The United States will impose new sanctions on North Korea after the sinking of a South Korean warship, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said today. The sanctions were designed to prevent Pyongyang from funding weapons programmes and spreading weapons of mass destruction, Mrs Clinton told a press conference. She announced measures "to increase our ability to prevent North Korea's proliferation, to halt their illicit activities that help fund their weapons programmes and to discourage further provocative actions".
Mrs Clinton and the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, were visiting South Korea to show support after the sinking of the ship, with the loss of 46 lives. The US and South Korea, pointing to the findings of a multinational investigation, accuse the North of torpedoing the Cheonan near the disputed Yellow Sea border in March, a charge North Korea denies. Mrs Clinton said the new "country-specific" sanctions aim to curb the North's sale and procurement of weapons and related material, the procurement of luxury goods and other illicit activities.
She said they would strengthen the enforcement of UN Security Council resolutions passed after North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, and would provide new authority to target illicit activities. The US would also strengthen current efforts to "identify, pressure and put out of business North Korean entities involved in proliferation and other illicit practices overseas". Mrs Clinton said the US state department and the treasury would designate more entities and individuals supporting proliferation and freeze their assets.
She said there would be new efforts with key governments to stop North Korean trading firms engaged in illicit activities from operating, and to prevent banks in overseas countries from handling illicit transactions. There would be greater global efforts to stop travel by individuals designated under Security Council resolutions, as well as "other key North Korean proliferators". The US would place greater emphasis on the North's "repeated abuse" of its diplomatic privileges to engage in activities banned by the Security Council.
Mrs Clinton said the US would press countries not to buy banned items from the North or to sell it proliferation-related goods. She said the measures were not directed at the North Korean people, "who have suffered too long due to the misguided and malign priorities of their government". "They are directed at the destabilising, illicit and provocative policies pursued by that government." * AFP