By Lexi Rubow, Assistant Contributor
On Thursday, March 7th the UN Security Council tightened sanctions on North Korea’s trade, banking and travel. The resolution, proposed by China and the US, reveals a change in position from China, which is typically protective of North Korea, following North Korea’s nuclear test on February 12, 2013. The March 7th sanctions expanded the current trade sanctions from items related to nuclear programs to also include luxury goods and dictated more strict means of enforcement. Additionally, the UN resolution involved a travel ban and asset freeze of people and companies involved in the arms trade. The UN Security Council urged North Korea to revoke its withdrawal from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
In response to the resolution, North Korea has threatened to end armistice with South Korea on March 11th and has threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Given North Korea’s past behavior, it is difficult to determine whether this latest round of threats is a “bluff.” If even it is technologically feasible for North Korea, a nuclear attack—especially on the US—would be suicidal. On the other hand, in the past North Korea’s rhetoric has resulted in targeted attacks on South Korea, such as the attack on the warship Cheonan that left 46 South Korean soldiers dead in 2010. Because the US has security alliances with both Japan and South Korea, attacks on either country may mean US involvement, even if North Korea does not directly attack the US. Potentially reversing its stance once more, China is currently urging for communication between the parties, to avoid further escalation.