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The lowdown on sanctions

North Korea has detonated a nuclear device. Now the world ponders how to "deal" with the issue. Sanctions against North Korea are said to be under active consideration. But what are sanctions, how do they work and are they effective?

The Independent has attempted to answer the critical questions starting off with what sanctions actually means:

"In essence, they are economic embargoes covering a variable selection of goods and/or services applied by one country or group of countries against another, aimed at influencing the latter's behaviour.

They are as old as history; some say the first recorded instance was in 432 BC when Athens imposed punitive trade sanctions on Megara, ally of Athens' great rival Sparta. (Alas, the move helped provoke the Peloponnesian war, that would lead to the destruction of Athens as a major power.)

Sanctions are a middle option in the toolkit of international relations. They are more severe than a mere diplomatic rebuke, but stop short of the ultimate step of military force."

The answers to the questions posed earlier about sanctions can be found here in The Independent's piece.

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