U.S. sanctions on North lifted in 1999 may return
The Bush administration is weighing the reinstatement of trade sanctions on North Korea that were lifted during the Clinton administration. A visiting U.S. Treasury Department official, Stuart Levey, described Washington’s policy direction to Korean government policymakers during a visit here from Sunday through Tuesday. Yesterday, a government official described those discussions to journalists, and the Treasury posted a cautious statement by Mr. Levey on its Web site.
The Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence had planned his visit before the July 5 North Korean missile tests, but the incident added urgency to the consultations. Giving no details of the content of the discussions, Mr. Levey said in his statement he and Korean officials had discussed issues including “the new United Nations Security Council resolution that requires all member states to prevent the transfer of any financial resources in relation to DPRK’s missile or WMD programs.” DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s official name; WMD means weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Levey is also stopping in Tokyo, Hanoi and Singapore on his swing through Asia. Seoul was his first stop. The trip came at a time when Japan is planning its own sanctions, perhaps including a ban on cash remittances to the North.
A government official said yesterday that the undersecretary met with Vice Foreign Minister Yu Myung- hwan and officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Blue House. The official stressed that the meeting was not a consultation on policy toward the North. He said the topics included many international financial issues, but did not touch in any detail on Seoul’s participation in the Kaesong Industrial Complex and tourist trips to Mount Kumgang, both of which are revenue sources for North Korea.
Another official said Mr. Levey responded only with a nod to explanations of the purposes and justifications for those inter-Korean projects.
Washington has questioned whether North Korean workers in plants run by South Korean entrepreneurs at Kaesong are receiving the wages they are supposedly paid.
The U.S. Embassy in Seoul declined further comment.
The Korean officials said the U.S. sanctions Mr. Levey mentioned had been lifted in 1999 by President Bill Clinton as U.S.-North Korea tensions eased. They included trade restrictions and licensing requirements and strict limits on the amount of money U.S. travelers to North Korea could spend there.
by Brian Lee