Negotiators at the six-party talks aimed at scrapping North Korea’s nuclear weapons program join hands together in Beijing on Feb. 13. The participating nations agreed to a denuclearization-for-assistance pact under which the North is required to shut down its main nuclear reactor in Yongbyon in return for political and economic concession. The book argues that only the normalization of economic relations between the U.S. and North Korea can prevent the nuclear ambitions of North Korea. / Korea Times file photo
By Lee Hwan-hee
A timely new book about economic sanctions against North Korea has just been published by the McFarland & Company in the U.S. The book, titled "Economic Sanctions Against a Nuclear North Korea," is edited by Chang Se-moon, a columnist for The Korea Times and a professor of economics at the University of South Alabama, and Kim Suk-hi, the editor of the North Korean Review and a professor of international finance at the University of Detroit Mercy.
The first two chapters by Kim and Chang, respectively, provide background information on the book's topic, as they examine the history and ideology of North Korea, the nation's history of nuclear weapons development, and a chronology of U.S. economic sanctions against North Korea since 1950. Chapter 3 by Chang examines the history of U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba, as a point of comparison.
Chapter 4 by Michael Whitty, Kim, and Trevor Crick analyzes economic sanctions the U.S. has imposed against countries such as Cuba, Afghanistan, Iraq, and North Korea, in terms of their effectiveness. The intention behind such sanctions is either to provoke the masses to rebel, or make the countries comply with the demands. Yet none of the sanctions has achieved its intended purpose.
The authors argue that the failures are caused by the fact that rogue regimes are not responsive to whatever hardships that their citizens might experience, and the sanctions often undercut the internal challenges to the regime, because they are seen as challenges to the collective national identity, not to the particular regimes.
Chapter 5 by Kim explains why the U. S. and its allies have imposed increasingly tougher sanctions against North Korea in recent years and questions whether these sanctions would work, for the similar reasons explained in the previous chapter. Kim believes neither South Korea nor China, with whom North Korea can expand its trade, has the intention to crack down on North Korea for being a security threat, given that its demise would mean an influx of refugees, which will affect the economies of both countries negatively.
Chapter 6 by Thomas T. Park, Bernhard Seliger, and Kim Hyung-suk reviews North Korean famine, South Korean humanitarian assistance, and the charitable activities of non-governmental organizations in North Korea.
Chapter 7 by Kim Suk-hi explains why Confucianism and the "juche'' ideology may prolong North Korea's survival in spite of the widespread assumption that it will collapse in due time. The final two chapters of the book examine the impact of sanctions on North Korean trade and discuss implications of the Denuclearizaiton Agreement of 2007.
The main issue presented in the book is not whether North Korea deserves the lifting of all the sanctions imposed against the country since 1950, but how to bring about a peaceful resolution of pending security and humanitarian issues without military confrontation. The book proposes that should the U.S. offer concessions in easing the existing sanctions, it will result in verifiable elimination of North Korea's nuclear programs.
The authors of the book concede that there is no guarantee as to whether the offer will succeed in North Korea's giving up its nuclear programs. But they argue that because of the nation's political isolation and economic stagnation, further economic sanctions against North Korea only give its authorities an excuse to develop weapons of mass destruction, though mainly in order to win the world's attention and aid.