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U.N. could fuel North Korea’s propaganda machine

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Seven years of U.N. sanctions against North Korea have done nothing to derail Pyongyang's drive for a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States. They may have even bolstered the Kim family by giving their propaganda maestros ammunition to whip up anti-U.S. sentiment and direct attention away from government failures.

In the wake of fresh U.N. sanctions leveled at North Korea on Thursday for its latest nuclear test, the question is: Will this time be different?

Since 2006, North Korea has launched long-range rockets, tested a variety of missiles and conducted three underground nuclear explosions, the most recent on Feb. 12. Through it all, Pyongyang was undeterred by a raft of sanctions — both multilateral penalties from the United Nations and national sanctions from Washington, Tokyo and others — meant to punish the government and sidetrack its nuclear ambitions.

A problem with the approach, analysts said, is that outsiders routinely underestimate North Korea's knack for survival. The sanctions are intended to make life more difficult for a country that has crushing poverty, once suffered through a devastating famine and lost its Soviet backers long ago, but Pyongyang often manages to find some advantage.

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