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Fresh North Korea sanctions aim to cripple regime's arms sales profits

New North Korea sanctions will target the banking sector in order to curtail the purchase and sale of weapons. The US-imposed sanctions also aim to stop the import of luxury goods for the elite surrounding leader Kim Jong-il.

By Donald KirkCorrespondent / August 2, 2010

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (c.) visits the newly built Jangjasan Combined Foodstuff Factory in Kanggye in Jagang Province in this picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency August 1. KCNA did not state when the picture was taken. Korean characters in background read,"Jagang Province is the place where there are many indigenous products. Kim Jong-il."

Reuters/KCNA

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Seoul, South Korea

The top US envoy on arms control promised Monday that new North Korea sanctions would make it much harder for Kim Jong-il's government to import military supplies and to profit from arms sales.

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Robert Einhorn, whose title is special adviser on proliferation and arms control at the State Department, said the strengthened measures were to keep North Korea from getting funds for its nuclear and missile programs and also to stop the import of luxury goods for the elite surrounding North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

North Korea is earning “hundreds of millions of dollars in hard currency annually” from exports of illicit goods, ranging from missiles to narcotics, and much of the money supports its “nuclear or military programs” as well as “luxury goods purchases,” he said, after discussing the latest US actions with South Korean officials in the capital.

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Mr. Einhorn’s visit to Seoul infused a certain degree of confidence here that Washington is determined to add teeth to sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council last year. Those UN sanctions had come in response to North Korea's testing of a nuclear device for the second time on May 25, 2010. Analysts have long believed that North Korea was circumventing those sanctions as a result of lax controls by contacts in China, its only major ally, as well as Russia and other countries.

Targeting the banks

The new sanctions are expected to go into effect in several weeks. While the list of targeted companies is yet to be made public, the sanctions are expected to impose harsh penalties on any financial institutions and other companies through which North Korea’s top officials have been depositing huge sums over the years from foreign arms sales, including missiles exported to clients in the Middle East.

“They may make it more difficult to make transactions through foreign banks,” says Ha Tae-keung, director of Open Radio for North Korea, which broadcasts news into North Korea that often comes from sources inside the North. “Basically, they’re targeting weapons of mass destruction. Luxury goods are minor.”

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