Duration: 30-Nov-2016 to 05-Aug-2017

In response to the fifth North Korean nuclear test conducted on 9 September 2016, the second one of 2016, the Security Council adopted UNSCR 2321 on 30 November 2016, significantly strengthening the increasingly comprehensive logic of the sanctions regime.

Drafted by the US and then negotiated with China, the unanimously adopted resolution broadened the existing sanctions by specifying new items, individuals, and entities subject to sanctions measures. It also introduced a cap on the coal exports from DPRK (all exports of coal were banned during episode 4) to address the rise of DPRK’s coal trade with China in 2016 and tasked the Sanctions Committee with tracking the total amount of coal exports and their monetary value, making the information publicly available, and notifying the states when the overall limit was about to be reached.

To restrict the hard currency revenue of the DPRK regime, UNSCR 2321 imposed a ban on the export of copper, nickel, silver, and zinc, as well as statues from DPRK. In this respect, it also called on states to exercise vigilance over DPRK nationals working abroad and be alert to the risk of bulk cash being used to evade UN sanctions. In view of the frequent use of DPRK’s diplomatic and consular missions for sanctions evasion and revenue-generating activities, the resolution limited the number of bank accounts per diplomatic/consular staff and office and prohibited the use of DPRK owned or leased property for other than diplomatic/consular activity. Calling on states to reduce the number of staff at their diplomatic missions and consular posts in the country, it also authorized them to impose travel restrictions on DPRK state officials associated with prohibited activities and suspended scientific and technical cooperation with any group or individual representing or officially sponsored by DPRK.

UNSCR 2321 also expanded previous financial and transportation sector restrictions. In the financial sector, it prohibited any public or private financial support for trade with DPRK, imposed a closure of any existing representative office, subsidiaries, or bank accounts in DPRK, and authorized the expulsion and repatriation of any individual working on behalf of a DPRK bank or financial institution. In the transportation sector, UNSCR 2321 urged enhanced implementation of existing measures and imposed a ban on the import to DPRK of any new vessels or helicopters, procurement from DPRK of vessels and aircraft crewing services, ban on the insurance and reinsurance of DPRK vessels, as well as a mandatory de-registration of any DPRK vessels and ban on its subsequent registration by another state, and authorized the expansion of the provisions of asset freeze to vessels suspected of sanctions violation. With the view to improve the implementation of the existing sanctions, the resolution for the first time also directed the Sanctions Committee, with the assistance of the Panel of Experts, to hold special meetings on “important thematic and regional topics and Member States’ capacity challenges.”

DPRK continued to engage in proscribed activities. In December 2016, it conducted artillery drills, reiterated its May 2016 claim that the UNSC acted outside of its mandate, and in his 1 January 2017 New Year’s address, Kim Jong-un declared that the country was in the “last stage” of preparing for a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. The following month, DPRK resumed ballistic missile launches (including a successful launch of a solid fuel-powered missile, which presented a technological breakthrough in DPRK’s ballistic missile program development) and the regime strengthened its domestic position vis-à-vis the reportedly increasingly dissatisfied elite. On 13 February 2017, Kim Jong-un’s half-brother was assassinated using a prohibited highly toxic nerve agent at the Kuala Lumpur airport and on 27 February, five high ranking state officials were executed in DPRK. A 13 February 2017 Security Council press statement (SC/12716) condemned the 11 February ballistic missile launch (first since October 2016) and called on states to redouble their sanctions implementation efforts. The Panel of Experts report, released later in February, concluded that sanctions implementation remained “insufficient and highly inconsistent,” noting that DPRK was “flouting sanctions through trade in prohibited goods” and its evasion techniques were “increasing in scale, scope and sophistication.”

Amidst the heightened tensions with DPRK, the US and South Korea began the largest ever joint military exercises and started installing the THAAD anti-missile system, warning at the end of March 2017 that DPRK sixth nuclear test could happen “at any time.” On 17 March 2017, the US Secretary of State Tillerson declared that the US policy of “strategic patience” with DPRK was over and a pre-emptive strike against DPRK remained “on the table” should the threat posed by the country reach a level that “requires action.” China, which in February announced suspension of coal imports from DPRK (after exceeding the 2016 limit and unilaterally already almost reaching the total coal exports limit from DPRK set for 2017), advocated for a two-track “suspension for suspension” approach – whereby the DPRK would cease its nuclear and missile activities, while the US and South Korea would simultaneously end major military exercises perceived by the DPRK as provocation – instead. Meanwhile, the increasingly broad DPRK sanctions regime drew criticism from UN agencies and international organizations operating in DPRK, holding the financial sector measures responsible for the disruption of humanitarian activities in the country. The sanctions regime was also criticized by the UN Special Rapporteur commenting on the situation of human rights in DPRK. While the new US administration continued to proclaim its resolve in confronting the DPRK regime and push for further sanctions measures against the country, rejecting the Chinese dual-suspension proposal, US President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson in April expressed their readiness to enter into negotiations with DPRK. On the Korean peninsula, tensions began to ease after the election of a pro-reconciliation candidate Moon Jae-in as President of South Korea in May 2017.

Following ten rounds of DPRK ballistic missile launches since the beginning of 2017, condemned in eight UN Security Council press statements, UNSCR 2356 (2 June 2017) added new sanctions designees, followed by new US sanctions listings at the end of the month. On 4 July 2017, DPRK announced its first intercontinental ballistic missile launch. It was contested by Russia, which vetoed the proposed draft joint statement condemning the launch. Following the launch, the US announced a successful test of the THAAD anti-missile system, while South Korea proposed the re-opening of inter-Korean communication channels and a unified Korean representation at the Winter Olympic games to be held in South Korea in February 2018. DPRK conducted its second intercontinental ballistic missile test on 28 July 2017, prompting joint US-South Korean military exercises and a US push for further tightening of the UN sanctions.


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, operation of DPRK banks abroad, new foreign financial institutions activity in DPRK);
  • Commodity imports ban (aviation fuel);
  • Commodity exports ban (iron and iron ore; gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore, and rare earth elements);
  • Transportation-related prohibitions (ban on leasing or chartering of vessels and aircraft and related provision of crew services to DPRK and a ban on the use or servicing of DPRK registered or flagged vessels).
Adjustments to ongoing sanctions:
  • Proliferation sensitive goods and technology imports and exports ban expanded to new items;
  • Coal exports ban adjusted by introducing an export cap.
Newly imposed sanctions:
  • Financial sector restrictions (closure of existing representative offices, subsidiaries, or banking accounts in DPRK, prohibition of public and private financial support for trade with DPRK);
  • Commodity exports bans (copper, nickel, silver, zinc; statues);
  • 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 (import of new vessels and helicopters; procurement of vessels and aircraft services; insurance, reinsurance, and registration of DPRK vessels; and their mandatory de-registration).


Ongoing conditional restrictions:
  • Bunkering ban;
  • 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.
Adjustments to ongoing conditional restrictions:
  • Expulsion/repatriation expanded to any individual working on behalf or at a direction of DPRK bank or financial institution.
Newly imposed conditional restrictions:
  • Travel ban on DPRK state officials;
  • De-flagging, redirection, and inclusion in asset freeze of vessels related to proscribed activities and sanctions violations.

Maximum number of designees during the episode: 53 individuals and 46 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 the export of almost all prohibited commodities according to the 2018 Panel of Experts report) and showed no intention of returning to the NPT or Six-Party Talks, nor a willingness to negotiate denuclearization, transformation of its WMD program into peaceful use of atomic energy, or easing of the various sanctions measures. Instead, it reacted to perceived provocations with an acceleration of its nuclear and ballistic programs development, achieving significant milestones, including the use of a solid fuel engine and conduct of the first intercontinental ballistic missile test.

Sanctions contribution

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



Policy outcome

While sanctions increased the difficulty in procuring prohibited goods and technology and a possible fuel shortage in DPRK was reported in April 2017, DPRK continued to engage in proscribed activities, including trade in prohibited goods, and improve its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.

Sanctions contribution

UN sanctions presented the primary instruments of constraint, with attempts at increasing the level of implementation and effectiveness and greater political will among member states remaining overall insufficient according to the February 2017 Panel of Experts report. Other sanctions and threat of military use of force also played an important role in constraining DPRK’s nuclear program.



Policy outcome

Non-proliferation norm was clearly articulated in Security Council's official statements that repeatedly condemned DPRK's nuclear and missile activities; DPRK was increasingly stigmatized as an international pariah despite some Russian and Chinese calls for restraint on the part of the US.

Sanctions contribution

Sanctions remained the primary means for signaling the non-proliferation norm, as acknowledged also in public statements by the target.



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 9 September 2016 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 items, materials, equipment, goods, and technology listed in Annex III, as well as items listed in a new conventional arms dual-use list to be adopted by the Committee
  • Specifies some luxury goods subject to UNSCR 1718 luxury goods imports ban (Annex IV)
  • Decides that UNSCR 2270 ban on leasing or chartering vessels and aircrafts, or providing crew services applies unless a prior case-by-case exemption was granted by the Sanctions Committee
  • Decides that UNSCR 2270 ban on registering, using, owning, leasing, operating, certifying, servicing, or insuring DPRK vessels applies unless a prior case-by-case exemption was granted by the Sanctions Committee
  • Replaces UNSCR 2270 coal, iron, and iron core exports ban from DPRK by a new coal, iron, and iron core exports ban from DPRK and specifies exemptions for coal transported through Port of Rajin (Rason) upon prior notification and transactions exclusively for livelihood purposes not generating revenue for prohibited activities that do not exceed a total exports limit of $400,870,018 or 7,500,000 metric tons per year ($53,495,894 or 1,000,866 metric tons until the end of 2016),whichever is lower, as well as for transactions in iron and iron ore determined to be exclusively for livelihood purposes and unrelated to prohibited activities
  • Decides that Sanctions Committee may exempt on a case-by-case basis any prohibited activity
New sanctions
  • Imposes suspension of scientific and technical cooperation with individuals or groups representing or officially sponsored by DPRK and specifies exemption for medical exchanges provided they do not contribute to DPRK’s proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or ballistic missile-related programmes (specifying prior notification and case-by-case approval procedure)
  • Decides that all MS shall take steps to limit the number of bank accounts per DPRK diplomatic mission and consular posts, as well as for DPRK diplomat and consular officer, to one within their territory
  • Imposes prohibition on the use of DPRK owned or leased territory for purposes other than diplomatic and consular activities
  • Imposes ban on insurance and re-insurance of DPRK vessels and specifies case-by-case exemption for exclusively livelihood or humanitarian purposes (upon prior approval)
  • Imposes prohibition on the procurement of vessel and aircraft crewing services from the DPRK
  • Imposes de-registration for any DPRK owned, controlled, or operated vessels and prohibits its subsequent re-registration by another MS
  • Imposes an export ban on copper, nickel, silver, and zinc from DPRK
  • Imposes an export ban on statues from DPRK
  • Imposes an import ban on new helicopters and vessels to DPRK (unless approved in advance on case-by-case basis)
  • Imposes the closure of existing representative offices, subsidiaries, or banking accounts in the DPRK (within 90 days) and specifies case-by-case exemption procedure (for delivery of humanitarian assistance, activities of diplomatic missions in DPRK, UN, its specialized agencies and related organizations, or other approved purpose)
  • Imposes prohibition on public and private financial support for trade with DPRK (including granting of export credits, guarantees or insurance to individuals or entities involved in such trade) unless approved in advance on case-by-case basis
Conditional sanctions measures
  • Authorizes the Sanctions Committee to require the de-flagging, re-direction to specific port, and inclusion in an asset freeze of vessels if reasonable grounds for sanctions violations, as well as a port entry ban except for emergency, return to port of origin inspection, or at a directive of the Committee
  • Imposes travel restrictions on members of Government of DPRK, Government officials, and members of DPRK armed forces if MS determines that they are associated with the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programmes or other prohibited activities
  • Expands UNSCR 2094 and 2270 conditional expulsion and repatriation requirement to any individuals if they are working on behalf of or at a direction of a DPRK bank or financial institution and specifies exemptions for judicial process, medical, safety, humanitarian, and other pre-approved purposes
Enhanced implementation measures
  • Clarifies that personal and checked baggage of individuals entering into and departing from DPRK, as well as rail and road transportation, are subject to UNSCR 2270 mandatory cargo inspection
  • Clarifies that transit includes travel though airport terminals regardless of whether the individual passes through customs or passport controls
  • Calls on MS to periodically review its coal procurement from DPRK and directs Sanctions Committee to notify MS when they reach 75%, 90%, and 95% of the allowed annual value/volume
  • Calls upon all MS to redouble their efforts to implement sanctions measures against DPRK
  • Authorizes MS to seize and dispose of prohibited items
Recommended additional measures
  • Calls on MS to reduce the number of staff at DPRK diplomatic missions and consular posts
  • Calls on MS to exercise vigilance that no more fuel than necessary is provided to DPRK-flagged civil passenger aircrafts
  • Calls on MS to exercise vigilance over DPRK nationals sent to work abroad for the purpose of earning hard currency that DPRK uses for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes
  • Calls on MS to be alert to the risk of bulk cash being used to evade UNSC measures


  • Calls on MS reporting
  • Requires monthly MS reporting on the procured coal from DPRK (form available in Annex V)
  • Directs Sanctions Committee to make publicly available and maintain real-time information on the amount of procured coal from DPRK by MS
  • Directs PoE to determine and transmit to Sanctions Committee on a monthly basis an estimate of average $ price of coal exported from DPRK (to be used by Sanctions Committee in its calculations)



  • Extends and modifies Panel of Experts mandate (until 24.04.2018).



  • Imposes UNSCR 1718 asset freeze on new designees (Annex I and II).
  • Imposes UNSCR 1718 travel ban on new designees (Annex I).