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Seoul piles on more sanctions

Second set since Moon took office tries to cut funding to the North
Dec 11,2017
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry announced Sunday additional unilateral sanctions on North Korea to cut off transactions used to finance the North’s missiles and nuclear program.

“The South Korean government hereby additionally sanctions 20 North Korean organizations and 12 North Koreans to cut off all financial transactions connected to the development of the North’s weapons of mass destruction [WMD] and ballistic missile programs,” said the South Korean Foreign Ministry in a statement Sunday.

“The sanctions are an act of strong resistance against the North’s provocations and they go into effect from Monday.”

Pyongyang has conducted 11 missile tests since South Korean President Moon Jae-in was inaugurated last May and conducted the country’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3.

The companies include Rason International Commercial Bank, Agricultural Development Bank, Cheil Credit Bank, International Industrial Bank, Koryo Commercial Bank, Korea Daebong Shipping Company and Yusong Shipping Company.

The individuals include Kim Su-kwang, a North Korean intelligence agent based in Belarus; Kim Kyong-Hyok, a First Credit Bank representative in Shanghai; Pak Chol-nam, a First Credit Bank representative in Beijing; Ri Ho-nam, a Ryugyong Commercial Bank representative in Beijing; and Ji Sang-jun, an official of Korea Kumgang Group Bank in Moscow.

The Foreign Ministry said that the sanctioned organizations and individuals have been “involved in financial transactions for the North’s WMD program or transactions of items forbidden to be traded with the North.”

All of the organizations and individuals have been listed in sanctions by the U.S. Department of Treasury before but not in the latest UN Security Council sanctions against the North, the ministry said.

“The sanctioned individuals and organizations will be forbidden from making financial or asset transactions with South Korean institutes,” said a Foreign Ministry official. “There is no plan yet to place secondary sanctions on institutes or individuals engaged in transactions with the sanctioned, though.

“This additional set of sanctions is more of a reminder to Korean and international companies and organizations to not engage in financial transactions with the North related to its WMD programs,” the official added, “and to send a signal that this move by the South Korean government is in line with the U.S. government’s.”

The sanctions follow Seoul’s first unilateral sanctions on the North since President Moon took office, which were announced in November. A total of 18 individuals were listed at the time, all North Korean nationals who work abroad and among a group of 26 whom the U.S. Treasury Department added to its unilateral sanctions on Sept. 26.

The UN Security Council in New York on Sept. 11 unanimously adopted a sanctions resolution following the North’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3, which aimed to cut off revenue for North Korea’s nuclear and missile program.

UNSC Resolution 2375 banned some North Korean textile exports, all condensates and natural gas liquids to the country and capped crude oil and refined petroleum products to the country, while barring authorization of new work permits for North Korean workers.

Following the resolution’s announcement, China ordered all North Korean companies operating in the country to close down.

In November, U.S. President Donald Trump relisted North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism for the first time since 2008, and said additional sanctions on North Korea will be revealed over the next few weeks, which would lead to “the highest level of sanctions.”

The U.S. Department of Treasury in November also sanctioned one Chinese individual, 13 entities and 20 North Korea-flagged vessels accused of illicitly funding Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]