Here are six questions and answers addressing why North Korea has festered as an international crisis for more than a half-century.
Q: Who are North Korea's rulers?
A: North Korea, an impoverished country of 25 million, was founded by the revolutionary leader Kim Il Sung in the aftermath of World War II. With the Korean Peninsula divided, he sought to reunify it, with China's help, by military means, which led to the 1950-53 war with South Korea and the United States. The war never officially ended, and the North has been ruled by the Kim family under a dynastic dictatorship ever since. Kim Jong Un, the founder's 33-year-old grandson who has been the leader since 2011, has demanded an end to what he calls U.S. military threats and wants a formal peace treaty that guarantees North Korea's security.
Q: Why is Kim Jong Un, who presides over one of the most isolated and repressive countries, building nuclear weapons and missiles that could presumably carry them?
A: Nobody but Kim and his underlings know. Kim barely communicates with foreign leaders, including those of China, which remains his most important ally despite increased tensions. The prevailing theories assert that Kim, feeling threatened and paranoid, regards nuclear weapons as the only effective deterrent to all outside enemies, especially the United States.
Q: What have the U.S. and other powers done to counter the perceived North Korean threat?
A: The Security Council has adopted four resolutions since 2006 imposing increasingly onerous sanctions on North Korea, including severe limits on weapons trade, banking and other financial transactions. The U.S., which has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, has imposed its own sanctions that expand on those approved by the Security Council. The U.S. and South Korea also hold joint military exercises that infuriate the North.
Q: Why haven't these sanctions worked, and what will the impending resolution do?
A: While Security Council resolutions have the force of international law, they rely on member compliance to enforce them. The previous resolutions - one in 2006, one in 2009 and two in 2013 - did not threaten any critical North Korea enterprises, and contained loopholes that enabled the country to preserve its nuclear and missile capabilities. The new resolution, drafted by the U.S. and China, would ban trade in conventional weapons and aviation fuel, and for the first time would require foreign inspections of all cargo in and out of North Korea to check for contraband.
Q: China could easily apply more economic pressure on North Korea. Why doesn't it?
A: The Chinese, who historically regarded North Koreans as wartime brethren closer than "lips and teeth," have grown increasingly exasperated with Kim. But China still regards North Korea as a vital strategic neighbor that cannot be destabilized. China has made clear that it will not impose any kind of economic punishment on North Korea that could fatally weaken the government, cause chaos and send millions of North Koreans streaming across the border.
Q: What are the risks if the latest resolution fails to persuade North Korea?
A: North Korea does not want to be seen as capitulating to threats, and some analysts see more defiance ahead, including further testing of nuclear weapons and rockets. China also is facing a quandary because South Korea may now deploy a U.S. anti-missile defense system in response. The Chinese have expressed strong objections to that possibility, which would place advanced U.S. military weaponry on China's doorstep.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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