Duration: 11-Sep-2017 to 22-Dec-2017

In response to the sixth and largest North Korean nuclear test conducted on 3 September 2017, which DPRK claimed to be a hydrogen bomb, the Security Council adopted UNSCR 2375 on 11 September 2017, bolstering the increasingly comprehensive nature of the DPRK sanctions regime.

The unanimously adopted resolution broadened the existing sanctions by specifying new items, individuals, and entities subject to sanctions measures, expanding the port entry ban from designated vessels to all vessels transporting prohibited items, adding a prohibition on providing work authorizations to any DPRK nationals not currently in their destination country, and extending the prohibition of joint ventures to all DPRK entities or individuals regardless of their association with the government of DPRK or contribution to prohibited activities. UNSCR 2375 also imposed a ban on ship-to-ship transfers to and from DPRK-flagged vessels of any items originating, destined for, or transferring through DPRK territory, a ban on the export of textiles from DPRK, and a number of commodity import restrictions – a total ban on the import of condensates and natural gas liquids to DPRK and a cap on the imports of refined petroleum products and the imports of crude oil – targeting new sectors of DPRK’s economy. With a view to enhance sanctions’ implementation against the country, the Security Council strengthened the vessels’ inspection procedure, with refusal to submit to inspection constituting a reason for their designation, and made states’ sanctions implementation reporting mandatory.

The original US draft of the resolution also included the designation of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, but his name, together with those of three other high level officials and entities, ban on remittances of DPRK workers abroad, and stricter oil sector restrictions, were removed following consultations with China and (for the first time also) Russia. While supportive of DPRK denuclearization and acting in unison in the Security Council, both advocated for a diplomatic solution, even as reports of illegal transfers of oil to DPRK by their nationals and/or companies were surfacing (with Russia assuming an increasingly prominent role in this respect). China had been arguing in favor of a parallel double-suspension proposal, which continued to be rejected by the US, while Russia stressed the limits of the present approach, stating that it was “impossible to resolve the problem of the Korean peninsula only by sanctions and pressure.”

The US, during the first year of the Trump administration, had been the primary proponent of tougher sanctions on DPRK, with President Trump during his 19 September 2017 speech at the UN General Assembly threatening to “totally destroy North Korea” if “forced to defend itself or its allies” and CIA director Pompeo warning in October that DPRK could be just months away from being able to strike continental US. Proceeding to further broaden its unilateral sanctions against North Korea on a monthly basis during the episode, the US also re-designated the country as a state sponsor of terrorism in November 2017 (originally listed in 1988, DPRK was de-listed in 2008 in the context of the Six-Party Talks).

DPRK – which continued to refuse to return to the Six-Party Talks, preferring bilateral US talks instead – launched an intermediate ballistic missile over Japan on 15 September 2017 (condemned in SC/12994) and an intercontinental ballistic missile, potentially capable of reaching the mainland US, on 29 November 2017. This led to the conduct of the largest joint US/South Korean air drill, a new round of unilateral sanctions by South Korea, Japanese decision to purchase an anti-missile system, greater regional cooperation in response to the threat posed by DPRK, and the beginning of negotiations on a new round of UN sanctions. Despite limited signs of improvement in UN-DPRK relations in early December (with DPRK approving, for the first time since 2011 and 2004, respectively, the visits by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and a UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea), UN SG Guterres 15 December 2017 called the situation on the Korean Peninsula “the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today” and expressed his deep concern about “the risk of military confrontation” with North Korea.


Coerce DPRK to cease nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, end WMD programs, retract Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) withdrawal, and return to the stalled Six-Party Talks to engage in negotiations, including about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.


Constrain DPRK's nuclear proliferation and access to nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional weapons and their delivery systems related technology.


Signal support for non-proliferation norms, specifically the NPT.


Ongoing sanctions:
  • Arms imports and exports embargo;
  • Luxury goods imports ban;
  • Asset freeze;
  • Travel ban;
  • Financial sector restrictions (ban on joint ventures and operation of DPRK banks abroad; ban on new foreign financial institutions activity in DPRK; closure of existing representative offices, subsidiaries, or banking accounts in DPRK; and prohibition of public and private financial support for trade with DPRK);
  • Commodity imports ban (aviation fuel);
  • Commodity exports bans (coal, iron, iron ore; gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore, rare earth elements; copper, nickel, silver, zinc; statues; lead, lead ore; seafood);
  • Diplomatic sanctions (limit use of DPRK territory abroad for other than diplomatic/consular activity; limit number of bank accounts for DPRK diplomatic/consular missions and staff; suspension of scientific and technical cooperation with DPRK representatives or sponsored groups/individuals);
  • Transportation-related prohibitions (ban on leasing or chartering of vessels and aircraft and related provision of crew services to DPRK; ban on the use or servicing of DPRK registered or flagged vessels; import of new vessels and helicopters; procurement of vessels and aircraft services; insurance, reinsurance, and registration of DPRK vessels; their mandatory de-registration; port entry ban).
Adjustments to ongoing sanctions:
  • Proliferation sensitive goods and technology imports and exports ban expanded to new items;
  • General economic restriction on the number of work authorizations for DPRK nationals working abroad expanded by a prohibition of issuing new work authorizations to DPRK nationals not in their destination country.
Newly imposed sanctions:
  • Ship-to-ship transfers ban for DPRK vessels;
  • Commodity exports ban (textiles);
  • Commodity imports bans (condensates and natural gas liquids; refined petroleum products; crude oil).


Ongoing conditional restrictions:
  • Bunkering ban;
  • Expulsion/repatriation;
  • Financial sector restrictions (financial services, asset and resource transfers);
  • Vessels port entry ban;
  • Aviation ban;
  • Provision of specialized teaching and training to DPRK nationals;
  • Asset freeze on DPRK government and party officials;
  • Arms and proliferation sensitive good and technology ban;
  • Transportation-related restrictions (vessels de-flagging, redirection, and inclusion in asset freeze);
  • Travel ban.

Maximum number of designees during the episode: 63 individuals and 53 entities.

Potential scope of impact


UN sanctions are likely to have significant impacts on the general population, since they include restrictions on the import of widely used commodities (such as oil), major commodity exports, and/or the transportation or financial sectors that affect the entire economy.

Sanctions Committee and Panel of Experts in place. Designation criteria were specified and targets designated. Additional vessels designated. Enforcement authorities specified.



Policy outcome

DPRK continued to engage in proscribed activity (including ballistic missile launches and, according to the Panel of Experts, a multi-million-dollar business in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum, operation of DPRK financial institutions abroad, and sanctions evasion by DPRK diplomats) and refused to denuclearize or return to the NPT or Six-Party Talks.

Sanctions contribution

UN sanctions presented the primary means through which the international community channeled its reactions to DPRK's continued violations. Other unilateral sanctions, hostile rhetoric (especially by the US), and threat of military use of force also contributed to DPRK's continued engagement in proscribed activities.



Policy outcome

Sanctions made it more difficult for DPRK to generate income and procure prohibited goods and technology, but the episode was too short to observe discernible effects of the new sanctions; DPRK continued to engage in proscribed activities and sanctions implementation remained limited, with DPRK engaging in various and, according to the Panel of Experts, “increasingly sophisticated evasion practices.”

Sanctions contribution

UN sanctions presented the primary instruments of constraint. Other sanctions, threats, and threat of military use of force also played an important role in constraining DPRK’s nuclear program, as did stronger implementation of UN sanctions by China in 2017.



Policy outcome

Non-proliferation norm was clearly articulated in Security Council's official statements that strongly condemned DPRK's nuclear and missile activities; DPRK was largely stigmatized as an international pariah and perceived as a threat to international peace and security.

Sanctions contribution

Sanctions remained the primary means for signaling the non-proliferation norm, but US rhetoric and threat of use of force also contributed to the signal. Reported Russian and Chinese sanctions evasion somewhat weakened the signal.



Increase in corruption and criminality, strengthening of authoritarian rule, increase in human rights violations, increase in international regulatory capacity in different issue domains, increase in international enforcement capacity in different issue domains, resource diversion, significant burden on implementing states, humanitarian consequences, widespread harmful economic consequences, other (impact on humanitarian aid, international organizations, and foreign diplomatic missions in DPRK).



  • Condemns the 2 September 2017 nuclear test by DPRK
Existing sanctions
  • Imposes UNSCR 1718 asset freeze on new designees (Annex I and II)
  • Imposes UNSCR 1718 travel ban on new designees (Annex I)
  • Expands UNSCR 1718 arms and WMD-related import and export embargo by additional items, materials, equipment, goods, and technology, including conventional arms (to be adopted by the Sanctions Committee or UNSC)
  • Expands UNSCR 2371 port entry ban on designated vessels to vessels transporting prohibited items from the DPRK and directs Sanctions Committee (UNSC in case of inaction) to make designations
  • Expands UNSCR 2371 limitation on the total number of work authorizations for DPRK nationals in MS by a ban on providing work authorization for DPRK nationals in connection with admission to their territories (unless under already finalized written contracts) and specifies exemptions for work required for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, denuclearization, or other approved purpose (subject to prior case-by-case approval)
  • Expands UNSCR 2270 and 2371 banks and joint ventures ban by (a) prohibition on opening, maintenance, and operation of all joint ventures or cooperative entities (new and existing) with DPRK entities or individuals (regardless of whether or not acting on behalf of the government of DPRK) unless a prior case-by-case exemption was granted by the Sanctions Committee and (b) closure of joint ventures or cooperative entities non-exempted (within 120 days of adoption of the resolution) or denied exemption (within 120 days of denial) and specifies that the provision does not apply to existing China-DPRK hydroelectric power infrastructure projects and Russia-DPRK Rajin-Khasan port and rail project solely to import UNSCR 2371 permitted Russia-origin coal to DPRK
New sanctions
  • Imposes prohibition on ship-to-ship transfers to and from DPRK-flagged vessels of any goods or items imported to, transferred via, or exported from DPRK
  • Imposes condensates and natural gas liquids imports ban to DPRK
  • Imposes refined petroleum products imports ban to DPRK and specifies exemptions for refined petroleum products that do not exceed a total imports limit of 2,000,000 barrels per year (500,000 barrels until the end of 2017) provided that the transactions are exclusively for livelihood purposes not generating revenue for prohibited activities, do not involve individuals or entities associated with proscribed activities, and the amount and transaction details are notified to the Sanctions Committee every 30 days
  • Imposes a limit on the amount of crude oil imports to DPRK by MS within 1 year (capped at the amount of crude oil imported to DPRK by MS in the 12-month period prior to the resolution) and specifies exemptions for shipments exclusively for livelihood purposes unrelated to prohibited activities (subject to prior case-by-case approval)
  • Imposes textiles (including but not limited to fabrics and partially or fully completed apparel products) exports ban from DPRK and specifies exemptions for exports under already finalized written contracts and imported within 90 days from the date of adoption of the resolution (subject to prior case-by-case approval and post-transaction notification requirement)
Enhanced implementation measures
  • Calls on MS to inspect vessels on high seas (with flag MS approval) if reasonable doubt its cargo is in violation of sanctions measures
  • Decides that if such vessels do not consent to inspection, MS shall direct them to an appropriate or convenient port for inspection
  • Specifies that the refusal of such vessels to submit to inspection on the high seas or following their redirection to a port constitutes a reason for vessel designation, which obliges MS to immediately deregister the vessel
  • Calls on MS to periodically review DPRK’s aggregate refined petroleum procurement and directs Sanctions Committee to notify all MS when 75%, 90%, and 95% of the allowed aggregate annual amount of refined petroleum products is reached (at 95% informing MS they must immediately cease further provision of petroleum products to DPRK for the remainder of the year)
  • Calls upon all MS to redouble their efforts to implement sanctions measures against DPRK
  • Authorizes MS to seize and dispose of prohibited items


  • Directs Sanctions Committee to regularly update the list of designated vessels
  • Requires prompt MS report upon vessel non-cooperation with inspection
  • Requires monthly MS reporting on the amounts of refined petroleum provided to DPRK
  • Directs Sanctions Committee to make publicly available and maintain real-time information on the amount of refined petroleum products procured from MS by DPRK
  • Requires MS reporting on sanctions implementation