U.S. sanctions chief visits to discuss North

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U.S. sanctions chief visits to discuss North

U.S. President Barack Obama and his national security team are “very focused” on the North Korea issue, said the White House on Monday as his sanctions chief embarked on an East Asia tour and arrived in Seoul last night to discuss implementations of restrictions on Pyongyang today.

“The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state, nor will we stand by while it seeks to develop a nuclear-armed missile that can target the United States,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at a briefing on Monday in Washington.

He said that the Pentagon’s recent announcement on the developments in its missile defense program, namely increasing the number of its ground-based, anti-missile interceptors from 30 to 44, reflects what the U.S. considers “the increased threat from North Korea.”

“The President is very focused on this issue,” said Carney, regarding the North’s recent provocations, and “his senior national security team is focused on this issue.”

A resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea passing unanimously with Russian and Chinese support at the United Nations Security Council is “a not insignificant occurrence,” he emphasized.

“We continue to work with all of our allies and partners on this issue to pressure and isolate North Korea,” said Carney, “To make clear to North Korea what its options are and how it needs to proceed in order to rejoin the community of nations.”

David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, began a five-day East Asia tour on Monday with Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing to discuss sanctions against North Korea to target its continued proliferation activities.

The United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 2094 was unanimously passed by its member states on March 7, imposing stricter restrictions and new financial sanctions on North Korea to punish the regime for its third nuclear test.

The U.S. State Department expressed Cohen will discuss “the implementation of economic sanctions targeting the continued proliferation activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” with government officials and representatives in the private sector of the three countries.

As nuclear-capable B-52 bombers were tested yesterday in Korea as a part of the ongoing joint U.S. and Korea military drills, the Pentagon said yesterday that a B-52 bomber based in Guam also flew a mission over South Korea on March 8 as part of the Foal Eagle exercises.

George Little, Pentagon press secretary, added that these long-range heavy bombers participating in the exercise were not armed with nuclear weapons but “demonstrated one of the many alliance capabilities available for the defense of the Republic of Korea.”

Ashton Carter, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary, pledged the United States’ commitment to security on the Korean Peninsula in his visit to Seoul on Monday and said that “the relationship between the Park Geun-hye and Obama administrations is off to a very productive start,” ahead of the two presidents’ first summit in May.

By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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