EU sanctions Pyongyang for nuclear arms activity

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EU sanctions Pyongyang for nuclear arms activity

The European Union has slapped sanctions on key North Korean government officials and companies related to Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.

According to government sources in Seoul, the EU approved revisions to the regulation on sanctions against North Korea during its Environmental Council meeting on Dec. 22 of last year. In the EU, a regulation becomes immediately effective and enforceable as law in all member states simultaneously. Unlike a directive, a regulation doesn’t have to be transposed into laws of respective nations.

Jang Song-thaek, a brother-in-law of leader Kim Jong-il and a director of administration at the ruling Workers’ Party, was among 13 individuals targeted by the EU. Kim Yong-chun, minister of the People’s Armed Forces, Jon Pyong-ho, secretary for ammunition at the Workers’ Party, and Kim Tong-un, a department director at the party who handles political funds in Pyongyang, were among the others.

Companies subject to sanctions included Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center and Ryonkwang Trading Co.

A travel ban has been imposed on the individuals and assets of the companies will be frozen. Officials won’t be able to travel to or pass through EU member states and they will be barred from transferring money within EU member nations.

A Foreign Ministry official said Jang, considered one of the most influential voices in Pyongyang, doubles as the director of the capital city construction at the party, and makes frequent trips overseas. The official added that senior North Korean officials often visited French hospitals for treatment and checkups. The EU sanctions have ruled out such possibilities.

The EU has held a tough stance on North Korea following last May’s nuclear test, the North’s second. At the meeting of EU foreign ministers last July, the union endorsed reinforced sanctions against the North, in addition to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874 adopted earlier last year. The EU also announced at the time that it would produce the “autonomous listing of items subject to export ban, autonomous listing of persons and entities subject to travel ban and asset freeze, enhanced financial vigilance and reinforced cargo inspections” against North Korea.

The UN Security Council in July handed down similar sanctions on different officials and companies. Five officials and five companies became subject to a travel ban and asset freeze. At the time, targeted officials were mostly those directly overseeing nuclear programs and the trading of weapons material.


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]

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