Negotiations continued in early 2009, but after the DPRK launched a long-range missile over Japan in early April 2009, a Security Council Presidential Statement on 13 April condemned the North Korean launch and called for the 1718 committee to list entities subject to sanctions (S/PRST/2009/7). On 14 April, the DPRK released a statement immediately ceasing cooperation with the IAEA inspectors, pulling out of the Six-Party Talks, and resuming its nuclear enrichment program. The Sanctions Committee made its first designations on 24 April 2009, listing three entities, including a bank (SC/9642). The DPRK conducted an underground nuclear explosion on 25 May, presenting its second nuclear test, and fired three short-range missiles on 26 May 2009.
Shortly thereafter, on 12 June 2009, the Security Council passed UNSCR 1874, which created a Panel of Experts, tightened sanctions on arms transfers to all arms (except small arms and light weapons imports upon prior notification), expanded the list of prohibited WMD and missile-related goods, and called on states to deny financial assistance, including credit and loans for trade, and exercise vigilance regarding training that could contribute to North Korea’s proliferation activities. The resolution also contained specific provisions for the inspection of DPRK’s cargo vessels and airplanes suspected of carrying nuclear or military material and imposed a conditional prohibition on the provision of bunkering services to vessels if Member States had reasonable grounds for sanctions violation. In July 2009, the 1718 Committee designated an additional 5 individuals and 5 entities subject to sanctions (SC/9708), and the following month, a Panel of Experts was appointed to monitor sanctions implementation. Enhanced enforcement by late 2009 resulted in increasing number of inspections of DPRK ships and planes due to suspicious cargo and seizures.
DPRK missile tests and its demands for a peace treaty with the US and for an end of sanctions continued into 2010. On 26 March 2010, DPRK sank the South Korean warship Cheonan, further delaying bilateral talks with South Korea and prompting the US to impose additional financial sanctions against those trafficking in arms and engaged in illicit activities. In November 2010, a visit by Stanford physicist, Sid Hecker, invited by the DPRK indicated a surprising degree of progress in enrichment at Yongbyon and new uranium enrichment facilities. In 2011, Chinese diplomatic efforts focused on return to Six-Party Talks, but the process remained stalled.
In December 2011, Kim Jong-il died and his youngest son, Kim Jong-un succeeded him. In early 2012, the DPRK and the US agreed on food aid in return for North Korea agreeing to a moratorium on uranium enrichment and missile testing, a return of IAEA inspectors to Yongbyon, and a resumption of the Six-Party Talks. On 16 March 2012, North Korea announced it was planning to launch a satellite to commemorate the late founder Kim il-Sung's 100th birthday. Notwithstanding widespread warnings that such an action would negate the agreement, DPRK proceeded with the unsuccessful launch on 13 April 2012. In response, the Security Council issued a Presidential Statement on 16 April condemning the launch as a violation of previous resolutions and in May the Committee designated three new entities (S/PRST/2012/13).
In December 2012 North Korea launched a rocket using ballistic missile technology, this time successfully, to carry what it called a “weather satellite.” The Security Council passed UNSCR 2087 (22 January 2013) that condemned the launch and once again demanded that the DPRK not launch any other missiles and not conduct any nuclear tests. It also expanded arms imports and exports embargo to all weapons (except the import of small arms upon prior notification), expanded a list of prohibited WMD-related items, added four individuals to the list and 6 entities, and clarified some of the implementation procedures for existing sanctions. On 12 February 2012, the DPRK conducted its third nuclear test, the first since 2009, which was estimated to be twice as large as its previous tests.
UNSCR 2087 (22 January 2013) condemned a December 2012 ballistic missile launch, demanded that the DPRK refrain from any further launches, nuclear tests, or other provocations, imposed sanctions on new designees, and further expanded the list of prohibited items.
Coerce DPRK to stop nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, end WMD programs, retract NPT withdrawal, and return to Six-Party Talks.
Constrain DPRK access to military and proliferation technology.
Signal support for non-proliferation norms, specifically the NPT.
Sanctions Committee in place, Panel of Experts created during the episode. Designation criteria were specified and targets designated (maximum number of designees during the episode – 9 individual designees, 17 entities). Enforcement authorities specified.
Despite occasional (and short-lived) diplomatic engagements throughout the episode, the DPRK, according to the Panel of Experts, “continued to reject and to violate Security Council Resolutions.” In spite of the UN resolutions and widespread international protest, the DPRK repeatedly tested ballistic missile technology and detonated another nuclear device in February 2013.
While UN sanctions were an important tool to coerce the target, other sanctions, international pressure and diplomatic efforts (particularly from China) were also significant to the outcome.
According to the Panel of Experts, international efforts appeared to make it more difficult and expensive for the DPRK to continue its nuclear and missile programs. However, the panel also indicated adaptation by DPRK in sanctions evasion techniques, and continued arms exports (though partly constrained by the sanctions). November 2010 revelations (the Hecker report) regarding the ability of DPRK to construct a uranium facility in the face of sanctions and continued progress of DPRK ballistic missiles program indicated limited constraining impact.
UN sanctions were the primary instruments of constraint, although other sanctions also played an important role in constraining DPRK’s nuclear program. According to the 2013 Panel of Experts report, sanctions “in all likelihood considerably delayed (North Korea’s) timetable and, through the imposition of financial sanctions and the bans on the trade in weapons, has choked off significant funding which would have been channeled into its prohibited activities."
Non-proliferation norm was continuously articulated by consistent and unanimous responses by the Council against tests conducted by the DPRK, but the strength of the signal remained limited, since measures did not go beyond improved enforcement, repeated condemnations and moderate increases in the targets designated.
UN sanctions were the primary means for signaling the non-proliferation norm, but diplomatic pressure also played an important role.
Increase in corruption and criminality, increase in international regulatory capacity in different issue domains, increase in international enforcement capacity in different issue domains, resource diversion, decline in the credibility and/or legitimacy of UN Security Council.