In 1985, North Korea (DPRK) signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which meant three things: non-proliferation, disarmament, and the right to peacefully use nuclear technology (source). Despite this, the western powers suspected the country to be producing weapons-grade Plutonium. Only two solutions exist: war and diplomacy. The Korean War didn’t solve the problem, and nobody wants to fight a war now (see this post). Diplomacy will not solve the problem either. North Korea will not stop their nuclear weapons development.
After years of diplomacy, the DPRK still continues to develop nuclear weapons (source). The country even develops long range missiles that many fear will one day be nuclear missiles. Yes, the UN wishes North Korea to halt their nuclear ambition, but even after so much foreign aid given to them in exchange for them to stop, nothing has changed. North Korea agrees to halt their nuclear program, and then some time later they start again.
In 1994, as a part of the Agreed Framework, an agreement between North Korea and the United States, North Korea agreed to halt their production of plutonium in exchange for the construction of nuclear power reactors, oil, and economic support. However, in 2002, because of construction delays in the construction of the power reactors, North Korea argues that the United States violated the agreement. In December of 2002, North Korea pledges to reactivate its nuclear facilities. In February, they announced that they reactivated their nuclear facilities, and in April they withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The accusation from North Korea shows that they had no intention to stop. They looked for a reason to start their nuclear program back up again, and they found one.
North Korea continues to perform nuclear tests (one in 2006 and one in 2009). Although the international community condemns this nuclear test and tightened sanctions on the country, the DPRK continues its nuclear program.
Sanctions on the country do little to stop their nuclear program. The sanctions simply prevent the country’s economic growth. Sanctions hurt their citizens by preventing economic aid being sent into the country, and it’s no secret that poverty is rampant in North Korea.
As long as North Korea continues in its current course, the sanctions will stay. Diplomacy can help alleviate this, but only if an agreement can be reached. Six-party talks continue, with no favourable result. This has gone on since the late 80’s/early 90’s. It’s clear that North Korea has absolutely no intention to halt their nuclear ambition. All people can do now wonder at what their next step will be.