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The (Non) Impact of UN Sanctions on North Korea


  • Marcus Noland

    () (Peterson Institute for International Economics)


This study finds that North Korea's nuclear test and the imposition of UN Security Council sanctions have had no perceptible effect on North Korea's trade with its two largest partners, China and South Korea. Before North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test, it was widely believed that such an event would have cataclysmic diplomatic ramifications. However, beginning with visual inspection of data and ending with time-series models, no evidence is found to support the notion that these events have had any effect on North Korea's trade with its two principal partners. In retrospect, North Korea may have calculated quite correctly that the direct penalties for establishing itself as a nuclear power would be modest (or, alternatively, put such a high value on demonstrating its nuclear capability that it outweighed the downside risks, however large). If sanctions are to deter behavior in the future, they will have to be much more enthusiastically implemented.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcus Noland, 2008. "The (Non) Impact of UN Sanctions on North Korea," Working Paper Series WP08-12, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp08-12

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Habib, Benjamin, 2010. "Rogue proliferator? North Korea's nuclear fuel cycle & its relationship to regime perpetuation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 2826-2834, June.

    More about this item


    Sanctions; North Korea; Nuclear; United Nations; Trade equations;

    JEL classification:

    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • P2 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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