By: Tara Sturtevant, Pace International Law Review, Case Note & Comment Editor
North Korea has long had the capability to create a nuclear explosion. However, the technology required to carry, guide and deliver a nuclear weapon has yet to be realized by the communist nation. Nevertheless, the prospect for such nuclear advancement grows closer every day, while the world prepares for more tension and resistance from Kim Jong-il’s North Korea.
After conducting their second nuclear test on May 25, 2009 and a number of short-range missile tests, North Korea seems to have pushed their most important ally, China, away. China is North Korea’s primary trade partner. They are a major resource for the disgruntled country, and with their cooperation in sanctioning North Korea, the country may now feel the pressure to end their nuclear aspirations. Furthermore, Jong-il has renounced the armistice between North and South Korea that led to the end of the Korean War on July 27, 1953. The prospect of a nuclear war with South Korea places fear in the hearts of China, Russia, Japan, the United States and the rest of the civilized world. Moreover, the country’s recent resistance to China’s diplomacy and mediation has been considered an act of disrespect, which seemed to place China over the edge, leading to their involvement in U.N. Resolution 1834.
The United Nations passed Resolution 1834 which condemned the recent missile tests and directed North Korea to abandon any nuclear progress. The resolution further calls for inspection of any ships or cargo leaving or entering North Korea. China, the largest communist power, has managed to remain an ally of North Korea. However, the world continues to ask that China place the amount of pressure necessary to persuade North Korea to discontinue their nuclear program. China, North Korea’s last ally, and Russia have acquiesced to the toughest U.N. resolution passed thus far against North Korea. China and Russia cannot risk the destabilization of North Korea because of the harm it would have on their border regulation. Another shared concern among them is a future unified Korea, which would mean a strong U.S. ally on their borders. Russia and China hope to place enough financial pressure on Jong-il before diplomatic solutions fail.
Additionally, the United States anticipates another missile test headed toward Hawaii in the near future. As a result, U.S. ships are waiting to respond to such an act in the Pacific. Diplomacy is being tested from every angle while North Korea has threatened that an inspection of any of their ships will be “considered an act of war.” The negotiations between North Korea and the world, often mediated by China, have all failed to reach any agreement and tensions are rising as the days pass. The world waits to discover the outcome of Resolution 1834. However, skepticism as to the Resolution’s effectiveness remains as North Korea has endured numerous sanctions and embargoes over the last 20 years without budging from their nuclear aspirations.