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Research Paper
Politics of UNSC Sanctions: The Issue of Nuclear Weapons Development
Prashant Hosur

Iran and North Korea’s quest to become nuclear weapons states has led to some international turmoil over the last few years. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has imposed sanctions on Iran and North Korea as a reaction to their alleged development of a nuclear weapons programme. The actions of the UNSC are in accordance with Chapter VII, Article 41, of the United Nations Charter that says that the UNSC could take non military measures to tackle situations that pose a threat to peace.   However, it also raises an important question: Why did the UNSC impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea for developing nuclear weapons technology, but did not impose sanctions on India and Pakistan for developing and testing nuclear weapons?   

While individual countries like the United States imposed sanctions on India and Pakistan (as per the Glenn amendment, Section 826-a of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act of 1994)   the UNSC did not impose any sanctions on India and Pakistan after they conducted nuclear tests in 1998. All that the UNSC did was to publicly condemn the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan.

This issue has relevance for policy analysis and theory. A debate still exists on whether sanctions are a useful tool of statecraft or not? And why and when sanctions are generally used. These are theoretical issues that are relevant to this paper as well. This topic is of importance for policy analysis.

Policy analysts must understand when sanctions are most likely imposed by the sender country on the target county. This will help policy analysts and states to evaluate their bargaining power when sanctions are used. It would also help policy analysts in understanding how the UNSC acts and thus help in charting out a behavioral pattern for the UNSC which will be useful for states in developing policies.

The cases that have been chosen are India, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. These are all countries that are at different stages of their strategic nuclear programmes. India and Pakistan have a declared and tested nuclear weapons programme. The nuclear arsenals of India and Pakistan have been growing. North Korea has also conducted a nuclear test. Iran has been accused of developing strategic nuclear technology. But the Iranian programme is still in its initial stages and Iran does not have a nuclear device that can be tested as yet. These four cases will be compared by having the independent variables (discussed later) as the parameter. 


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