November 29, 2023

In fight over COVID-19 aid to North Korea, sanctions relief now seems inevitable

Calls for economic pressure to continue will be difficult to maintain should the situation in the DPRK worsen

Pyongyang continues to insist, dubious as its claims are, that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its borders. This has nevertheless not kept discussions over the pandemic separate from questions over sanctions relief for the DPRK

While U.S. policymakers appear concerned about ordinary North Koreans’ access to critical care and supplies, the current public health crisis, rather than prompting collaboration between erstwhile competitors, has thrown into sharp relief the fundamental differences between Washington on the one hand, and the DPRK’s powerful partners China and Russia over sanctions policy vis-à-vis North Korea.