Einhorn in Seoul for sanction talks

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Einhorn in Seoul for sanction talks

Robert Einhorn, the U.S. official who is helping craft Washington’s sanctions policy against North Korea, will visit Seoul tomorrow to discuss proposals on tightening financial restrictions on Pyongyang.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that Einhorn, the U.S. State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, will spend three days in Seoul to review the plan with senior officials from the Blue House, the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the ministry said.

He will be accompanied by Daniel Glazer, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary whose area of responsibility includes secret overseas North Korean bank accounts.

When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Seoul last week, she announced a plan for tougher sanctions on the North to halt its nuclear weapons program and suggested they would be unveiled in the next two weeks.

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said, however, at a briefing on Thursday that the U.S. will not announce the details of the new sanctions during Einhorn’s visit to Korea.

Analysts said Einhorn wants to complete details of the sanction policy with the governments of South Korea and Japan, which he will visit next week.

To provide a legal basis for the new sanctions, the U.S. State Department is expected to issue an administrative order rather than seeking approval from the U.S. Congress, which could take longer.

The existing sanctions against North Korea, which are mainly based on UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874, target overseas bank accounts that are believed to contain funds from the North’s trading activities, including potential arms sales.

Jung Chang-hyun, a North Korean Studies professor at Kookmin University, said the additional sanctions will likely be implemented in three stages.

“First, the specific areas subject to the sanctions will be announced, and then international banks conducting financial transactions with North Korean individuals or companies will be asked to stop. If they don’t cooperate, the U.S. will then take further financial actions against them, he said.

Some experts said the new U.S. sanctions will be effective since the U.S. plays a dominant role in the international financial sector.

A threat to suspend financial transactions between the U.S. and foreign financial organizations believed to be harboring North Korean funds would amount to a de facto suspension of their involvement in the international financial system.

But Choi Choon-heum, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said without cooperation from China, the sanctions will have only a limited impact on the North. “Many of the proceeds from the North’s overseas businesses land in Chinese bank accounts.”

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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