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.
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The real point of strengthened sanctions, says Han Sung-joo, who has served as South Korea's foreign minister and ambassador to the US, is “they can trace their financial transactions more rigorously” and “they’re going to be hurt by going after financial transactions,” especially when it comes to arms sales and import of badly needed components needed for weapons systems, missiles, and nukes.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Inside North Korea: more circus than bread
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North Korean rage over US sanctions – on top of increased military exercises with South Korea in the wake of the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in March – is sure to increase as North Korea’s shaky financial system feels the impact. The North on Sunday again promised “sacred war based on nuclear deterrent” in retaliation for the exercises.
Different from Banco Delta Asia affair
The strengthened sanctions are potentially stronger than those imposed several years ago after Banco Delta Asia in Macao was revealed as a major conduit for sale of North Korean arms, narcotics, and tobacco as well as counterfeit 100-dollar “supernotes.” The US lifted those sanctions, and arranged the transfer of $24 million in frozen funds from the bank to North Korea, as a prelude to negotiations that culminated in agreements in 2007 for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.
Their real effectiveness, he says, is “how much pressure the US will exert” on foreign banks to refuse to deal with North Korean funds. The US cannot order them but can force compliance by banning their dealing inside the US or with US institutions anywhere.
North Korea “made a fuss about Banco Delta Asia,” says Kim Bum-soo, a scholar on international relations and editor of an influential conservative magazine. “This time they are targeting more.” One result, he predicts, is that Kim Jong-il “won’t have enough cash to satisfy his subordinates, for buying gifts for them.”
Former foreign minister Han Sung-joo questions, though, whether stopping luxury goods will have a great impact. “If they can’t buy cognac, what’s the big deal?”
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