chase and the Bank of New York Mellon.

Yet that does not mean sanctions have had no effect on Kim Jong-un’s regime.

North Korea’s UN Ambassador Kim Song told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that despite his country’s “reliable and effective war deterrent for self-defense,” international sanctions were a hindrance to the North Korean leader’s plans to accelerate his nation’s economy. This could be interpreted by the Trump administration as an admission that sanctions are damaging North Korea’s economy.

Nonetheless, regardless of who wins the US election in November, peace seems unlikely for many reasons.

Cooperation with China is Out of the Question

Firstly, the West needs Beijing’s help to tackle North Korea, but a coordinated response with China is out of the question for now. Even if Joe Biden wins the US election, he will be forced to adopt a tough stance toward Beijing because of the coronavirus originating from there. Yet China provides North Korea’s economy with a critical lifeline, so assuming the current tension between Beijing and Washington does not escalate into a cold war, cooperation between the two powers may be necessary at some stage.

Kim is aware that the number of sanctions against his regime will increase if there are no cuts to Pyongyang’s nuclear program, yet that has not stopped him from supposedly developing miniature nuclear weapons. It is clear he cannot be trusted to commit himself to peace, which means negotiations are a waste of time.

North Korea’s Regime Must Go

The only way peace can become a reality would be if North Korea’s regime collapsed, and this looks like a strong possibility. A long monsoon season damaged 96,300 acres of farmland and 16,680 homes, including roads and rail lines. Also, food shortages caused Kim to respond by ordering pet dogs to be confiscated for food.

This is a regime in trouble and if it refuses to accept outside help, its end is inevitable.

The more North Korea defies international sanctions, the less likely its leader is to commit to a reduction in its nuclear program. No matter who occupies the White House from January onward, they will probably struggle to ensure Kim commits to ending his nuclear program. To give peace a chance, the current regime in Pyongyang must go, and it must go as soon as possible.