EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Will new economic sanctions against North Korea convince it to give up its nuclear and missile capabilities? No, they won’t. The US and its allies must evaluate whether the goals of new sanctions are feasible, how effective they can be, and whether they will be fully implemented. Without analyzing these parameters, new sanctions will be just more diplomatic kabuki that fails to change North Korean policy.
Students of international relations and international political economy study the effectiveness of economic sanctions on state policies. They learn how economic sanctions can force regimes to change policy, as occurred in South Africa, Libya, and even Iran in the case of the nuclear agreement.
The logic of economic sanctions is very simple. The high cost of sanctions on a state will convince its regime to change policy, as the price tag of maintaining its policy is too high. In some cases, the cost of sanctions might be increased to convince a regime to hasten a change in policy.
While in the South African, Libyan, and Iranian cases, sanctions did lead to a decline in the states’ GDPs and subsequent policy changes, in the North Korean case, Pyongyang has not changed its nuclear and missile policies. According to new data, the North Korean economy has in fact developed over the past few months despite international economic sanctions.
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