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(2nd LD) Seoul to unveil unilateral sanctions against N.K. on Friday

2016/12/01 15:43

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; ADDS foreign ministry spokesman's comments in para 3-5)

SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Thursday it plans to unveil fresh unilateral sanctions against North Korea this week to tighten the screws on money flowing into Pyongyang, which is bent on nuclear and missile development.

The prime minister's office plans to announce new punitive measures in response to its September nuclear test on Friday, according to Seoul's foreign ministry. The move comes two days after the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) adopted a new package of sanctions.

"The government will push for all-out sanctions and coercive diplomacy against the North by taking swift steps, including drawing up additional unilateral measures in cooperation with our partners, such as the U.S., Japan and the European Union," Cho June-hyuck, spokesman of the foreign ministry, told reporters at a regular press briefing.

"Our government will unveil those measures tomorrow. I know that the U.S. and Japan will make public their own measures almost concurrently or at a similar time," he added.

The spokesman said that South Korea has had close consultations with the U.S., Japan and other countries through meetings and diverse channels in drawing up the additional sanctions, and that cooperation has also been under way to determine when to unveil them in a way that "maximizes the synergy effect."

   South Korea's unilateral sanctions are known to include blacklisting additional North Korean individuals and entities, and hurting maritime transportation, a government source said.

The move is aimed at making North Korea feel more pain by cutting off main sources of hard currency for the regime, the government added.

The UNSC decided Wednesday to impose a significant cap on Pyongyang's exports of coal and slap on other restrictions following its tough sanctions adopted in March over North Korea's nuclear and missile tests early this year.

On March 8, South Korea unveiled its own sanctions, including an entry ban at South Korean ports of vessels that have visited the North.

It also blacklisted scores of key North Korean officials and organizations suspected of being involved in the development of its nuclear and missile programs. But the North's leader Kim Jong-un and his younger sister Kim Yo-jong were not included on the list.

Seoul's unification ministry said in early November that it is "carefully" reviewing whether to add Kim Yo-jong to a list of its fresh sanctions against North Korea.

The United States and Japan are also set to announce their own sanctions against the North in a joint move to maximize the impact of the penalties on the communist country.

"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," Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told Yonhap News Agency.

Touching on the latest U.N. sanctions, a ministry official said that the resolution reflected efforts to close loopholes found in the previous resolution.

Under the March resolution, North Korea's coal exports for "livelihood" purposes were allowed, an exception that has been exploited by the country.

The government official said North Korea's trade with China rose by a smaller-than-expected pace this year from a year earlier, possibly affected by a set of U.N. sanctions.

North Korea's trade with China rose 2.7 percent on-year to US$3.33 billion in the April-October period, the official said, citing data by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).