The international community’s diplomatic prowess is about to be tested with the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions against North Korea now firmly in place.

Following Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3, the UNSC unanimously adopted a resolution to step up sanctions against the rogue dictatorship.

This action, taken less than 10 days after the nuclear test, was unprecedentedly swift. We welcome the international community’s display of its firm and stern resolve to adopt the stricter-than-ever sanctions.

However, the resolution was concessionary compared to the “strongest measures” initially pushed by the United States. The adopted version eliminated the U.S.-proposed ban on all oil imports, an asset freeze on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s overseas holdings and a travel ban against Kim.

Still, the resolution caps North Korea’s crude oil imports and bans North Korean textile exports, the nation’s trunk industry. As well, North Korea will no longer be able to send new contingents of workers overseas, which will deprive the nation of a precious revenue source.

With North Korean coal and ore exports already banned under the U.N. resolution adopted last month, the nation is certainly being hit hard.

The fact that the latest sanctions stopped short of completely strangling the North Korean economy should be understood as the international community’s final warning to the Kim regime.

North Korea has no choice but to refrain from further acts of provocation if it does not want leader Kim being censured by name.

Pyongyang came extremely close to facing “the strongest measures” that would have created a state of near-war. The Kim regime must truly understand the gravity of the situation.

The latest U.N. resolution is the ninth since North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. Why has this pattern of provocation and sanctions been repeated for all these years?

The nations concerned--Japan, the United States, South Korea, China and Russia--need to re-examine how they dealt with the past sanctions.

Loopholes in economic sanctions have repeatedly been pointed out. There is really no point in slapping sanctions unless they are enforced to the fullest extent.

Another very important point that must be recognized is the insufficiency of political actions to engage Pyongyang in dialogue after applying international pressure through sanctions. The nations concerned should humbly admit their past inadequacies.

Distorted as the Kim regime is, the nation falling into a dire economic hardship will not immediately jeopardize the regime. Amid North Korea’s food shortage and fiscal problems, the United States remains the ultimate threat to the regime, and Pyongyang is extremely cautious when it comes to bargaining with Washington.

To force the Kim regime to mend its ways, there is no other way but to step up sanctions. But at the same time, every nation concerned should keep negotiating with North Korea through every available channel, overtly or behind the scenes, with the goal of bringing about real dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.

The unusual speed with which the latest UNSC sanctions were adopted owed to the unanimous wish of members to avert a military upheaval on the Korean Peninsula at all costs.

The international community must seize this momentum to start working harder on the diplomatic front to make North Korea consider the value of diplomatic negotiations.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 13