By William Stroupe
The United Nations Security Council has adopted its strongest ever sanctions against North Korea in the wake of a thinly-veiled banned missile test and the country’s recent claim to have developed a hydrogen bomb. Whereas previous sanctions have only targeted activities linked to nuclear proliferation, the tightened regime does not. The sanctions mandate inspection of all cargo entering and exiting the country in addition to banning sales of luxury goods and aviation fuel to North Korea. The regime also bans mineral and metal exports from North Korea, one of the country’s few reliable means of obtaining the hard currency it needs to sustain its dilapidated economy. Though facially exceptionally stringent, their effectiveness will rely on China’s willingness to rigorously enforce the new sanctions. China is North Korea’s biggest trading partner and source of economic assistance. Though China supported the sanctions in the U.N. Security Council, it is unclear whether it will take determined action in practice.