Korea Focus - Briefing No. 04
Strictly enforcing sanctions without closing the door: France’s position on international sanctions against the DPRK
As a responsible permanent member of the UN Security Council and a nuclear-weapon state recognized by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), France plays a key role within the European Union on the North Korean nuclear and ballistic issue. Although it has no diplomatic relations and limited relations with Pyongyang, France is the main EU member state to draft the resolutions of the Council of the European Union on the issue, and therefore to propose not only sectoral sanctions, but also sanctions targeting North Korean companies and individuals. Regarding sanctions, Paris‘s position is clear: the international legal framework must be strictly implemented, and therefore UNSC and European resolutions must be strictly enforced, including sanctions. Yet, despite its image of intransigence, France remains open to a partial lifting of sanctions in the event North Korea would take concrete and verifiable steps towards its denuclearization. The debate in Paris is therefore not whether sanctions should be lifted during and at the end of a denuclearization process, but what steps are expected from North Korea before lifting some of the sanctions.
This short article will first contextualize French-North Korean relations, then analyze France‘s position regarding international and European sanctions targeting North Korea‘s nuclear and ballistic missile program, and conclude on the possible room for cooperation between France and South Korea on this issue. This article is based on official statements by the French government and academic and press articles, as well as a series of interviews conducted with French officials, diplomats and military personnel between March and June 2020.