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(LEAD) Seoul, Washington, Tokyo to synchronize standalone sanctions on N.K.: foreign minister

2016/12/01 16:22

(ATTN: ADDS more details in para 2, 8-10)

SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea, the United States and Japan are preparing to announce their own sanctions on North Korea at the same time in a joint action to maximize their impact to the communist country, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said Thursday.

"Basically, (the three countries' independent sanctions) will be announced concurrently or at a very similar time," Yun told Yonhap News Agency, referring to the nations' follow-up measures to the United Nations Security Council's adoption of Resolution 2321. South Korea is set to unveil its own set of new sanctions on Friday.

The resolution slapped on a new package of sanctions, mainly targeting the North's lucrative coal exports, in response to its fifth and biggest nuclear test on Sept. 9.

"It's hard to pinpoint the exact timing (of the announcement) since each country should follow internal procedures, but the focus is on driving (the sanctions) in a way that amplifies the effects," Yun noted.

Bilateral sanctions prepared by the U.S. side may be strong enough to hurt North Korea more than the recent UNSC resolution, he also noted.

The foreign minister hailed the latest U.N. action as "the most powerful and comprehensive sanctions in the history of sanctions on North Korea."

   The resolution newly mentioned the possibility of suspending the rights and privileges of U.N. member states, a new element in the push to isolate North Korea diplomatically, he assessed.

Foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said later the three countries have been coordinating the texts and the timing of their individual sanctions since September.

"The timing of the announcement has also been discussed in a way that maximizes synergy," Cho said. "Our government plans to announce it tomorrow and the U.S. and Japan may follow suit almost at the same time."

   The top nuclear negotiators from Seoul, Washington and Tokyo also plan to meet up in mid-December, before an administration change in the U.S., in order to coordinate their policies on the matter, he said.