Seoul unveils unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang

Seoul, March 8 (IANS) South Korea on Tuesday unveiled a package of new unilateral sanctions on North Korea over its latest nuclear test and rocket launch following the shutdown of a once-jointly-run factory park with Pyongyang.

The stand-alone sanctions included a ban on third-country ships having stayed in North Korea within 180 days from entering South Korean ports, Xinhua cited office for government policy coordination which served as a control tower for the unilateral measures jointly drawn up by foreign, unification and maritime ministries, as saying.

The entry ban will be applied to foreign-flag ships owned by North Korea.

Seoul added 30 entities and 40 individuals of Pyongyang to the blacklist suspected of having been involved in North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction development.

The blacklisted entities and individuals will be subject to restrictions on foreign exchange and financial transactions with South Korean counterparts and the freezing of their assets in the country.

Restrictions on indirect exports and imports of North Korean products into South Korea will be strengthened, and Seoul will be advised to refrain from visiting Pyongyang-run restaurants in overseas to block its foreign currency resources used for nuclear and missile development.

South Korea reportedly suspended a trilateral logistics project between the two Koreas and Russia.

The entry ban on foreign-flag vessels having docked in North Korea was seen as one of the toughest remaining options South Korea can choose, given that Seoul has already put in place an array of sanctions over the sinking in March 2010 of a South Korean navy corvette that killed 46 sailors.

The sinking, which South Korea claimed was caused by a North Korean torpedo attack, led Seoul to impose unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang in 2010, known as “May 24 measures”.

The measures include the prohibition of North Korean vessels from entering South Korean ports or sailing through its territorial waters. Pyongyang has denied any involvement in the incident.

The May 24 measures banned inter-Korean trade except at the Kaesong industrial complex, but South Korea announced its decision to close down the last remaining cooperation project with North Korea on February 10, three days after Pyongyang’s launch of a long-range rocket, which was condemned by outsiders as a disguised test of ballistic missile technology.

North Korea started off a new year with the test of what it claimed was its first hydrogen bomb on January 6, the fourth of its nuclear detonations that brought about a series of bilateral and multilateral sanctions.

President Park Geun-hye said South Korea would create an environment in which North Korea realises that it can not survive with nuclear weapons and has no choice but to change.

On March 2, UN Security Council unanimously approved a new harsher resolution, including mandatory inspection of all cargo heading to and from North Korea and a ban on exports of coal and mineral resources, to punish Pyongyang for its latest nuclear test and rocket launch.

Two days later, the European Union added 12 entities and 16 individuals to its list of sanctions targets subject to travel bans and asset freezes while promising to implement all sanctions newly adopted by the UN Security Council.

New US sanctions, which came into force on February 19 with a bipartisan support from the house and senate, allowed for sanctions on entities and individuals found to have contributed to Pyongyang’s weapons programme and to have been involved in mineral trade with North Korea.

On February 10, Japan imposed its independent sanctions on Pyongyang, banning all North Korean vessels and third-country ships with records of dropping by the country from accessing Japanese ports.

Tokyo also prohibited North Korean nationals from travelling to the archipelago.

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