Seoul to slap own sanctions on Pyongyang

March 7, 2016

By Rachel Lee

Seoul will this week announce a set of sanctions to be independently issued against North Korea, following the adoption of a tougher U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolution on the recalcitrant country, officials said Sunday.

The measures will include a ban on vessels entering ports in South Korea from third-party countries that have traveled through the North and sanctions on more institutions and personnel related to the North’s development of weapons of mass destruction in addition to those blacklisted by the U.N.

“Those blacklisted by the U.N. Security Council are also subject to the government’s sanctions as well,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

The resolution included a blacklisting of 12 additional North Korean institutions and 16 persons along with the new sanctions, which were adopted on Wednesday to punish North Korea for conducting its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and long-range missile launch on Feb. 7.

South Korea may also scrap a joint logistics project involving the two Koreas and Russia, intended to transport bituminous coal produced in western Siberia to South Korean ports through the North’s port city of Rajin and Russia’s border town of Khasan.

The announcement will be made by the Prime Minister’s Office early this week, said the official.

The South’s most effective sanction issued against Pyongyang is a ban on North Korean vessels entering ports in the South following the North’s sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010.

President Park Geun-hye said last week that the government will use all its cards to pressure the North toward abandoning its nuclear program.

Seoul suspended operation of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, an inter-Korean industrial park, in response to the North’s nuclear test and rocket launch.

Since the adoption of the UNSC resolution, North Korea has renamed one third of the 31 U.N.-blacklisted vessels in a bid to disguise their origin.

The crew of a North Korean cargo ship, Jin Teng, impounded Friday by the Philippines under tough new sanctions, claimed that Sierra Leone was its country of origin. It is one of 31 ships operated by the North Korean firm Ocean Maritime Management.

The ship has been docked at Subic port, northeast of Manila, and will not be allowed to leave port, according to Philippine deputy presidential spokesman Manolo Quezon. The crew is to be deported.

A U.N. team is expected to inspect the vessel. The Jin Teng arrived in the Philippines from Palembang, Indonesia, Thursday afternoon.

The sanctions require mandatory inspections of all cargo going in and out of North Korea and a ban on exports of natural resources such as coal and iron. It also bans access to ports for vessels carrying illicit items.

Two other North Korean ships flying the flags of Tanzania and Cambodia in an effort to disguise their place of origin were also identified Saturday in waters off the coasts of Russia and China. Both nations have friendly relations with Pyongyang.

The United States, Japan and the European Union (EU) have ratcheted up their own punitive measures against Pyongyang.

The U.S. Congress has already passed legislation to step up its sanctions, including terms for a “secondary boycott,” which refers to punishment for individuals and organizations of third countries which do business with North Korea in violation of the sanctions.

Washington has blacklisted North Korea’s National Defense Commission and four other organizations as well as 11 key figures.

The Japanese government also approved new sanctions last month, including a complete ban on North Korean ships visiting Japanese ports as well as vessels from third-party countries that have been to the North.

The EU announced Friday that it is adding 12 commercial entities and 16 North Korean individuals to its own blacklist. The sanctions also contain all measures included in the UNSC resolution.