The recent seizure of 35 tons of North Korean-made weapons by the Thai government is being hailed as a victory for United Nations sanctions.
But the confiscation of this arms cache will be meaningless if the international community fails to impose consequences on North Korea and other parties involved for violating U.N. prohibitions. Moreover, the international community must maintain pressure on Pyongyang through continued sanctions enforcement.
Thai authorities searched and seized the contents of a cargo plane during a refueling stop in Bangkok under the auspices of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874.
UNSCR 1874, passed earlier this year in response to North Korea's second nuclear test, expands upon the prohibitions contained in UNSCR 1718, passed in 2006 after North Korea's first nuclear test. UNSCR 1874 obliges states to inspect transiting cargo suspected of violating its prohibitions.
The weapons seizure is a positive development in the international effort to combat North Korean proliferation activities. The Thai government has been appropriately lauded for undertaking this action, particularly when states, such as China and Russia, continue to pay lip service to sanctions enforcement.
North Korea generates nearly $1 billion a year in hard currency through illicit conventional arms sales. Any successful effort to disrupt this important regime revenue stream is significant.
The seizure of the arms cache came on the heels of a visit to Pyongyang by U.S. President Barack Obama's special representative for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, to persuade the regime to return to the six-party talks.