If the United Nations Security Council accepts the United States' formal request, it could vote on Monday to impose the severest sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in response to its intensified nuclear program, especially its sixth nuclear test on Sept 3.
But even if the Security Council accedes to Washington’s request and temporarily quell the international community’s concerns over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests, it may not succeed in defusing the tensions on the Korean Peninsula which, given the rising war rhetoric between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea, risks spinning out of control and triggering a conflict. And a war, even on a limited scale, could have devastating consequences for not just the DPRK and the ROK, but the region as whole.
Some of the countries demanding tougher sanctions might want to believe they will thwart the DPRK's pursuit of nuclear weapons, but Pyongyang has repeatedly proved those optimists wrong by conducting more nuclear and missile tests. Essentially, the previous UN sanctions against Pyongyang have been ineffective.
On the other hand, dialogue and negotiation helped break the Iranian nuclear impasse in 2015. And ultimately, Washington and Teheran — the opposing parties — had to hold talks to “settle” the issue. Similarly, the peninsula issue can be resolved only when the US and the DPRK — the main rivals — agree to hold dialogue.
However, if Washington continues to believe tougher sanctions will force Pyongyang to back down and abandon its nuclear program, the crisis will likely drag on. And if this worst-case scenario comes true, the world will have to live with a nuclear-capable DPRK.
Since the beginning of the peninsula crisis, China has been saying a war should not be an option to resolve it but at the same time the Korean Peninsula should not be allowed to plunge into chaos. It has, along with Russia, also proposed “dual suspension”, calling for a freeze on DPRK’s nuclear and missile tests in exchange for the suspension of US-ROK military drills, which is the best way to immediately defuse the tensions.
Only dialogue can give all the parties the opportunity to have their grievances and objections heard, and create a platform to address them and build a consensus on how to peacefully settle the peninsula issue.